Did you know that PAYDAY 2 is my second most-played game on Steam? Clocking it to nearly 500 hours, I’ve been with it since the release. And I would be the first to admit that it was far from a perfect game. Bad matchmaking, broken stealth, terrible AI on lower difficulties, and so on. But damn, it is fun clearing out a bank with four perfectly synced random players. For all of its flaws, the core gameplay was always beyond amazing. So imagine my excitement when I heard that the sequel is around the corner, with a new story, new heisters, and most importantly – a new game engine!
Several years after the crew’s reign of terror over Washington DC has ended, the crew assembles once again to deal with the threat that roused them out of early retirement. Apparently, someone is after them, and the questions are why and what they want. In order to identify and crush this new threat, the Crew is leaving their Washington DC roots behind them and moving to New York City.
A new location will bring with it new challenges, but also new opportunities for a heister with a plan. And that’s pretty much most of the story we might get for now. Remember that it took almost a decade for the PAYDAY 2 story to be wrapped up with ongoing new heists and updates so I can only say at this point to….stay tuned?
Okay, so I start the game and what do I see? Some lackluster menus and 99% of weapons are locked behind the player level. No big deal, I can still work with that (after all, PAYDAY 2 wasn’t in any better shape on release). But wait, what is this………challenges as the only way to level up infamy, always online, lack of detailed numbers for weapon stats, no safe house, no bot customization, and most importantly of all – no preplanning!
Okay, now I’m seriously mad. And if I were any more upset, this is honestly where I would stop the review. Why? Because it took me more than 3 days to even get into a heist or two (by the way, why do I have to matchmake when I want to play with bots only, makes no sense). Another thing is that the player damage now is beyond pathetic. Even on the lowest difficulty, the only way to quickly dispose of cops is to score a headshot, and for anywhere else on their body it’s going to take you 5-6 bullets on average.
Honestly, playing PAYDAY 3 feels like they forgot ten years of updates that PAYDAY 2 went through. I just don’t understand why every single thing has to be locked behind level or something else. It is so incredibly demotivating seeing a bunch of weapons with only 1 or 2 unlocked, like the game is saying “You like what you see? Well, better get used to playing the game & its challenges in a very specific way that the developers intended if you want to unlock more”.
So far, the only thing that makes me feel a bit better about this game is the visual overhaul that came with selecting Unreal Engine 4 instead of the previous Diesel game engine that had noticeable limits in visuals. Now we have better weapon models, better-looking NPCs, better environments, and better enemy design (special shoutout goes to the new Dozer, Cloaker, and Zapper). Overall, the levels now look brighter and with better lighting.
Upon hearing that Simon Viklund won’t be returning for PAYDAY 3, I was heartbroken. Can’t tell you just how many times I would restart heists on purpose just hoping to get Razormind on shuffle. In any case, after spending some time in this game, I can confirm now that the new artist Gustavo Coutinho is only a suitable replacement, but his tracks give a fresh breath of air for PAYDAY 3. Just try to get “No Rest For The Wicked” out of your head after you finish the heist, it’s near impossible.
I’d say I somewhat like what this game can be but not the game itself as of right now. It is the version of PAYDAY 3 that I would have expected in 2015. The new engine is good and the heists are interesting as well. However, I really have no patience for waiting for a couple of years (at least!) before this game evolves into an acceptable state. Put this in a cryo sleep and wake me up when I won’t have to spend 5 to 6 minutes queueing for a game before finally being kicked out to a main menu.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.