Payday: The Heist was probably one of the first games ever to blend bank heists and co-operative gameplay but was only available as a digital download on PSN and Steam. Payday 2, however, is not only getting a full retail release, but is probably one of the more comprehensive sequels I’ve ever played.
Payday 2’s E3 demo features a more classic bank heist than the diamond snatches and prisoner transfers of the first but was every bit as fun. The usual four-man team of professional criminals is tasked with stealing a cache of gold located in a bank vault that must be opened via a stationary drill. If alerted (and trust me, they will be), cops will attempt to retake the building by force as you make for a getaway van.
I was especially pleased that the gunplay felt more or less the same, but a big change from the first Payday is that earned cash now feeds into purchasable upgrades for the player, like new skills, weapons, or equipment instead of just granting levels. Weapons can now by modified with a huge variety of accessories including optics and stocks, which give benefits like increasing hip-fire accuracy or decreasing recoil. Skills are unlocked via cash and are categorized into four professions: Mastermind, Enforcer, Ghost, and Technician. Each profession provides benefits for certain playstyles, but ultimately, skills can be mixed and match for player preference.
The mission itself was a great example of the kind of action that the original Payday excelled at. The first thing I noticed, however, was the chance to scope out the bank before putting on your mask and beginning the heist. There were multiple points of entry and ways to begin the heist besides running through the front door guns blazing and Overkill Software has made a point of expanding the first game’s rather limited stealth gameplay, making suppressed weapons legitimately useful to cat burglars and sneak thieves and even giving players the ability to drag bodies and hide them in dumpsters.
In the full game, players will be able to plan for missions even more with purchasable assets which can provide things like faster getaway cars or building blueprints. Loot, which is obtained by finishing missions, was not available in the demo, but will include random drops of weapon mods and customizable masks to reward successful heisters.
Get ready to break the bank for Payday 2, out in August on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.