The first Payday was an interesting mix of Left 4 Dead co-op and bank heists. The low number of heists and bad AI held the game back from being what it could be. Can Payday 2 change that? With the beta out to those with the Career Criminal edition of the game and others we are finally getting a more extensive look at the game.
The first thing many players will notice is the AI. It’s still bad, it basically follows your character around. The AI will shoot enemies and try to pick you up, but not much help beyond that. Completing a jewelry heist mission bordered on impossible with the AI. For those familiar with Payday, one thing that is important is keeping hostages. When my character left the room to go to the back and get the jewels the AI followed my character as well and did not seem inclined to keep the hostages. Several attempts were made, even had a little more success, but ultimately the AI just cannot help you the way other people can.
Speaking of heists there are 7 in the beta, some of which have 2 or even 3 part missions. They show up on a map and have an attached difficulty. The added difficulty not only makes the mission harder but can substantially increase your XP and payout. The jewelry heist showed how things could play out. The first attempt the crew went in more or less guns ablaze. The second we walked in through the front door as civilians, then proceeded to try to take all the hostages. One of the attempts even had police officers flown in via a chopper and dropped off. The getaway vehicle also showed up in different areas. It may not sound like much, but several small things like this could add up to make missions quite different.
After the terrible AI, it was time to see how their human counterparts would do.Crime.net found a hard mission that was paying considerably more than the jewelry store heist. It was a concern that my character was level 1 and my counterparts were quite high in levels. This however seemed to not be as big of a deal. We had a few health and ammo packs with us so it made things quite a bit easier. Having 4 people try to move bags of money is much easier than having the AI watch you do it.
Our job was to rob a bank, one of our team picked up the thermal drill in the parking lot and we split up into two teams. One group went through a side entrance while myself and another player found a door up some steps. We silenced a guard and then a civilian called the police. One of the crew placed the thermal drill and then it was time to defend it and let it open the vault. The timer on the drill was likely only 4 or 5 minutes but it was pure chaos while it was going. The police constantly attacked. Sometimes they’d try to send in units to get hostages. Once or twice an officer snuck around and freed a hostage from one of the back rooms. The drill only went down once during the mission meaning a player had to go start it back up.
Once we got through we had around 9 bags of money to carry, we needed 6 to complete the mission. Unless you have a specific perk you can only carry one bag at a time and it slows the character down quite a bit. It was a tough mission but we had a balanced team. We even managed to get all of the money there.
Playing the same mission showed a similar setup, though my team only had one ammo pack, needless to say it was very tough going. It also revealed another twist the game can throw at players. After getting through the vault we had to then drill through another locked door. Additionally in the vault there were only safe deposit boxes, meaning we had to pick a lock on them until we got the required amount of money. This made the team really work to conserve ammo and we barely got away with the required amount.
Overall it was an enjoyable experience, though best played with at least other people if not friends. Solo play looks to be frustrating at least at lower levels. The expanded perks and weapon customization also give players some cool ways to have a specific playstyle. Want to play a more stealthy character? Invest in the ghost tree, you can do things such as disable electronic devices. While a character with mastermind perks will be able to tie up more hostages and heal his or her teammates.
What are your thoughts? Have you gotten to play the beta? Were you a big fan of the first game?