Name:

 Payday 2

Platforms:

PC, Linux, Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4

Developer:

 Overkill Software

Genre:

 Shooter, FPS, Stealth, Action, RPG

Publisher:

 505 Games

Starbreeze Studios

Modes:

 Single-Player, Multiplayer, Co-op

Release Date:

 13th August, 2013

Engine:

 Diesel Engine 2.0

Reviewer:

 Charede

Product Rating:

 PEGI: 18

Review Score:

58/100 (58%)

Disclosure:

 Copy: PC, personally bought.

Timing: Post release but with important update relating my involvement with TCN and performance changes in the game. This is a repost of a review from the old Charede Gaming website.

Extra: I am a member of The Criminal Network (TCN). TCN has in the past worked closely with Overkill Software regarding Payday 2. TCN features in the game as several Easter eggs. Although TCN has dealt directly with Overkill, I myself have not directly communicated with them. The original review was written prior to joining TCN and does not reflect the views and opinions of other members of the organisation.

Ever wanted to break the law but not get into trouble? Steal some cash, take some hostages and walk away scot free. Well, now you can in Payday 2. Now while I don't encourage illegal activity in day to day life, it is however extremely compelling when part of a game such as Payday 2. After all who doesn't want to satisfy their curiosity for the illegal and darn right outrageous without the consequences? This latest instalment in the series builds on what the developers learned from Payday: The Heist and offers some good improvements to take your virtual criminal career to a whole new level.

 

Payday 2 offers as standard a variety of heists from banks, jewellery stores, drug deals and art theft. Jobs can have more complicated underlying stories and can potentially mean the player needs to complete as many as seven heists to complete a single job. To add to the volume of differently named jobs there is a total of five difficulties; normal, hard, very hard, overkill, and death wish. Each of the difficulties will introduce progressively more cameras, traps, guards, civilians and a whole mountain of other hazards which significantly increase the risk when attempting a heist; however, with more risk comes greater rewards. Combine that with the numerous combinations for environment layouts, and you have yourself some potential mayhem. That is of course until you get very familiar with all the potential scenarios and layout variations. This ensures the player is kept challenged and on their toes 90% of the time. All in all, this results in a game that you will need to take the time to learn and has plenty to offer both new and veteran players of the game with plenty of replayability. I do have to note however it does get kind of grindy towards the end if you want to max everything aspect of your character out.

 

To make the game furthermore entertaining the developers, Overkill has ensured that multiplayer is back so you can hook up with up to three other friends to commit your crimes and not just some rather basic AI players. By keeping this factor, players can work together, formulate strategy and tackle heists in many different approaches such as stealth or down and dirty all guns blazing. Teams who regularly work together may also find other aspects of the game a tool to use to their advantage such as the talent system. By capitalising on the system, teams can ensure they have the tools necessary to execute their approach to the heist. Players can reach a maximum of level 100 during which you can earn 110 talent points (one per level and two every ten levels). A total of four talent trees is offered to players which are; mastermind, enforcer, technician, and ghost. Masterminds are essentially the brains of the operation and provide skills to the table such as the ability to answer more pagers. Enforcers are the tanks and who can force people to the ground, keep the under control and have access to heavy armour and strong heavy weapons. Technicians specialise in equipment such as c4 to blow open safes fast and turrets which can be placed to provide cover fire. Technicians are particularly useful if you want to speed up a heist and get out fast. Ghosts are the stealthy individuals who can sneak past guards, open doors quietly and can manipulate cameras and electronically jam pager calls in an attempt to avoid setting off alarms. All in all its very rare a team of the same talent spec people works well; you will need diversity to succeed, but at the same time you don't have to fear being restricted to one talent route. Often higher level players will find that they will spec into two and sometimes even three talent sets which mean soloing is totally viable, and you don't always need that certain person only to do a certain job i.e. unlocking a door. It's quite possible someone else in the team will have that capability even though it isn't the main focus of their talents. The versatility of the system is great and means even if you don't have the luxury of a premade team, it is perfectly viable to team up with random players via the contract system and work together on a heist. I do however warn you there are a lot of trolling groups out there who will kick you from matches after you have done the hard work. There are also those who you just simply not get along with who will try and annoy and troll you at every opportunity. The game doesn’t penalise players who engage in these kinds of negative interactions. I would recommend if you can find friends or a regular group you trust to play with you will find the game far more enjoyable this way!

 

On the topic of multiplayer, there is one other major issue. This issue comes in the form of desync. Since a certain patch, this has been particularly notable. A group that I am a member of called The Criminal Network has proved on multiple occasions that this is an issue within the game and has demonstrated as much as nearly 5 minutes of desync between players in a four-man group. On several occasions, Overkill has yet to address this even after the mounting evidence and has prioritised new DLC content packs over fixing the game’s stability and functionality to make it playable again. This has been highly disappointing and based on what I have seen appears to be driving dedicated members of the community away leading to a dwindling player base, which is really sad to see. This was only exacerbated when microtransactions for skins much like CS: in excess ofGO were added which was originally promised as never being something the developer and publisher would not resort to.

 

In addition to the standard 100 levels to grind your way through players also have the opportunity be become Infamous. The Infamy system resets your level back level 1 and can only be accessed once you have successfully reached level 100 for the first time. Each time you hit level 100, you can gain another Infamy level up to level 5 infamy. Rather than just being a level reset Overkill have added extra incentive to gaining infamy. Yes, you lose all your weapons and a tonne of money to do the process of gaining infamy, but as a reward, you gain some awesome loot and skills in the process. Infamy itself has its levelling/tech system which will decide the rewards you gain each time you increase your infamy level and are essentially extensions of the standard skill trees.

 

Overall the game runs very smooth. Although the regular patching does get annoying very often the updates you are forced to install are worth the wait as they contain new heists in addition to usual bug fixes. I would highly recommend the PC version over Xbox as I feel on a graphical it is significantly better than its console counterpart to the point where it is quite noticeable, and I have had less crashing and connection issues. I strongly suggest finding some friends to play the game. Although the Payday 2 community are lovely and randoms in groups are not often an issue, you will find as you do with other games the usual remit of trolls and last minute kickers are around and are not disincentivised from their behaviour. This is especially infuriating on multiple day heists. The game was sort of polished until a certain update introduced a significant issue in the form of desync which makes four-man multiplayer virtually impossible now. Bugs and glitches that are annoying also exist outside of the desync issue but vary on their impact on play. This game is a great value and one I am constantly going back to even many months after it launched until the party got ruined by technical issues. There is also the need for some extra creativity with the level design as this has become stale. I am furthermore keeping my fingers crossed for a Payday 3, but in the meantime Payday 2 will have to do, but with the current technical issues I am not keen to play and would far rather be playing XCOM 2, Total War Warhammer or Oxygen Not Included. I desperately want to play Payday 2 and I thoroughly enjoyed it at its’ peak, but right now it is a love-hate relationship purely on the grounds of the desync and the gradual depletion of stealth being a viable option which has been an ongoing trend with the game. If the technical issues were fixed I could easily see this in excess of 80/85% however in its current state I am going to have to give it 58%. The game from a thematic standpoint is great and doesn’t give me much room for me to criticise. However playing with the rather dumb AI when your friends are not around is extremely annoying and the beyond unacceptable desync and stability issues is making the game unplayable at present. This is a game clearly geared towards working with friends in multiplayer but do so and get punished by desync. Play it on your own and avoid the desync but your experience then suffers due to it being a team orientated and best with friends and forcing you to deal with the dumb AI. Either way, you cannot win. Don't even get me started on the microtransaction skins the public was promised would never happen. I appreciate that Overkill reversed that decision after they were able to get the rights from 505 Games but the damage was already done to the community that surrounds the game. Please please please turn this around for Payday 3. We know there is a good game in there somewhere, just a few bad decisions have massively derailed Payday 2 to the point of potentially no return. I look forward to this game being updated, and maybe then I can give it the score I feel it deserves had it not been so broken.

 

 

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