Two months until August 15 and Payday 2 hits store shelves on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Yet even the most dedicated of fans to the original Payday will immediately be surprised by the growth in scope and scale. Instead of 6 maps there's 35, but that's short selling the fact that there's a huge amount of progression and mission structure now implemented in the game. Consider Payday 2 the preparatory heist, but only now can the gang put the masks back on and take on the real target. Payday 2 brings the heat.
Before players even jump into a match they can dig through a treasure trove of content, most of which will be locked at low levels. Weapons, weapon customizations, masks, mask colors and textures, it's all in-game just waiting to be discovered. Play a mission, succeed, and get an opportunity for loot to drop. After completing our missions we got to pick on of three overturned cards. The one I chose said "Noob" underneath, which meant no great loot, but I did acquire a color customization. My partner at another computer picked up a metallic texture. The dev behind us said there was a mask in-game that had one-in-million odds of dropping. I told him there would be some players who would grind for it, to which he smiled knowingly.
Gameplay in an individual mission of Payday 2 seemed very similar to that of the original. Our goal was to break into a bank's safe and acquire the cash inside. Forgetting exactly what I was doing, I immediately ran into the wrong area of the bank and set off numerous alarms. At least I remembered to quickly put my mask down. After finding the drill in the parking lot out behind the bank we set it up in front of the vault and then the true game began
Waves and waves of police officers poured into the building. As time went by each wave would be progressively stronger. The first wave would fall to a scant few shots, the second wore helmets and the third body armor and thicker helmets. By that point I was down to a pistol, soiled breeches and my need to get that cash to the van. Crouching, jumping, swapping weapons, sprinting, it's all there and it's all very reactive and crisp. That might be why my bullet clip was always empty -- it was too damn fun to pull the trigger. Note: the developers did not approve of my wanton recklessness and disregard for humanity.
Karma caught up with me after the drill finally broke through. At checkpoints through the map the drill would pause and require a restart, which I believed marked the beginning of the next wave. Eventually it cuts through and the safe door swings open. Overly armored officers at my back, I charged into the room and grabbed the closest armful of cash I could. Oh, crap, I forgot it slowed you down so much and made you walk at an angle. How was I supposed to escape this?
I did the next best thing I could think of, which was shoot at everything. That worked until I was out of bullets and still stuck in the bank. Plan B was run out of the bank and hope all of the officers were still inside looking for you. Half of Plan B was accomplished. I got about half way between the bank and the van before I was shot down, leaving my player partner to fend for himself. If he went down, our mission would end in failure.
Lucky for me he had the good judgment to abandon me as I bled out. I may have only been a few steps away from the van with a duffel bag of money on my slowly cooling body, but I was definitely out of ammo and had clearly proven myself to be of poor judgment. So, he jumped in the van and we won our mission. It was the right choice, but it still stings.
We received an inconsequential amount of experience, considering we were maxed out on levels and had everything unlocked, but it still felt good. Classic Payday was worth it for the experience of the heist, but afterwards there was nothing to pull me back in -- to make me a repeat offender. This new system, which a very sleep dev said was inspired by MMOs and ARPGs, adds that match-to-match depth previously unexplored.
Overkill Software has gone beyond their fans' expectations with Payday 2. I sincerely believe there won't be a disappointed Payday player out there once they get their hands on Payday 2. The core gameplay is still intact, if not better than ever. The world is better realized and the campaign should give everyone reason to invest themselves in more than a match, or a look at all the maps. Payday 2 isn't just a cool theme on top of Left 4 Dead's idea. Payday 2 is what Valve should be looking at if they're going to make Left 4 Dead 3.