Payday 2 has been out for a couple of months now and though positive dialogue between OVERKILL and the community has led to enough tweaks and gameplay adjustments to put most MMO’s to shame, the launch of the Armored Transport DLC marks the first official expansion to the popular bank-heist simulator – but is this collection of high octane jobs worth the promised rewards?
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: OVERKILL – a Starbreeze Studio
Release Date: Out Now
Format: PC (Steam), consoles TBC
Version Tested: PC (Steam)
It’s evident from the start that the Armored Transport DLC has a focus on classic action packed heists, but what exactly can you expect for your cash?
Keeping the comparison to MMO’s alive, as any player of the infamous time-sink genre will tell you; we’re not just in this for the money, we’re also in it for the sweet loot!
Thankfully Armored Transport comes with a whole host of unlockables to keep you praying to the gods of RNG at the end of each heist. As well as introducing four new patterns and materials, fans itching to recreate those particular scenes from Point Break will be pleased to learn that Nixon, Bush, Clinton and Obama, a.k.a. the presidential masks from the first game, have made a triumphant return. You’ll be treated to a freebie from among this collection when you first load up the game after purchasing the DLC, but the rest you’re going to have to work for.
Keeping the movie references flowing and following in the footsteps of the Mark mask and the Interceptor handgun, you’ll also be able to claim the bonus Hockey Heat mask by signing up to the official Payday 2 group on steam.
Though not the main reason to buy the DLC, they make for a nice reward and should keep the more creative mask designers in the community busy for a bit longer.
Masks and patterns are all very well and good for the collector, but any action packed DLC wouldn’t be complete if there weren’t some cool new toys to play with. Owners of the new content will be able to get their hands on a new primary slot weapon, the Commando 553 assault rifle, and two new secondary slot weapons, the Swedish K sub machine gun and the Gruber Kurz semi-automatic pistol.
The Commando 553 is an excellent addition to the roster of assault rifles. Balancing mid-range capabilities with decent firepower and a healthy supply of ammunition, the Commando weighs in as a jack-of-all-trades style weapon. Not too dissimilar form the JP36, but sporting more modification options, it’s perfect for player’s on a budget that haven’t decided how they want to specialise their weapon – high ammo and low output or low ammo and high output.
The Swedish K makes for a reliable back up weapon, and though not the most fancy or accurate, without modification it clocks in as the most powerful sub machine gun currently available in the game.
The Gruber Kurz isn’t too dissimilar from the Bernetti 9 and will undoubtedly be the go to for any James Bond wannabes out there. Though light on attachments compared to the Bernetti the main draw, beyond style, for this weapon will be the grip mounted laser that leaves room for a second tactical gadget attachment.
As I said in my review for the Black Ops 2 Revolution map pack, adding a weapon with DLC brings up the issue of stepping into “pay-to-win” territory and though this isn’t competitive multiplayer it’s still a valid concern. Thankfully, each of these weapons have their own strengths and weaknesses and don’t seem likely to suddenly capture the hearts of the community and become everyone’s go-to because they’re so overpowered. That being said, you shouldn’t feel let down by this selection as they’re a great addition for mixing things up in the new heists and can be great back up choices – I actually use the Commando for longer heists or escapes where the limited ammo capacity of the AMR-16 won’t cut it.
You’ve seen the loot, you’ve got the gear, but that counts for nothing if the levels aren’t any good, so what can you expect?
Taking you out of the banks and senatorial apartments and sticking you into an urban environment Armored Transport brings with it five new heists, plus one secret one that I won’t spoil for you here, which all centre on taking down heavily armoured moving vaults.
In your travels you’ll employ snipers to pin the trucks at a crossroads, use C4 to blow out buildings to create a blockade, ram drivers off the road into a peaceful park, steal an ambulance to trap the trucks in an underpass and even use a magnetic crane to drop a container with you in it in the middle of the road – similar to the start of Watchdogs.
It all sounds amazing, right? Wrong.
Unfortunately, and this is my only complaint for the entire package, while the build-up and setting are certainly capable of getting the adrenaline pumping, you’ll see none of it. All of these awesome introductions are all handled as voice overs during the loading screen, so by the time you’re in the game you feel like you’re slightly late to the party.
I couldn’t help but feel an opportunity had been missed here, not only would these scenarios have provided some awesome set pieces, but could have extended the mechanics of the game to test the players timing in pulling off these feats, possibly culminating in a botched job where the trucks get away and the team have to make a break empty handed – sort of like the first level of Rats.
Thankfully this is just a minor issue and the rest of the levels ooze excitement. The Washington streets don’t provide the same level of cover or defensible positions as other heists and as such, much like the escape levels, speed is of the essence. You’re really going to feel the presence of the police response as you loot the trucks, especially with the new and highly dangerous snipers who have been tweaked to be more like their counterparts from the original game and should become the immediate focal point of your crew when they appear.
This urgency also has a direct impact on the performance of your team. Choices such opting to save time by blowing off the doors with C4 but simultaneously destroying some of the loot or trying to rob four trucks instead of just one become much weightier when you’re so exposed. Here it’s truer than ever before that greed will get you killed.
As a result of the chaos of these heists in their bite sized “snatch and run” style fans of stealth and planning are going to feel a little left out. That’s not to say players who favour the Ghost spec will be shunned, as teams are going to need a solid mix of skills on each heist in order to simply get in and out fast enough to survive, and this includes your lock picking expertise that are vital to emptying the trucks as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, it’s this reliance on support that make these new missions exceedingly difficult for anyone considering solo play.
Expanding on heists like Watchdogs, Armored Transport focus more on testing your team’s battlefield resolve and capability under fire to manage an out of control situation, which, as I said in my beta overview, I believe Payday is all about.
Sure, pulling off the perfect stealthy heist is rewarding but little can beat the thrill of an intense firefight and by taking some of the control away from the players these new heists play host to some of the most frantic gameplay I’ve seen in the Payday series, really serving to underpin the title’s nature as a co-operative experience.
Thankfully anyone can play the new missions as long as the host has purchased the DLC, so if the singular focus of the new content has you worried then there’s an opportunity for you to try it out. It’s worth nothing though that only owners of the DLC can get the cool new loot.
There’s no denying that this is an action packed experience for the adrenaline junkie, and while hopefully future packs will show some love to the more methodical heister, with new weapons and customisation options to be used and some achievements that can be gained across all existing content there’s more than enough here for them to get their teeth sunk into.
For the price of admission the Armored Transport DLC is a steal. In the past we’ve paid a lot more for a lot less and as sign of things to come from the promised year of DLC this is an excellent start. If you’re a fan of Payday 2 – regardless of your play style – you should most definitely pick it up!