Killing Floor 2 PS4 Review
It’s interesting to see how one game’s innovation can influence years of successors that build entire new games and genres: Resident Evil 4 became a massive critical success thanks to its over-the-shoulder targeting view. This paved the way for Gears of War, which refined RE4’s control scheme while introducing new mechanics for future generations to copy. The most famous of Gears’ mechanics would be its cover system, but its most popular was the revolutionary Horde Mode introduced in its first sequel: combining the growing craze of online co-op with the Arcade-like desire of mowing down hundreds of inhuman enemies of increasing challenge, the wave-based Horde Mode would continue on with the series and beyond, extending the concept to PC games as well as consoles.
Killing Floor was one such PC exclusive that earned cult status with its deliberately grimy, gore-filled aesthetic in which a team of England’s finest (and infamous) must band together to survive the onslaught of vicious undead experiment gone awry. Nicknamed “Zeds”, these laboratory creatures may be dead, but they aren’t all walking, with many types of enemies offering different abilities to prompt different strategies for survival. The goal for players is to dismember the total number of Zeds that appear in each wave, in which successful completion will allow for a brief reprieve to replenish ammo and/or purchase new weapons using money earned with each kill (called “dosh”, in case you hadn’t figured out what kind of culture shock the game is tuning out). Smart spending is the key to surviving all the waves, but so is teamwork, as players can not only coordinate the best choke-points to blast away the bad guys, they can assist one another with healing, ammo sharing and even tossing some much-needed dosh free of charge.
With the Playstation 4 becoming a massive console hit that even previously PC-exclusive devs can’t ignore it, Tripwire Interactive has opted to bring the sequel to Sony’s console in addition to PC. Nevermind the fact that console owners never got the first Killing Floor, as it shares as much linked significance as Street Fighter II does with its predecessor: just as before, the goal is to gather together with some co-op buddies and take out the Zeds in each wave, spend the hard-earned dosh to upgrade weapons, and rinse and repeat until the very end, where a powerful boss awaits.
At a glance, Killing Floor 2 doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of new mechanics: most of the core features have been refined rather than removed, such as recharging health packs, an extended slowdown timer (which occurs randomly after critical kills, including headshots), tighter level designs, and so forth. The biggest inclusion is the class system, in which players can pick one of several classes before a match that determines where that player’s expertise lies. Each class has passive abilities that enhance their Zed-killing prowess as well as offer extra support boosts to the group: Berserkers can do extra damage with melee weapons and are resistant to grab attacks, Commandos are better shots and can display enemy health for other players’ reference, Field Medics are self explanatory, etc. While this does not restrict players from wielding whatever weapons they want, they will only earn XP for their chosen class when utilizing a class-based weapon. Leveling up enough times will eventually allow players to unlock perks, which can offer extra boosts in the battlefield including faster reloading, extra health, and other damage enhancements with class-based weapons.
Aside from that, very little has changed in Killing Floor 2, except where it matters the most: the game just oozes fun and refinement from top to bottom, with every weapon having its own unique pros and cons, a decent enemy variety that requires quick thinking and strategic cooperation (or retreat, for those pushing their luck trying to take out a bigger enemy all on their own), and an overall feeling of visceral excitement over the mountains of corpses beneath your feet and the appropriately head-banging heavy metal soundtrack screaming into your ears. The co-op combat is the main draw, and it is almost always consistent and chaotic fun.
A few hitches keep Killing Floor 2 from absolute greatness: the boss count currently sits at a measly choice between two foes, the cosmetic unlocks are built around microtransactions (players will obtain loot boxes that can only be opened with store-bought keys, and the contents are entirely random, of course), and the online matchmaking can occasionally bug out when navigating menus. The game recently left its Early Access status, but still feels like it could use a few more updates of content. That being said, there is more than enough meat in this pus-filled package that PS4 players will certainly be satisfied with the bang they’ll be getting with their buck…er, dosh.