While walking through the crowds at E3, I came across a Overkill’s set up of TVs and computers. Since the developers were all wearing masks (copies of the ones found in-game as I found out), I found myself intrigued and decided to check out what they had to show. I’m definitely glad I sat down with them took check out their upcoming PSN/PC 4 player co-op shooter Payday: The Heist. The friendly Swedish developers were more than eager to show me what was in store for gamers later on this year. The game is equal parts Kane and Lynch (in terms of premise), Counterstrike, and Left 4 Dead. Don’t let the graphics fool you, the depth of gameplay present in this downloadable package is quite surprising. Upon release, there will be six missions available which will vary up the experience, but for the hands-on demo only one of these levels was present.
Of course, with a title like Payday: The Heist, the team saw it fit to allow attendees to play the traditional bank robbery mission. From the get-go, it was obvious that this game wasn’t a mindless shooter like so many other FPS games out there. It required planning and cooperation. I started out as the player known as Dallas (sporting an American flag painted mask) outside of the bank with my accomplices. I could have pressed R2 and started the bank heist right away, but I was warned that it would make my job a lot harder. Instead, I strolled casually inside the building and searched for the bank manager. Locating him first is crucial as it will prevent alarms from being set off initially and he is in possession of a keycard that will help you access the copy room where the thermite is planted. Upon finding him, I initiated the robbery and pressed R2 a second time to tell the manager to get on the ground where I proceeded to tie him up. R2 is a context sensitive button that has several uses. Point it at security personnel, civilians, or employees and you’ll tell them to get down. Highlight a teammate with it and you can tell them to regroup with you. Select an enemy and they will be outlined for your team so they can take care of the threat. R2 also takes care of objectives such as bagging cash or planting explosives.
After taking care of the unprepared security and tying up a few civies, it was time to grab a drill hidden in another room. The drill was used to slowly make its way through the first door. This takes time so players must fend off an increasing number of opposition (from cops to SWAT). While waiting patiently, I noticed the cameras hanging from certain walls. These aren’t just there for looks. It turns out they are a major component to the game. Leaving the cameras up allows your enemies to get better intel on you as they will be able to see your location. By taking each camera out as you go, you’ll find yourself facing noticeably less opposition. After breaking through the door we grabbed the thermite to burn through the floor into the vault below. Just like the drill, this was a timed process. As you would expect, once in the vault it is all about bagging up the cash. Unlike Kane and Lynch, you don’t have to worry about teammates shooting you in the back for your share. Overkill didn’t want to make that type of game. The goal was to make a deep co-op experience where players didn’t have to worry about everyone turning on each other. It would have ruined the very foundation that has been set for the game. Now we’re on to the escape. Exiting through the front door wasn’t an option. C4 was used to blow a hole in a wall creating a route into another building. After a few more exchanged shots, we finally made it out to our ride, which happened to be a garbage truck. Mission accomplished.
Stats filled the screen as the match ended. This is where I saw the rank system. Fortunately for me, my player was already level 42 and had access to high-end weaponry. To my surprise, I was informed that there are over 100 ranks to work through. Also, players can choose to specialize in one of three classes: assault, support, and marksman. There are no limitations to what each class can use in terms of weaponry, but specializing in one will provide certain benefits. The most interesting feature this game had was how it handled respawning. If you are taken out during the mission, you don’t simply wait for a timer to count down until you can return. Instead, it is up to your friends to use one of the previously tied down hostages as a tool for negotiation. These people are your “lives.” You can exchange one hostage for one of your friends. The tricky part is making sure you have hostages. Law enforcement personnel won’t always come after you. Sometimes they’ll search for the people you have tied up and will free them.
Payday: The Heist looks like it will be a commendable entry into Sony’s list of downloadable titles. With its multi-objective missions, rank system, and in-depth mechanics the game shows a ton of promise for FPS fans. A specific release date wasn’t given, but we were told that it will be out before the year is over.