Killing Floor 2 has left early access and made it’s debut on PS4. It’s a no-frills co-op shooter that does what it sets out to do exceedingly well without drawing developer time away to things like a single player campaign or splitting the player base across a dozen different game modes at launch. A laser-focus on mechanics and a tremendous attention to small details throughout results in some of the best gunplay you’ll find on a console. It makes Killing Floor 2 the kind of game you can go back to with your friends over and over again, potentially for years.
Keeping it simple
The backstory is presented only in text, there are no story cutscenes to be found. A corporation created some monsters, now people are trying to wipe them out. It’s not really important, but if you’re interested, the characters all have little biographies that flesh out the world a bit more.
The gameplay loop is equally simple: Kill all the Zeds, bio-engineered monsters you intend to exterminate. You and up to five other players face waves of Zeds until you reach the boss fight, which will require teamwork to survive. Both end of match enemies can take down careless players with a single blow, and both can regenerate health if you aren’t constantly bringing the heat.
On the surface that sounds quite repetitive. If you need a campaign or a slew of multiplayer modes, this probably won’t be for you. However, the execution of what this is is so well done I haven’t bored of it at all. Though there are only so many different Zeds, it’s constantly wave after wave of chaotic slaughter, and at the moment there are only two different bosses, there’s a lot of customization available. Ten classes are available, each with varying perks to unlock as you level up.
A class for everyone
Building my shotgun penetration to 300+ percent is immensely satisfying. As Support, I can wield an automatic shotgun and, on my own, lockdown an entryway to all but the strongest of Zeds. That’s been my class of choice, but there are nine others tailored to various play styles. Sharpshooter is designed around longer distance engagement, while the Berserker class is all about melee combat. Personally, I don’t know why anybody would want to play this hand-to-hand, but it’s great for those that do!
Leveling up a class requires performing certain actions, and you’re allowed to earn points in classes you aren’t currently using. This means a Sharpshooter can purchase a shotgun between rounds to earn points towards Support. Or a Gunslinger can buy a medic pistol to heal players and earn points towards Medic. This system encouraged me to branch out and experiment with other builds, and that goes a long way towards making the game feel fresh even in your 10th, 20th, or 30th match. If those actions only counted when I was playing as that class, it would be in my own best interest to focus solely on using the same loadout every game. Instead, I often try to be a secondary (and not very good) healer with a medic pistol, and am slowly building up the Medic class.
Player vs player
The one other mode available at launch is player versus player, with one side controlling members of the Zed horde. I found this to be not as enjoyable as Survival co-op. There’s a random nature to which Zed you control, so sometimes you get stuck with a super weak Clot, the most basic of monsters, and that only results in repeated instant deaths. However, on the other end of things, when the stronger Zeds are controlled by humans it’s too much of a power swing. The balance of the game is such that the humans are not very likely to win against a competent Zed team. Though this may be a realistic scenario in such a situation, the near inevitable loss that comes when playing as humans makes this mode a lot less fun than it could be.
It’s all in the details
The weapons all have a few idle animations for those times you aren’t actually firing your weapons. They can be manually triggered by trying to reload when your weapon is fully loaded. Speaking of reloading, if you do it when you still have a partial magazine, the character will grab the magazine and hold onto it instead of just ejecting it to the floor. Because of this, reloading before you’re out of ammo completely actually takes longer. When empty magazines are discarded, you can see them on the floor. The attention to detail is quite impressive and these little things are typically ignored in most games.
You can sprint backwards. Can you think of another title where that’s even possible?
Blood and gore is extreme and, because it persists throughout matches, quickly is found all over the map. Rather than slowly fading away and leaving the floors and workstations in pristine condition, the environments look like something downright horrific has happened. As they should.
The increasingly popular crate and key system makes another appearance within Killing Floor 2. Crates drop for free when playing, and are unlocked via microtransactions. The dev team was smart to make these purely cosmetic and entirely optional. There’s no shortcuts to level up your classes anywhere to be found. Players who see something they like can buy it and know they’re helping fund future support.
Some work to be done
In one player vs player match, my human team had gotten down to just one player controlled, enemy Zed left alive. This Zed was a Husk, a monster with a flamethrower than can shoot fireballs across the map. The opposing player ran away from us and kept trying to peek around corners and damage us from afar. After a couple of minutes went by, I was given a prompt on my screen. Somebody had initiated a vote to kick out the opposing player from the game, and I was allowed to give it a yes or no. I personally voted no, but the vote passed anyway, the player was kicked out of the game, and my team won the match as a result. This is clearly something that should not be allowed, and will probably be fixed soon, but is a problem today.
Joining up with friends who are in the middle of a match could stand to be easier. If you are in a system party together, you can join from the party chat screen. If you’re not in a party together, I was unable figure out how to join up with a friend on PS4. In something like Battlefield you can see a list of who is playing and just jump into their game if there’s an open spot. As co-op focused as Killing Floor 2 is, I’d like to be able to join my friend’s games easier, and let them jump into mine just as easily.
This is a game I could see myself coming back to for a long time. It’s quick to pick up and play a round or two, but also engaging enough to be the focus of a night. Though it’s repetitive nature will turn some people away, I find the challenge worth returning to. Someday I will get that trophy for killing the Patriarch before it restores its health. There’s only a pair of gameplay modes and a pair of bosses, but I expect more of both will be added down the line because the first game was updated for years. At a MSRP of $39.99, there’s plenty of value here already and anything extra in the future is a bonus. As a pick up and play co-op shooter, Killing Floor 2 is hard to beat.