Monday, September 25, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

KILLING FLOOR 2 Box art I believe I’m in the minority, but I’ve never really enjoyed the Zombie mode from the Call of Duty series for a number of reasons, so I was a little weary about Killing Floor 2, as I assumed it would be very similar. Turns out my tepidness was unfounded, as Killing Floor 2 plays much more like a bloody version of Horde mode from Gears of War than anything else. It’s no secret that the zombie genre has been overdone in the past few years, so to stand out amongst the crowd is becoming increasingly difficult. I honestly expected to be let down with this game, if not just for the stigma of the genre, but I came away quite surprised, as I’ve put quite a few hours into it and keep going back for more, despite its flaws.

The original Killing Floor originally began as a mod for Unreal Tournament and became so successful that Tripwire Interactive was requested to create it as a standalone game. This was around the time of Left 4 Dead’s popularity, so it was a fine alternative. Having released on PC and Playstation 4 last year, Xbox owners were left out of the loop, but Xbox's time has finally come, complete with exclusive content and further graphical updates once the Xbox One X comes out later this year.

Killing Floor 2 is primarily a multiplayer focused affair. I guess technically there’s a story somewhere buried in the game’s lore or wiki, but you won’t find it anywhere within the game. Essentially zombies have taken over the world, an overused trope sure, and your team must survive the oncoming waves of nearly endless Zed’s. That’s about it for its narrative, which is fine in this circumstance, given that its focus is solely on being a multiplayer shooter. Would I have liked at least a little effort taken into some type of story to ties everything together, giving you a reason why? Sure, though most would have probably not paid much attention to it anyways, to get right into the combat.

Killing Floor 2 has three separate game modes: VS Survival, Weekly, and its main focus, Survival. Survival has up to 6 players cooperatively trying to survive 10 waves of enemies, culminating with a challenging boss fight at the end. VS Survival is 6 vs 6 teams of humans and monsters battling against each other if you want to scratch that PvP itch. Lastly is Weekly, which is a more challenging mode that changes every week, so it’s worth coming back and checking it out every so often.

Survival Mode is Killing Floor 2’s bread and butter, playing much like the coveted Horde mode from Gears of War. Usually these modes are a bonus from a larger scoped game, but this is what Killing Floor 2 has based the bulk of its gameplay on. I thought I would grow tired of the same gameplay repeated over and over, and to be fair, I did at times, but yet I kept coming back for more to either level up one of my classes or to try out a completely new one.

Early waves begin with only a handful of simple Zed’s to kill, with each wave becoming increasingly more difficult in terms of sheer numbers and harder enemies. There is only a handful of enemies you’ll encounter, so once you learn the best strategies to defeat them, you won’t have to worry about any crazy surprises from new enemies once you’ve seen them all. I do wish there was some more variety of enemies, but there are different types, such as bloaters, spitters, crawlers, brutes, witches and more Left 4 Dead-esque zombies.

What I enjoyed the most from Killing Floor 2 is its class system. There are 10 separate classes to choose from, much more than I expected, each of which are unique and feel balanced with their own strengths and weaknesses. A few of the classes feel very unique, and add strength to the overall party, but you’ll need to make sure you balance out your team to cover all the bases, as each class has specific strengths and weaknesses against certain enemy types. Personally I favor the Medic, being able to heal my teammates with darts and heal grenades, but many people seems to enjoy the Sharpshooter, Demolitions, Support, Pyro and others. It’s all about finding the class that suits your play style best and what works for a cohesive team composition.

The XP system is clever, as you earn XP for killing Zeds, obviously, but your class’ level is based on the weapon you’re using. As a medic I prefer using my Medic specific weapons, as this will level my Medic class, but at any time I can pick up a sniper and start to level my Sharpshooter, for example. So, even though I’m playing the Medic class, I can earn XP in any other class based on the weapon I’m using, though I won’t get to use my secondary abilities, like my healing, while using a weapon outside of my class.

As you gain XP you’ll level up, with every 5 levels allowing you to choose one of two perks for that particular class. These perks allow you to customize your class even further, being able to swap between them freely as you begin matches to better support your team. For example, as a medic I can choose to heal more and buff speed or I can choose more survivability for myself. These perks start to make a huge difference as you reach maximum level, as you’re rewarded for sticking with a class and becoming proficient with it.

As you complete each wave, you’ll be instructed with a visual indicator where the nearest Pod is. These Pods allow you to spend in-game cash, called dosh, you’ve earned from killing enemies and supporting your teammates. You spend your dosh on armor, ammo, and weapons of your liking. You can upgrade your simple pistol or buy much more powerful weaponry, but the most powerful weapons obviously cost more, forcing you to save more across waves. Luckily you’re even able to dish out your dosh to teammates should they be low on funds and in need of upgrade purchases. You only get a short amount of time to make your purchases, so you need to be quick with your choices. Luckily there’s an option for quick upgrades by holding ‘B’ if you want a suggested upgrade path with the amount of money you currently have.

On the final wave (wave 10) you’ll have to face off against one of two bosses, with some minor enemies sprinkled in to make the experience more chaotic. You’ll battle against the hulking Patriarch, a return from the first game, or against Dr. Hans Volter, a mad scientist that looks like a cross breed between Edward Scissor Hands, Freddy Krueger and Bane. Patriarch can absorb a mass amount of damage, turn invisible and tries to flee to regenerate. Dr. Volter can spew cluster bombs all around him, causing massive damage if you get caught within the explosions. Each boss can be lethal very quickly, requiring specific strategies to defeat. It’s a shame, and quite a detriment, that there’s only two bosses that you’ll ever encounter, as you’ll get a sense of repetition when it comes time to battle them once again.

Along with your class, you’re also able to choose your character skin and cosmetic items. There’s not much selection, but at least there’s something to choose from. You’re able to purchase packages of cosmetic clothing should you desire to stand out amongst the crowd, but there’s no way to earn currency from simply playing, so you’re going to need to open your wallet if you want to look special. The issue that irks me the most is that you’ll also earn chests that can be unlocked that contain weapon skins and other goodies, but there’s no way to earn these keys by simply playing the game. This forces you to purchase keys with real money if you want to open these chests and get the rewards. Granted, the rewards are cosmetic, but even a steep treadmill of grinding would have been an acceptable way to slowly earn keys without having to use microtransactions. Oh, and these keys are $2.50 a pop; no thanks.

While there is a single player mode for you to play should you lose your internet connection, or want to learn the maps, you essentially need to be connected at all times. There’s also no campaign of any sorts to speak of, so as long as you know that Killing Floor 2 is a multiplayer only focused shooter, you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into. The forceful key purchases only reinforce the view that many have of microtransactions, as there should have been some way to earn keys, even incredibly slowly, simply my playing. That being said, even though there are some faults to be found, and only two bosses included, I’m still enjoying my time within. Killing Floor 2 feels much more cooperative focused than other Horde-like games, contains a healthy amount of maps, and a large class selection that you’ll surely find a good fit for your playstyle. Faults aside, this isn't a that bad of a game at all, and worth a close look.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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