PayDay 2 Preview: Behind The Mask
If ever we decide to rob a bank, we want the guys at Overkill Software on speed dial.
The developers of PayDay: The Heist have learned a thing or two more about planning big scores, and as a result its sequel, PayDay 2, is aiming to be tighter, more tactical and more tense than its predecessor. After viewing an early demo level of the game and talking to a few members of the team, it’s clear they want the differences to be obvious from the second you sit down to play.
“We wanted to give the player the option to make it more tactical,” says PayDay 2’s game designer, sound designer and composer Simon Viklund. “Building your character and…how you look and what weapons you have and what equipment skills you have, and also role-playing in the menu already with the CRIMENET mission delivery system.”
The new CRIMENET interface works like a contract database hub taking the form of a city map, and lets players pick, play and share available missions.
“It’s something we wanted to do in the first game, but we didn’t have the time and we wanted to focus on just building a good foundation [with] the first person, the action parts of the game. And then now we have the ability to expand upon that stuff outside of the action experience more,” says Overkill designer, Karl Andersson.
Missions are offered through various unlocked contacts- characters that the team say will inject additional story into the game, as well as giving new multi-staged missions more structure.
In the short demo level we saw, a Ukrainian mobster had Wolf and Dallas raid a jewellery store in search of a tiara for his wife, but any additional loot that they managed to bag and bring with them in the getaway was theirs to keep. “…In PayDay 2 we have this economy, so the money that you steal, you actually get to spend – on the weapon crafting and stuff like that,” says Viklund.
The weapon customisation menu, the Black Market, will let you change barrels and stocks, acquire suppressors, red dot sights and larger magazines, amongst other things. Some of the options are cosmetic, the team say, but most of them have in-game advantages, where you can specialise your M4 for sniping, for example.
There are, of course, new masks, mask parts, and optional paint jobs – meaning you can personalise your own mask to make a more distinctive mark on every job you do.
Players can mix and match from four distinct skill trees in the Career menu – the Mastermind, the Technician, the Enforcer and the Ghost – to improve their stats. However, the process has been refined to make players think more about their choices.
“In the first game, you could max out your level trees, so if you and three of your friends played the games for 30 hours, then you had all the weapons. Everyone had everything, so no-one was specialised. But in this game, in line with the idea that choices should matter, you can’t max out everything,” says Viklund. “You can’t be a jack of all trades, so you want to team up with friends – or strangers – and play the game with them, and see where your combined skills and items and gadgets and weaponry can take you.”
And according to the team, you’ll be taken to all kinds of places, as the scope for locations is a lot wider this time around. There are the usual banks and back alleys, but there are also forests, warehouses, mansions and meth labs. And in keeping with the tone originally set by The Heist, there are lots of pop culture references thrown in too.
“There’s so much to tap from in terms of movies and TV shows,” Viklund states. Breaking Bad was mentioned as an inspiration, as were the biker gangs from Sons Of Anarchy. “There’s a guy that looks just like Opie, has the gun, knife everything – it’s fantastic.” Says Andreas Hall, QA at Overkill.
Though there are more jobs to take on, the team say replayablity and co-operation are still the key features of Pay Day 2. “The one thing is that co-operating always pays off, so if you’re communicating with each other and you have skills that complement each other… you have a much greater chance of success.” Viklund states.
PayDay 2 seems to be shaping into a much more confident and self-assured game than its predecessor. Given how many comparisons to Left 4 Dead PayDay: The Heist received, did the team feel like they were now putting their own stamp on the series?
“We talked about this,” says Karl, “and I like to think that if they were to make Left 4 Dead 3 this is ideally what they would be doing.”