The Average Gamer

PayDay 2 Review (PC)

Payday 2 - Rats
You were all ready to sneak out of the store with 8 bulging bags of jewels when some idiot fired his unsilenced gun in the air. Now you’re holed up in back, smoke pouring through the door, the FBI chopper is descending out front and you can hear footsteps on the roof. What do you do?

In PayDay 2 you and your co-op team can approach each heist in many ways. You can dress up in fancy suits, nobble guards with your rifle butt and respond to their pagers with a hasty “Uh, everything’s all right. I just hit my head on the toilet”. Whether or not you’ll be believed relies on your character’s build. Did you pick the skills to be convincing?

Or, you can charge out waving your guns willy-nilly, dropping extra ammo packs for your buds and sheltering behind display cases. The shotgun unlocked at level 8 is a particularly good weapon, allowing you to one-shot policemen from all the way across the street. If you prefer, there’s a nice range of assault rifles, as well as a selection of secondary weapons – pistols, sub-machine guns and the like. Once the police are alerted, they’ll come in assault waves, giving you minutes of intense battle followed by brief respites that you can use to gather ammo from their fallen bodies and make a run for it.

Where you have a multitude of options, the maps also have many permutations. Breaking into a penthouse apartment, you’ll be looking for a server room from which to upload embarrassing information on a politician. It’ll be one of three locked rooms but which one?

In the identical bank heists, sometimes the vault is over here, sometimes over there. Sometimes there’ll be a security camera covering the corridor, sometimes you’ll have extra guards. It’s like visiting IKEA stores around the world. Everything is the same but also slightly different. This should keep your team on their toes and stops the heists from becoming that dreary optimal speedrun that happens to so many games.

PayDay 2 is a co-op team shooter. There’s really no other way to play it. There’s an offline campaign that you can use to learn your way around the maps and figure out the different permutations of each one, but trying to cover all the entrances in a firefight with just two AI companions is next to impossible on many of the maps. The AI are pretty good in that they’re great at killing people and will come revive you or each other. You can’t give them any kind of orders though. They won’t carry bags, or do any kind of objective. Be prepared to play with others and try to have voicechat available, even if you don’t talk much yourself.

You have four main types of skill available:

  • The Mastermind focuses on crowd control and motivation. At higher levels you can order policemen to do your bidding and help out your teammates by shouting at them from a distance.
  • The Enforcer gets good with guns and carrying bags. Very handy when there’s only four of you to shift eight heavy bags of gold.
  • The Technician can place trip mines over bottlenecks and deploy sentry guns in a siege
  • The Ghost moves quickly and quietly. He’s better at picking locks, at hiding bodies and can keep you hidden from security systems.

While everything in PayDay 2 can apparently be done by stealth, you often need the higher tier skills to do so. This makes the game a bit grindy, especially at the early stages. It’s simply not possible to get a decent payout from safe deposit boxes at level 1 because it takes forever to open one and there’s always the chance that some idiot is storing their mouldy sandwich in it. You won’t get the skill to saw boxes open for at least 40 levels.

PayDay 2 - StreetAs a result, people do try to optimise their grind and you’ll see certain missions, like Bank Heist: Deposit, being totally neglected while the jewellery store will pop up time and time again because the reward:time ratio is incredible compared to others. I’ve just spent hours trying to complete a three day heist that eventually netted me £38,000. Yesterday I stealthed all the jewels with a team and got £11,000 in two minutes. It also encourages behaviour like restarting a mission as soon as the police have been called. The team at Overkill have included “Pro” missions which cannot be restarted – fail once, the mission is over. It’s a nice idea but just sounds like something many people won’t bother to play until they’ve earned the points for their favourite build.

Right now, the game is tremendous fun, working with friends for a common goal and watching each other’s backs in a tight spot. There’s a good range of maps and heists, with more unlocked every 20 levels. It is, however, also a little buggy. It’s absolutely gutting when you complete a gruelling set of missions and the game crashes on the final summary screen, leaving you with nothing. This has happened to everyone I know and we’ve only had the game for a few days. They suggest disabling the Steam overlay to prevent the crashes but I hope a proper fix is on the way.

PayDay 2 is absolutely brilliant with a group of friends on voice chat. It’s pretty good with a group of random drop-ins. It’s just rubbish playing by yourself. Buy it if you have friends.

PayDay 2 is coming to PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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