We Suck at Heists: Hands On with Payday 2
Escapes are tough, we’re told, and there are several that might pop up in that situation. Fighting for our lives also highlighted what’s so important about teamwork and playing with people you can trust in Payday 2. By this point, we’d actually been dealing with the fallout of those three accidental shots in the opening seconds of the game — one single mistake — for around 20 minutes.
The escape goes fairly well, and we get everyone out with a rooftop pickup before the cops are able to bring us down. But the job isn’t over: even though we have the paintings, we now have to arrange a buy to get rid of them. Despite all the work, we still haven’t even come up with any money.
The trade takes place in an abandoned train yard, where a caller on a cell phone gives us instructions of where to go and where to leave the loot. We have to enter a train car, which is then sealed, and leave the paintings on a table. With the loot in place, a helicopter drops four bags of money through the ceiling. We each load up, the weight of the money putting us seriously off-balance and making us very slow. The door opens; the place is eerily quiet.
And then the feds show up.
Buys like this are also dynamically generated, Goldfarb said, and they often result in a police ambush or a similar bad situation, but not always. Sometimes, a buy might go off without a hitch, with the players trading their loot for money and walking away with everyone happy. This time, though, we have to fight our way out of the train yard’s adjoining warehouse, and out to our waiting van beyond.
Again, it’s all about teamwork and speed. Moving as a unit, we blast away at cops streaming down from catwalks above, seriously hindered by the heavy money bags. Moving the bags means we are in some bad trouble, catching bullets from all over, and as a team we each toss the bags through windows to free ourselves up to fight off more cops, before snagging the loot again. Eventually, we fight our way out of the building as AI cops dodge behind obstacles and cover each other — they’re often frustratingly good at keeping clear of your machine gun fire and trading back their own. They put up a pretty serious fight almost all the time, and it’s through teamwork (and liberal use of revives for fallen comrades) that we’re finally able to chuck the loot out a window, drop down to the street below, and jump in the van to escape.
Finally paid, we’re also awarded some random drops of items — in this case, an attachment for submachine guns. Completing jobs brings money you can use to purchase new gear and “assets” for other jobs — which can be anything from an employee leaving a door unlocked, to a building’s blueprints, to a sniper covering you from across the street. After we finish up, it’s off to the bank job.
“You better deal with him,” Goldfarb warns, which I interpret to mean: “Shoot him in the face many, many times.” That’s not what he meant, though.
I played the bank heist in my E3 demo of Payday 2, and it’s a notable mission because the job starts out with the ability to “case the joint.” Walking around outside the bank, you can get the lay of the land and even find contextual gear like planks of wood that can be used to board up windows and slow the inevitable police assault. It’s only once we put on our masks that we can start the robbery, but we’re also limited by what we can interact with while our masks stay off.
As you might guess, the bank job also doesn’t go so hot. This time it’s my fault — as we try to sneak into the bank’s security room, a guard rounds the corner and finds us stalking around. “You better deal with him,” Goldfarb warns, which I interpret to mean: “Shoot him in the face many, many times.” That’s not what he meant, though.
The good news about Payday 2 is that if you fail miserably — as Ross and I did, again and again — you aren’t necessarily dooming your crew to a life sentence. The RPG aspects added to the game go further than simply customizing your character to allow for certain kinds of weapons proficiency. Each player assumes a very specific role — crowd control, muscle, stealth and healing and tools. You can heal downed teammates, form a phalanx around your tool man while he works, and specialize on things like toting med bags or ammo. This makes it easier for less-skilled players to contribute while learning the ropes of the game without ruining it for everyone. (Though if you suck, it means your squad is going to spend a lot of time reviving you.)
Each of us took to our roles at that point. Our man with his saw started slicing open ATMs, while I quickly zip-tied each of our new crop of hostages (who can be exchanged for teammates, should the cops grab them). One of us laid down spare ammo while Ross took out the first responding cops showing up on the street outside.