Killing Floor 2 is Shaping Up to be a Worthy Successor

When the standalone version of Killing Floor released four years after the release of the Unreal Tournament 2004 mod, the game seemed like it couldn’t get any better.  It had features that were impossible in the framework of UT 2004 and lasted another six years.  I’m happy to say that, with a new perks system and updated graphics among other changes, Tripwire Interactive manages to present unimaginable improvements in Killing Floor 2 once more.

In the simplest terms, Killing Floor 2 is a six-player co-op wave based shooter that has players earning money, called Dosh, to purchase weaponry and armor in between phases.  The game offers varying difficulties, ranging from “easy with a few friends” to “who designed this!?”  At this moment, there’s no real reason to play Killing Floor alone (except to live out your Rambo fantasies for a few waves before getting absolutely gutted,) but in an interview with Hardcore Gamer, the game’s creative director, William Munk, said that they were testing out some single-player ideas.

Let’s get this out of the way: Killing Floor 2 is a massive graphical improvement on the original.  The huge step up includes dynamic lighting, reflections in blood that covers the level and is persistent between waves.  The game is gorgeous and deeply detailed.

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For the most part, players of the original will find Killing Floor 2 an easy fit for them.  The controls are largely the same and many of the same enemy types make appearances.  The biggest difference has to be the classes and perks system.  For example, commandos start out with an assault rifle and are more adept at blasting players from afar, whereas the berserkers start with melee weapons made for up close bashing.  The gun trader shows players weapons specific to each of their classes by default, so as long as your team communicates which players are going to be which class, you’ll be able to sort out who should get what weapon easily from there.

Don’t be afraid that this will limit your play style — if you’ve got the Dosh and the spare room in your inventory, you can select any weapon in the game to play with, though this won’t help you gain experience for your current class.  Using a weapon outside of your assigned class will accrue experience for that other class at a slower rate, so medics who want to clobber baddies down will have to take a hit on their XP gain to do so.

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Weaponry feels better than ever in Killing Floor 2, and I might even go so far as to say it has the best gunplay of any shooter I’ve ever played.  The guns feel so strong and the high framerate animations look incredible when you go into “Zed Time,” the game’s slow-mo that activates whenever you or one of your teammates pull off an impressive shot, swing, or grenade toss.  Tripwire Interactive has achieved a fine balance between lining up that perfect headshot and switching to full auto to mow down enemies with Killing Floor 2.

The levels Killing floor offers so far are large enough to offer multiple stages for combat, but not so big as to get lost or disoriented.  I never found myself wondering where my teammates were as I wandered through the level.  Also, levels have an even amount of enclosed and open areas to keep them feeling varied.  Fortifying entry points into a building is a good way to hold off the horde for a while, but you might have to jump out a window just to survive once they bust through your barricades.  Thrilling moments are created organically through the design of each stage, and each one offers something different than the last.

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I don’t see myself playing the original Killing Floor after Killing Floor 2 gets a full release.  The sequel not only improves upon all of the things that made its predecessor so great, but also brings the game up to the modern era both graphically and in its interfaces.

Killing Floor 2 entered early access on April 21 and plans to release on PC and PS4 sometime later this year.