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Killing Floor 2 is Tripwire Interactive’s second entry in the Killing Floor series. What started as an Unreal Tournament mod became a fully featured game and a significant source of income for Tripwire with 21 DLC packs (currently selling for a total of $147.79) for the first game. Last year, Tripwire Interactive announced Killing Floor 2, the sequel to the first game and supposedly its superior in every way. On April 21st, it was released to Early Access.

Killing Floor‘s basic style is that players cooperate to fight waves of enemies that want to kill you. There are the generic shambling enemies, plus enemies with swords, screams, flamethrowers, rockets, grenades, invisibility, quadrupedal movement, and vomit. Each enemy has varying degrees of difficulty, some spawning in large hordes and some spawning only once or a few times per match. At the end of each match there is a boss that throws in a little bit of everything and represents the greatest challenge of each game. Between rounds you’re given money (dosh) to buy weapons, ammo, and armor to fuel the next round’s slaughter.

Each perk (of which there are currently four) has their own unique weapons but there’s nothing stopping you from mixing and matching to fit the situation. Medics have guns that can shoot healing darts, berserker has melee focused weapons, support has shotguns, and commando has assault rifles. Other perks missing from the sequel, which are sharpshooter, firebug, and demolition, are apparently coming at a later date.

Killing Floor 2 Visual Options MenuThe visual options include what you might expect from a game on Unreal Engine 3. There’s detail for environment, characters, FX, plus less common options such as volumetric lighting. 4K resolution is supported, as well as 144hz refresh rates, borderless fullscreen windowed (false fullscreen), ultra widescreen resolutions, and just about everything else you can think of. The graphical fidelity is greater than one might bet on an Unreal 3 game to have, especially considering the mediocre graphics of the original game. It’s very appealing and nice to look at, the gore is satisfying, and the permanent blood on maps is impressive. It’s not only a significant step up from the first Killing Floor, but also a step up from a lot of modern FPS games. Performance is fantastic for the quality of the game, and especially considering the long trend of badly optimized Early Access titles.

The audio options are, in comparison, very bare. There are separate volume sliders for the game, music, and voice chat, as well as options to enable or disable music vocals, minimize battle chatter (the short talk that characters have), and whether or not to push to VoIP (though what that really means is not explained). The sound quality is phenomenal, even better with a surround setup such as the 7.1 system this preview was written on. Guns sound authentic, enemies sound menacing, and it all adds to a staggering amount of realism in an unrealistic game. Tripwire Interactive pulled out all the stops on realism, especially with its guns, going so far as to motion capture just about everything for maximum authenticity. The music is fantastic, including original songs by zYnthetic, Rocky Gray, Jeremiah Scott, and Bruce Fitzhugh, as well as songs by others bands.

Killing Floor 2 GameplayEven the gameplay feels realistic. Most of the guns have real weight behind them, and shooting the enemies feels pretty satisfying. Some guns, such as light SMGs, feel far more ineffective than they actually are. They can often feel as though they’re not even there, like the player is just throwing bullets at the enemies without the gun coming into play. Nevertheless, combat is satisfying and a real treat coming from just about any other recent FPS. It’s difficult, but not impossible. It’s easy enough to be fun rather than frustrating but not easy enough to win more than once in a few games. Games tend to have six players and with scaling difficulty this can quickly lead to absurd situations where everyone dies due to the amount of enemies to deal with. I would include information about the different difficulties here but everything above Normal kills me before I can gather any useful knowledge. I took the time between getting killed over and over again to read up on the backstory for the characters, and they’re interesting, but if there’s anyone out there that buys Killing Floor 2 for the story, I would honestly be surprised. I would be happy for them, of course, since I love that sort of thing, but I would be surprised.

As far as bugs go, Killing Floor 2 has a few of them. The network browser is useless, as when every server isn’t full (despite saying 0/6 on the player count) the join button doesn’t work. You cannot create listen servers, which really screws over a lot of people. To create a server you have to use SteamCMD, which doesn’t work at all for some (including me). If you install the dedicated server from the Steam tools page it breaks your game so you have to redownload it. Other than these, no giant issues come to mind, and nothing in game so far that’s anywhere near major. For an Early Access title, Killing Floor 2 is surprisingly low on issues.

The question on the mind is, “should I buy Killing Floor 2?” If you can afford it and if you trust Tripwire Interactive, then yes. Personally I don’t place much faith in a company with $147.79 in DLC (some of which wasn’t made by them but by community members), but I do trust them not to mess it up. I didn’t buy Killing Floor 2, I received it as a gift, but if I hadn’t I would’ve bought it anyway. On release it’s a good game, and by the time it comes out of Early Access it could be a great game. Even if it doesn’t update for a while, though, I feel as though it’s worth the $30 asking price. Of course, being subjective, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts as well. What’s been your experience with Killing Floor 2? Is it worth the money?

Disclosure: Killing Floor 2 is currently in Early Access and is subject to change. The copy of the game used for this preview was given to the writer as a gift from a friend. A proper review will be written upon release outside of Early Access.

Xavier Mendel

I've been talking about games for as long as I can remember, and now I'm writing about them! Follow me on Twitter @XavierMendel for hilarious(ly bad) jokes.

  • under_score

    That $150 of DLC is why I never bought the original. It’s a 6 year old game that, even if you buy the bundle, costs $70 complete. That’s pretty freaking ridiculous. This kind of DLC pump penalizes the people who buy the game and some DLC as it comes out the most, where you get into a situation that it becomes cheaper to rebuy the game as a bundle than to buy the remaining DLC individually.

  • Gasbandit

    I bought it. As it stands, it’s worth 30 bucks, but it needs some tweaks. Most of the DLC for the first one was cosmetic (weapon skins, new character models, etc). Levels were free – though that might have been a side effect of the unreal 2 engine it was using. We’ll see if that holds true here.

    My first experience with it… compared to the first KF, the waves of mooks are easier. I was sloppy and rusty and if it had been KF1 I’d have died many times in situations I fairly easily escaped in KF2. You start with a signature weapon even at level 0 now, as opposed to just a pistol. Leveling seems to happen a little faster now, but there are also more levels, and you only get upgrades every 5 levels instead of every single level. Most of the game seems very simplified and easier… until you get to the Patriarch. They beefed him up BIG time. He’s much tougher now than he was before. I think some balancing is needed… maybe tone down the patriarch a bit and beef up the grunts a lot.

    But man, is it pretty. I can’t wait until people start making custom levels for it, like they did in KF1. That was the best part – all the community made levels circulating organically through the community (if you joined a server running a map you didn’t have, it just downloaded it to you on the fly).

    Here’s my initial playthrough, where I discover and mention most of the above:

  • Garbagio Dumpsterino
  • lunaticFortune

    The base game is perfectly playable without any of the DLC – hell, I’ve never purchased any of it, myself – but I know where you’re coming from.

  • Xavier Mendel

    I didn’t hear about it until after I had written the preview, and since it’s not specifically about the game (it’s more a company thing) I elected to not edit it in. I’m very concerned about it, and am wondering if I’m gonna get my CD key revoked for harassing people by writing for TechRaptor (we’ve been called worse).

    If it starts to be a problem you can bet I’ll make a new article about it.

  • Xavier Mendel

    After the preview was written I’ve since played enough to get to level 10 medic (no progress on anything else though, I’m a one trick pony) and my opinion hasn’t changed. Cautious optimism on all fronts, especially with this EULA information that’s been going around.

  • Xavier Mendel

    It’s playable, but you’re always second rate without it. A lot of the DLC weapons are overpowered and some to the point of nearly game breaking. The meta is built around them and some players don’t like to team up on the higher difficulties and whatnot without you owning it.

  • Xavier Mendel

    I bought some of the DLC for Killing Floor 2 (I think two of the DLCs during a sale), but I would never buy more than that. I don’t care for overpowered weapons or golden guns or skins, and I really don’t care about getting my wallet destroyed. I generally avoid games with lots of DLC and Killing Floor’s DLC is something I mention every time the game is brought up. It’s a bad practitioner of it.

    I hope that they used those sales to fund Killing Floor 2 and they won’t have to do it again. I don’t want to pay $6 for a couple of weapons made by community members just to participate in games without getting kicked for being underpowered.

  • DrRittle

    There are only 3 community weapon packs for a total of $24 which affect gameplay. The claim that it contains $150 to have the full game experience is wrong because $126 of that dlc is purely cosmetic.

    Now whether you believe for or against the monetization of gameplay affecting elements in a multiplayer focused game is a separate issue, but I’m purely arguing against the point that you made with the price of dlc.

    I believe that Tripwire is a developer best known for supporting people with free content when they can and only introducing priced content when they need to. Think of it this way: Killing Floor comes with modding tools, it has had regular season updates and free official maps as well as free official weapons. In some updates they added more levels or achievements which unlock special skins. And Killing Floor 1 and 2 have and never will cost more than $30. If they released a maximum of $24 of community weapon packs in this game, I would pay it because honestly that’s still less than any brand new games before we even consider dlc (I’m looking at PayDay 2).