Killing Floor 2 – Preview

Title   Killing Floor 2
Developer  Tripwire Interactive
Publisher  Tripwire Interactive
Platform  Windows PC, Linux, PS4
Genre  First-Person Shooter
Release Date  2015
Official Site

Let’s get the obvious out of the way right from the start: if you loved Killing Floor, you’ll love Killing Floor 2. Although Tripwire Interactive have made some subtle changes to the game, the core principles remain the same and this will only serve to please existing fans and bring new players into the fold. Although concerns could be raised about the game being to similar to the original, it is a game that has been well received by the community, going onto sell over three million copies – not bad going for a title that started life as an Unreal Tournament 2004 mod.

For those unfamiliar with the concept it is a relatively simple one that belies its increasing difficulty. Killing Floor 2 is a first-person shooter, in which players can work solo or co-operatively with up to six players. Players fight through waves of enemies known as Zeds, who come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with a special ability or power that requires a certain amount of attention, depending on whatever else is going on at the time. After a set number of waves (decided before the game starts) the players will take on a boss fight, which usually involves watching your team mates get picked off one-by-one in what can be described as an incredibly quick version of a slasher flick.

There were a few reasons why Killing Floor worked so well and it’s good to see that these core things remain unchanged going into the sequel. As the game begins, players select a perk that comes with a number of standard weapons. If they have gained enough experience points previously, they’ll have access to perk-specific abilities – so if you choose the Field-Medic perk, one of your unlocked abilities may include being able to heal team mates faster, just as the Support perk will enable you to weld doors swiftly. All these perks have configurable abilities, along with passive bonuses that players can work to unlock. There are ten perks in total, although only four were available during the preview, and fans of the first game will recognise the Berserker, Commando, Support and Field Medic. One criticism I had of the first game was the awful grind involved to unlock anything – a concern that has been seen to be addressed here, as levelling up seems to occur a little faster, with each perk currently able to hit level twenty-five. There is an ability to pick every five levels and, thankfully, these choices aren’t permanent, meaning that changes can be made pre-match or even during the game.

Not that you’ve come here just for a breakdown in stats and numbers – you want to know how the gameplay holds up. I’m pleased to say that at the time of writing the game feels excellent to play and has reignited my love for Killing Floor as a concept. Having played on a few different maps during my time with the preview code, I can say that the level design is as excellent as I remember – buildings, catacombs, corridors and streets all snake around, through and between each other in order to create a very believable and enjoyable labyrinth in which to fight the legions of Zed. The areas where you can purchase weapons, armour and ammo between waves feel nicely spaced apart, although finding yourself on the wrong side of town when one opens up may leave you in a prickly position come the following wave. Although the first game was set in Britain, the second game takes place in Europe, and by far the most enjoyable map has been Burning Paris – a deserted urban paradise in flames, the Effiel Tower hunched over in the background as a symbol of the failure to contain the outbreak.

The addictive combat of the first has returned and is just as good as it was previously. There are plenty of weapons to choose from (although only a small number were on offer at the time) and each of these feel weighty and dangerous. The shotguns are still some of the most awesome weapons to hand and Tripwire Interactive have once again nailed the meaty feel of unloading a double-barrelled shotgun into the face of an enemy. I’m still a little irked that I can’t sell or drop my starting pistol or knife – I want to replace them with better weapons! I understand why this is, though, so I can’t really complain about it that much, but to offer the player so much customisation and then force them to stick to this rule is irritating.

This shortcoming is overlooked seconds later when my screen is full of Zeds, one guy has just been killed, another is being surrounded by Husks and Sirens and I’m frantically trying to reload the last thirty bullets of my Bullpup rifle while some Gorefasts come hurtling towards me. The game’s pace is almost perfect in that it starts off slowly, with everyone covering a different angle, welding doors shut, preparing weapons and defences – you almost lull yourself into a false sense of security. Before you know it, there’s a breach and then someone mistimes a reload, a grenade misses the target and then all hell breaks loose. People move positions, someone doesn’t heal, and a group of Stalkers appear in front of your face and start trying to eat you – it’s ridiculously good fun.

Until someone loses an eye that is – the boss fights in Killing Floor 2 are just as tough as I remember, although I seem to have had more luck this time round than my previous attempts in the first game. Tripwire Interactive have assured gamers that there will be multiple bosses and, for now, my ass has only been kicked by Hans Volter who sounds like the German-Sith version of Han Solo. Sporting explosive grenades, poison grenades, an extremely powerful melee attack and dual machine-guns it doesn’t take long to die if you’re not quick on your feet. Did I mention he leaches health from players? What a dick. Only a coordinated team will take him down and, with the infamous Patriarch promised to make a return, I’m planning on taking my two wins against Hans Volter as the calm before the storm.

By far though, the most impressive thing from Killing Floor 2 is how it looks – Tripwire Interactive have benefited from the profit from the first game (and also from Red Orchestra and Rising Storm), allowing them to invest money in motion capture, which makes all the difference when you compare how the models in the two games move and react. The Unreal 3 engine looks excellent, lending a very vibrant palette of colours while keeping that B-movie feel that was ingrained in the first game. The amount of gore and dismemberment in a title of this genre would usually mean that the game comes across as less realistic and more slapstick but, if anything, because they’re aiming for that B-movie feel, it makes it more realistic.

As I said at the start, if you loved Killing Floor, you’re going to love the sequel, and if you missed the boat the first time round there isn’t a better time to get involved in the action now that the game is in Steam’s Early Access.

Last five articles by Chris


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