There’s just something intensely fun about gearing up your career criminal in a standard rubber screaming horse-head mask, changing its texture to a finely grained mahogany wood, while your companions are stumping around with horrifying Santa Claus or horror-movie animal heads. PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition is a hoot before you even get into the actual gameplay, with its crazy degree of leveled customization and different build-types.
It helps that we got to start with all the character options unlocked at a recent preview event for PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition for PS4 and Xbox One. The game takes all of the DLC content released for the game on PC through March—where it has blown up on Steam, with the second largest install base after DOTA 2—and adds newer additional content to the mix. I got to see a lot of content that I would have had to spend a considerable time leveling up for, in terms of character progression and build types.
To get us into the Crimewave 4-man cooperative gameplay, we were shepherded to a series of missions given by The Dentist (played by Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito) who gives a mission briefing while you sit in his chair, getting your oral health examined. One thing’s for certain—you’ll be a group of criminals with a healthy set of chompers. In addition to Esposito, PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition also features other media tie-ins, like John Wick (Keanu Reeves) of the movie of the same name, as a playable character.
In practice, from several missions—most lengthily an extended bank heist—the heavy combat elements of PAYDAY 2 are a mix of wave-based combat with tactical elements and resource management. In four-player teams, drilling doors and hacking security systems take time, during which waves of police or SWAT teams can be storming the venue, can make for challenging gaming sessions. Additionally a drill may break down and need to be reset, or worse, repaired with extra components dropped in a likely firefight location.
Of course, much of these issues can be mitigated by using Crimewave Edition's preplanning feature which yields drops and other resources made available at different places on the map. Additionally, you can gear your character up with specific skills as a Technician to keep the drills running, an Enforcer (combat tank) for bonuses to attacking and defense, or a Ghost for stealth. A stealth play of some of the maps, in particular, changes the game completely. Alan and I ran through a museum diamond heist mission, where he led and I mostly followed. This was my favorite part of the game, due to the massive differences every time we made an attempt.
While the architecture of levels is always the same, the individual placement of cameras, security rooms, boxes that needed to be hacked, and guard routes were completely different from one playthrough to the next. This meant we always had to be on our toes, since a guard could come across us at any moment. In our best playthrough, we made it all the way to the vault holding the diamond (complete with a Raiders of the Lost Ark style floor booby-trap) and had just hacked the door when a guard found a body we hadn't been able to move and sounded the alarm.
PAYDAY 2 missed out on a lot of the continuously developed DLC for PC when first released on last-generation consoles, due to the limits of the format. Crimewave Edition for PS4 and Xbox One—which no longer share the older consoles' restrictions—seeks to maintain parity with the PC version and bring that same community-driven experience to current-gen. There's a lot there to offer, and movie-like heists are intensely fun, whether you go in guns-blazing or as a thief-in-the-night.
PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition releases on June 16, 2015 on Xbox One and PS4.