Developer: Tripwire Interactive
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Genre: First Person Shooter
Rating: M for Mature
Killing Floor 2 is the follow-up to the popular Unreal Tournament 3 mod, Killing Floor. Playing like a co-op, waved-based shooter before Left 4 Dead was even a household name, Killing Floor allowed up to six friends to literally paint the town red with the viscera of zombies and other hellish abominations. Killing Floor 2 continues this formula with an upgraded MEAT engine for even more high-octane, viscera-spewing, FPS action.
In Killing Floor 2, players descend into continental Europe where the villainous Horzine Biotech’s failed experiments have caused an outbreak that has quickly spread, gaining unstoppable momentum. Taking place just one month after the events in the original Killing Floor, the specimen clones (known in the game as Zeds) are everywhere, and civilization is in disarray. A group of civilians and mercenaries have banded together to combat the outbreak and establish privately-funded operation bases across Europe.
Violence: Killing Floor 2 is definitely not intended for anyone under 18 years old. There is an abundance of gore, blood, viscera, and all manner of grossness to be seen, as monsters are defeated and decapitated in brutal and disgusting ways. Body parts fly all over the place in explosions, and, from time to time, the action kicks into slow motion, allowing the spewing gore to be observed up-close and in detail.
Sexual Content: Despite the fact that some of the female monsters were clearly nude before they turned, there are no exposed nipples or genitalia to be found (just a few naked buttocks), nor are the playable female task force members dressed in a sexualized manner.
Language/Crude Humor: Characters have some funny one-liners and quips that might contain minor swear words (sh**), but I never once heard an F-bomb or God$%#n used in the game.
In Killing Floor 2, a single team of six players work together to defeat hordes of monsters advancing in increasingly difficult enemy waves. As players work together to complete each wave, more powerful weapons can be purchased using Dosh (the game’s currency), which is earned by killing Zeds (enemy monsters), welding doors, and healing teammates. Enemies increase in number with each wave, and eventually more powerful Zeds, who act almost like mini-bosses, will appear. These more powerful Zeds will challenge players to work as a team in their respective class roles in order to conquer them. After the tenth wave, one of two available boss monsters will appear. These monsters require even tighter communication and coordination between teammates, as well as the use of each role’s unique abilities and grenades, in order to bring them down.
Player roles in Killing Floor 2 are known as “perks.” New abilities are unlocked for each perk when a character earns five levels. For example, a perk’s first ability does not unlock until a player reaches level 5 with that particular perk. The next ability will not unlock until level 10. This pattern continues until players unlock the perk’s final ability at level 25. There are 10 perks to choose from, ranging from the sniping Sharpshooter to the well-rounded Survivalist. Aside from abilities, each perk specializes in certain weapons. For example, the Gunslinger specializes in pistols, especially when dual-wielding, and many of its abilities increase pistol damage, range, and effectiveness. There are 12 characters you can customize with various cosmetic items. Each character has their own backstory and biography, as well as unique sets of humorous quips and one-liners they will shout during gameplay. These moments of dialogue go a long way in characterizing the cast, and reminded me of the banter between characters in games such as Overwatch.
Despite each perk’s weapon specialization, anyone can use weapons that are purchasable between rounds. Doing so will allow you to level up not only your chosen perk, but also the perk that specializes in that weapon as well. Weapons vary from pistols, single-shot rifles, and shotguns, to shovels, katanas, and even hammers. Each perk also has its own special grenade type. For example, the Sharpshooter has freeze grenades that can freeze large Zeds or groups of Zeds, allowing the player a short window of escape when they are backed into a corner. Players must be strategic when using their grenades, however, as a particular enemy known as The Siren lets out a blood-curdling scream that nullifies any grenade effects (including damage).
Strategy and teamwork are key to overcoming the hordes of Zeds on higher difficulties. Aside from the standard cooperative gameplay, there is a mode that pits a team of six mercenaries against a team of monsters controlled by human players. Multiplayer is not the only option available, however, as the game does have a solo mode. There is no story, however, as single player mode merely allows one player take on ten waves by themself.
To break up the monotony that sometimes comes with wave-based, co-op multiplayer, Tripwire Interactive has included collectibles throughout each map that players must shoot to collect. These vary based on the map, but most often can be found in the form of golden Dosh pendants. Players can actually unlock a trophy for gathering ten collectibles on each map. Hunting these collectibles provides players with something else to do between waves after refilling ammo and purchasing more powerful weapons.
Killing Floor 2 also features a system that allows players to collect loot boxes while playing the game. Since all post-launch content is free, these loot boxes can only be opened with keys (which can be purchased with real-world currency). While this may cause concern for players who are staunchly opposed to micro-transactions, individual pieces of gear, weapon skins, and crafting components can all be looted separately from these boxes and require no further purchases to unlock once they are obtained. There is also an in-game shop that lets players purchase specific items with real-world money.
Overall, the gameplay is solid and the soundtrack is easily the best since DOOM. The game’s lighting and reflection effects are on full display once the map is covered in blood, though character models feel somewhat dated. While I encountered no issues with gameplay, I did experience some problems with matchmaking early on. My party would get disbanded once we got placed into a lobby, making it difficult to keep a pre-made team together in a match. Also, menu navigation can be a bit cumbersome at first, as you navigate screen-to-screen with the shoulder buttons instead of the thumb stick. I also encountered problems where I was unable to select weapons when using the shop between rounds, forcing me to leave and re-enter the shop interface in order to trigger a restocking of goods. This can be frustrating since there’s a countdown between waves and you can get locked out of the shop before successfully restocking on ammo, armor, and grenades.
Despite these issues, I strongly recommend Killing Floor 2 to fans of co-op, waved-based shooters like Gears of War‘s horde mode, Left 4 Dead, or Warhammer End Times: Vermintide. With gameplay that is frantic, tactical, and strictly team-oriented, Killing Floor 2 really encourages cooperation with teammates and selecting perks that complement one another. For players who value a good team-based, tactical shooter, I strongly recommend Killing Floor 2. Those who prefer a solo outing need not apply.
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The Bottom Line
Killing Floor 2 is an excellent addition to the sub-genre it helped pioneer with its predecessor. As far as wave-based, cooperative multiplayer shooters go, Killing Floor 2 is the most addicting and fun one that I have played to date. With a quirky cast of mercenaries, buckets of blood and gore, and a rocking, heavy metal soundtrack, fans of DOOM, Gears of War's Horde mode, and Left 4 Dead will find a lot to love.