Posted by Pip
R10T4- Or SiVirNsTues
What's become of this comic? It used to be all about the bickering and fighting and trying to enslave worlds and now characters are talking about working together and getting along?! Save us, Labor, just deck somebody as hard and you can! Tie some shoelaces together! Spike the drinks to rowdy up the blood!
Quick Review: Payday 2
The first level is a terrible experience because you start off with a major fault of the game. The first time you do a mission, it frequently makes no sense. Whether it's unclear objectives, bad level layout, important objects not being called out, or a mismatch between the UI and dialogue and what you can actually do, you usually have to spend one attempt per level just to lean what the actual purpose of a level is. My first level had the goal to rob four bags worth of jewelry from a store. I get there, there's no indication what to take so I start grabbing anything I see, but the bags aren't filling up and there's no indication of where to go. I grab a tray of rings and the and meter goes up 1 but there's still no indication of where to go and I can no longer grab the rings or some of the jewels. The level continues like this with me highly confused grabbing the pieces I can until several minutes and several dozen dead cops go by and the getaway van appears. I drop off the bag and now I can go back to the store for more. Why did a tray of rings take up an entire bag when I could grab dozens of necklaces with no limit? Why wasn't there an indication of what was worth a bag? Why did I have to wait so long with so little to do for the van to show up all while the game was yelling at me to complete my objective which I couldn't actually do because there was no getaway van. That whole experience sums up Payday 2. It's buggy, terribly designed, not very fun, and I played it not because I liked it but just because I WANTED to like it.
You face off against bullet sponge enemies that never stop coming so the gunplay isn't satisfying, it's just tedious. The fun of a heist isn't killing endless waves of cops. The game's stealth options are so limited that going in guns blazing is the only non-horribly tedious route but then longer levels are a bore. The later levels aren't fun because there are instant kill jump kicking enemies that soak up bullets so you could lose an entire level's worth of progress from a single enemy that spawns out of thin air. The game is very buggy with that. A lot of time the horrible janky and stuttery movements of enemies are funny (like seeing an enemy's head popping out through a bus's roof and when you go inside, his neck is four feet tall) but when you watch enemies pop out of thin air or rain out of the sky or clip through walls so they can shoot you but you can't shoot back, it stops being entertaining. Missions involve lots of waiting around, either for a drill that's going to take several minutes and lock up and need a restart multiple times or after having completed an objective you just stand around killing cops until your getaway vehicle shows up. The game constantly yells at you to complete your mission during these wait times. Yes, I'd love to open that safe too, but I have to stand here for six more minutes and wait on a drill that constantly stalls. You lose thousands of dollars for every civilian you kill but why do you care? You mow down several dozen cops per mission, so what difference does a civilian make? The game justifies it as "cleaner" costs, but that doesn't really work when you're doing an all out assault on a bank, your face was seen, and you used that same weapon to kill dozens of other people and nobody actually comes by to clean anything up. You have AI partners in the sense that another object is there, but they're probably the most useless of any AI partner to ever grace a game. They'll revive you and fire at the cops, but they don't contribute at all to objectives. You can't point them at objects or tell them to grab something or have them defend a point. They just stand there and stare at you as you do an entire team's worth of work. The game is clearly set up for three people to play, but your AI partners won't complete any objectives or help you in any way. One level has one person man a computer and two people man circuit breakers to keep the computer running. In single player, you can to spend twenty minutes running back and forth between the breakers and the computer while your partners just stand around. You can finish part one of a mission with four bags of loot but in part two where you have to get the loot to an escape vehicle, you'll have to leave three bags behind because you don't have enough time to go back and forth and the partners won't take a bag, so that makes you feel like your time was extra wasted. Furthermore, if you're playing on the harder difficulties to actually get some experience, if you fail the random "escape" missions after the real mission, it counts as a failure for the entire mission and you get nothing. All that time, completely wasted in a game that already wastes a lot of time.
The purpose for all these missions are to upgrade your character and get new weapons, but they rarely ever feel useless or remotely worth the hours it took to level up for that skill point. The Enforcer class gets bonuses to life and attack for unlocking skills, but the vast majority of his skills are pointless. While the technical class has good skills but pointless bonuses. There are four different tech trees but only a handful of decent skills in any tree and there aren't enough points to unlock up to the useful skills for each tree and it takes days upon days to get skill points midway through that it's just not worth it. The game says that if you collect money you can upgrade your hideout, but that seem to be a lie and your hideout is completely useless. I don't know why they didn't tie that to the gameplay. As you level up and complete missions for your contacts, you unlock the better missions, you can upgrade your drills and items so they're faster and they stall less, and you get better drivers so you have to escape less and vans show up faster. That would have given the game a much needed sense of progress and purpose. As it is now, you can't compare the base stats of two weapons if you have a mod on one of them, but once you remove a mod, you place it in your inventory but there's no way to take it out of your inventory to put it back on a weapon so you have to pay the obscene mod cost a second time.
Payday 2 it really feels like a free to play game. A really crappy, free to play game. It's so slow and grindy to level up and unlock new items, the cosmetic mask customization is pointless since you never see your guy, the bonus items for completing a mission are randomized and usually just cosmetic forcing you to grind missions for that custom weapon part you want, you grind for experience so you can buy new weapons or tools, you grind for experience to level up for skill points, you grind for money so you can afford the new weapons or tools, and you can't pick which missions you have available and have to wait for a decent mission to pop up on the map which involves just sitting there and watching a timer count down for a new mission to pop in. Without that aforementioned actual progression in the contacts or a story, when you're in the late game and the easiest missions are only giving you 1% of the experience needed to level up, you keep getting them. It desperately wants to invoke the movie Heat, but misses a lot of what made that movie good. Heat's heist sequences were intense and kept you on the edge of your seat with calculated violence and you wanted to root for the team. Heck, one of the tense scenes in Heat involves a driller operation that goes nowhere and get abandoned, but good storytelling made you care. Here, you're standing at a drill that keeps stalling mowing down hoards of cops with no real sense of tension of danger both because you've done this mission twenty-nine times already and also because you just don't care if your guys die. There's no real story, so you don't care about the characters in your gang and you're not building towards anything, so you're just grinding on these repetitive missions to get better at grinding at these missions. One of my dream game projects is to make a heist game, so to see a game with all those trappings is fantastic but it's heartbreaking how tedious and just plain boring Payday 2 winds up being.
I quit playing not because I absolutely hated the game, but because of how long it took to get experience to level up and to get money to buy upgrades. It's just purely incompetent game design. It seems like somebody went through the game and multiplied all the costs by ten. Once I hit the 40s, it took me an entire day's worth of playing to level up once and it takes four or eight levels worth of skill points to buy a new ability so I would have to play for over a week just to ace one skill to try to unlock the perks that could make the game interesting. A mission on the absolute highest difficulty AND with a perk that gives you extra experience only gives you 30K experience. At level 50, you'd have to complete that mission without failing 4 times to level up, and according to an FAQ, you'd have to complete it over 30 times to move from 99 to 100. The game is so poorly made and designed that it started getting boring after three days but I stuck with it because I loved the theme, but I'm most certainly not going to play for three more months just to reach the prestige system. There are very few mission types with the difficulty differences just being how many bags you have to deliver and how many enemies you fight, so once you can complete a mission on a three star difficulty, there's never really a reason to go back and do it again. There aren't even many mission types so you are literally just playing the same mission over and over. Bank Heist, Bank Heist: Gold, Bank Heist: Cash, and Bank Heist: Deposit are all the same mission in the same level with the same objectives and the only thing that's different is the item inside the vault and if there's a timer on that item. MMOs get away with needlessly stretching out the level up curve and cost of items and random drops to keep you playing and paying your subscription fee. This isn't an MMO so it shouldn't be using that system. I understand that these decisions were probably made to keep multiplayer active, but somebody should have stepped in and said that was dumb and to stop doing it. Instead of being a fun game that people keep playing because it's enjoyable, it's a tedious game that's a chore to play so people probably quit faster than if they were steadily leveling up and unlocking new items and skills. I could grind more efficiently in single player so the experience costs actually prevented me from going online since other people would have just made it take longer. With all the glaringly terrible design decisions that could have been prevented, you have to look at who made this game and it turns out to be some higher up from Grin. Yes, Grin, the company behind the terrible Bionic Commando reboot, that awful Wanted: Weapons of Fate movie game, and the embarrassing Terminator: Salvation game, which all led to that studio being canned. Well they're back and ruining more game. Hooray! So please, some competent, capable developer out there, make an awesome heist game. I need it. The world needs it.