Payday 2 – Beta Impressions
I enjoyed Payday 1. When I heard that Payday 2 is coming out my first thought was, “They can’t improve it. It’s impossible.”. It’s not that I did not hope we would receive a great sequel, I simply set my expectations very low, so that if the surprise turned out to be sour I would not be as disappointed. Guess what? I was not, in fact I am more than impressed, on many different levels. The graphics are improved, the difficulty is higher, more complexity, more rules, more customization, more everything. If I was ever to give an example of a good sequel Payday 2 would be one of the prime examples.
Let’s talk about the Payday 2 Beta
I got into the beta a bit late. Seeing as many Youtube have shown gameplay videos of the game I was anxious to try it myself. What I noted is that nobody seemed to show some of the key areas about Payday 2, such as the Safehouse, Weapon/Mask customization or the heist planning screen. These are just as important as the in-game experience, since they influence it greatly (expect the masks). Let us start at the beginning however.
Your very first mission is a short introduction to your Safehouse. You have your money vault, where you store all your cash. The workshop, where you get to see all of your customized masks and weapons that you bought. A firing range, where you get to test out your current weapon load-out (you enter a safehouse just like you enter a heist, so you cannot change weapons once inside the safehouse). You have two practice areas, where you can see in what ways you can bust open doors or safes. It might not sound like much but I found it entertaining, to say the least. There is a small bit of humor hidden there as well. For example, boxes are stacked everywhere with names of Payday 1 heists labeled on them, and five different boxes labeled Expansion one through five. I can see the Safehouse alone as something you will have an opportunity to customize or improve in the future. Perhaps through DLCs, perhaps through in-game transactions or achievements, either way it’s a fun addition.
Once that intro was done I entered Crime.Net. Crime.Net is the Lobby/Server list. You see a map of the entire city (whatever its name is) and periodically new heists appear on the map. Heists that are under way or that are still being organized will show how many people are in a group. If a heist is empty you will have a chance to join the room, thus becoming the head of the heist. If you are the head of the heist you get to set some of the game settings, such as AI companions, but most importantly you can spend money on heist assets. Assets are a new addition to the game. They are optional bonuses that the lobby leader may purchase for his own money. It might be an additional ammo or medical pack, a sniper, armored escape car, or something entirely different. There are a lot of different assets. Some missions will have more, some less. Four stores, one of the simplest starter missions, contains no assets. Nightclub, on the other hand, has numerous different assets.
Another thing about heists is that there are multiple day heists. Let us take the example of Rats. Rats is about your crew finding and killing a gang member who is a snitch. In order to do that first you have to obtain Meth, to exchange it for some information. On day one that is what you will focus on. You arrive at a meth lab, discovering the cooks are dead, so you have to cook the meth yourself. The game expects you to make three bags of meth, but since you could destroy the lab by mistake, before you get the three bags, you might have to take what you get. On the second day you trade the meth for information. If you have less than three bags things could get nasty, so you see this direct connection between day one and day two. You may choose to steal back the meth, after you obtain the information, or just leave and proceed to day three. On day three you stop a bus, escorted by FBI agents, where the snitch is hiding. You storm it, kill everybody and then, if you obtained the info from day 2 (it is possible that you did not, such as when you did not have enough bags) you can try to steal the snitch’s money. The issue here is that the money briefcases are loaded with C4, so without the info you will have a hard time disarming the explosives. It is just one example, but a good one. If your crew performs well on day one and day two then on day three you can have a major money payout. But if you perform poorly on day one the rest of the heist will be far more difficult.