Normally I wouldn’t bother writing an article solely for one “map” in a videogame. When put in perspective like that, it does indeed seem insignificant. But in light of recent events, the Payday 2 fanbase has been looking at the other Crimefest rewards with extra scrutiny. The Aftershock Heist is one of those rewards, and the accusations are that the level design has been an afterthought and is made mostly out of reused assets. Time for me to take a look.
You begin with landing in the middle of what turns out to be a massive area. The scene is a freeway bridge and its surroundings beneath it, including the canal. After being dropped off by chopper, your first task is to find Vlad’s Trucks that are holding valuable safes. Once located, a special saw has to be placed on the doors of these Trucks. Each truck is flanked by a friendly NPC who’ll help you defend for as short as their lifespan may be. With only one saw to go around, it’s easy to imagine this to take half the Heist’s length. Up until this part, things are simple enough. Once a Truck is opened, it’ll reveal a few recognizeable safes (such as the ones from the Microtransactions…) that weigh as much as a Turret part from the Train Heist, which is quite heavy.
The real problem arises once both Trucks are opened. Normal difficulty seems to have 4 safes total, with that number only rising with each difficulty. With the Trucks open, you are then instructed to obtain a C4 drop and place it on a wall. This is where unpreparedness will be troublesome, as the pathing to the target wall is unclear.
When you also made the mistake of grabbing the safes and dropping them, the safes will now be in a state where they can be stolen by the enemy NPCs, meaning I was stuck picking up and throwing safes in a direction I wasn’t even sure was the pathway to the end. Quite frustrating to say the least, as you can’t count on the Teammate AI to guard the loot while you gather your bearings.
Eventually I found a sneakily tucked away road beneath the Freeway that led to the wall I needed to reach. Once blown up, a drivable cargo truck appears, giving you the option to drive towards the transport trucks with it and conveniently toss them in. Or you could, like stupidly unaware me, have brought all the safes manually, suffering the constant barrage of the enemy forces.
Finally, the truck is filled. We return it to where we found it, light a flare, and wait for a chopper to arrive and take the truck with it. During this, it’s basically an all too familiar stage of survival that is common among other Heists. Once the chopper arrives, we hop in the truck again and take off in the air. Heist complete.
I feel it’s difficult to get around on this massive map. A few ladders or stairs are the ways to transition between the freeway and the area beneath it. The teammate AI is incapable of using the ladders, so when you quickly transition between freeway and beneath, you’ll often find your AI Teammates running far away like madmen just to catch up with you. This often puts them at risk, and I can imagine the frustration had they get downed far away from you.
But besides the graffiti, the area doesn’t seem to have a lot of detail. When I reached the construction site that had the cargo truck, there were a few cubicles that I could enter. They looked like they would hide small offices or maybe function as storage. But all three I found were absolutely empty, as though there was no purpose for them to be there other than to spawn enemy forces from or to hide in. I’m no expert on seeing if something is reusing assets. But the fact that I was at no point really wowed by the Heist was disappointing in and of itself. In fact, I felt more frustrated than anything.
To top it off, I picked one of three reward cards as per usual, just to find a Safe card there to nobody’s surprise. A friend of mine told me he opened a chest too and found a skin he felt anything but satisfied with, making me think that this “first safe” and accompanied terrible “drop” are staged. I wanted to try opening at least one Safe to see for myself. And true enough, I too had a terrible drop. I’m not skilled enough at taking a game apart to say for sure that this result is intentional, but my worries have not been put to rest in the least.
How have your own findings been with the Aftershock heist? Do you feel Aftershock is a worthwhile reward Heist for this year’s Crimefest?