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Killing Floor 2: Early Access Impressions

The Zeds are at the door. Ammunition is running dry while heavy metal blares in my ears. One of my teammates is playing Harry Enfield’s ‘Loadsamoney’ over his microphone, while the other two are attempting to build a fortress out of dosh. It’s Killing Floor alright.

Killing Floor 2 is the hotly anticipated sequel to Tripwire Interactive’s beloved mutant slaughtering multiplayer FPS. Originally released way back in 2009, Killing Floor was never a complicated game, but it was hard as nails. The objective is simple: survive, get dosh and fling out as many British stereotypes as humanly possible. You are armed with an assortment of weighty weapons that included industry standards such as assault rifles and pistols, whilst armaments like flare gun revolvers are set aside for players with a bit more style.

The beta was released over a month ago to ravenous fans, but Killing Floor takes time to appreciate. Killing Floor 2 doesn’t seek to break the successful mould of the first entry, instead looking to refine its core elements. The game still uses a system of waves until reaching a final boss encounter. Tripwire has confirmed that more weapons, levels, classes and bosses will be added along with a new end game for beta participants: a Nazi eugenics scientist in a mech suit. Never say Tripwire doesn’t know it’s audience.

At the start of a match, players are presented with a few options to determine their role. After character customisation, alongside a small assortment of accessories, players choose a class. Currently, classes are limited to four, but the final amount will come to 10. So far, the included specialties are: Commando, Support, Field Medic and Berserker. All have a particular set of favourable weaponry, but you are never locked into a single loadout. A series of skills are accessible every five levels and are interchangeable before a match begins.

The individual roles are vital to the team, so having a group all using a single class will lead to a very rapid loss. The berserker takes less damage and possesses more devastating melee attacks, giving other players some breathing room. The support class can weld doors faster and, thanks to expertise with shoguns, excels in close-quarters combat. Meanwhile, the commando mops the floor with efficiency in assault rifles. The Medic attempts to have his licence revoked by shooting wounded teammates back to health with his unique array of weaponry.

Effective communication and teamwork is an important means to victory, as Killing Floor 2’s roster of nasty beasties don’t mess around. The second a round starts the Zeds are on you, and each AI class also has a role to play. Weaker enemies hold characters in place, while larger foes pound the snot out of players unlucky enough to be in their way. While the specimens are mostly the same from the original Killing Floor, each of the 11 enemy types has been tweaked. Clots now come in a number of different shapes and the Gorefast is way more aggressive, hitting multiple survivors at once. The Scrake, a chainsaw-wielding nightmare, is no longer a slow moving pushover, picking out targets in the group before running madly at them – dealing tremendous damage. The Fleshpound is the most hostile, though. Now enormously muscle-bound, the Fleshpound has a series of lights indicating its aggressiveness. When it turns red get ready for a poundin’.

Being a good shot isn’t enough to deal with the increasingly difficult waves. Using each role’s specialties and knowing each enemy’s behaviour is key to getting back in time to water your Bonzai tree. Teaming up on a rampaging Scrake, or welding doors to push enemies into choke points, is a hugely enjoyable task. For the most part, I found the community to be helpful and forgiving, especially to new players.

Tripewire has a love for weapons in an almost “creepy uncle’s” kind of way – Killing Floor 2 is no exception. Every gun has enormous weight and power behind it, with tremendous kick after each shot. Learning to use each with skill can takes time but mowing down hordes with accuracy is wonderfully satisfying. This is helped by a visceral gore system, reminiscent of the Soldier of Fortune series. It looks and feels great, leaving a battlefield looking like a clumsy butcher shop. Ammunition is surprisingly scarce, but can be refilled at a vendor station when rounds end. Players can also select from a small arsenal of weapons, sell items and buy armour in-between rounds.

The four maps on offer currently combine open areas with claustrophobic corridors to keep encounters interesting. As the vendor stations appear randomly on the map, players are discouraged from holding out in specific areas. The level design shows a well-versed understanding of how to turn an in-control situation into a disaster, proving a significant challenge to even the most grizzled veterans.

Each also oozes personality. From a creepy Victorian mansion to the burning streets of post-apocalyptic Paris, Killing Floor 2 is a treat for the eyes. Excellent texture work, lighting and the aforementioned gore system come together to create a striking visual feast that also has the potential to make you a tad queasy.

Network performance hasn’t been an issue during my 10-15 hours with the game. Ping has remained within expected boundaries, with little to no input lag during online play. Server disconnection are few and far between and graphical performance has shown no issues, with an average of 60+ FPS and minimal stuttering.

The Killing Floor 2 beta is a reassuring sign that fans of the series will finally receive a sequel worth of the title. The early access currently demonstrates a highly polished proof of concept, but requires significantly more content before I can honestly recommend a purchase. With Tripewire’s legacy of excellent community support, Killing Floor 2 is very likely to become worthy of hours of investment very soon. Until then, simply put, it’s a bloody good time.

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