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.
The 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.
Even 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.