Game: PAYDAY 2
Genre: Co-op FPS
Publisher: 505 Games
Copy supplied by Steam
First released in 2013, PAYDAY 2 is a cooperative first-person shooter that has been constantly updated by the developers, with almost 50 DLC, free content, and the controversial addition of skins that improve the stats of your weapons.
Right now there are over 50 heists that you can play. Before starting a heist, you can equip one heavy weapon such as machine guns, shotguns or grenade launchers, and one sidearm such as pistols, revolvers and SMGs. Then you can also customize your skills and perk trees, that give you the possibility to gain more health, equip special items, and be able to lockpick safes or have more armor.
Most heists can be completed with a stealth or loud approach. If you choose stealth, you must use silenced weapons to kill the guards, and after every successful kill you have to answer a pager: the alarm will go off if you either do not answer the pager or if more than 4 pagers have already been answered. If you choose to go loud, there are going to be an endless amount of police waves, and depending on the difficulty that you are playing at, there might be stronger and stronger enemies such as Tasers who can stun you, Cloakers who can knock you down, and Bulldozers who take a lot of ammo or well placed headshots to be killed.
The game heavily relies on teamwork in both situations: players have to be as accurate as possible and they must always notice when someone is downed so that they can help him up again. It is also necessary that everyone picks the right loadout: it is pointless to use medikits during a stealth heist, just as much as bringing more body bags during a shootout is not going to benefit anyone.
Most of the heists feel unique, and there are plenty of crossovers with other properties. At the end of each heist, players are awarded with money that is both sent off-shore (which can be used to buy heists and unlock some features) and given cash to players to buy more weapons and assets before another mission. Also, each player unlocks a different item each time the heist finishes: it can be a weapon mod, XP or cash boost, a safe that contains a weapon skin, or a new mask that you can wear and customize.
Customization is key in this game, with each player modifying his weapons and masks to stand out as much as possible from the others. After a player has reached Level 100, he gets the chance to become Infamous, which is the equivalent of Call of Duty‘s Prestige. You can also customize your own Safe House by using the newly added Continental Coins.
I have been playing this game ever since it was first released almost 4 years ago. I have seen it grow and grow, and right now it is in a perfect spot: there is a lot of challenge, the gunplay is satisfying, gunfights are tough as nails and stealth missions are incredibly rewarding. With every new update there is new content being added, giving this a lot of replayability, especially if you take into account the overwhelming amount of achievements (over 550 right now), some of which, if completed, actually grant you new masks and weapon modifications.
Overall, PAYDAY 2 is an endlessly replayable coop shooter that is challenging and fun, with a solid fanbase and a discrete amount of hackers. It is often on sale, and I highly recommend you pick it up for yourself. One of the best shooters on Steam, and a personal favorite that I hope keeps getting improved in the upcoming years as well.
Plus, the soundtrack is pretty fricking good.