Just like an awesome new toy that doesn’t ship with batteries but requires them to use the product, Payday 2 requires friends to fully enjoy its multiplayer only experience.
Payday 2 is the follow up to Overkill Software’s Payday: The Heist, and features the same cast of disturbingly masked criminals in Dallas, Chains, Hoxton and Wolf. Gamers are tasked with taking on the persona of one of these master criminals in an attempt to become an unstoppable force of badness by accepting contracts from the game’s Crime.net mission computer.
Crime.net features 30 different mission types all with unique maps to choose from that offer some form of breaking the law. Matches feature all sorts of criminally inclined activities such as knocking over a jewelry store, robbing a bank, stealing art, escorting a drug run, to robbing nightclubs and many more illegal activities. Unfortunately, in the early stages of your criminal career you’ll be stuck with choosing from the same types of missions over and over, so things can get repetitive while you grind your way to a higher level.
The grind can get monotonous at times, but it’s a required process to boost your character’s skills, as well as to unlock better weapons, tech, armor, and other gear to make the more arduous missions a little easier. Luckily, Payday 2 does offer dynamic matches, so most of the maps that you’ll experience over and over at least sport varying enemy spawns and loot locations to break up the monotony.
One benefit of the repetitive mission types early on in the game is the fact that it allows you to learn the art of the perfect heist, which is the ultimate goal for each mission. Rather than going into each job with guns blazing, you and your three partners (two if playing solo) can case out the surroundings to plan the most efficient heist based on the environment.
This is where the improved RPG-like skill tree system comes into play. You can now choose from four different classes to spend points on, which are: Mastermind, Enforcer, Ghost, and Technician. If you want to be able to sweet talk guards to your cause you may want to invest in the Mastermind category, or if shooting first and taking names second is your style, you can invest in the Enforcer category. Now if you’re more of the stealthy type you may find skills in the Ghost and Technician trees suit your play best. Each of the classes offer up all sorts of different tactics to utilize in each mission, and when used effectively, pulling off a heist is a blast, even if you’re playing the role of the bad guys.
With a perfectly balanced team of four human controlled characters there’s no saying what type of criminal entity you can become. This is by far the most ideal way to play Payday 2. There’s no single player campaign as Payday 2 only features multiplayer, so it’s crucial to have a team of friends to work through this game with. Without a team of living and breathing piles of flesh, the joy of executing the perfect heist is non-existent.
This is thanks to the game’s lackluster AI, which is only useful for being bullet sponges and mobile turrets. There’s no sense of teamwork when playing alone, and when coupled with the AI issues, Payday 2 can become an exercise in futility. The AI can’t utilize the class perks that make this game such a blast when playing with friends, so the brunt of each mission falls on you to complete, which makes the experience feel flat. Rather than each match being an exercise in criminal excellence, they turn into endless waves of police getting mowed down until you can take care of the objectives, because your AI partners are only interested in blindly shooting their guns.
What further accentuates the issue of not having a team of live humans to play Payday 2 with is the fact that it’s nearly impossible to join matches. For this review I played Payday 2 on the PS3, and found it nearly impossible to join a random match with other humans. In fact, I’ve only been able to join two matches that contained human controlled teammates, and I played the game for over a week. This could be specific to the PS3, but it is very troubling to not be able to experience this game the way it is meant to be played. With that being said pay heed to this review’s title, because one truly does need four other dedicated friends to also play Payday 2 for its gameplay to shine the way it’s supposed to.
Just like Left 4 Dead, Payday 2 offers some amazing multiplayer oriented fun that any group of gaming buddies will surely enjoy. The notion of playing as the bad guys is secretly enjoyable if not wrong, and the thought of pulling off the perfect heist will keep you coming back for more. The expanded mission types get repetitive over time, and grinding is definitely required early on, but overall Payday 2 is a worthy experience that should be enjoyed with close friends. Just note the “with close friends” disclaimer.
The reviewer received a PS3 review copy of the game for reviewing purposes from the publisher.
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