Payday 2 – Beta Impressions

Just like before, there are different difficulty ratings. For example, Four Stores is a one star heist on normal, but Rats is a four star heist. On top of these default difficulty ratings you also have Hard, Very Hard and Overkill. The higher the difficulty the tougher the enemies. On Overkill you will meet special cops en mass. On Hard you will meet better armored swat. The risk is worth it though because the payout is much, much higher.

On top of this (there is always something on top with me) most missions can be completed either stealthily or loudly. It takes a lot of practice and organization but it’s doable. There are exceptions, such as Watchdogs that starts as a grand shoot-out from the very beginning. The only benefit of doing something stealthily is, potentially, a much easier heist. Trust me, Overkill is difficult, especially if you lack the armor/guns to take on armored cops.

After a completed heist you get money and experience. Money can be spent on Guns, Masks and Skills. Experience allows you to level up, thus gaining skill points. There are four different “classes”, Enforcer, Ghost, Mastermind and Technician. Each one offers different additional skills, abilities and benefits. For example, a Mastermind may be able to intimidate a cop into working for him (so, you get a nifty minion), a Ghost can interact with loot far more quickly, Enforcers can obtain some heavy duty armor and Technicians could have C4, that allows for much quicker, if louder, safe busting. All skills, except for the starting ones, have a basic and “Ace” benefit. For example, a Ghost has a skill that increases how much money you get for loot, but you can invest more points and money into this skill, thus Acing it, which increases the power of the skill. It’s a very interesting system, and it makes you want to have every single skill, which is sadly not doable (I imagine the level cap will not allow it). Some skills are insane. One of the top skills for the Enforcer (I believe) allows him to come back to life if he manages to kill an enemy when in bleed out. Just to clarify, bleedout occurs when you suffer too much damage. You lie down on the floor and can still fire your sidearm (pistol or SMG). If a team mate does not run up to you and revive you within 30 seconds the cops will arrest you.

Payday 2

An example of what you can obtain during a Payday card game.

Aside from getting money and experience there will also be a “Payday”. Every member of your crew picks one of out of three cards. Depending on what card type they get (Mask, Gun or Money) they will obtain something different. Gun cards normally give weapon mods, but these mods may not be connected to weapons you can use, so you might end up with mods to weapons you cannot even buy. Mask cards give mask decals, backgrounds,  paints and masks themselves (you still have to assemble a mask though). Let me tell you this, some of these masks are super freaky. You can see my “Greek Drama” mask, which is essentially three faces looking in different directions, with different facial expressions. You cannot customize your suits and other equipment (at least, not yet), I still like the idea of mask customization, and I have seen people create some great designs.

Let us talk about guns. They are beautiful. Every few levels you unlock new guns, but before you can use them you have to purchase them. Then, when you purchase them you can improve them using weapon mods you received on Paydays. Each gun has different stats, and you can adapt your gun selection to different missions and needs. For example, I had two crosskills (pistols similar to the Colt 1911) one intended for stealth (with mods that decreased noise) and one for open gun fights (more damage, smaller recoil, better control). With the number of mods available you can have different sets of guns. The problem is money. Masks are relatively cheap. Guns are very expensive, especially those from higher levels. On top of that the mods can cost as much as the guns themselves, making it a bit of a chore to get the gun you want, the way you want it. All guns are useful though. The basic Amcar-4 still finds its uses, since it is easier to hide than other rifles, even if it lacks a bit in the damage department.

Payday 2

Stealth is very difficult to achieve. Here, during the Jewelry Shop heist, we managed to, almost flawlessly, rob the entire store, and its safe, without alarming the cops. We needed plenty of cable ties and good organization. (by default each player has only two ties, you can get more by buying skills). We eventually ran out of ties and were forced to kill a few incoming civilians but other than that all went well.

Let us talk a bit about concealment. You see, when it comes to the stealth approach you do not want for people to panic too early. Once you put your mask on how quickly people react to you depends on your “Vision”. For example, walking around with an AK in full body armor will allow for civilians and guards to react far sooner than if you had a smaller rifle, no body armor and a smaller pistol. Noise, explosions and gun shots alarms civilians. Even when you try to intimidate somebody you could alarm somebody else. Some skills allows for your drills to work more silently, as to not alarm civilians.

Cameras have been reworked, somewhat. It is still a good idea to disable them, but it is not always necessary, if you gain access to the security room or if you manage to take out all the security guards before they alarm the cops the cameras will not pose as much of a threat. Stealth is, by all means, possible, even if it is difficult.

Overall, Payday 2 has taken a large leap forward. I forgot to mention about the improved graphics that work incredibly well on my laptop. The music is wonderful (although I miss some of the old Payday tracks) and the voices are good. Some have been recycled from the first Payday but I honestly do not mind that, as they still blend in well with the game.

Most importantly, the Heists are better. The multi-day system is innovative, the idea of optional loot, and how you carry it around makes it feel more realistic than before (although money is incredibly heavy, if you ask me). I like the new ideas for heists, such as cooking meth, rescuing a coke shipment or invading simple stores for money. I am curious just how many more heists will we be shown before the Beta ends, as I am very keen to try out more of them.

Payday 2

Finding a good group is hard. It is best not to judge players by their faces… or masks. If that were the case nobody would want to take me along!

… and then Players happened

Do not get me wrong, there are a lot of good heisters out there. Some of them are so good I felt intimidated while working with them. I did meet many nOObs though. The sort that always get into trouble and the whole crew have to leave their prepared defensive position to help them. The sort that do not help with carrying the loot and just run around. Lastly, the sort who just have no idea what they are supposed to be doing. I have to note here, there were beginners, but they learned very quickly by observing those with more experience, and I could tell they were performing better as the heist progressed. There were still others people who failed at teamwork and cooperation… but I suppose that is just the charm of playing online, you never know who will you end up with.

The other problem, and this is something very recent for me, are heist leaders. I only now realized how an angry heist leader could give the rest of the crew the bird, if he was angry. We were just about to escape with the money, on the nightclub heist, but one of the crew members instead of following us went off in a completely random direction and got shot into bleedout. One of the three remaining crew members said we should go back for him, but you must understand two things. Firstly, we were right in front of the escape truck, with the money in hand and, secondly, it was Very Hard difficulty in the middle of an assault wave. Both myself and the other heister automatically said, “No.”. Even if we left the money and ran back for him we would have to cross an open street (with snipers), run into a nighclub filled with cops and recover the downed crew member in 30 seconds or less. Then we would have to get out of said nightclub, through the sniper filled street and reach the truck. I think I am making myself clear here when I say it was pure suicide. We end up abandoning the fourth, downed, crew member and escape. We still get a huge payout. 50k in cash, and enough experience to almost get me two levels, but just as we are about to play the Payday card game the host leaves. What does this mean? No Payday cards for anybody. I suspect that one of the other two crew members who did not say “No” had to be the host, and when we opted to leave without the entire crew either rage or envy prompted the host to leave early.

Another example of what I consider bad heist leadership is kicking. The crew leader can kick any member of the crew, at a whim. I was once kicked, after a stat reset, simply because I was level zero, even though we were playing on normal difficulty and to make matters stranger I was completing objectives at the time. Without a word I was kicked, with no experience or money gain. The same can happen when, just before an end of a heist, the host decides to kick a crew member. I have seen it happen,on the grounds that “He was delaying the escape.”. It’s true, and sometimes there would be the one guy who was a bit slower than the rest, but denying a payout when we could wait just a few seconds longer seems simply cruel, after half an hour of gameplay.

Summary

Still, I would say that this year, if you enjoy Co-op games, and especially if you enjoyed Payday 1, then Payday 2 is a MUST HAVE. It is well designed, well thought out, fast paced as before, pure excellence. There is no PvP here so if you were after “Cops and Robbers” you will have to look elsewhere. If you simply enjoy being the robbers I would say that this is the game for you, especially if you have a few close friends to play it with.

Alex “WriterX” Bielski

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About The Author

Aleksander "WriterX" Bielski
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Student of Psychology, he was identified as a Nut-Job even before he started the course. Having done some small work as a Modder for a number of titles, and worked as a Game Designer part-time, Alex now writes in third person. As Co-Owner and Editor of AlterGamer.com he aims high, while being armed only with a sling. In the future, he hopes to become a fully qualified Newspaper Editor, and purchase Google.

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