I'm sitting in the hidden basement of my safehouse, thumbing the safety back and forth on my silenced pistol. The radio buzzes to life. "There's a bank downtown..." and I'm off, sprinting out the door in my well-tailored suit, mask and pistol and assault rifle concealed underneath.
I jump in the van with my three fellow thieves, decked out in similarly immaculate suits. The ride over is quiet. I take the time to study blueprints of the bank, wishing I'd studied architecture in college.
We pull up outside the bank. The voice on the radio tells us an associate stashed a thermal drill out back of the bank; we'll need it to bust the safe open and steal the cash. I'm excited. Though I'm masquerading as a master thief, this is my first robbery. I prepare to "case the joint," like the criminal masterminds I've seen on TV.
I walk into the bank, trying to plan my mode of attack. A security guard apparently spots the assault rifle I—for whatever reason—foolishly believed I could conceal under my slim-cut suit jacket. "Hey you!" the guard shouts. An alarm sounds. Time to go to work.
Over the blaring klaxon I hear myself mutter "Here we go," as I hit the key to pull my sad clown mask down over my face. The cop opens fire on me, and I kill him. We haven't even retrieved the drill yet. An entire SWAT team quickly swarms our position and murders everyone.
"Your [sic] a god damn idiot," says one of my fellow team members in the chat.
Welcome to Payday 2.
Take the money and run
Payday 2, like its predecessor, is a game about robberies, heists, and (occasionally) capers developed by Overkill Software. You play as part of a four-man band of thieves, sort of the Beatles of breaking-and-entering, as you gallivant around town, steal money, cook meth, and kill a lot of cops and stuff.
Jobs range from simplistic, one-day romps to complex, multiday endeavors. Short jobs make you less money, but if you fail a long job on the last day you give up all the progress you made earlier. Each time you run a heist, various things (such as item locations) will change, so theoretically even the same map can be different on each run-through.
As you pull off more heists you'll upgrade your weapons, buy new masks, unlock new missions, and gain valuable skills in any of four tech trees. Leveling up the Technician class will grant access to C4, for example, while Masterminds learn to intimidate police.
Each class is useful. So useful it's hard to decide what to focus on at first. The developers give you the option to respec your upgrade points at any time, but most of the money you spent on those upgrades is lost in the process. It's a system designed to reward picking a class and sticking with it, especially since most of the best upgrades are locked to the highest levels.
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