By Andrew Harrison
Payday 2 is a first person shooter slash crime simulator, and having previously played the S.W.A.T. games, I thought it was high time to become the criminal mastermind I had always stopped. Although the game itself has such a great concept and can be unbelievably addictive, there are too many things that bring it down a few pegs.
I started by getting into the game and giving the single player a whirl to hone my skills heading online to score the ultimate heist. That decision proved to sour my taste for the game. If you go in by yourself, it’s impossible to cover all the civilians and the police are guaranteed to show up (and fast). If you think it’s better to take AI-controlled bots to fill out your team, again you are mistaken. One of my children playing Snake on an old phone would have been more help in Payday 2; they AI can’t carry loot, so you need to make multiple trips yourself. They won’t stay in other rooms and cover civilians, they walk in front of security cameras, but they will shoot cops if (nope, when) they rock up… but that’s if they enter the same building as you do. If you have played the first Payday, or already know what you’re doing, jump straight into multiplayer.
After a few hours of frustration -- and my hope for this game being dragged away by S.W.A.T. -- I decided to have a look at multiplayer. I should have just gone straight there, because the multiplayer experience is exactly what the game should be. It’s the gold in the bank, if you will.
My first game put me in a group with 3 other people who had all played the first Payday (yep, I checked) and knew what they were doing. After some brief introductions using the built-in voice chat function (which is a most welcome function), we were on our way to rob a bank.
You’re able to pick one of four characters – the same guys as in the first Payday – and whilst you can set a preferred character, your assignment is random in multiplayer. Matches start with you being able to case the joint you’re about to rob. In this mode, you can’t interact with anything but you can walk around and find blind spots and get a feel for the area. The levels -- although small and with invisible walls – can be randomised; the same happens if you restart a game, so key features like security cameras, guards, vaults and objectives will move making, every game unique and fresh.
After finishing a game, each player gets to pick a reward card for a random piece of kit. You can get things like masks, textures, paints or a cash reward that can be used to customise your setup. The only problem here is I got three shotgun parts in a row, and I’ve never, ever used that weapon. With no way to trade parts, it really made me feel like all my efforts went to waste. You’ll also get experience for the games you play, and those points can be spent in a multitude of talent trees which heavily impact the way you can play. I really love that you can add passive bonuses to both you and your team.
After a few (almost) perfect heists with this incredible team, I understood what all the fuss about Payday 2 was. A sense of perfection surged through me as I rethought about how I could improve on previous strategies. I went to bed that night still thinking about it... and kept on doing it through into the next day. Unfortunately, the ultimate team I’d formed in day one had spoiled me, as I was then matched up with poor gamer after poor gamer, all of which didn’t know how to play. You know what they say: you’re only as strong as your weakest link…
Playing Payday 2 with four mates in a LAN situation… or at least playing in a team with headsets would make every amazing. It’s a game where communication is key… but even without, Payday 2 will absolutely provide complex and rewarding multiplayer experiences. Just do yourself a favour and try to avoid single-player and randomly matched multiplayer.