Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
PAYDAY 2 is a pretty fun game: you and three of your closest friends plan and carry out heists from little jewelry outlets to huge megabanks, looting and pillaging to your hearts’ content. But, D.C.’s finest aren’t going to let you just waltz in whenever you diddly darn feel like it. More often than not, you’ve probably already found yourself behind bars (or in a body bag) numerous times. Now, there’s no shame in getting bested by the boys in blue–but there is if you keep making the same rookie mistakes as you did when you first set your eyes on CrimeNet. Take it from us, the experts of dying needlessly: here are five reasons you keep dying in PAYDAY 2.
1. You’re New
It’s okay. It’s not your fault. You just heard about the game and wanted to try it out, but these controls are just so darn confusing.
Everyone was once the new guy and, like many games, it becomes painfully obvious in a cooperative setting. There’s really nothing much available to the novice aside from a few basic guns and no modifications to choose from. Granted, while “novice” might refer to anyone under Level 100 at this point (what with all these crazy “Infamy” ranks–PAYDAY 2‘s version of “Prestige” ala Call of Duty), those who are just starting are often left to grind alone, not wanting to be touched by the elite heisters who haven’t put the game down since its initial release back in 2013.
While there’s nothing much more we can say about this other than “give it some time,” you’ll find that the game’s controls are relatively intuitive and that there are some players willing to help the newer ones. Heck, one successful heist on “Four Stores” on Hard boosted Andy from Level 1 to 10; another run on “Firestarter” got him to about 18.
All you need is a leg-up, some experience under your belt, and a gun and attachments that fits your style and role.
Just think of it this way in the meantime: every time you fall, you get back up stronger; if you fall the most, you’ll get back up the strongest.
2. You’re Playing By Yourself
As you can imagine, cooperative games are insanely easier when you have cooperative friends–mind you, the “cooperative” part is most important. The AI certainly does its job if one were to define the job as either “bullet sponge” or “bullet sprayer.” Heck, sometimes your computer companion in crime is good enough to get you back on your feet if you’ve been downed by those pesky SWAT officers. Not to mention that your bot buddies can’t handle loot bags, they can’t place drills or interact much with their environment aside from moving in it and shooting at it.
It’s just not the same as a living, breathing human–back-handed remarks on your aim and all.
If you’re new and lonely, this is going to be one tough game for you to enjoy, my friend. That isn’t to say you have to remain alone: there’s plenty of resources on reddit for awesome builds and Steam’s PAYDAY 2 community boasts 3.2 million members. There’s bound to be someone to play with… but if you prefer to go it alone, at least you have the means now to do so without ignorance.
Well, to some extent.
3. You Can’t Decide On a Specialization
Now, if there’s a subreddit specifically for PAYDAY 2 builds, you can safely say that class specialization is serious business. As the old saying goes, “jack-of-all trades, master of none,” so, too, is it applied here. That isn’t to say that you can’t comfortably throw skill points into multiple trees. I personally have two builds: one that’s a straight-up Technician and one who’s a mix between Technician and Ghost.
If you couldn’t tell by now, this game thrives on cooperative play with other human players. As you can imagine, having four individuals each specialized for different things–one player to breach all sorts of doors, vaults, and containers; one to control crowds, manipulate police officers to fight for your crew, and yell encouraging things from across the room to get you up and fighting again; one to throw as much lead down-range as possible and to soak up as much of it as needed; and one run interference and play hacker with any electronics that come your way.
Sometime around the whole Hoxton-going-to-jail debacle, Starbreeze added a fifth “Fugitive” specialization tree that focuses on bonuses to lightly armored characters who want to strike quick and deadly, but more or less a hybridization of the prior four classes.
Specialization not only applies to one’s class, but their weapons as well. It’s important to note that when choosing a class, each class gives benefits to certain weapons (for example, Ghosts have bonuses for SMG use, whereas the Fugitive has conceal and damage bonuses for melee weapons). These passive benefits are optional with scaleable investment (that is, a player can choose a perk at level one for one skill point, or level two for four points), so the player is still given enough flexibility to mix and match their classes and weapon choices.
BUT YOU MUST MAKE A CHOICE.
If the bold typeface is daunting, frankly you can always just respec. It’s just annoying and costs way more money (in-game) than what it’s worth.
4. You’re Playing On Too Hard a Difficulty
I see you rolling your eyes, but it’s true. PAYDAY 2 has been known to slap people sideways like it’s its job. Just as there’s no shame in being new, there’s no shame in turning down the difficulty when you’re overrun and outgunned by a superior force. OVERKILL mode is aptly named and those who take it lightly don’t often return with a smile on their face–or with much face at all.
At the time of writing, I’m Level 70, though at a weird spot feeling that Hard is too easy and Very Hard is still too challenging, but I know that when I have a few friends that can catch up and hold their own in a pinch, I’m sure Very Hard will become too easy all too quickly.
Moreover, if you find yourself on a losing streak, it might also help to scale back the size of the heist you’re trying to pull off too. A one-day project might bring in less than a three-day scenario, but when you’re really in need of a win, let yourself have it. It’s about finding balance, not only in class and the tools you bring along (such as a trusty AK or your brand new chainsaw), but in just the right difficulty to challenge you, but not break you.
Keep in mind, however, that the XP and monetary rewards scale with difficulty–especially if you choose to take on “Pro Jobs” that don’t allow restarting if your entire crew goes down.
It’s all about opportunity cost/benefit analysis. You’re heisting fiends after all; those four words are like music to your ears.
5. You Don’t Utilize Cover
And finally, much like the bullets that often lodge themselves in your face, this last one shouldn’t come to you as a surprise. While PAYDAY 2 is indeed a first-person shooter, it’s not your typical run-and-down bonanza you might be used to. Sure, your armor recharges (don’t ask me how kevlar does that), but you still need medkits to heal your actual health.
When you’re getting shot at, the damage indicators showing you where you’re taking fire are virtually the same in the heat of the moment: you can never be quite sure when you’re out of armor and you’re actually bleeding out. And before you know it, you’re tuckered out, sprawled on the floor riddled with more holes than a Swiss cheese.
Armor helps, I’ll admit to that, but it also helps to keep your person behind cover whenever possible. If you see the angry red lasers of snipers that’ve taken up residence in the third-story apartment across the street, don’t stick your head out the nearest window thinking you’re going to shoot them first. You’re not. Maybe if you got one of your friends to distract them for you… maybe. And if not that, at least try to be an appealing enough target, while being quick enough to miss as they take quite some time to chamber the next shot.
When in doubt, wait it out. The ebb and flow of the waves of police assaults are there for your advantage; sometimes it’s easier to just hunker down and hold your ground than running around, guns blazing. All that’ll do is get you pegged in the head by the nearest white-helmeted stooge faster than you can say “quick-scoped.”
So if you’re to take anything from this guide, let it be this: be decisive in your planning, quick in your execution, and patient in your evaluations. Timing is everything, especially in the world of criminal activities. Just keep up the practice and apply these principles and you’ll be cruisin’ with the best of them soon enough.
Or at least on the right side of the walls surrounding the nearest Federal penitentiary.