I picked up Payday 2 on the insistence of some friends, and it’s been a very worthwhile purchase. It’s a great co-op sneak-or-shoot style game with an interesting leveling system and nice randomization on the maps.
For the leveling system, the higher your level, the more options you have in how to complete each mission. At level one, with basically just the starter guns and armor, you’re only option is to run in guns blazing, and given your skill/gear, you likely can only survive on normal mode (assuming of course you don’t team up with higher-level players, which is totally an option).
As you progress, options such as body bags, tricking the police intercoms, silences, and better sneaking open up. This allows you to start trying to beat missions ‘clean’, without alerting the police. You don’t usually get more rewards, and the map isn’t exactly easier this way, but it can be VERY satisfying pulling everything off and getting away clean.
The game currently has about half a dozen missions, some with one map and others with two or three. On each map certain elements are random, such as security camera locations, guard patrol routes, civilian locations, and safes/vaults. The randomization is certainly enough to keep the missions from being routine, but is one aspect of the game that in the future (Payday 3) could be even better. The pinnacle of course would be 100% completely randomized maps, but I don’t think that’s realistic right now.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the online community right now. In a game where you can blow the stealth aspect for the other three people you are playing with, you would expect some to grief missions or rage when you make a mistake, but so far everyone I’ve played with has either been silent or just helpful. Either I’ve been lucky, or somehow Payday is designed in such a way as to reduce rage. Either way online play has been very enjoyable, whether with my buddies or just randoms.
Finally, as you complete missions you not only earn cash to buy new guns, but you also get new weapon modifications, adding a bit of depth. Masks and mask design are the fluff aspect, and are surprisingly fun. When you succeed, you have a random chance to get a new mask, or a mask color, pattern, or design. You can then combine the three to create a more custom mask that others will see online. It’s a small detail, but another nice bonus when finishing a mission.
If you enjoy shooters with some depth and great co-op, Payday 2 is worth picking up on Steam for $30.