Killing is my business, and business is good.
After a long and bloody stint on Steam Early Access, one of the best co-op shooters in recent years has finally made its way to the PlayStation 4. And if you happened to enjoy Doom’s recent reboot and are looking for something similarly visceral, then Killing Floor 2 will definitely scratch that itch. It’s fast. It’s unapologetically brutal. And it’ll keep you glued to your controller until your thumbs bleed.
Developed by TripWire Interactive, Killing Floor 2 is a multiplayer bloodbath that looks and feels like the hell-spawn of Call of Duty: Zombies and Left 4 Dead. Set in a ruined European Union that’s been overrun with mutated nightmare creatures let loose by the Horzine corporation, players must survive successive waves of monsters, carefully using your meager winnings from each round to resupply your stock of armor, ammo, and even more powerful weapons. It’s a simple formula that’s been done before, but Killing Floor 2’s breakneck pace and unrelenting challenge make this bloody buddy shooter stand out from the rest.
While you can suit up and take on waves of Zeds by yourself in the game’s offline and tutorial modes, Killing Floor 2 is at its best when played with a full squad of six players in the game’s Zed versus Humans modes. Rolling deep into the ruins of Paris or a derelict farmhouse with a balanced squad is a sight to behold, as grenades, flamethrowers, and other spectacular weaponry sends guts and bodies flying. However, it’s worth noting that the challenge scales with the number of players on a team, meaning a wave that may have put a single player against a few dozen Zeds will quickly become an all-out war against a hundred or so flesh-eating monstrosities.
You can choose from 10 Perks, or classes, in Killing Floor 2. Each Perk comes with a different loadout of weapons that dramatically impacts your playstyle. For example, the Firebug sports a flamethrower which, while great at damaging hordes of enemies, takes a long time to actually kill them. However, his searching jets of flame and ability to hurl molotov cocktails makes him a great AOE damage dealer. The Sharpshooter, on the other hand, can deal massive damage with precision shots from his lever-action rifle, but can quickly become overwhelmed when dealing with groups of enemies. My favorite Perk is the SWAT class. This hardened soldier can lay down rapid fire with a variety of automatic weapons, making him a great choice for crowd control. The only real tradeoff is that he burns through ammo with a vengeance. These are just a few of the Perks in Killing Floor 2, with Medics, explosive-hurling Demolitions experts, and other genre staples also filling important roles in any squad.
Killing Floor 2 has a persistent leveling system, and new loadouts unlock as you level up each perk by completing different challenges, such as killing certain types of Zeds with a specific weapon. Each perk has 25 levels, and you can choose between two abilities every fifth level, which gives the game an almost RPG-lite feeling of progression. In addition to gaining new gear by leveling up each class, you can also spend money in-between waves at supply pods to buy new weapons, but they’ll be removed from your inventory at the end of that level.
Speaking of stages, each of Killing Floor 2’s 12 areas is a sublime playground of destruction with its own personality. From sterile bio labs to ruined European cities and even the corridors of Hell itself, each environment is filled with tiny details that bring the game’s ravaged world to life. Not only do these environments look good, they’re also masterworks in level design. Each area has plenty of choke points to exploit, entrances to barricade shut to slow the flow of Zeds, and wide-open plazas that become makeshift arenas when you need more breathing room. Not that you’ll get much of that, because each of Killing Floor 2’s eleven different types of monsters are relentless. Zombie-like Clots may be the weakest and slowest enemies in the game, but they attack in great numbers and can quickly overwhelm you when you if you’re not paying attention. Crawlers, on the other hand, are low to the ground and incredibly fast, making them a real threat if they manage to pin you in a corner allowing other, nastier Zeds to have their way with you. Though many enemies can be killed with just a few well-placed shots, other non-boss Zeds can be a real chore to bring down. Scrakes doggedly pursue players like Resident Evil 3’s Nemesis, taking an ungodly amount of punishment as they attempt to skewer you with their chainsaws. As bad as they are, the Fleshpound is even worse, as they can pound you into paste with their herculean strength and rush at you with boosts of performance-enhancing adrenaline.
Seriously. Where’s the anti-doping agency when you need them?
After completing ten waves, you’ll have to deal with one of the game’s two bosses, Dr. Hans Volter or the Patriarch. Volter is a former scientist for Horzine, the company responsible for the Zeds. He dons an exosuit and a mean pair of claws that can make short work of players. To make mattes worse, when he’s hurt he can siphon your health to replenish his own. Nobody likes a cheater, and this emaciated madman would give New England Patriots QB Tom Brady a run for his money. Next up is the Patriarch. The former head of Horzine, this mutated mountain of muscle can devastate entire squads with his missiles and minigun, as well as heal himself with a stash of syringes he keeps strapped to his tree trunk-sized legs.
In addition to Killing Floor 2’s co-operative man-versus-Zeds main course, there’s also a PVP Versus Survival Mode, which allows 12 players to compete as teams of humans and monsters. Similar to Left 4 Dead’s adversarial mode, Versus Survival Mode splits the players into two teams of six as the Zeds try to stop the the humans from completing successive waves and ultimately beating the end boss. Playing as a hulking Fleshpound is an awesome experience, and seeing humans panic as you come barreling towards their position is fantastic. However, during our review period the servers were obviously pretty barren, and only time will tell if this mode picks up Steam and garners a sizable community. I sincerely hope it does, because it’s built on a sturdy foundation and is insanely addicting, even if the Zeds feel a bit overpowered at the time of this writing.
In terms of visuals, Killing Floor 2 may not be the most stunning game on the PlayStation 4, but it still looks great. Textures are sharp, character models are detailed, and the game’s stable of 40 weapons all look great. Each area is vibrant and full of personality, and enemies and weapons feature plenty of animation. Killing Floor 2’s gunplay also provides some spectacularly gory destruction thanks to the M.E.A.T (Massive Evisceration And Trauma) system. This means enemies get blasted to bits in a variety of ways, allowing for some pretty gut-wrenching dismemberments as you reduce your enemies to twitching gristle. PlayStation 4 Pro owners will also be able to enjoy 4K, 1800p visuals thanks to checkerboard rendering, along with support for enhanced Ultra Textures.
As good as it looks, Killing Floor 2 also sports a kick ass metal soundtrack that perfectly suits the on-screen chaos. Each wave is accompanied by a different track, too. This means you’ll seldom get tired of hearing the game’s chunky guitar riffs and face-melting solos while you’re busy tossing Zed corpses into your group’s meat grinder of concentrated machine gun fire.
Simply put, Killing Floor 2 is one hell of a shooter that fans of the genre won’t want to pass up. Those looking for a solid single-player experience most likely won’t find what they’re looking for here, the incredibly challenging and addictive co-operative gameplay will keep you coming back time and time again. With a broad selection of maps, dozens of weapons, and an engaging leveling system, Killing Floor 2 demands the attention of anyone with at least a passing interesting in online shooters. If TripWire can continue to give the console versions of the title the same support the PC version has received, you can be sure that this is an FPS that will keep you busy for a very, very long time.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), PC ; Publisher: Deep Silver, Iceberg Interactive ; Developer: TripWire Interactive ; Players: 1-12 (online) ; Released: November 18, 2016 ; MSRP: $29.99
Full Disclosure: This review was based on a pair PlayStation 4 review copies of Killing Floor 2 provided by the publisher.