by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
Return to the killing floor
Playing Killing Floor 2 is just like playing the original Killing Floor. You and up to five allies shoot, stab and blow up successive waves of monstrosities, buying new guns all the while, culminating with a fight against a boss monster. Killing Floor 2 does add many features absent or underdeveloped in the original, such as new creatures and weapons, a better levelling system and a new versus mode.
The story, or what passes as one, continues from where the first game left off. For those unaware, the first game began after a mad scientist created a horde of cloned creatures, alternatively called specimens or Zeds, that rampaged throughout the British Isles. In the sequel, that outbreak has moved to continental Europe, with the players continuing to fight back. Honestly, the story exists only to serve as an excuse to kill hundreds upon thousands of monstrous creatures. It is fortunate that Killing Floor 2 largely succeeds in that regard.
A typical match in Killing Floor 2 can be divided into two distinct phases. The first phase is when the Zeds spawn, assailing you and your allies until they are all dead. At that point, players can go to a pod to purchase new weapons and stock up on ammunition. Once the timer runs out, a new wave of enemies is unleashed, at which point the two phases repeat until all of the waves have been completed or the players have been horribly mutilated.
Simple, yet satisfying
It is to Tripwire Interactive’s credit that the basic gameplay loop in Killing Floor 2 is so strong. The continual loop of moving, shooting and upgrading is extremely satisfying, no matter which weapon you use. Despite being repetitive, the gameplay is simple and to the point, allowing you to pick up join any game and pick up any weapon and immediately know what to do without being out of your depth.
Much of that is the result of the massive amount of detail put into the weapons themselves. Guns and melee weapons are finely detailed, each with their own unique animations and sounds that make them distinct from one another. There are different animations for reloading depending on whether the gun’s magazine is empty or not, along with animations for inspecting your gun. Enemy and player character models look worse by comparison, but that is not so much a complaint against them as it is praise for how well designed the weapons are. They feel good, look good, and are easily the highlight of Killing Floor 2.
Also increasing in detail is the blood and gore. The developers created a system, called M.E.A.T. (Massive Evisceration and Trauma), wherein they increased the amount of blood spatter patterns and ways to dismember enemies. This results in most maps becoming plastered with gore by the final waves, as body parts stick to the floor and the walls become coated in blood. Combined with the combat system, this creates immediate feedback that helps to keep the game from becoming bland quickly.
Apart from the guns and blood, the maps present in the game are varied, each with their own colour palette and routes. The icy whites and blues of the Outpost map stand in stark contrast to the Burning Paris level, which is exactly what it says on the tin. Their visual differences are welcome, as a singular visual style across all maps would have been a drag to play through. On the other hand, the metal soundtrack never gets old, as it does get your blood pumping and ready each time a wave begins.
Players can choose one of ten perks to specialize in, such as the pistol wielding Gunslinger, the aptly named Demolitionist or my personal favorite, the long range Sharpshooter. One of my problems with the original Killing Floor was that leveling up perks, or classes, was often obtuse and drawn out, with different objectives for each perk. In Killing Floor 2, leveling up is standardized across perks, meaning that you level up doing the same actions regardless of what class you pick. Despite the new skills that encourage leveling in a certain perk, it takes a very long time to level up each class, requiring committed play in a certain perk before the best abilities are unlocked.
Back for more
The biggest addition to the game is the new game mode, Versus Survival, where players can control Zeds and fight back against a team of humans. While the idea of playing as the monsters is interesting, the mode currently needs plenty of work before it reaches its full potential. Playing as the weaker enemies is boring, as they lack the abilities or health that make them stand out against humans. By contrast, more powerful enemies are much harder to pick up and play as, because the random spawning system means that you will not be able to stay as one creature for too long if you die. It’s interesting to play once or twice, yet it lacks the gameplay cycle that makes the primary horde mode so good.
Killing Floor 2, for better or worse, is much like its predecessor. The strong gameplay system is elevated by both its visuals and audio, with the guns being a particular highlight. There are some kinks to be ironed out here and there, but at the end of the day, Killing Floor 2 is a satisfying cooperative shooter that is so simple, so easy to play, that it’s difficult to not come back for more.
Satisfying gameplay, great visual and audio design
Versus mode unsatisfying, long leveling time