While the original “Payday: The Heist” was a fun game, you wouldn’t be blamed for just remembering it as a particularly well made “Left 4 Dead” mod, even if it wasn’t.
The 4 player FPS co-op style was a big cause of this, but it was more the fact that each level played out like the “heist gone wrong” part of the story, and required you to shoot your way through waves of enemies to escape with the loot. It was more smash and grab than the perfect crime.
The details on the sequel (known only as “Payday 2”) are starting to emerge, and it’s obvious that the change of ownership (Starbreeze acquired “PayDay” developer Overkill) isn’t the only thing new in the series as there is a change in philosophy as well. This is evident through the early information, which points to a smarter game, and one not shoehonrned completely into the action genre.
Among the ideas contributing to this are new character classes like the “ghost” class, and varied approach and execution options which will allow for a level to theoretically be completed with minimal violence, assuming you are able to craft and execute the perfect plan for a job. Standing in your way is the usual security and alarm systems, made all the more cumbersome by the introduction of random elements which will change the location of guards, traps, and even the loot on multiple playthroughs.
It’s an exciting step in the right direction, and should still result in an entertaining game, but it’s still not the heist game I’ve been dreaming of.
No, the ideal heist game doesn’t skip to the shootout like so many others, but rather looks to the unappreciated strategy element. The perfect heist game would be 80% planning and strategy, and the rest left to execution, with action only as a last resort. This doesn’t mean that it has to abandon the FPS genre, but rather take the influence away from “Left 4 Dead” and closer to the original “Rainbow Six” games, which required precise planning and loadout selections, as well as effective on the job group management, to even have a chance of surviving a mission, much less flawlessly executing it.
There are other ways to go of course. A “Syndicate” style pure strategy game, an isometric original “Fallout” or “Baulder’s Gate” RPG sort, an “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” simplified grid based game, or even a “Dishonored” or “Deus Ex” think on your feet multiple approach for each problem type would be great.
Honestly though I’d just like to see more attempts at the genre until someone gets it right. Heist games are among the rarest in video games, and ones that approach it with anything more than a shoot first mentality are even more-so. A real shame too considering the inherit potential in the genre.
Not all hope is lost though, as the “Payday” series can still continually evolve, and “Grand Theft Auto V” promises more heist missions than ever. Plus let’s not forget that another “can’t miss” genre, the western, took almost 30 years to do right.
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