Forgot password?


Password reset

Please enter your e-mail address and new password.

Payday 2

By MrJenssen16-08-2013
Toast (editor)
Payday 2

The Defence

Overkill Software
505 Games
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Quad 2.3 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTX 460
AMD Radeon HD 5850
3 GB
10 GB

The Case


The original Payday: The Heist had a promising new take on the FPS genre. It combined the heavily teamplay-focused cooperative gameplay from Left 4 Dead with a nearly untouched theme in the genre - bank robbery. It showed potential, but production value was relatively low and the overall game felt very repetitive. Well that was two years ago. Now, its sequel is out. With the might of Starbreeze behind them, can Overkill finally deliver on their promises? Is Payday 2 the ultimate heist simulator?

The Trial


Well, let me start by getting one thing out of the way. Payday 2 certainly isn’t a simulator. It’s not a very realistic game, as you will quickly notice as you put your body armor on and charge into a bank, shouting at everyone to get down on the ground. Within minutes, you’ll be facing off against literally hundreds of police officers of various kinds, who are all ready to sacrifice their lives in order to make your well-deserved payday just an iota harder to reach.

Crew of hardasses.

Crew of hardasses.

The gameplay itself works very much like it did in the original. In the main menu, you’re allowed to buy new weapons and upgrades, level up your character and choose what skills to employ. When you actually join a game, the goal is simple: Get in, do the objective, wait for a getaway vehicle, and time your escape well before you get out. You and up to three other players will start most heists in “Casing Mode”, where you’re walking around like every other civilian. This mode is useful to scout out the environment, find out where the guards are patrolling, what routes are blocked and so on.

Once you put your masks on, the heat will be on you rather quickly if you’re not skilled in the art of stealth. This leads me to one of Payday 2’s new features. You see, while Payday: The Heist always played out more or less the same; you enter the bank, you put your mask on, and shit is on - Payday 2 lets you attempt to do heists stealthy. If you’ve got the right skills and weapons unlocked and your team works well together, you might actually get out with tons of loot without as much as raising a brow - let alone any alarms.

Stealthy attempts will usually go south very quickly, so don’t expect to be able to pull it off with ease. At least in the early levels. Payday 2 operates with a level cap of 100, and with each level you’ll get a skillpoint to use in the four skill trees. And trust me, you’ll be needing every one of them. Still, even though stealth is tough as hell, it gives players something to strive towards. When you’re out in the field, allowing a civilian or security guard to spot a dead body or an armored dude sneaking around alleys with a hockey mask and a machine gun, will have the alarm sounded in no-time. Various skills will help you out, allowing you to move and dump bodies, pick locks quicker, jam security cameras and so on. But you can only get so far with the skills. At the core of a successful stealth takedown, is still the players. Without teamwork, you’ll get nowhere fast.

Shield spotted!

Shield spotted!

This segues into one of the game’s major problems. The AI is horrendous! You can play the game alone, with bots tagging along. But they won’t be of much help to you. Similar to the bots of Left 4 Dead, they won’t pick up loot bags, unjam drills, pick locks or anything like that. They’ll walk around with you, shooting at enemies, and helping friendlies up if they’re down. And that’s it. It’s nearly impossible to complete even the simplest heists all on your own. The AI for enemies isn’t the best either. They feel very much like what they are - computer-programmed, man-shaped numbers. Never will you feel like you’re fighting a real police force that works together to take you out. You’ll never see police stack up outside the building, and special enemies like the heavy-duty Bulldozers and shield-carriers tend to just charge at you on their own, without anyone following behind. The police don’t work together at all, and instead act similar to the zombies of Left 4 Dead. Don’t get me wrong, the cops WILL give you a challenge, and they’re not so easy to exploit, but they won’t ever give you the feeling that you’re fighting a legitimate police force.

This problem is only enforced by the way ballistics work in this game. While most modern multiplayer shooters work with a somewhat realistic ballistic system, where bullets actually travel from the weapon to the point of impact, and anyone caught between will get hit, Payday 2 doesn’t seem to have such a system. Instead, it works similar to most MMORPGs. When an enemy shoots at you, he will hit you. He will hit you even if your friend walks in the way. This wouldn’t be such an issue if it had worked right, but at a number of times, this system gets incredibly tedious. Enemies seem to sometimes be able to hit you through walls and other objects.

Enemies also have incredible accuracy, to the point where it feels unnatural. The special Shield-wearing enemy can walk backwards, facing you, with a small machine pistol locked into place on the side of the shield, and yet continuously hits you with pin-point perfect aim. You might think this isn’t such a huge deal, but it becomes very frustrating when you’re playing on high difficulty heists, where keeping every bit of your health is essential for success. It’s an issue I don’t see Overkill fixing anytime soon, as it is interwoven well into the game’s infrastructure. It baffles me that they would choose such a system, in favor of what games like Red Orchestra 2 have, for example. Either that, or a system like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, where bots gradually hit you more the longer you are exposed to them.

No littering! But killing our guards is okay.

No littering! But killing our guards is okay.

Besides the new stealth mechanics - which work incredibly well on multiple levels - you’ll now have a number of new tools at your disposal, depending on what class you level up with. Safes that normally need to be drilled, can be blown up with C4 or even lockpicked by players with the right skills unlocked. You’ll come to respect each class’ speciality, and though the Enforcer is lethal and accurate with most weapons, he won’t likely succeed in robbing a bank without a Technician or Ghost by his side, and a Mastermind leading the way.

Some heists are now spread over several levels, or “days”. Though you usually get a small cash-reward after each day, you’ll need to complete the last day before you actually get the fattest pay check, along with experience points and a randomized reward, ranging from cash bundles and mask patterns, to weapon attachments and brand new masks altogether.

Variety has also been spiced up heavily. In today’s industry, we’re often promised by developers that a level will “never play exactly the same twice”. Well, Payday 2 is probably the shooter that has come the closest to fulfilling this promise. Every time you play a specific heist, you’ll notice different variations. A door that was open earlier, is now locked, where there was two guards patrolling the area last time, there’re now none, and entire routes might be blocked off for you, forcing your team to use a different route this time. On top of this, you’ll sometimes have to complete an Escape-segment between the multi-day heists, before you can progress to the next day. The variation Payday 2 gives you, not only helps with replayability overall, but also forces you to try different approaches that you may not be comfortable with at first, ultimately resulting in you becoming a better player.

Storming FBI office. Because why not?

Storming FBI office. Because why not?

On the technical side of things, apart from the odd ballistics system and the weak AI, Payday 2 is mostly stellar, and far surpasses the original Payday. The graphics and physics do their job well for the most part, especially when it comes to the weapons. Overkill have done a fantastic job with the weapons. There’re only 18 or so in the game, but each weapon feels powerful and unique. The attachments are more than just the bling we’re used to seeing in modern shooters. They actually make a difference, both audio-visually and gameplay-wise. Weapons sound loud and sharp, and there’s never any doubt that the shotgun has the power to launch a man into orbit around the planet.

In fact, sound design overall is where Overkill have truly outdone themselves. When you hit F to shout for civilians to get down, you genuinely believe your character’s voice. Police chatter also sounds believable, and the soundtrack pumping in the background is just perfect for getting the adrenaline flowing. Soon, you yourself will be shouting at the top of your lungs for backup as the police breach the door you’re covering, lobbing in a smoke grenade and start charging in with shields in the front.

There’are nitpicks to be found here and there: enemies can see and hit you through foliage, the suppression system doesn’t always seem to work right, you can get temporarily stuck in the geometry of staircases and players can interact with downed teammates and loot bags through walls. Sometimes, you don’t get a hit indicator on an enemy you’re shooting at, even when you’re sure you got him. The communication you can do with teammates is also limited. Left 4 Dead had a whole command wheel, but Payday 2 limits this communication to one contextual button.

The weapons look as awesome as they feel.

The weapons look as awesome as they feel.

Though Bain teases the ability to upgrade your safe house in the beginning of the game, such a function is nowhere to be found in the core game, and is instead hinted at for a future DLC. Certain heists also re-use levels from other heists in the game, with only small variations. Finding exactly the heist you want to play can sometimes be a chore too, as you’ll need to sit and watch the Crime.net overview map for the one you want to pop up, and that can sometimes take ten minutes or more. There are also some slight balancing issues, and so on. You get the deal, no game is perfect.

The Verdict


Though Payday 2’s AI issues effectively make it a pointless purchase for people looking for a solo experience, and is at times annoying even for a good crew of four human players, it doesn’t hold the game back too much. Payday 2 is a fun game. It’s such a fun game. It has a heavier focus on teamwork than most other so-called cooperative games out there these days, and it works great.

Even public play is for the most part painless, as most Payday 2-players seem to all want the same thing; working together in order to succeed, and get a fat pay check as a reward at the end of the day. If you can look past some minor issues bound to be fixed later, and some bigger issues I’m not too sure will ever be fixed, Payday 2 is an easily recommended purchase. Just remember that you’ll need that wonderful thing called the internet, because your AI-teammates are absolutely useless.

Case Review

  • BAM!: The sound design is worthy of a religion. It’s intense.
  • Co-Op Or Die: This game is for people who love teamwork. If you don’t love teamwork, then you can fuck off.
  • Quality Over Quantity: The amount of heists and weapons won’t blow anyone’s minds, but the quality of them will.
  • How Stupid Can You Get?!:  The AI is in serious need of improvement.
  • How the hell did that hit me?: Ballistics make no sense.
Score: 4/5
It might not be the most realistic heist simulator, but Payday 2 succeeds in giving you what you want for your money - cooperative fun. And tons of it.


Payday: The Heist was a game that sounded brilliant on paper (and even better in the trailers) but fell way too short when it came to execution. But even with that said, it had its moments and Payday 2 is the game to watch out for with glimmering hopes and fantasies of untold riches. But to get to those riches you will have to work really hard. There are heists of varying difficulty and objectives, randomised maps and the ability to approach the goal YOUR way that make the game quite addictive.

Payday 2 is not all glittering gold though. It looks ok but you can’t shake the feeling that it could have been much better. It has an annoying thing of a random prize drop after every successful heist, similar to Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. Due to that randomness throughout my beta and full game experience I got practically only mask drops. I admit, my character looks really cool and unique but I’d wish for some upgrades/attachments as well... But the most annoying thing by far is the AI. To be fair the developers really put emphasis on the importance of a co-op play but the game with bots can just kill it for anyone brave enough to do it.

Online is where the fun is at. And if you do it with friends, with good communication and coordination, then the experience will be doubly as good. In that state, a lot of flaws can be and will be overlooked and you will want to do a harder, bigger and longer heist. Just one more before going to bed...

Score: 4/5


Let me put it this way. Payday 2 is not my kind of game at all. Essentially, it's an online only (there's offline too, but the bots are dumb as shit) shooty bang killfest. You and up to three friends (or randoms) are tasked with pulling off some kind of illegal activity such as cleaning out a jewellery store or breaking into a bank. Ostensibly via sneaking in and doing it all sneaky sneaky stealth stealth. But invariably, that goes wrong and you shoot the crap out of everything until you have a chance to escape. So, yeah, not my kind of game at all.

Yet I'm now close to level thirty, with a dozen hours of play time in only few days, fit in around full time commitments elsewhere. Because, you see, the way it's all set up, it really is my kind of game. See, it does something that other online first person shooters don't. It not only facilitates, but requires that you work as a team. This is not a run and gun, one man army Rambo simulator. No regenerating health (regenerating armour, but that's not the same thing) no kill streaks, none of the usual trappings of the online FPS. And that, now that, I really do like.

If I was to make any complaint, which I will because it's my job. It is that the heists are clearly weighted to be almost impossible to finish via silently at low levels. In fact, it seems they are deliberately geared towards being combat intensive until you reach roughly half way to the maximum level. Around level fifty or so. Which irritates me, but from a design perspective is a stroke of brilliance. Forcing the combat emphasis at lower levels forces you to familiarise yourself with the weapons and tactics needed to survive when the quiet approach doesn't work. Because, believe me, when it goes wrong on the Overkill difficulty, you damn sure need to know how to stay alive.

Score: 4.5/5

Judges panel

Toast Score 3.5/5
NotoriousBSE Score 4/5
Comments (5)
You must be to post a comment.
Posts: 3290

I can dream!

Maybe with mod tools...

Posts: 1548

If only the bribery worked :P

Posts: 3290

And you can die on bookshelves and throw money at Police to bribe them!

Posts: 2

Its an amazing game in my opinion, minus some AI problems and glitches its deff a 4.5

Posts: 3290

My brain.

My brain!