Tripwire Interactive released their previously Early Access first person shooter Killing Floor 2 today (18th November) after being expanded and having all sorts of mad content added to the core game which arrived in April last year. It’s humans taking on the specimen clones or zeds in visceral combat. In a nutshell this is a horde mode style survival game where you team up or go solo and hope to survive waves of the attacking monstrosities. Ultimately is it any good though as there’s no story to speak of or any other padding. It’s just raw killing.
You’ve got three ways to tackle the game on offer here and that’s playing offline solo to hone your skills and get used to how the enemies swarm the player. At first it might appear quite unfair being boxed in by zeds with no where to go but an untimely death. However, there are counters such as grenades and melee attacks but the key is to know the level design and not put yourself into positions where the zeds can swarm you with your back against the wall effectively boxing you in. Solo play is an excellent starting point as it also allows you to experiment with the various classes of characters who each have their own unique attributes. What’s great about the solo play is all of your levelling carries over into multiplayer so you’re not left feeling like you’ve wasted your time. Ultimately solo is pretty challenging too even if there are less zeds to take out per wave. With no one else to focus on means they are coming for you only making for some tough situations.
The second (and most fun) way to play is survival co-op online where you can team up with up to 5 other players. Here it’s business as usual except this time you’ve got friends to watch your back. Whilst the zed count rises per each additional player it’s far easier to team up and survive. There’s other gameplay quirks to consider too such as special abilities which are gained by levelling up which can help other players, offering cash to be spent in between waves to upgrade and buy more equipment and offering ammo to those less fortunate. There’s a real team spirit here even if very few people are using mics to communicate. It’s the kind of game where talking is unnecessary really as you can simply get by without full voice chat as it’s self-explanatory – kill or be killed.
The final way to play is the versus survival mode which has you fight against other players who take on the roles of the zeds themselves and vice versa. This is the least popular form of the game at the moment as most players congregate in the standard survival mode so you’ll have a hard time finding servers hosting this mode compared to the regular game.
As for the actual game mechanics they are solid with excellent gun-play, hit detection across a varied selection of guns and melee weapons. What’s especially cool is a bullet time mode which is activated for every player if successful headshots are placed in succession. Whilst slowing down during a reload can be rather jarring the slowed time does give a chance to take stock and get a few more head shots in the process if you’re in the zone and not running away like a pansy that is.
Special mention has to go to the level design on the official Tripwire maps where you’ve got lots of room to manoeuvre whether that is in the open or tight corridors and rooms. You’ll find there’s multi-tiered stages and many places to hunker down before being overrun. Each map has its own theme making for a fun game to play in both the visuals and tactically. You’ll also come up against various boss characters in the final wave which is a nice touch.
Killing Floor 2 looks great with some excellent attention to detail and bright visuals amongst the splattering of blood and gore from shooting up the zeds – which are also brilliantly designed. That said, some are rather generic such as the hulking blob creature that spits green goo at you and explodes into a mass of green when killed. There seems to be a little borrowing of ideas from Left 4 Dead in some instances. Performance wise the game runs well on PC and seems to be well optimised with a number of options to tailor the experience to suit your system. A GTX 1080 for example can run the game at 4K quite well and with some options dialled back can maintain 60 frames per second too.
Audio is also of a high standard with meaty sounding guns and plentiful sound effects from the zeds. You’ll also hear some quips from the characters who each have their own comments to make. Sadly, the music might not be to everyone’s tastes (which rests on the metal side of things) and might need to be muted entirely depending on your tastes.
In terms of longevity you’ve got 8 character skins to play with who can be customised such as head colour, outfits and accessories but the main progression lies in the perks or classes where XP is gained from specific weapon kills related to the class. It’s a good system and means players can swap class on the fly and obtain bonuses once a suitable rank is reached. However, no matter how complete the core game is there’s a ton of optional extras up for grabs which are commanding real money which seems to be too prominent a feature. You can earn crates and other items during play but then have to pay real money to actually use them which seems cheap and is a massive negative on what is a fun and cool game. A quick perusal of the game’s store reveals an assortment of extra skins, weapons and other bits which are far cooler than the default offerings as you would expect.
Killing Floor 2 is a fun game in small doses and whilst it’s a great online game encouraging teamwork and camaraderie, the repetitive nature of killing the same enemies over and over gets old with extended play. A few more modes of play would go down a treat here and maybe will be added over time. However, in its current form there’s a fun, accessible game with quite a large community of players (on PC at least) which means you’re never short of someone else to play with. Aside from the lack of unlockables which don’t require additional payment, the perk system is good and rewarding as something to work towards. If you like simple wave shooters then this is worth checking out and with its low price means you’ll get enough bang for your buck. It’s a shame though a lot of the best content is tied to additional cash payments which dampens the overall enthusiasm a little.