Co-op first person shooter Payday returns with a sequel that changes almost everything about its original. Payday 2: The Heist, is still all about heists, about working together to get in, get out and get the job done. However, in perhaps the greatest change, we are now subjected to a progressive story line and what ultimately is a reliance on friends or others for aid in order to get through the game. I’m sure you’ve been waiting ages to hear about the game so below is some of the info in brief to get you excited, before our full Payday 2: The Heist.

Payday 2 The Heist

  • 4 player co-op heist
  • 4 classes of criminal to advance (mastermind, enforcer, ghost and technician)
  • No AI team, you’re on your own unless you have friends (which you need!)
  • Enhanced skill tree for each class with unique abilities to change missions
  • RPG style, multi-phased missions (planning, carrying out, escaping, fencing, etc)
  • Smarter AI for civilians, cops and SWAT
  • Improved Graphics and UI
  • New Masks
  • New customisable weapons
  • In-game economy (success = money, money = weapons & masks)
  • Better cause/effect model in-game (heavy bags make for slow progress)
  • Lots of little things requested by Payday game players

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So where to start? Payday 2 really is a wholesale change to the model of the previous game. Some might have argued that the original was less about the heist and more about shooting. This is one of the first things I believe to have been addressed in the Payday 2: The Heist development. So now you are faced with a story line to follow that will see you work your way up as master criminal from smaller jobs to bigger and longer heists, that pop up and are selected from the city map. In our preview, we saw a heist on a jewellery store, with the sole intent of taking an item from the safe to give to a boss’ girlfriend. This could be done quiet and stealthily, or go in guns blazing and try and take all the wares in the store.

The second and perhaps biggest difference is that you no longer have an AI team if you’re playing alone. As is the trend with games these days, its about being connected and sharing the experiences (which the game does evenly at the end of a heist). In addition to no AI on your side, the AI you’re up against is much smarter. In Payday 2 they suddenly work well in teams, SWAT agents and police, diving for cover and only a few are needed to take down an unsuspecting criminal. So to do well and avoid an easy take down you’ll need to have a group or clan of responsible players to work with. Of course, this becomes more complicated given the class system which has been enhanced in Payday2.

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The classes are mastermind, the guy with the ability to instruct the others, influence AI characters and make demands; the technician who controls turrets and plants mines, has a host of fun gadgets, etc; the enforcer who can carry heavy guns and bigger bags, heavier weapons and armor; the ghost, who can operate stealthily and potentially do the best alone. A combination of these with enhanced skill trees should make lighter work of harder heists. You do have the option of re-specing your character in Payday 2, however this comes at a cost (unsure as yet what this may be) to ensure its discouraged.

Heists do get harder! Varying from our first demonstration of Payday 2, the second showed the trail end of a heist, after a get away has gone slightly awry, you’re caught in a situation where you have to save large bags filled with cocaine from the oncoming police. We saw it go wrong, and before all the bags could be saved, the police had intelligently set fire to the truck – the coke perishing along the way. Similarly, in the jewellery store, the SWAT team invaded and snuck back out with the bags, preventing a more lucrative split at the end. These new AI could prove a tough nut to crack for infantile teams!

One thing that remains the same is that there is still no friendly fire in Payday 2. I know that there is a clamour for this online in the Payday community, however the developers firmly insist that this goes against the ethos of the game: its all about cooperation. I guess Payday really does try and promote honour amongst thieves. Having said that, when asking the developers if they might include it given the current demand for it from existing players, they seemed somewhat open to the idea – but only as an unlockable reward or as a separate “expert” mode.

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When the heist is over, you get your loot split evenly between each participant in Payday 2, so if you’ve carried your foolish team through the entire heist, they’ll get an even cut regardless. Experience is no longer just for show, now it relates to in-game money, which you use to trade for masks, guns and gun modifications. With multiple heists on offer via the city map, you need to pick carefully based on ability and experience as to which will have the best and most likely pay off for you and your crew. Speaking of guns and modifications, it’s worth noting that weapons in Payday 2 make all the difference – you can only carry so many, or be limited based on class, plus their relative size and suppression can alert civilians or police as to your presence before you’ve even pulled your mask on.

As you progress in the story, more and more heists become available and I believe re-playable too. On the plus side, if your friends get ahead of you in Payday 2, they can invite you to join them in their heist even if you haven’t reached that stage of the game yet. When the heist is over, if its above your current ability range, you will actually get a slightly better pay out.

The heists, as mentioned, can have different stages. So you might actually start off by planning the heist, then wandering round the site getting to know the layout, the guards and their areas, then pull it off, before attempting to escape, then all the way through to fencing the stolen goods. Each heist can have layered objectives as well that are optional, but can affect the outcome. In fact, you won’t even need to complete a main objective to leave a heist. If you’ve spent time grabbing things to chuck in the bags, you can leave with those rather than finishing what you intended. In our demo, we saw it possible to complete a mission in Payday 2 with maybe only one or two shots fired – easily done with none then! Where is the fun in that though?

Fortunately, there is a mechanism to make heists different every time you play them. Different internal structures for buildings, with closed shutters, guard positions, security camera locations, etc. all prolong the lifetime of the game – it won’t be quite so samey anymore, often a criticism of the first game. This is very much in the vein of Left 4 Dead 2 – its zombie equivalent. With no two heists being exactly the same, it should make replaying them less of a chore.

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Speaking of Left 4 Dead… The first Payday had DLC that linked to Left 4 Dead in the No Mercy hospital heist. Although not confirming as much, the development team we met would not rule out the potential for another cross-over with Payday 2. However, they did specify that there wouldn’t be any zombies in the game!

DLC, the life blood of keeping online games ticking over is already being developed. When and where it will drop is still subject to speculation. However given the size of the game in development, it can be safely said that it shouldn’t be required quite so early on! It looks like its going to be huge and as a huge fan of the first game, I can only wait with baited breath for Payday 2 The Heist to be released in the Summer!

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