Another month, another zombie shooter! Well, they don’t come out quite THAT often…but I suppose it feels that way sometimes. You’ve got your hits and misses in this subgenre, with Dying Light on one hand and #KILLALLZOMBIES on the other. Killing Floor 2, the latest in the venerable tradition of undead murder simulators, is thankfully well on the winning side of things. Which is good, because I really don’t think I could survive another #KILLALLZOMBIES.
Much like the original, Killing Floor 2 is a horde-mode shooter you play with a few other people. There’s a whole bunch of zombies, you’ve got a whole bunch of guns, killing the zombies with the guns gets you cash money that you can spend between waves to buy more guns. Simple enough, right? I’m not familiar with the first game, but it was easy enough to pick this one up and get to work.
The guns are the real highlight of this game, honestly, and that’s where the perk system comes in. There’s several “perks” – four at the moment, more once the game’s after Early Access – that act as classes in other games. The Berserker is great at using melee weapons, the Commando uses rifles and such, the Support uses the best shotguns in any shooter ever and the Medic uses weird dual-action healing guns. I’m serious about those shotguns. They’re fantastic. Play a Support at least once if you pick this one up.
As mentioned, everything has a price so you can’t just walk around with the biggest guns from step one. What’s more, your loadout is subject to a weight limit, so generally you can carry a solid primary weapon and decent secondary weapon. Any remaining money can be spent on body armor and ammo or distributed to your teammates.
Speaking of teammates, that reminds me: one of my personal quirks when it comes to gaming is that I can’t stand playing with random people online. Hate to say it, vast majority of the Internet, but you’re just too dumb for me. You can’t shoot to save your life, you won’t heal your party, you nerdvoice endlessly into your always-enabled mics…I can’t do it. Sorry. Friends only.
Killing Floor 2 does a lot to make playing with randoms a lot less painful, though. It follows a similar scheme to what we see in games like Left 4 Dead: a sort of gentle nudge toward the simplest action that will benefit the team at all times. If a team member is hurt, for instance, the shopkeeper NPC will ask you to heal them. In fact, she’ll do it repeatedly until you acquiesce or the next wave rolls around, and you’ll even get a little cookie, er, cash bonus for being a good teammate. It’s a little condescending for anyone who isn’t completely brain-dead, sure…but it also means you get healed a lot more than you might in similar titles without that feature, so I can’t complain.
Something needs to be said about the graphics: they’re really good, oh my god. So pretty. There’s a new gore engine on show here, too, so things get nice and chunky and stay that way throughout each match. There’s a fair amount of voice acting, too, though these have a tendency to repeat and they’re also used for the parental hand-holding feature described above. This might grind on your nerves after a bit. Still, the production values are on par with any other AAA title, so there’s very little to complain about here.
Killing Floor 2 is in Early Access, meaning you’re buying an unfinished game. By Early Access standards this is actually fairly polished, though, and Tripwire’s taken the unorthodox approach of offering a basically-finished but content-sparse game instead of a content-complete game that runs like crap and crashes constantly. This means you’re missing a bunch of guns and perks, but what’s there is entirely playable from start to finish. While I definitely prefer this approach to the typical buggy crapfests available via Early Access, I’m not a fan of the “when it’s done” release date offered on the game’s Steam store page or the fact that the game’s not any cheaper while it’s being offered unfinished.
Still, if you can get a few buddies together who can stomach paying $30 for an unfinished game, Killing Floor 2 is a solid experience that looks like it’ll rival its predecessor. The nature of the genre means that even though there isn’t a huge amount of content, there’s still plenty to do and plenty more to kill. If the developers stick with it, there’s bound to be more content to come as well, so it’s a title you’ll be able to come back to time and time again. It’s yet another zombie game, sure, but Killing Floor 2 does it right.