Killing Floor 2 is the first game, in the series, which has been developed and published by Tripwire Interactive for the current gen consoles. As far as shooters go, they don’t get much crazier or more fun than this one. You will be playing in first-person as a survivor or in third-person as whichever type of monstrosity you choose to play as in the VS mode.
There’s no campaign or story to get lost in but honestly, I think the multiplayer is so fun most people wouldn’t bother much with it anyway. Instead, most of your time (and I almost guarantee a lot of it) will be spent within the wave-based survival modes. In it, you face increasingly difficult waves of ‘Zeds’, not dissimilar to zombie modes within the Call of Duty games, before facing off against a variety of bosses that are very tough to beat indeed. Here are my thoughts regarding this pretty mental multiplayer shooter.
The characters in Killing Floor 2 are wonderful. There’s a pretty diverse mix of characters to choose from and you will likely find someone to match closely with your personality. For example, there is a robot, a knight and even a Reverend, all with some brilliantly individual personalities and witty lines. There’s no penalty for changing characters either because your progression is separate to which character you choose. This means you can always keep changing in order to experience all of them and make a decision on who your ‘main’ is (although if it’s not Olsten Jägerhorn, the guy who has a Metallica cover band, we can’t be friends). As each update rolls out, I’ve noticed more and more interactions between the characters when playing, which is a very nice touch and makes playing your favourite character feel that bit more enjoyable. This is because it becomes rarer to hear the same lines repeated. They add a nice comedic factor to the game as you are blowing away the vile creatures, which is always welcome.
To make more use of the characters, there is also a loot box type of micro-transaction in the game. As you earn dosh in your playthroughs, you earn in-game currency which can then be spent on various loot boxes to gain random bits of cosmetics for all facets of the game. There are unlockable emotes, weapon skins, items and even special effects that help stylise your characters to reflect more of your personality. Alternatively, you can just dress yourself up to look as stupid as possible; it’s completely up to you. If you aren’t happy with your cosmetics, there is also a recycling system which allows you trade the items in and have another go, which is a nice feature and very similar to the one found in Rocket League.
You can, of course, spend real money but this is absolutely not a necessity. There is no pay to win, it’s all purely cosmetic with no gameplay benefits for those who invest real cash into unlocking more things via the loot boxes. There is a huge amount of stuff to collect and some are absolutely brilliant if it’s something that you’re interested in, just don’t be that person who gets killed because you’re too busy showing off your new emote… It’s called Killing Floor, not dancing floor.
**Additionally, If you buy the Killing Floor: Double Feature at retail, you’ll also get the Mrs Foster DLC pack, worth £7.99, as an additional download for free. However, this is ONLY for the store-bought physical editions, you don’t seem to get this free extra if you pick up the digital version for some reason.**
While the different enemies perform largely the same in terms of their sheer aggression, they’re some brilliantly designed enemies who look genuinely creepy, making killing them feel that little bit nicer. With perhaps the husk serving as an exception (an enemy that fires cannons from a distance), enemies largely are mindless and just rush you head on. This definitely makes things a little simpler in terms of understanding the game because you know what they’re always going to do. It would be good to see enemies have more of a varied set of programmed moves. That would give it a more tactical and unpredictable feel which would certainly add to the chaos.
The enemies are always super focused on attacking the nearest person and, despite having their own abilities with varying levels of damage and threat, are a little too easy to lead around maps. That being said, I think the enemies look fantastic and are genuinely uncomfortable to fight against. There are smaller enemies such as the crawler, a weird spider-looking creature that moves in a way that will make those with arachnophobia scream. I don’t mind spiders but those things are capital N Nasty. They move quickly and close down space to get the jump on you. They’re easy enough to kill but can sneak up on you if you aren’t aware enough.
Then there are your larger enemies, your big brutes who can soak up all that lead like an old Sherman tank. The Fleshpound, for example, is one bad mofo. He is huge and has gauntlets with spinning spikes on them and charges at you with some serious intent to mess you up. He is called a Fleshpound after all… There are a lot more enemy variants and they’re some of my favourite wave based enemies I’ve ever faced. They also have some different and interesting attack animations. The Bloat, whom I want credit for being an inspiration in character design for, as we look strikingly similar, throws up green puke which is very unpleasant.
Those are just the normal baddies though. Wait until you come face to face (or butt to face, because you will be running away most likely) with the bosses. Those are some seriously epic, yet messed up, monsters. They have very distinctive attacks and have health bars that take up the length of your screen. The Patriarch, for example, is huge and has a chaingun, a missile launcher and can charge you at breakneck speeds. He is just one of the four messed up bosses though. Seriously, they fugly.
Let’s move on to something much nicer: perks. As stated previously, your character choice is just simply a free choice that doesn’t have any effect on the gameplay. The only thing it changes is what quirky vocal lines you will hear throughout the round. Perks, on the other hand, is where the real depth and progression of the game comes in. There is a good selection of playstyles you can take advantage of by using the perks that the game provides. You won’t notice much of a difference until a good few sessions into playing though, as you have to unlock the skills associated within that perk as you level up. The only immediate difference will be what your starting loadout is, for example, the commando perk spawns you with a pistol and burst rifle.
It takes a fair bit of grinding to begin to see the fruits of your labour but once you build a team of higher levelled players with their unique perks, the team play doors open up. Getting a good mix of various high-level perks and skills on a team is what’s going to help you beat those harder difficulties. It’s no good having six players on a team who are all the Berserker class wanting to fight everything up close with fists and swords. You’re going to need a field medic (although everyone can heal themselves and each other), some demolitions experts and some supports; it’s surprisingly deep and tactical once you get into the later stages.
The only problem is that big grind to get there. It just takes way too long to get to those perks because you could end up completely disagreeing with a perk but having just wasted hours on getting the skills. If you enjoy the game then it’s probably only a minor annoyance, but it seemed worth mentioning anyway. However, it’s commendable that you have as much freedom as you do in terms of your own progression. All perks are available from the start which allows you to just get stuck in. The perks add a brilliantly tactical way to play and team up; there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. There are 10 perks to choose from with each perk offering 5 unique skills, that’s a lot of ways to play the game. That of course, is not including all the guns and bombs you will be handling.
Each perk has guns that are best paired with their playstyle. To cement this, they are organised in the store to show which class you should be using to get the most from the gun. This is because when you use a gun for your perk, your perk gains a boost in its effectiveness, a very neat little idea. You aren’t restricted in what weapons you can use though, any class can use any weapon, which is very important and allows for more of you to get those bigger and more bad-ass weapons…
Since all you’ll be doing in Killing Floor 2 is shooting, Tripwire Interactive have thankfully got this mechanic absolutely nailed. The game has some of the most satisfying and realistic shooting I’ve played in an FPS game. This applies to all weapons too, which there are a lot of. Having got the platinum on this game after dozens of hours, I still haven’t tried every weapon. I’ve tried a fair amount though and every gun feels completely different and like it’s supposed to (you can’t go sniping with shotguns).
As you play through the rounds, you earn Dosh, the in-game currency which you must spend in between rounds on armour, upgrades and better weapons. This adds another layer of tactics to the game as you must decide whether to invest in more armour or more firepower. A helpful addition that you will use a lot is the auto-fill, which tops everything up instantly without you having to waste time scouring the menus. On the lower difficulties, the Zeds drop easily, even to the basic pistols; a single headshot is enough to down the simpler enemies. As the rounds progress, and the enemies toughen, you will need to invest in better weaponry. Thankfully, to Tripwire’s credit, there’s an array of choices for all of your shooting preferences such as: fully auto-shotguns, RPGs, Sniper rifles and some other weapons that are dangerously fun.
Games don’t directly make people violent (feel free to @ me if you feel otherwise) but wow, being violent in this game feels amazing. There are fictional weapons specific to the game that are as crazy and experimental as random things you can make in the Dead Rising series. For example, there is a melee weapon called the pulverizer which looks very similar to the items you can craft with bats and saw blades. Of course, this favours charging in like a lunatic, and if you enjoy that then for sure the static shockers are also for you. They are basically giant gauntlets with electricity running through them which you can land massive power punches with, making you feel like a very strange Thor and Hulk baby. If that’s not your style, you can purchase and use a Husk Cannon, a fireball spitter. There are many more weapons that I won’t spoil, seriously you need to try them.
So, with a diverse mix of weapons that feel so damn good, you’d think it couldn’t be any better in terms of gunplay. Wrong; In comes Zed time. Zed time is a randomly triggered event where time slows down for everyone in the game. In this time, you can pull off the most beautifully systematic destruction of heads, possibly the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done in a shooter. With all that time to focus on your shots, you can line up Zed heads and start popping them like nasty, gruesome balloons. The only downside to this is sometimes it can trigger at inopportune moments, namely when you’re reloading or healing, so you don’t get to take advantage of the Matrix-esque eye-candy slow-mo action.
An interesting and very useful mechanic is the ability to weld doors shut or open. You can trap yourself in rooms to buy yourself time to heal or simply trap large amounts of enemies whilst you deal with other threats. It allows so many strategies in terms of funnelling the Zeds when and where you want them, adding a lot of depth to the already impressive gameplay. If you allow the doors to be broken though, that door will remain gone for the rest of the match, so you really have to pick your moments. Be very careful where you shut the doors because this game has one massive nuisance that has caused many of my deaths. If you’re backed against a wall, reloading or with no ammo, you’re pretty much dead. Your character gets stuck and cannot get free of a lot of Zeds in your face, which becomes extremely annoying as it happens quite frequently when you’re learning the layouts of the maps.
The maps within Killing Floor 2 are also very detailed and very unique. No two maps feel the same and there are quite a lot of them, with more coming out all the time. There are wide open outdoor maps, maps with verticality and maps that feel narrow and mazy. They’re some of my favourite map designs in any multiplayer shooter I’ve ever played. Some maps have traps and barriers that you can interact with by using the environment, such as using a carousel to knock Zeds back – which is a personal highlight.
They are all varied and fun, adding another layer to the desire to just keep having “one more match”, something I and my friends have turned into many, many all-nighters on this game. It also helps that all the maps have collectables to find, which you have to shoot because it’s another excuse to squeeze those lovely triggers.
There are 4 game modes in Killing Floor 2 that you will be able to play either on your own offline, or online with friends or random other sickos who love gore. First of all is, of course, the Survival mode, the most basic but also probably the most popular of the modes. In Survival mode, either alone, or you and up to 5 other people online have to survive waves of increasingly difficult attacks. There are 4 difficulty modes to choose from: Normal, Hard, Suicidal and Hell on Earth. Hell on Earth is one serious fustercluck of a challenge. You have to communicate and communicate ‘well’ if you want to beat this level of difficulty. It’s not worth even trying unless you have high-level perks on every team member, but it’s a distant goal you should always aim for. Beat all of those waves and you face a random boss Zed, beat it and you win, simple! Well, simple in theory, but due to the excellent design, it becomes very difficult and overwhelming if you aren’t careful. It is a little repetitive but the game feels so good to play that it never feels it. There is so much that can happen, so many ways to play and set up that no attempt ever feels exactly the same.
Endless mode is the same as survival but you see just how long you can last, with no limit on waves. However, the other mode you will spend some decent time on is VS Survival. In this mode, there is a mixture of AI and player Zeds. The rules are the same but the Zed players are given a random monster to go cause havoc with, against the human players. It’s raucous, frantic and great fun. I would say though that the humans are probably favoured a lot more; I’ve played a fair few matches and I would say only 30% of matches are won by the Zeds. That takes a little bit away of the fun of playing as the Zeds, as it’s super cool to try them out but it becomes a little tedious when you always lose, especially if you’re against an even remotely coordinated human team.
The final mode is the ‘Weekly‘, which is just one of the reasons why Tripwire simply has to be credited for their support of the game. The Weekly is a random game mode that resets every week and adds some wackiness to the game. The Weekly I played for this review was called Up Up and Decay, where you had to shoot Zeds as they swelled up and got fat. You then had to pop them to confirm the kill, shooting up into the air upon death. It was good fun and added some comedy with the fun factor of shooting up Zeds.
I may be a little biased here but personally, I think Killing Floor 2 has an amazing soundtrack. The soundtrack consists of heavy, chugging riffs and head-bang worthy drum beats that pound along with you as you blast guns to the beat provided by bands such as Demon Hunter, a very fitting band name for this game. Along with Doom, it is one of my absolute favourites, although I am a big lover of rock and metal music. That being said, even if you aren’t a fan of heavy guitars, it’s almost impossible to deny that it fits the mould of the game superbly. Just like racing games need those upbeat dance tracks to match your speed, demon slaying games just need those crunches and growls for that perfect backdrop.
Seasonal Events and Updates
Tripwire Interactive have spoilt players since the game released. This review is of how the game stands now, rather than how it was when first released as there are so many things that have been added. They continue to support this game and for absolutely no extra cost, which not many games can attest to (I can only think of Overwatch and Rainbow Six: Siege off the top of my head).
Not only was it once a free PS Plus game, opening the game up to millions of more players; they also give this game frequent updates and seasonal events that pull you back even if you’ve been away for a while. New maps are released every few weeks and are actually more detailed and interesting than the maps that came with the original release. They never feel like abandoned projects that are just thrown in, every new monster appearance, (which by the way are absolutely fantastic and often very, very different to how they usually look) is terrifying or funny, or every new map is completely unique and often brings new ideas or methods to beat the Zeds. A fairly recently added map, Monster’s Ball, is just perfection in map design. There are so many things in the environment to see and look at, so many aspects to the layout that I honestly wouldn’t mind paying for it, and I despise a lot of games for maps being released as paid DLC.
Official Trailer [Killing Floor 2]
Official Trailer [Killing Floor: Double Feature]
Killing Floor 2 is now, for me, the standard to beat for survival-based multiplayer shooters. The shooting has no right to feel as good as it does and Zed time is highly gratifying and adds to the addictive feeling the game provides. While the progression system and perk system take a long time to get going, they eventually add a deep and meaningful reason to keep playing. The soundtrack is awesome and feels like it narrates the action as opposed to playing over it. The characters also add some charm to the gameplay with quotes and interactions that are funnier than you might expect.
The developers have promised to keep supporting the game for at least the next year, which is a testament to how they value their player base. While the game lacks a campaign and a huge variety of modes, it never truly feels repetitive. Killing Floor 2 is a wonderfully done shooter that makes a Zed-infested apocalypse feel like a playground rather than a situation to fear. I will likely continue to play until they hopefully release Killing Floor 3. In the meantime though, it’s time to jump into their PSVR release, Killing Floor: Incursion…
*This review is part one of two. Both Killing Floor 2 and Killing Floor: Incursion have just been re-released within Killing Floor: Double Feature*