- Format: PS4 (version reviewed), PC
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Deep Silver
- Developer: Tripwire Interactive
- Players: 1 (offline), 2-6 (online)
- Site: http://www.killingfloor2.com//
- Game code provided by the distributor
Killing Floor 2 is a game that features several familiar features. A gory co-op shooter where you face off against waves of humanoid monsters keen to tear you apart, there’s a variety of guns, explosives, melee weapons, and perks to be had. Doors can be closed and reinforced. It ultimately comes down to no more than killing everything you see apart from your teammates, while avoiding dying yourself. That’s it.
But it’s just so, so damn good.
There are a small number of characters to choose from for your avatar but, interestingly, your character makes absolutely no difference to gameplay. Each available class can be applied to any character you choose, and you can swap classes between matches. Each (obviously) has their own strengths and weaknesses to support different playstyles. Medic for example allows you to heal people from a distance but is weak against powerful enemies, SWAT is great at close range but weak at long range, Berserker can not be grabbed by weak enemies but is in more danger of becoming surrounded, and so on.
Play in a full team of six people, however (you can play solo offline, but you’ll never get the most out of the game that way), and you theoretically cancel out each other’s weaknesses. Playing as a lone wolf is almost guaranteed to see you dead in later waves, though you’ll respawn at the beginning of the next wave… if at least one of your teammates survives. This becomes obvious very quickly, which is why you’ll find that even random internet people will heal you and save you from attack without any prompting.
Each class can be levelled up by performing certain actions or racking up kills with specific weapons. Each fifth level of a class grants access to a new perk in addition to the base one. Of course you’re going to choose your class according to which perks you fancy, but your class also dictates which weapons you start with. Although you can on rare occasions find a new weapon lying around in the map, generally speaking your starting loadout is all you have for the first wave. At the end of each wave, though, you have a bit of breathing space before the next spawns where you can reach a temporarily opened trader pod. Basically a shop, this is where you buy your ammo, armour, and weapons. But! Not only are you restricted by how much “Dosh” you’ve earned, each weapon has a weight value, and the weight you can carry is fairly restrictive. You’ll also need to bear in mind that if you die, you’ll respawn only with your starting loadout.
Razor-sharp game design is in evidence all over the place. Getting swamped by hordes of enemies sounds unfair, even for a team of six. Everybody however is equipped with an infinite-use healing syringe they can use on themselves or a teammate… which only heals a small amount, and has a cooldown period between each use. Each map is superbly thought out; a mix of small open spaces, tight corridors, potentially deadly corners, and scenery which doubles as both cover and frustrating obstacles in your line of sight. While some areas are better than others for trying to hold your ground, there don’t appear to be any sections suitable for cheap camping tactics where you need never fear being taken by surprise. Whether it’s a forest, a city, a castle or a secret lab, your map of choice will give you a good game.
As for the enemies, they’re a good mix, with the proportion of weak to tough leaning toward the latter as the waves go on. The standard cannon fodder are weak but numerous, still capable of causing you trouble. Then you have bullet-sponge powerful melee enemies, and even a few with short range or long range projectile attacks. While the experience is often tense – or perhaps intense – it never feels unfair, especially if you have a good team to back you up.
Well… maybe the bosses are an exception.
Once you’ve cleared all waves in a match (4, 7, or 10 according to your settings), a boss appears. At time of writing, there only appear to be two bosses; “Hans Volter” and “The Patriarch”. By this point, everybody should find that they’re loaded with full ammo, full armour, and their favourite weapons. Six players working to take down a boss should be fairly easy, right? Oh no. Nope. Nopearoony. Very much n to the egative. Even on the lowest difficulty (“Normal”), boss fights can be brutal to the point of feeling slightly unfair. It’s rather telling for example that, last time we checked, less than 39% of players on PS4 have earned the trophy for completing an entire match.
Both bosses are bullet sponges but, hey, with six people to fight that’s fair enough. The main issue is that they can heal themselves, and the Patriarch can even turn himself invisible while he runs off to do so (this also signals an influx of minor enemies). With attacks that deal massive damage – the Patriarch in particular can kill a careless player within seconds if they get too close – the odds are stacked much more heavily in the bosses’ favour than you’d expect. We like a challenge, and did eventually see Volter fall (once so far), but maybe their resilience could be dialled back a tad or two?
That’s our only criticism of the game, really. Killing Floor 2 makes up for it in pretty much every other way, providing a thoroughly addictive game that you’ll come back to again and again. The versus mode, where one team control some of the monsters, is a cool touch. It’s cheeky that the cosmetic item crates you earn require keys bought with real money in order to open them – this isn’t free to play – but we can just about let that slide.