Killing Floor 2 Preview
Paris is burning. The Eiffel Tower is doused in flames in the distance, the low guttural growl of zombies comes from the tunnel ahead of me. In some situations, this total collapse of civilisation as we know it would be scary, but not for me: I've got a flamethrower.
This is the world of Killing Floor 2, sequel to Tripwire's original smash-hit co-op shooter, pitting you and your team of six against a bunch of science experiments gone wrong. After each wave you run to a 3D printer being remotely controlled by a nice French lady, and use the money you've earned from killing the gross creatures to buy new weapons, ammo and armour.
The comparisons between Killing Floor 2 and Left 4 Dead are obvious, but it's important to understand from the word 'go' that Killing Floor 2 isn't a scary game - it's an arcade game; arena survival where there's nothing to fear as long as you've got a gun in your hand or allies at your side. It's probably one of the co-op titles of the year, or it would be, if Tripwire looked likely to ever release it.
Killing Floor 2 gets a lot right. For a start, there's a meaningful progression system that encourages and rewards different play styles. At the time of writing there are eight classes in Killing Floor 2, but seeing as this number has already basically doubled since Killing Floor 2 reached Steam's Early Access program last year, it wouldn't surprise me if we eventually saw a couple more. The classes focus on different things: the Berserker focusses on duelling the bigger monsters with melee weapons, with access to parries and lots of buffs to increase survivability. On the other side of the coin, the Firebug has a flamethrower, plenty of fire-based weapons and the ability to thin out the crowds of weaker enemies.
One excellent part here is that as you gain experience with the different classes you'll level up, giving you more bonuses - every five levels you'll unlock an additional little perk - maybe an extra 50 HP or the ability to reload a little faster. Masterfully, you don't need to be playing as a perk to gain experience in it. If you heal another player, you'll unlock experience for the Medic class whether you're playing as the Medic or not. Levelling, as in the first game, is still a touch too slow for my liking, but it rewards people taking the class system seriously and playing optimally, and as I often play a mix of the different styles, I'm not gaining the full benefit of 'maining' one of the classes.
It hasn't affected me too much, and I've been enjoying the game a lot regardless, but as each class has its own selection of fun weapons, it's hard to keep my hands off them. The Firebug gets a microwave cannon as its final weapon, while the gunslinger gets a pair of Magnum revolvers that can blow most enemies to pieces. Each perk entering the game brings its own perk weapons, and many have their own strengths so it's not just a case of rushing to own the best weapon for each perk.