Platforms: Xbox One, PS4 and PC
Reviewed On: PC
Developer: Tripwire Interactive
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Singleplayer: Yes (Solo mode)
As the years have gone on games have become more and more complex, both in technical terms and in their ability to build detailed worlds filled with subtleties and fascinating characters. We’re incredibly lucky, when you think about it. Sometimes, though, you just want to shoot things in the face. I mean, lots of things. Hundreds of them. That’s where Tripwire’s Killing Floor 2 comes in.
Having missed the first game I went into this sequel with almost no knowledge of what to expect and came out the other side smiling. Killing Floor 2 isn’t a particularly great game in the grand scheme of things but it does what it aims to do quite well, which is to give you a lot of monsters to kill and plenty of satisfying guns to do it with.
If you like a good campaign or a variety of modes then tough, because Killing Floor 2 has none of that nonsense, focusing entirely on its twelve maps and 1-6 player survival. It’s horde mode, except instead of it being a supporting mode in a package sporting a singleplayer it’s the entire damn game. With that said there is a vs mode where players get to take controls of ZEDs and attempt to murderize the opposition.
Story is pretty much non-existent as you’re simply tossed into one of the twelve reasonably design levels with the simple goal of surviving however many waves (up to ten) of enemies there are, purchasing new gear at trader pods between waves. The premise is that somebody has been screwing with things they shouldn’t have been and has wound up creating ZEDS, genetically mutated monsters that come in about a dozen different flavors, all of which would very much like to show your insides to the world. There’s the horrifying spider-like crawling bastards, the fat bastard, the berserker bastard, the screaming bitch and a couple of more for added effect. Who are also bastards. And bitches.
Everything hinges on the quality of the gunplay, then. Without some satisfying shooting everything would just fall apart. Thankfully Killing Floor 2 nails its combat thanks to satisfying guns, great performance and smooth controls. Most of it comes down to backpedaling furiously while unleashing as many bullets as possible toward the fleshy foes, but that lends to the frantic nature of the game. Even with the full complement of six players you’re always drastically outnumbered and the A.I. favors swarming you. This can sometimes lead to frustrating situations where you get jammed into a piece of scenery and can’t escape, but the maps are designed so that there’s almost always somewhere to go, and good spatial awareness is rewarded. I can’t stress just how good the weapons and combat feels here; every gun has a satisfying noise that suggests a hole in space has just been ripped open every time you pull the trigger, and enemies can be dismembered 22 different ways, including a pleasingly squelchy headshot. With every kill you get cash to spend at trader pods between waves to refill ammo, get body armor and purchase new guns. It’s a simple, effective gameplay loop. Kill stuff, get more stuff to kill stuff.
Once you toss in a bunch of players things get even more fun. The game loves to splatter the environment with blood, and as more players enter the game even more enemies spawn, plus even more if it’s set to a harder difficulty so it doesn’t take long for one area to become covered in blood. It becomes a frantic battle for survival with players and enemies all over the place. With so many ZEDs coming toward you there’s an awesome feeling of panic, but just keep calm and nail those headshots. Even with a group of people who don’t chat it’s a lot of fun to just pound through wave after wave before arriving at the boss fight against one of two creatures. Of course getting together a bunch of friends is the best option for a brilliant night of fun.
Solo play is available to in case you don’t fancy dealing with those pesky human beings and their stupid emotions. It’s surprisingly enjoyable because with absolutely no backup everything feels pretty tense.
You could also choose to delve into the vs mode, where up to twelve players battle against another twelve players with one side getting to control ZEDs. It’s….alright. I’m personally just not a fan of this mode, but it works and provides a reasonable detour from the regular survival. It does feel like something of an afterthought, though.
Before you go into a match your given the chance to choose your perk, which is essentially a class that provides bonuses. Smartly you don’t get locked into using specific weapons or items during the game, though, leaving you free to grab whatever you want by spending the money accrued from killing at trader stations between waves. The way it works is that certain weapons are associated with certain classes, and whenever you use one of those weapons to do some killing it’ll earn experience for that class. That means you might go into a match with the commando perks selected, but if you want to grab a magnum and start popping some heads then you can, likewise a medic could buy an RPG and begin blowing everything up.
Of course focusing on a specific class is a good decision since the unlockable perks really make a big difference to your overall performance. Since the game has been out in early access for so long a large portion of the community is already heavily upgraded, and that means you can feel quite outgunned when stepping into the game’s twelve levels for the first time. Still, I was pleased to see that the full release does seem to have brought in a health new audience as well, so I did end up finding groups of people who were roughly the same level as me.
Not exactly surprisingly Killing Floor 2’s biggest problem is repetition. This is a game focused entirely on shooting stuff almost all the time, and as good as the gunplay is that can become tiresome fairly quickly. But then this also makes it a good game to fire up every day or two, play a few rounds and then head off to do something else. Make the mistake of sitting down for a good afternoon or evening of shooting ZEDs a couple of times and you’ll likely find yourself bored of all the gore. Even if it is rather nice gore.
I’d also say that for a game focused around a single mode it could do with a bit more content. Twelve maps and two bosses feels a little lackluster, although it has to be said that Killing Floor 2 only retails for £20. There are microtransactions as well, but they’re solely limited to visual items, so I don’t have too much of an issue there although I’d still rather that there was none. I have no doubt more content will be added via DLC, either free or paid for, but it could have done with a bit more at launch.
I’ve got to say the overall performance is great, with that time in early access clearing letting the developers polish everything. I didn’t encounter any major framerate drops, and the whole game looks rather pretty. It’s bolstered by a killer soundtrack, too, that goes in for the admittedly safe choice of industrial metal. You can’t go wrong with gore and metal, really, can you?
A short review for a simple game. Basically, I quite like Killing Floor 2. It’s simple, does what it says on the tin and does it rather well. Sometimes that’s what you need, not complex stories or nuanced characters or a bunch of tosh about the tricky morality of simply living from day-to-day. No, sometimes you just need to shoot stuff and admire the gore.