PAYDAY 2 is a cooperative first-person shooter video game developed by Overkill Software and published by 505 Games. The game is a sequel to 2011’s Payday: The Heist. It was released on 13 August 2013 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. An improved version of the game, subtitled Crimewave Edition, was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in June 2015 (on 12 June in the UK and Europe and on 16 June in North America).
Two years after the events of the previous game, a new gang comes to the Washington, D.C. area to rob banks. The player takes control of one of the gang’s fifteen members and heists alone, with up to two AI players, as four player cooperative play, or some combination of the previous. Heists include robbing banks, jewellery stores, and armored cars, producing and distributing narcotics, stealing prototypes, art and artifact theft, rigging elections and framing corrupt politicians, taking on rival gangs, breaking into mercenary bases, prisons, and FBI facilities, enforcing protection rackets, and smuggling of guns and nuclear warheads. The game differs on the previous by allowing much more customization of the player and reworking its stealth mechanics.
An accompanying web series was produced to promote the game. The game was profitable from pre-orders alone and received positive reviews. Payday 2: Crimewave Edition which offers improved graphics, new content and all previous DLCs, was released on June 12, 2015 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The game consists of a variety of ‘heists’ that a player can opt to either carry out by themselves, with the AI, or as part of a multiplayer game. There are heists such as bank robbery, a drug trafficking run, rigging an election, or stealing a smuggled nuclear warhead. Some of the heists put a large emphasis on stealth, often leading to bonus experience points and money on completion.
The level selection menu is styled as a fictional website, Crime.net, where missions pop up periodically as contracts in a map of Washington D.C. The player can pick up an open contract, join a contract another player has started, or buy a contract with in-game money in an offshore bank account. There are five difficulty levels, with increased money and experience payouts for higher difficulty levels. Independent of difficulty is the “pro job” condition – pro jobs give additional experience, but cannot be retried if the players fail. Some contracts in Payday 2 take place over multiple days, with each day represented by a separate level with different objectives. After a day is complete the game may add an escape level, where the players’ original escape is thwarted and they must survive to reach their backup getaway.
Many jobs in Payday 2 can be completed in stealth. If players avoid getting caught on camera, evade or silently kill security guards, and keep any civilian witnesses from calling the police, the alarm will not be raised and the players will receive an experience bonus. Otherwise, players will have to achieve their objectives, carry out any loot they find to a dropoff point, and then reach their escape point under the pressure of constant police assault waves. Most of the enemies are DC Police and FBI SWAT teams, with GenSec private security contractors at the highest difficulty level. Mixed in with these crews are five special police units: the “Shield” and the “Taser” – both named for their signature equipment, the “Cloaker” – an infiltration and hand-to-hand combat expert, and the “Bulldozer” – a SWAT team member in a modified near-bulletproof bomb suit and the “Sniper” -a deadly marksman. After the ‘Hype Train’ event/update, a new special unit was added: the ‘SWAT Van Turret’, an automated turret, and as the name implies, is attached on a stationary SWAT van. Following the ‘FBI Files’ update, yet another special unit was introduced: Captain Winters, an army veteran and leader who bolsters the strength of all other police forces in the area upon arrival.
If a player takes too much damage they will be knocked down and incapacitated. If no one helps them back up, or if they are downed a number of times without healing, they will be taken into custody. On lower difficulty levels players in custody will eventually respawn, but otherwise their teammates must take a hostage to trade to get them back into the game. A job is failed if all players are downed or in custody.
At the end of each heist, the player is presented with a screen with three cards, one of which is to be chosen by the player (called a “Payday”). These bonus cards can be either weapon modifications, masks, colors or materials for masks, or experience or money boosters. Players can purchase and customize masks, although these are purely cosmetic and have no effect on the gameplay.
Throughout the game, players accumulate money and experience. The money is divided into two parts. 20% of the money is given to the player to spend on weapons, masks and skills, and 80% is placed into the player’s “Offshore Account”, which is intended as part of the story to be the player’s retirement fund, however the player can use it to purchase heists from a broker or during special periods announced by Overkill to buy bonus cards without performing a heist or to become infamous.
As players earn experience points, their reputation level increases. When a player’s level increases they earn skill points, allowing them to buy abilities and bonuses from skill trees representing five criminal archetypes and playstyles. It is not possible to max out any single tree and players are often encouraged to mix and match skills from each tree to maximize usefulness (such as combining a skill to carry bags faster and throw bags farther in the Enforcer tree with a skill to pack and pick up bags quicker from Ghost). Players also receive “perk points,” in proportion to their experience earned, that can be used to unlock additional bonuses from fifteen “perk decks.” Players can switch between perk decks and 5 sets of skills at no cost before starting a heist.
When a player reaches level 100, they can opt to raise their “Infamy” level, up to twenty five (as of 5 March 2015; there are only five levels of Infamy on PS3 and Xbox 360). Becoming Infamous grants a player access to special skill trees and items and gives them special poses in lobby screens. However, raising one’s Infamy level causes them to lose all of their spending money and experience, and a sum of $200,000,000 is deducted from their offshore account.
Plot and characters
Payday 2, when first released, allowed players to control one of four pseudonymous robbers. Three of these returned from Payday: The Heist: former Chicagoan mobster Dallas (portrayed by Eric Etebari, voiced by Simon Kerr), bankrupt Swedish software developer gone mad Wolf (Ulf Andersson), and rogue Navy SEAL and mercenary Chains (Damion Poitier). The fourth member of the gang, the English robber Hoxton (Pete Gold), is in jail at the start of the game, so Dallas’ troubled younger brother (Derek Ray) is recruited to take his place.
The gang’s command and control, the secretive Bain (Digger Mesch on camera, Simon Viklund as his Voice), is now also portrayed as the owner and operator of Crime.net. Bain arranges for The Payday Gang to relocate to Washington D.C. and helps them set up heists and jobs in the area. Bain also works to connect the gang with other contractors: Vlad (Ilia Volok) – a Ukrainian gangster trying to reassert his power after getting out of prison, Hector Morales (Gary Daniels) – a Colombian drug trafficker trying to oust the rival Mendoza cartel, and “The Elephant,” (Bokeem Woodbine) a corrupt Republican politician who hires the gang to aid his party and friendly lobbyists.
The “Big Bank” DLC introduced a new contractor named “The Dentist” (Giancarlo Esposito) – a middleman for a number of wealthy clients. “Big Bank” is the first of a series of jobs from the Dentist, and in return for the gang’s service he helps them break the original Hoxton out of jail. “Old Hoxton” returns to the gang, determined to find out who gave up evidence on him, with the “New Hoxton” renamed “Houston.” After hacking the FBI database, they manage to find out where the rat lives. Breaking into the residence, they find out that the rat was Hector, and kill him. A promotional tie-in with the 2014 film John Wick added the film’s title character (voiced by Dave Fouquette) as a playable heister as well, with the explanation that Wick and Chains used to work together in the military.
A new crew member named Clover (Aoife Duffin) joins the crew as they are about to descend on the National Gallery for the new heist “The Diamond”, hailing from Ireland, she is the first female heister to be available to play as in the Payday series. The character was announced by then lead designer David Goldfarb via his Twitter feed, then after no news on her status for months her trailer was shown live on the “Crimefest” stream on 18 October 2014 as part of celebrating the Payday series’ third birthday where she sang happy birthday to “Crime.net”, the trailer was released on YouTube a week later. She was teased in the 2014 annual Halloween event where her name was accidentally revealed, next she was teased in the promotional art for the “Gage Historical Pack” downloadable content, she was again teased in the 2014 annual Christmas event song “The 12 Days of Xmas” before finally being confirmed for release on 16 December 2014 along with the “The Diamond” heist.
On 22 January 2015, a fourth DLC character a crooked Croatian Interpol agent named Dragan (Dragomir Mrsic), was released as part of the Dragan Character Pack. His addition ties into to a new contractor “The Butcher” (Mira Furlan), whose contracts are part of “The Bomb Heists” pack. With the arrival of the Hype Train and 1,200,000 Hype Fuel a new female character got added: Bonnie (Rhona Cameron). Not much about Bonnie has been revealed so far but we do know that she is a gambler who has recently been released from prison. She is also one of the oldest characters being 43 and the only one to come from Scotland and was mainly invited into the Payday Gang because of her knowledge on Hoxton’s “rat”.
Shortly before Bonnie’s arrival another promotional character Jacket from the Hotline Miami series joined the crew. His reason for joining is unknown and his character is likely non-canon. His mask is his signature Richard the chicken mask and he uses a tape recorder to communicate with his crew. The only way to play as him is through normal means on Xbox One Crimewave Edition, getting a rare special developer code or owning Hotline Miami 2 deluxe edition on Steam.
Long after Bonnie, came Sokol (Alexej Manvelov), a Russian Hockey Grinder who agreed to join the Payday Gang because of his skill as a Grinder and his technical know-how. He was required for the heisting of the Golden Grin Casino which was the final Job that The Dentist set up for the crew. Sokol built the BFD (“Big Fucking Drill”) in order to break through the thick vault of the casino. The casino held something dear to The Dentist in the vault which is currently unknown but very likely to be the Ark of the Covenant .
Afterwards, a Yakuza named Jiro (Togo Igawa) joined the Payday Gang, having come to the United States looking for his son Kento. He is currently the oldest member of the gang, at 52 years of age.
A character called Bodhi was added to the game, being part of the Point Break Heists DLC. The character was from a promotion for Point Break, based of main antagonist Bodhi from the film. His background also made references to the movie itself, having done a heist in Mumbai.
Jimmy was added to the game, being apart of the Hardcore Henry Packs. This character is from a promotion for the film Hardcore Henry, and is voiced by Sharlto Copley.
On 28th Aug 2015, a new heister named Sydney was confirmed, though little information was revealed, except that she would be voiced by Georgia van Cuylenburg and originated from Australia. Sydney was released on 12th May 2016 in her own character pack, designating her as an Anarchist and, to date, the youngest member of the Payday gang.
Since release, over two dozen downloadable content (DLC) packages have been released for the game including new heists, weapons and game mechanics. The weapon pack DLCs are usually named for the gang’s arms dealer, Gage, who was introduced in the Payday webseries used to promote the game. Other weapon packs were later introduced through a new character, the Butcher, though lately most weapon packs have been issued by Gage again.
Payday 2: Hotline Miami is a collaborative project between Dennaton Games and Overkill which includes a heist influenced by Hotline Miami. The John Wick pack is a collaboration between Lionsgate and Overkill to bring the titular character from the John Wick movie to Payday 2. In 2015, a second Lionsgate collaboration featuring Point Break has been announced containing two heists and a character inspired by the film. The Goat Simulator Heist was added on 14 January 2016, in collaboration with Coffee Stain Studios. The Hardcore Henry Packs were added to Payday 2 on March 24, 2016. The Packs were split up into two DLCs; the Jimmy Character Pack, and The Hardcore Henry Heists.
Announced for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the Crimewave Edition of Payday 2 includes many features and add-ons from the PC version of the game. It was released in June 2015. It includes all of the aforementioned DLC and graphical enhancements such as an improved framerate and texture quality. The developers have stated that future updates will not arrive on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 citing hardware limitations as the reason.