Killing Floor 2 Preview With More Gore and Mayhem
For fans of carnage and zombie mayhem, Killing Floor has been a go-to classic since 2009. Although not one of the most mainstream or well-known zombie survival titles, Killing Floor became a quick hit with its simple but addictive multiplayer gameplay. With no need for any silly distractions like a plot or character development, Killing Floor dumps you right into the action. You have a gun and there are monsters trying to kill you. If you survive long enough, you get to upgrade your gun. But the longer you survive, the harder it gets. This minimalist formula makes for hours of zed-killing gameplay.
Earlier this year, Tripwire Interactive ignited its fanbase by announcing Killing Floor 2. This quickly raised the question, how do you make a sequel to a game without a story? And how do you give players a fresh experience without butchering the simplicity they love? So far, Tripwire has focused on promoting the vastly improved graphics and increased gore levels. New types of zeds, guns, and perks expand on the game mechanics while staying true to the original gameplay.
As a fan of Killing Floor, my first stop at New York Comic Con was the Tripwire booth, where game developers were showing a live demo. Patient gamers waited in line to be ushered into a small, dark, enclosed booth where they were asked to put away the cameras and respect that the game was a half-formed baby, not yet ready to see the world (and the harsh glare of the internet). The improved graphics were noticeable immediately, even in the menus. Not a greatly impressive feat, considering that the original Killing Floor came out five years ago. In game, the spiffed-up graphics can be seen in lighting, reflections, motion-captured everything, and a physics engine for gore that leads to creative and dramatic death animations for every kill you get.
The environment is more interactive than before. Blood splatters are permanent for the rest of the match. Many of the lights on the level can be destroyed by bullets and explosives, meaning that overzealous spraying-and-praying can lead to the your favorite locations becoming impossible to navigate. Occasionally there are props around the level, such as fire extinguishers, that explode if you shoot them. To me the environmental explosives do feel like a tacky add-in, typical of every shooter ever (because it’s totally logical to have dangerous crates in locations that are likely to experience a firefight), but they can still be used by a wise player in a pinch. Other background props supposedly hint at a story, of the world left behind when the zeds took over, revealing the world’s history one level at a time in a sort of Portal-esque story of discovery. I’m excited about the prospect of a dark, secret plot mixed in with all the zombie murder. No word yet on what this story might be, but I’m going to guess it explains a bit more about how and why the Patriarch made his army of mutants. The fact that a new, improved Biotics Lab level was featured in the demo goes to support this theory. You can also get a creepy glimpse into Horzine, the company responsible for the mutant outbreak, in the teaser video below.
Aside from the gussied-up graphics and more immersive levels, Killing Floor 2’s biggest improvement lies with the class and ranking system. Supposedly the leveling system has been “simplified,” although the host of the demo didn’t elaborate on what changes they’ve made. Considering leveling in the first game was as simple as shooting certain zeds with certain guns, I’m going to assume that playing at all, regardless of zeds or guns, gives you experience. I could be completely wrong about that, but that’s my working theory. All classes (known as perks) have their own skill trees, and each skill has two versions, often one that is solo-friendly and group-friendly. For example, the support specialist can unlock a backpack skill, which allows him to carry extra ammo for himself or to carry extra ammo for the team, but not both. It’s up to you how you want to use the skill to your advantage. This gives players a much more customized experience, allowing you to enhance your play style with the skills that give you the biggest boost, instead of being locked into the handful of guns that your perk allows.
The ability to pick and choose from a skill tree is probably the biggest single change between the first and second game. And it has me wondering what it’s going to do for the player experience. You know those people who will math out each skill available, figuring out things like, “well this ability stacks with that one, times 17, up to 34 stacks, added to your base damage of 349, except on Tuesdays or when you’re playing against your opponent with the secret passive?” I am not one of those players. Adding a detailed skill tree to Killing Floor opens up a whole world of new options to players, but it could also shut a door to the pick-up-and-play ease of the first game. From what I saw at the demo, the skill tree is simple and easy to follow, and I hope it remains that way at release. Killing Floor is a great game for LANs and casual gamers, easy to learn or to pick up after a months-long hiatus, and the online community is surprisingly rage-free simply because everyone is too busy trying to survive to bother yelling at each other (except at LANs, where there is lots of yelling and no chat delay). Hopefully the new skill tree lets all players enjoy their experience more, rather than creating a gap between casual players and the ones who know how to exploit the best combos. Careful balancing will make or break the usefulness of the new skill tree.
Speaking of casual versus serious gamers, the developers said that the leveling system in the first game was too short and gameplay was too easy. Avid players can max their levels on each perk fairly quickly, and a group of good players can beat the hardest difficult more often than not. And this is not cool. The apocalypse is supposed to be scary. So the game has been rebalanced to make players really earn their rewards, and Hell on Earth mode will give even the most pro players a run for their money every single time. I can’t wait to start splattering brains everywhere to earn those levels. There’s something about brain-splosions that makes gaining experience less grindy and more rewarding.
So far, Killing Floor 2 seems like it’s on track to be a success. If you’re not a big fan of gory mayhem, then it will probably feel like more of the same. And in some ways, it really is more of the same. But the benefit to that is that it’s hard to ruin something that’s already so good. So if you’re a fan of the first game, or if you’re a fan of other intense zombie-survival games, then you should be on the edge of your seat waiting for the release date. Because this looks like it’s going to be good.
Latest posts by ElectroGiraffe (see all)
- League of Legends Cosplay at KatsuCon - March 4, 2015
- Electric Giraffe’s PonyCon 2015 Recap! - March 4, 2015
- [Review] Narborion Saga The Text Adventure Game Book - December 24, 2014
- Recap of New Jersey DerpyCon 2014 - December 11, 2014