Bank robberies are the classic crime. In a classic heist film, they go terribly wrong in a way that leads to people getting hurt and hostages being taken. Thieves fall out and valuables are stolen. All of this happens in PAYDAY 2 and when everyone plays as a team it works. It is no fault of the game when the community behaves erratically but a forewarning: you’ll be happier jumping into a game with friends while talking on Skype instead of relying on randoms and text chat. What is a fault of the game is the AI; they are useless. The AI partners in crime haven’t changed too much from PAYDAY 1 and are a liability when trying to pull off the heists. While online you can strategically work as a precision team, when dealing with AI partners, you need to focus on getting out alive.. Playing with them is like re-enacting any classic heist film where every specialist fails you and the mastermind (you) ends up being the last to go down as you curse your accomplices.
Like a western RPG, PAYDAY 2 has a focus on class building. This lets you turn your player into a specialist to define your role in the heist. This was a sticky situation in the first game as anyone could be anything and no one had any clue what kind of role they should pursue. Letting players from the get go decide what to put skills into lets roles be defined and should tighten the experience. Every class can handle itself defensively enough that you won’t be screwed with four medics, or four guys that specialize in busting safes.
Instead of a traditional level select, PAYDAY 2 opens up a map of found games via Crime.net, the game’s new map mission system. Crime.net presents you options for playing the missions you like best and avoiding ones that don’t fit your tastes. You can bang out a quick mission or sign yourself up for a series of missions, which is the equivalent of a story mode. The beauty of these missions is that each experience will vary because of who is playing, what characters they are playing, and how you approach the mission (like a bull in a china shop or a sneaky snake). It”s this variable factor that makes PAYDAY 2 special and miles better than the first game, which offered little choice. The beauty of the heist is that the plan is masterful and perfect but it never will happen the way you plan, a notch on the checklist PAYDAY 2 hits with confidence. Mission variety is there with some missions asking you to smash a mall for damage or rob a shopping district in whatever way you see fit. The story missions start out with a heist that will then escalate into a variety of obstacles between you and freedom that range from police standoffs to audibles in the heist itself.
A tantalizing aspect of the game is the reward system after beating a mission. You pick one of three cards and can earn more money, a part to crafting new mods, or a new mask. The new masks look great and ten times better than they did in the first PAYDAY. It is refreshing to see everyone unlock different masks and rarely will you hop into a match and see the same starter mask you saw in the first game until you unlocked new ones halfway through the campaign of the first game.
The draw distance or field of vision isn’t the best thing in the game by far. In some levels you can see just fine anywhere and in others its like you suddenly went far sighted in the middle of a fire fight. This pales in comparsion to the biggest flaw of the game: no host migration. I’m the kind of player who will play any game to the end without quitting no matter how bad I’m losing but most players aren’t like that and if they get arrested they promptly will quit. If they are hosting, say goodbye to your time you spent in the mission!
PAYDAY 2 is an excellent game that is the best candidate for a new original co-op online experience to be released this year. The game offers enough variety, and enough to unlock to provide entertainment for weeks. With the announced upcoming DLC it’s sure to keep providing the excitement before it can die down. If you enjoyed PAYDAY 1 or like co-operative experiences this is the game for you this year. If you are more into the deathmatch frenzy of a normal shooter you’ll want to look elsewhere.
- Great Online, game thrives on it
- Great variety of everything from weapons to skill layouts to even masks
- Easy to pick up and play or sit down for the long haul
- Host migration is not a thing and really needs to be
- Draw Distance issues on some maps
- Local AI teammates are among the dumbest AI partners in game history
Review based on the PC iteration of the game