It’s time to mask up and land the greatest heist known to man. The Payday series is back with the third installment, PayDay 3, following the gang after the events of PayDay 2, where they thought they could retire rich, happy, and safe, but that is never the case. They have been attacked and their accounts emptied, so the only option is to mask up and smash out some heists. New York better look out.
For those of you who are new to the Payday series, it’s a cops and robbers-themed game where you play as the bad guys with up to four people cooperatively, and each heist can be completed in more ways than one. This is even more apparent when you start adjusting the difficulty levels, bringing in on-site security, stronger safes to crack, or placing seemingly indestructible obstacles in your path, and this all leads to plenty of hours of fun trying to master the art of robbery.
A good heist comes down to a good team and there are six operators you have access to, all with their own different characteristics, and there are some familiar faces from Payday 2. The first operator is Dallas, the mastermind behind the team who keeps cool when things get heated, and he’s always got something up his sleeve. The second operator is Wolf, the technician who is great with high-tech gear, but he’s also unhinged. Chains, our third, was let go from the special forces for being too violent, and he’s too smart to become a mercenary, so what better than to join the gang and become a robber.
Hoxton is an expert marksman and has dedicated his life to the gang after they broke him out of prison, and Pearl is an expert con artist, rubbing elbows with the richest people. The last operator is Joy, a genius hacker and security expert. She has a complete lack of respect for authority and will do whatever it takes to have a successful heist. There are some great customisation options with the operators, and you can change their outfits, masks, and gloves to make them your own.
Now that you’ve compiled the ultimate gang, you are ready to move in and land the best heist to date. From launch, there are eight heists in eight different locations for you to choose from, with locations being unlocked as you complete them, and the different locations have higher payouts the further you get into the game. The best part about PayDay 3 is there is more than one way to do the heist – you can go all guns blazing or take more of a stealth approach, which personally I love doing. Seven out of the eight heists can be done stealthily if that is what interests you, but the heist with the armored transport can only be done loud and all guns blazing.
It will take you more than one playthrough to work out the best way to complete the heist, and if you are like me and prefer taking a stealth approach, you need to make sure you are ready to restart more than once. If you decide to go down the more direct path, you’ll face waves of police, and they’ll get progressively more difficult to take out. These will typically start with negotiations, where you can negotiate the safety of your hostages to try and buy some extra time to break into a safe. If the negotiations fail, a timer will appear on the screen, and you’ll know it’s time to switch from the pistol to your assault rifle, making sure it’s locked and loaded, or grab the closest hostage and hope they don’t have an itchy trigger finger.
You can’t pull off the ultimate heist without some firepower to back you up. The game has eleven primary weapons and six secondary weapons, and as you gain higher levels and more money, you can upgrade and customize your weapons to match your playstyle by using a selection of over 120 attachments. If you are chasing something with a little more firepower, there are also two weapons called Overkill Weapons; the M32 Grenade Launcher, and a LYNX GM6 .50 caliber rifle. They can be unlocked during a heist, and you’ll be prompted at the bottom of the HUD when they’re available. You start off with a basic assault rifle and a pistol, and the first item I would recommend installing is the suppressor, especially if you are going to a quiet heist with fewer casualties.
Visiting “The Vendor” in the main menu lets you purchase new weapons and deployable items, and these are priced surprisingly well. This is a key point when you that they are level-locked, but you can always go back and do heists again, testing out your new toys and earning some more money. The Vendor sells more than just firearms – they also sell Masks, Suits, and C-STACKS, which is an encrypted currency that you can use to purchase certain items from the vendor.
There is quite an extensive skill tree broken down into sixteen different categories depending on how you want to approach each heist. The categories are as follows: Medic, Ammo Specialist, Mower, Infiltrator, Tank, Sharpshooter, Escapist, Demolitionist, Enforcer, Manipulator, Engineer, Gunslinger, Grifter, Hacker, Tactician, Strategist, and CQC Specialist, and there are subcategories within these that can be unlocked as well.
As an example, the Infiltrator has a sub-skill where you can instantly pick locks, or the Grifter, with a perk that allows you to move past cameras without being detected, just make sure you’re not wearing a mask. I highly recommend taking some time to read through all the skill tree perks, because these will really influence how the game works, and you’ll need to work towards the ones that are best for you.
The controls felt much like the previous title, and as the great old saying goes, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” The mapping on the Xbox controller felt natural and was nice and responsive. I didn’t even bother looking into changing it. It just worked. Nine times out of ten, gamers just want to pick up a controller or sit down at their keyboard and just play the game, and Payday 3 does just that.
There were a couple of times I would look at something and wish it had been textured a little better, or wished that maybe the nightclub was a little darker, but overall Payday 3 looked absolutely stunning, and at times, made the experience slightly more difficult, like when I was running around with the suppressed pistol, trying to disable the cameras, and there was lots of smoke or light hitting me in the eyes, but this only helped to add to the immersion, as these are things you’d potentially deal with in real life. The cutscenes, while not animated, are also really impressive to view, and the voice acting really helps drive home the story, which brings us to the game’s audio.
The guns sounded a little off to me. Or at least the assault rifles did. The pistol sounded great, particularly with a nice big suppressor on them, but the assault rifles sounded a little like the generic sound you would have found in a game a couple of years ago. They didn’t really have any substance to them, but the voice acting was great. Just like in the cutscenes, it really helped to drive home the emotions of the characters, apart from a couple of the responses your character said after dropping a security guard, and these felt more like they were comedic relief.
Although we don’t condone a life of crime, make sure you dedicate some time to Payday 3. Whether you’re a new player or coming back from Payday 2, once you start, you’ll end up spending hours in it as you plan and execute the perfect heist. There is so much to do, plenty to see, heaps to learn, and even more money to be made. So what are you waiting for? Mask up and get that heist rolling.
- Fun, replayable heists
- A selection of weapons and customisations
- Easy to pick up and play controls
- Immersive voice acting
- Some textures don’t feel finished
- Some weapons sound a bit dull