Killing Floor 2 hit Early Access on Steam in April for $30, and developers Tripwire Interactive have since confirmed that the full game will launch on PC and PS4 later this year. The game follows the success of Killing Floor, a gritty co-op first person shooter against hordes of so called ‘Zeds’, only the sequel takes the gameplay to a whole new level.
The style is similar to its predecessor, as you play in six player co-op and should expect a lot of blood, but Killing Floor 2 has strikingly improved graphics; you’ll know what I mean when you get a slow motion head shot from close range. Seriously, this game won me over with a kill I performed while jumping in the air, in slow motion, and blew a Zed’s head off. I’ve never described a head explosion as beautiful before, but there’s a first for everything in this game. It also features a greater emphasis on the customization available, with a variety characters, weapons and perks to choose from.
The game is centered around waves of Zeds, in full 360 degree combat. It gets real bloody real quick, as you take on this season’s specials of bottom dwelling nasties. I couldn’t help but get an almost Outlast feel from both big-chainsaw-guy who, you can ask anyone I’ve played with, I refer to as ‘Chris Walker’ in game and the Boss, Hans Volter, who nails the ex-Nazi-mad-scientist on steroids perfectly.
Nonetheless, you are lulled into a false sense of security by the earlier waves in the game. 60 Zeds, Sirens, Invisibles and more, sounds easy, right? Sure, until you throw in 3 of the big guys with a chainsaw for a hand, a couple of metal armed fiends with breathtaking anger issues and then all of a sudden you’re literally on fire – value your team, because it will take a combination of everyone to pull off 10 rounds.
A selection of 4, 7 or 10 rounds are merely the build up for the Boss; his pokey needle fingers and green presence brings an added atmosphere to the final round. He has a variety of attacks that don’t just involve running at you, from nerve gas (that kills you quicker than you’ll realize), grenades to generally grabbing you to regenerate. He’s difficult to beat, even on normal, and as soon as you feel like you’ve mastered a difficulty level, go one step higher. Instead of relying on changing the damage and hit point values of the Zeds, the Zeds’ behavior will become more dangerous and they’ll have new attack variations.
For the first couple of hours that you play, you’ll want to experiment with the 4 different classes available, to find out which one suits you best: Commando, Support, Berserker or Medic. Each class has it’s own specialized weapons, for Commando you’re better off with assault rifles, Support is shotguns, Berserkers wield a huge knife and Medics have a selection of them all. There’s an element of abnormal – besides the Zeds, right? – in the weapons too, as you can get a saw chugging crossbow, a flame thrower and something to electrocute your enemies. Perks and extras differ between the classes too, for example Supports can have the perk to give themselves additional ammo, or to have ammo for their team, while Commandos can have a perk to see the invisible enemies. Medics have healing grenades (this one will save your life plenty of times, love your Medics) and Supports can weld doors shut.
Killing Floor 2 takes no shortcuts on progression, this isn’t COD anymore, you’re in the big leagues, where it actually takes time to rank up. According to my Steam count, I’ve played 26 hours of this glorious game, and the highest level I’m at on a single class is 15. You get a choice of two new perks at each multiple of 5, and believe me you’ll be grateful for the faster reload you get at 15.
A mechanic I really like about the classes system (and that the devs have adapted from Killing Floor) is that if you’re a Support, for instance, using an assault rifle that is specialized for the Commando, the XP you gain from killing to rank up will go towards the Commando class. This may stunt your progression for whatever class you’ve chosen, if you have a preference for a certain weapon, it allows you to maintain a kind of even level of progression across the classes; you’ll often join a match ridiculously out balanced with Commandos, with no Berserkers or Medics, which is wildly impractical if you want to beat that map.
Your character gets progression points too as you go up the ranks, for example the Berserker gets an increase in power and speed of their attacks, so your perseverance really pays off. To be honest though, you’ll be too busy enjoying the satisfaction in the kills and teamwork to notice your progression until it matters.
Also returning from Killing Floor is the trader, this time taking the appearance of a futuristic pod. Here you can buy and sell weapons using in game money (no microtransactions as far as the eye can see, so far), armor and grenades between waves, replenishing your ammo and healing up before the next one starts. It’s not the only source of weapons though; you’ll find them dotted around the maps along with ammo crates and armor. You can even drop a weapon or give money to other players. Be careful with your generosity, because when you die you lose your better weapons and spawn with the original class loadout and some ‘dosh’, so don’t get cocky and make it rain too often, you might need the cash in later rounds.
There are 4 official maps for you to run around, each providing a different setting to kill the Zeds in. The Biotics Lab has two main areas which are great for having a stand, with a cooperative team of six, and some not so great corridors to get cornered in. Burning Paris has an amazing scenic feel to it, with the falling Eiffel tower visible from the edge of the map. Outpost is your classic abandoned building covered in snow – the bloodbath becomes a very real reality here, everything seems so much more definitive when it’s highlighted by stark red on white. Finally there’s Volter Manor, a place where a H P Lovecraft character would feel right at home, there’s basement and courtyard warfare galore. Alongside these are some pretty impressive custom maps, with the promise of full mod support and alternative standard maps in the completed version.
I know what you’re thinking, this all sounds brilliant, but most people see the ‘Early Access’ tag line on a game and run about 100 miles to the opposite side of the Steam store to find something completed and polished to spend their money on – take note that Killing Floor 2 had less bugs than Batman right off the bat. (The unintentional pun shall remain for purposes of my own enjoyment). In fact, one of the best things about this Early Access game is how not buggy it is. It’s not perfect, there’s the hilarious acrobatics that the Zeds perform when mounting obstacles, and occasional lag where you will get an unexpected jump scare, finding yourself being grabbed by one of the enemies seemingly out of nowhere. That’s something that happens rarely, though, and I’m pleasantly satisfied with how the game plays out.
The only other bones I have to pick are as follows, because this game has already blown me away with how cool it is.
A mini-map of some sort would be helpful; there’s a kind of direction-o-meter for finding the trading pods during the waves, and then helpful blue arrows to lead you to them after the waves, but for finding your teammates or navigating the larger locations while you’re being attacked, a map would be nice. There’s always just one Zed that has straggled behind, as well, particularly in the earlier rounds, and you end up spending five minutes hunting down the Zed, rather than it hunting you.
Where are my badass ladies at? Please don’t tell me the world’s female population was wiped out leaving only Ana, the mo-hawked punk girl, with six guy characters. There are only so many face mask-hair color combinations I can cycle through. I’ll admit, the bio for each of the characters is a sweet touch, though.
PC master race.
I’m joking of course, I don’t think the platform should determine how you’re classed as a player – the skills involved differ vastly and as long as you’re enjoying yourself, it shouldn’t matter what you play on. However, if you’re using a controller to play with, which has snap-lock head shots, and you’re talking MLG Pro being top of the leaderboard, I will insult you in at least three of the languages I know. Either don’t have snap-lock, so the user actually has to aim, or pick up your mouse, please.
More… I want MORE.
Ok, so this one isn’t a ‘bad’ because, I know, the game is still in Early Access, and they are going to be adding an whole load of stuff soon. In general, I can’t get enough of anything the game has to offer. I want to be able to max past level 25, with different characters, have different enemies, more perks and weapons and maps- You get the idea.
This is going to be one of the best zombie-survival multiplayer games to come out this year, with a lot of potential once all the kinks are ironed out. Part of me feels like it may be bias and too soon to call it that, but I’m willing to put this initial review out there, this game is immensely satisfying and heaps of gory fun to play; the developers aren’t done yet. Overall, I’d say it’s worth the $30 on Early Access, and if you still don’t fancy it – despite my reassurances – hold out for Killing Floor 2 on PS4 and PC later this year.