PayDay 2 is out on PC today, and it's all we can do to keep working rather than skiving off to play some more of its sensationally enjoyable co-op. This randomised crime spree simulator is one of the most exciting multiplayer experiences out there despite a fair few quirks and eccentricities, offering players a wealth of depth and variety so long as you're willing to work together with friends and get your hands very, very dirty.
Indeed, we called it "one of the most exciting cooperative games on the planet" in our extensive PayDay 2 review.
There's so much to consider when planning the perfect heist, not to mention dealing with the fallout once everything inevitably goes wrong, that we've taken some of our experience with the preview and review builds to present you with a ten-step survival guide. We'll see you back at the safehouse.
10: Set Up A Perimeter
In most missions, chances are you'll have to hunker down and wait for an objective to complete. Drills take an eternity to crack a vault or safe, even if you've brought along a skilled Technician, meaning that you'll want to turn your surroundings into an impenetrable bunker to keep the police at bay.
First off, be sure to use casing time to your advantage. Explore levels to locate planks to board up windows, blocking the view of erstwhile snipers. Spot potential breaching points and return to cover them with trip mines, or better yet, a sentry gun. Ensure that some ammo packs are set down ahead of time. Find secure places to move loot, and make a note of every exit in case the proverbial poop hits the air conditioning. If you're really feeling flash, do your best to grab security room keycards to flip the building's security over to your side.
A little planning (and a few laser tripwires) can save you all manner of hassle when the SWAT teams begin their assault.
9: Keep Hostages Secure & Close
Keeping those pesky civilians in order can be a nightmare in the larger levels, but you absolutely need to do so. They're capable of calling the cops, activating alarms or obscuring your view if you let them run loose, so your very first order of business should be getting them on the floor and tied up as fast as possible. If a member of your crew has the 'Cable Guy' skill aced, they'll have more than enough zip cuffs for the job.
Once this is accomplished, make sure you remember where they are. Police will attempt to free them, meaning that you'll have to keep an eye on your hostages, and accidentally killing them dings your level reward. Most importantly, though, they can be freed to get team members out of custody - so ensure that you've got a decent set of bargaining chips at your disposal.
Also, remember that some civilians can be found outside a bank or store. Don't forget about them, because they will raise the alarm if left to their own devices.
8: The Loot Chain Gang
A simple point, but one that comes in useful time and time again. When you're moving several loot bags to an objective, remember that you can throw them long distances, and there are four of you. If time (and police) permits, create a chain, with all four players quickly moving the bags across the map and to their objective. I often find that two people ferrying bags halfway, and the other two moving them to their drop objective, is much more convenient than everyone sprinting across the levels.
Storing the bags in a convenient place ahead of time also works wonders. Find a back room with a couple of exits or the high balcony in Watch Dogs, and you can cut out much of the faff when the bullets are really flying.
7: It's OVE9000!
Enforcers may be straightforward brutes, all armour and bullets, but they can unlock one of the most fantastically versatile gadgets in the entire game: The OVE9000 circular saw. This nasty melee weapon wrecks up any police units stupid enough to get close, but here's just a small sample of what you can accomplish with this gorgeous bit of kit:
- Cut open ATM machines for extra cash
- Cut open every door quickly without waiting for lockpicks
- Crack safe deposit boxes rather than spending an eternity picking their locks (and getting shot a lot)
- Causing massive damage to pretty much everything in 'Mallwreckers'
- Escape the van in 'Watch Dogs' early, via the floor
- Quickly gain paintings in 'Framing Frame'
And more. Trust me, Enforcers packing the OVE9000 will get a friend request from practically everyone they meet. The Scouter also has very complementary things to say about their power level.
6: Your First Shot Should Be Silent... Or Verbal
Most PayDay 2 heists go pear-shaped the moment the first security guard or copper sees you, and the first shot gets fired. Gunshots, as you well know, are very loud, and can trigger alarms all by themselves. So, dear reader, your first shot should be totally silent. If you haven't unlocked a silenced mod (since they're randomly assigned, I personally didn't get any silencers until level 28 - seethe), let someone else go first.
However, Masterminds should probably try to intimidate security guards instead of capping them. A shout is much quieter than a bullet (I appreciate the irony), and a secured guard becomes a useful hostage to boot. If not a handy ally if you've specced into conversion. Just ensure that a pal with a silenced pistol is standing by in case you're not as charismatic as you thought.
5: Sometimes Hard & Fast Is The Key
It's always tempting to attempt levels stealthily, but every once in a while, the smash & grab approach can work very well indeed. In a jewellery heist, for example, four well-coordinated players can storm the front door, cow all the civilians, subdue witnesses and get the loot to the getaway van all in the space of a Washington DC minute, extracting before anyone has time to call the fuzz.
Knowing when to go slow and steady, or when to hit fast and hard, will serve you well. Consider the sledgehammer approach when a mission doesn't require you to wait for a drill or a loot drop...
4: Stealth Is Tough. Do It Right.
... but otherwise, keeping quiet is usually the way to go. Stealth is one of the most rewarding aspects of the game, but arguably the most difficult, so here are a few tips to make your sneaking more profitable:
- Answer pagers. Security guards carry pagers, and answering them once you've dispatched their owner can buy you valuable time. Each player can do so twice, so make full use of it.
- Know your role. Be frank with yourself: stealth doesn't usually last. Rather than maintaining a false illusion that the entire mission can be completed without raising the alarm (it can, but it's very tricky), go in with a major objective in mind. Perhaps one of you is in charge of neutralising the security room, while another activates a jammer, and the rest of the team subdues civilians and creates a perimeter. Use your stealth time to prepare for the action, then make the most of any fleeting seconds you have left before someone screws up.
- Watch for cameras. Seriously, I've lost count of the number of times that someone has blown our cover by walking straight past a camera.
- Ghosts do it quietly. Another basic point, but players heavily specced into the Ghost tree should lead your assault and/or take on the most challenging role. Acing the Shinobi and Chameleon skills turn you into a shadowy operative who'd make Sam Fisher have nightmares.
3: Bring The Right Gear
Every build has access to a selection of consumables that can make your life much easier. Whether it's an ammo pack or a sentry gun, bringing the right tools for the job can be an absolute godsend. Medical packs can often make the difference between success or failure, but remember that you get 50% health back if revived, making them better suited for later on in a mission.
There are plenty of complimentary skills to consider. Masterminds should definitely consider loading up on two medical kits, while Technician trip mine loadouts can be increased to create menacing perimeters.
Oh, and for God's sake, bring ammo. BRING LOTS OF AMMO.
2: Talk, Dammit!
We've been banging on about the importance of communication, but let's make it official.
TALK. TO. YOUR. TEAM-MATES.
The chat should begin before a level even starts. Ensure that you've talked through job roles and assigned gear throughout the team - eight health packs is arguably not as useful as a team brandishing ammo, ECM, mines and knowing exactly what their function is. When the job begins proper, constantly keep each other informed about where the major threats are, what you're doing and whether you need backup. If possible, do your best to play with people you know via headsets (or system link/LAN) to ensure that you can trust the man at your back.
Wonderful things can happen when you work together. Like this.
1: Don't Be Greedy...?!
PayDay 2 is a game about greed, about stuffing your pockets with as much ill-gotten merchandise as humanly possible. Most missions allow you to optionally loiter to grab extra loot above and beyond the minimum requirements, and doing so feels fantastic. However, the most common reason I've seen for missions failing is because someone says, "hang on, I'm going back for just one more money bag" or "wait up, I'm still drilling into an optional safe" even though extraction is available.
And then they're gunned down by FBI Juggernauts, their team dies trying to save them and nobody gets paid, resulting in twenty wasted minutes.
Situational awareness is the key. If you've succeeded in your objective and extraction has arrived, nine times out of ten it's better to cut and run. Especially if special police and FBI assets are deploying in large numbers. If you extract, you'll make bank and get a payday unlock. There's a good chance that everyone leaves with nothing if you go back for "just one more."
Trust me, at some point, you will run into "that guy" who just can't leave well alone. Indeed, you'll almost certainly be "that guy"... once. After the torrent of abuse subsides, you'll know better - so consider yourself forewarned.