In Payday 2, the crucial planning stage has finally been added, dividing jobs into several phases that spread out over the course of a number of days and randomizing the outcomes for would-be robbers. "In Payday 1, money meant nothing, which is really weird for a game that is about robbery. It was an economy of value that wasn't there," Payday 2 game director David Goldfarb admitted. "We need to make sure money means something and that you can use it for things in the game. So money has become the way by which you can accomplish anything."
Prior to jumping into an actual phase, players have a pre-planning round where they can spend money to modify certain parts of an upcoming sequence. For example, money can be spent to highlight an additional point of entry in the next map that wouldn't otherwise be available. Other options include purchasing access to camera feeds and even recruiting a sniper to watch your back. Money is a tangible boost to your next operation and facilitates the crucial planning needed to organize a good caper. Being able to spend money on small adjustments to the next scenario is a much-welcomed addition in Payday 2.
My preview mission started with sneaking into a gallery and stealing specially-marked paintings. Payday 2 adds a stealth mechanic, allowing players to case a target by dodging guard patrols and cameras. In theory, a team of sneaks can move about and steal the art without ever being seen in this phase, but overall stealth felt nominal in my play session because it didn't take long for someone to trip the alarm (specifically me) and bring in the police.
Once an alarm is raised the control phase most closely resembles the gameplay of the original Payday. Players bide time by battling advancing waves of cops until a security system is hacked and a barrier can be lowered between the two warring sides. With the barrier down, a team can haul the goods out to their getaway van. After tossing the snatched art into our vehicle, the escape phase was triggered. The escape phase leads to a scripted getaway vehicle crash, forcing my team to hoof it to our next location target with the goods in tow.
Game director David Goldfarb said the map and scenario for this phase is totally randomized. In this way, Payday 2 offers a lot of variety and a cool factor exclusive to the trade-off phase: a phase where the cash and the goods are transferred. Here, several different outcomes are possible: the players may make the trade safely, be ambushed by the FBI, one party could screw over another and more. A number of conclusions are available, and randomly selected by the game.
The police ambushed my team during the preview session, which wasn't the most exciting outcome in my eyes. It was another shootout to push my way through danger, like so much of the original Payday experience.
"The problem with Payday 1 is we had these monolithic hour-long missions that nobody wanted to play. Now we have the flexibility to cover the spectrum of all missions," Goldfarb said, referring to the new phase system that breaks a mission up into different randomized chunks. Goldfarb says it's much better for players to "play for 10 minutes and feel awesome" as opposed to settling in for the longer missions. "Now we have the flexibility to cover the spectrum of all missions."
Overkill will try to deliver its promise of randomized robbery when Payday 2 launches on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on August 13.