Beta Impressions: Payday 2

“Payday 2 Beta,” or “How to Open Safes and Zip-tie People”

Overkill Software is getting ready to release the sequel to their well-received Payday: The Heist, and with the beta of Payday 2 already available through Steam, the company has proven that they can take a great concept and make it even better.

The game drops players into the shoes of a professional armed robber, and immediately opens up a map of the city with dozens of options for heists of varying difficulties and payoffs. Targets range from banks, to jewelry stores, to meth labs and more. The heists can be played offline and completed solo or with two AI teammates, or online with three human teammates. Integrated voice and text chat, along with intelligent contextual environmental interactions, makes playing online with others simple and drops the learning curve to an almost flat plane, with players showing one another the ropes.

Players earn both cash and experience points from completing jobs successfully, and can then use the cash for equipment and guns, and the experience points to boost their abilities in any of the four skill trees in the game. The skill trees are standard fare, with a leader (who carries a medic bag), a gunman (who carries spare ammo for the team), a technician (who carries explosives), and a scout/stealth class (who can jam hostages’ and security teams’ electronics to slow police response times). The gunplay is fast-paced and intense, with beautiful sound effects and dozens of gorgeous weapon models. The game’s AI police are pretty intelligent and have the ability to dodge killing fields and move in squads.

Payday 2 (1)

My overall sense of the game, from playing the beta, was overwhelmingly positive. Occasionally, items or objects wouldn’t allow me to appropriately interact, or AI behaved oddly or didn’t recognize when they were shot. However, because the game is still in beta, I would say these are all very small issues that are likely to be fixed by the game’s release date. This is an engaging FPS that is a nice change of pace from the usual fare, and it offers unique challenges with unique mechanics.

We’ll post a full review of the game once it’s out of beta. Based on initial impressions, Payday 2 shows a lot of promise. The scheduled release date for the full game is August 27, 2013. Pre-order pricing is $29.99, and players who upgrade to the $49.99 “Career Criminal Edition” receive, among other things, 2 keys giving them access to the beta.

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About Will Brunelle

Will is a Senior of English and Journalism at the University at Albany, and has been writing for gaming news sites for two years. He may be contacted at willbrunelle@gmail.com with questions, concerns, comments or tips.