Four strangers stand in front of a Jewelry Store. They’re clearly Nervous, glancing between each other and Walking back and forth, glancing inside, and taking short trips down the allies on either side. The clerks don’t think much of it, knowing that security has the back of the store covered. Because of that, it’s all the more surprising when three of the men walk inside, don masks, and a fourth comes into the showroom, his mask a twisted painted grin, pointing a silenced pistol at the person behind the register. “Down on the fucking ground…”
So began one of my first games of PAYDAY 2, the co-op, FPS Crime simulator from Overkill Studios that released yesterday. While I knew, going in, that the game had a lot of potential to be a fun experience, I had no idea how impact-ful it would be on a social level, and how good it is a keeping you on your toes. These are my first impressions, having played a handful of heists, and couple hours of total playtime.
PAYDAY 2 does have a tutorial level, but it doesn’t really prepare you for the chaos you’ll be experiencing once you get into the real game. Sure, it shows you the basics, gives you a little bit of cash and a skill point to use, but pretty much, you’re in the deep end: as you should be. One of the best bits of PAYDAY 2 is the atmosphere it creates that, as much as you try to be, you’re not in control. With skill, planning, communication and a little luck you CAN complete most missions (i think there are a few you need to shoot your way through) without firing a shot. Its a great goal to strive towards, but not one you’ll be reaching soon. Shit will go wrong. A guard will spot you where you thought they couldn’t. There will be two vault doors instead of one. Your getaway vehicle will get cornered by the FBI, and you’ll need to shoot your way out, all while transporting 6 bags of Cocaine you’re transporting for the mob.
I just realized that PAYDAY2 discussions and reviews are probably popping up as red flags for the NSA like crazy….
One of the most remarkable things I found playing PAYDAY2 last night, and I do realize this could be new game syndrome, is how good the community is. There’s a real sense that you HAVE to work together, that you’re in this together, and communication is important. If you have a mic, set it up, rebind the push-to-talk key (~? why?), and get talking. Supporting your teammates with ammo, health, covering fire and advice is essential, encourages, and quickly feels like the norm. In addition, after completing a mission, getting your money and your experience, you also get a random chance at some more goodies by selecting one of three playing cards. Your team of 4 all gets to see if you got more cash, a new weapon mod, or a new pattern for a mask you have. You’ll all be able to congratulate the guy that got that rare drop Cthulhu mask, or complain and laugh that your friend got the silencer you needed for your rifle.
PAYDAY2 has solid controls, plenty of customization, and enough random elements to keep you having fun, but what’s most remarkable is how it makes you want, no, need to work together. That is exactly what will make this game a strong contender for “Hey, what game should we play tonight fellas? I brought beers!” in the weeks, months, and even years to come.