Killing Floor 2 is Tripwire’s follow up to its original game of the same title. It released on PS4 first last year, and now makes its way over to the Xbox One. Killing Floor 2 is a first-person shooter, zombie survival game with some fun gameplay, but very little when it comes to variety.
If you are into gore, then Killing Floor 2 is definitely for you. The game features online cooperative multiplayer, but there are only two modes and two boss battles scattered across a handful of maps. The maps are not very large by design, and require your team to stay together in order to survive. There are 10 classes in Killing Floor 2 that for some reason are referred to as “Perks”. They consist of Field Medic, Survivalist, SWAT, Berserker, Commando, Support, Firebug, Gunslinger, Sharpshooter and Demolitionist. The amount of classes also acts as Killing Floor 2’s biggest downfall.
You’ll choose a class upon first starting out the game, and each one has a lot of abilities to unlock once you reach certain levels. Firebug, for example, can light up zombies with a flamethrower like it’s going out of style. Field Medics gain abilities to passively heal over time or heal yourself when aiding teammates, while Demolitionists can use explosive pistols and C4. Even though there are a lot of options available to you, it’s a bit of a guise as you’ll need to spend 15 hours or so in Killing Floor 2 before you see any tangible difference from perks.
The main reason is that you can use weapons from any class regardless of the class you use. Your first class specific perk won’t unlock until your character reaches level 5, and this can take about three hours. Your second perk hits at level 10, which will put you in the six or seven hour range depending how well your team plays together. It took my SWAT class character about nine and a half hours to reach level 10, but that was with a few matches cut short due to people dropping out. I was up to 15 hours in order to see some benefit with my 3rd perk unlocked. By comparison, this means you’re spending more time to see a slight difference in Killing Floor 2 as you would be completing Destiny 2’s entire story campaign. That’s simply too much time to waste for the payoff that comes with it.
If you’re still around after this half marathon, you’ll start to see the minor benefits of playing Killing Floor 2. Gameplay is simply waves of endless zombies with the final wave being a boss battle. There are only two bosses in the game, and this got very old, very fast due to the time pit of a progression system. This is where I couldn’t comprehend the game’s setup. The bosses are very hard and are designed to be taken down by a diverse team of classes with high perks. Low level players or teams without a variety of classes will get roasted pretty quickly. This is where Killing Floor 2 cuts its nose off to spite its face. I have no problem not being able to take a boss down if I’m too low of a level. That’s part of gaming. Requiring nearly a dozen hours, however, is insane. Add this to the fact that the odds of being randomly placed into a team where each player has a different, high level class is similar to winning the lottery, and it’s inexcusable.
Every player can use every weapon, from any class, at any time. You can refill your ammo and buy new weapons after each wave as well. You earn bonus in-game money for surviving each wave, and there are no revives. This means if you die, it’s game over until the next wave. I liked this, because it let you take a chance between constantly using your rifle ammo, or saving your money by sticking to pistols and buying a heavy weapon for the boss. The money bonus is gone if you die, so I appreciated the strategy. This works well, but the class system is terribly counterproductive in Killing Floor 2. The game’s design dictates an open class system, but this doesn’t exist. Once a player reached a level to unlock a perk, they should have been able to choose one of the ten available from each class. It would have jived perfectly with the weapon system while allowing less restrictive variety. Instead, the two are completely opposite which results in counter productivity.
The second mode is Versus Survival. This puts a team of human players against a team of zombies. It sounded fun at first, especially because waves consist of around 100 zombies per round in the standard mode. Unfortunately, it doesn’t hold up well. Players are randomly assigned a zombie to play as, and they don’t play the same as the PvP mode. There are also a lot fewer zombie players than enemies with versus, which turns the focus away from strategy in favor of simply “who can press the trigger first?”. There are your standard fast moving, crawling zombies similar to the locust in Gears of War. They take a lot of hits to kill unless you land a headshot in PvE. The Versus mode saw my team getting killed almost immediately with even the basic melee weapon. It changes the entire gameplay strategy around, which counteracts the perk setup you had from the standard mode. There is a bit of fun if you happen to spawn as a big, fat, vomiting zombie, but that’s a hope and a prayer away.
I have to say though, I did like the music in Killing Floor 2. It’s all metal and hard rock, which fits perfectly with blowing up zombies. The sound effects of the weapons are realistic, and there’s even the classic “squishy” sound when the zombies’ heads explode. Even if you aren’t a metal or hard rock fan, you can appreciate the upbeat flow of each round.
Killing Floor 2 is more of an activity than a game, however, due to its lack of variety. The two separate modes contradict rather than complement each other, and it throws off the balance of play. When shooters are looking to find as many modes and weapons as possible, I expected Killing Floor 2 to find its niche with a fresh setup. Unfortunately, the game’s foundation is flawed with progression in one area leading to a regression in another. Fans of the franchise and diehard shooter players will find a few hours of enjoyment from Killing Floor 2, but it unfortunately won’t hit home for anyone else.