There are plenty of multiplayer shooting experiences to blast through on consoles these days, some of which are free-to-play too which make them even more accessible to gamers. Still though, every so often one comes along which really stands out amongst the crowd and deserves a bit more attention. After starting life as an ‘Unreal Tournament 2004’ mod back in 2005, the original ‘Killing Floor’ received a lot of praise when it got an official release in 2009. Seven years on the game’s sequel has finally seen a release, this time coming to console for the first time too. Killing Floor 2 offers a lot of what made the original so popular, but ups the scale, action, and gore for modern gaming platforms. It’s also just so happens to be pretty great, offering something all shooting fans need to check out.
There’s an air of refinement about Killing Floor 2 that’s obvious from the get go. So often with multiplayer focused titles there’s a feeling of roughness that gets fine-tuned in future updates, but Killing Floor 2 has had the benefit of spending a bit of extra time in the oven with fan feedback thanks to the game’s early access release on Steam. It leaves the game feeling incredibly polished and in a near immaculate state in time for launch, which is great seeing as other multiplayer focused titles have seen some pretty rocky launches. I’ve encountered no connectivity issues at all so far too, which is always a big plus.
Whilst there is a single player mode in Killing Floor 2, the priority is within the game’s multiplayer options. There’s no meaty campaign to play through (though there is a bit of lore to be found behind the characters and events if you look for it) and you’ll quickly get bored of playing the same modes over and over on your own. Playing with friends is a blast though, especially when you co-ordinate as a team – Killing Floor 2 is a game that depends on well communicated co-operation, so playing with others is a fine experience.
It’s a bloody, brutal game too, with gore aplenty as blood gushes around you as you massacre through the almost endless ‘Zeds’. I love it; it feels like the developers have really gone out of their way to offer something that looks disgusting, in a slick way of course. Heads pop, limbs fall apart, enemies explode – when you see all of this up close and personal it’s particularly gruesome, especially during moments when time slows down and everything takes a monochrome stylised look.
The main gameplay of Killing Floor 2 involves tackling a set amount of rounds (waves) of enemies across large environments. You can play with up to five other players online, with teams of six taking down the Zed. After defeating all enemies in a round, you then get to use the cash you’ve accumulated to purchase new weapons or upgrade those already in your possession. It’s the standard routine we’ve seen in other online shooters (‘Horde Mode’ in Gears of War or ‘Zombies’ in Call of Duty for example) but Killing Floor 2 greatly expands upon the formula – it’s more calculated, concise and bulky, in turn offering an experience that doesn’t grow old too quickly despite the fact that you’re essentially doing the same things over and over.
This is helped by the sheer variety of maps included in the game, with twelve available at launch. These aren’t small maps either; you’re never locked in a small confined space, but often find yourself running across fair distances whilst pursuing or being pursued by the Zed. All of the maps looks fantastic too with each one feeling significantly different and varied. There are maps like ‘Burning Paris’ that takes place on the charred, ruined streets of Paris with the Eiffel Tower overlooking the destruction, whilst the ‘Catacombs’ are an isolated underground location with human remains littered throughout the corridors of the hell-hole. ‘Farmhouse’ offers an isolated warzone out in the countryside that wouldn’t look out of place in a classic horror movie, whilst ‘Biotic Labs’ offers an Umbrella-esque high-tech location that feels more futuristic. There’s a good mixture on offer and it’ll take you a good while to learn your way around each nook and cranny of a level, adding to the game’s replayability and ensuring you’re always able to do something a little different each time you play.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a first person shooter without some sweet weapons to use and thankfully Killing Floor 2 is loaded with them. You’ve got a good variety of machine guns, shotguns, pistols, flame throwers, crossbows, grenades – seriously, you’re pretty well equipped. There are some specialist weapons that pack even more of a punch too, such as the ‘Eviscerator’ which you can tell is going to unleash utter destruction based purely on the name alone. There are also plenty of melee weapons which offer another way to play the game – you’ll be surprised at just how fun it can be to decapitate the Zed with a sword in-game.
The weapons are spread across different classes, which is another one of Killing Floor 2’s features that add to the replayability. There are ten classes in all, each having their own weapons and perks that make them effective in different ways. Whilst you’ll find that some suit your style of play better than others, it’s certainly worth experimenting with them all. You can level up each class too, so you’ll see a constant improvement if you commit yourself to one – levelling up happens fairly quickly though, so completionists won’t find themselves stuck with a class they don’t particularly enjoy for too long. A good team online will have varied classes, but it’s possible to win with six ‘Berserkers’ if that’s how everyone wants to play. No matter who you play as though, Killing Floor 2 always offers a satisfying way to take down the plethora of Zeds out to get you.
There’s a good variety of Zed to kill in the game that typically switch between the standard sized enemies that are nimble and easy to pick off with minimal fuss and the hulking tanks that are slow but can really take a punch (and deliver one of their own too). There are a few specialist Zed to take out too: the ‘Siren’ for example reminded me of the ‘Witch’ from Left 4 Dead with her brutal screams, whilst the ‘Fleshpound’ is a huge armoured beast with spinning grinders for arms. There are some real monstrosities on show and they’re all well varied in aesthetic design and from a gameplay perspective. Most important though is that they’re always fun to kill, though you’ll suffer their wrath plenty of times too – the damn invisible Zeds always seem to catch me out…
One of two different bosses will appear in the final wave, with the enigmatic yet vile Dr. Hans Volter or the repulsive chaingun wielding Patriarch making an appearance to try and halt your progress. They’re great encounters that add something fresh to end each match with, demanding you and any other players work together as a solid unit in order to take them out. There’s a big health bar on display too that you’ll slowly see whittle down, which is something I can always appreciate in a boss encounter. The only thing that was a little disappointing was that there were only the two boss encounters – with the amount of maps on offer and the fact that gameplay typically consists of the same thing, a more varied conclusion would’ve been nice.
That leads on to the only real obvious flaw with Killing Floor 2 – the lack of variety with game modes. There are two on offer but they play out the same; one is just competitive multiplayer and the other co-operative. There’s no denying that the game is bulky and has a lot to offer, but the wave-based way you encounter enemies is typically just an additional game mode in other first person shooters. Playing a game based entirely around that can leave things feeling a little unvaried at times. There is enough to entertain and last for quite some time, but I’m hoping we see some more varied game modes in the future. I’d imagine a traditional ‘Deathmatch’ mode would be a lot of fun, hint-hint wink-wink Tripwire…
Killing Floor 2 offers a slick multiplayer experience that’s bloody and brutal, but also a hell of a lot of fun. There’s plenty to see and plenty to do, plus the world and its monstrous inhabitants look absolutely fantastic – it has some of the most varied maps I’ve seen in any multiplayer shooter, which is great seeing as I found myself spending tens upon tens of hours blasting away at enemies on them…
It can feel a little limited in scope when it comes to the game modes on offer, but it doesn’t matter too much when killing the Zeds is so much fun. Killing Floor 2 is a well-polished multiplayer shooter that certainly deserves your attention.
Developer: Tripwire Interactive
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Release Date: 18/11/2016
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), PC