As some of you probably know, I take a great personal interest in Killing Floor 2. Since it was announced officially, I was keeping tabs on the game and updating with its progress, which unfortunately has been rather quiet.
I’m therefore really excited to finally bring you a much meatier update on the game’s progress – straight from a demo with Tripwire Interactive. While the demo was strictly hands-off, it was full of bloody details that I’m sure you’ll all love to read about.
I’d like to begin with the things that have migrated from the first game into the second, starting with the classes. Out of the game’s final promised class count of 10, 4 have been already confirmed. In case you’re not up to date, the confirmed classes are: Berserker, Combat Medic, Commando and Support. The demo we’ve seen has been shown from the Support and Commando classes but we are given to understand that the other two operate much the same way they have in KF1.
Another feature to successfully make the transition is Zed Time. Although it is now much more graphically impressive, draining the world of all non-red color along with its usual effect, it has remained pretty much the same in terms of gameplay effect. Time slows down to a crawl as you mow down Zeds left and right with animations rendered at 240fps to ensure perfect appearance even at one tenth of the game’s usual pace. The overall effect is gorgeous – you can see single bullets from an assault rifle or the pellets from a shotgun blast sail majestically towards your target. It really is poetry in motion.
Of course, what would Killing Floor be without buckets of blood and Zed bits flying all over? thanks to the brand new Massive Evisceration and Trauma (MEAT) system, Zeds are now made up of 19 separate chunks you can hack off, shoot off or blow off. To really drive the point home, each chunk is also fully physics enabled for some of the most realistic dismemberment effects in gaming today. Speaking of dismemberment – all blood decals from the entire match are permanent and at no loss of performance. That’s right – a blood stain from a Zed you shot in wave 1 will be around all the way through to the end, a comforting reminder that on this very spot, you’ve made the world just a little bit safer for humans.
Another feature that has remained fairly unchanged is the store. Although the trader herself is gone to be replaced with a small kiosk, the core principle remains the same: between waves of Zeds the store will open in a different location on the map each time. You and your team members then have a limited amount of time to turn your cash into guns and ammo, all ready to be used on the nearest specimen. The final weapon count has not been revealed to us but rest assured the you will not want for death-dealing devices. From the demo we’ve seen today, we can confirm some support-class toys: The AA12 Auto Shotgun, Mossberg 500 Pump Action, Double-Barrel Shotgun and the commando’s Bullpop. The welding gun and health gun are also waiting for you, with the welder now a high-tech short-range cryo ray and the health gun exactly the same as it has been in KF1.
Now that we’ve covered what has remained the same, let’s talk about what’s new – starting with the classes themselves. Apart from having 10 classes in the second game compared to 7 in the original, there are also 25 levels instead of the 6 we’ve grown used to. The nature of “leveling up” has also been somewhat altered and streamlined for ease of play. Instead of a flat percentage bonus to class-related abilities, you now have a perk choice every 5 levels (starting at level 5 for a grand total of 5 perks active at maximum level). Fear not, though – once a perk tier has been unlocked, you can change the active bonus before a match has begun as well as in the trader’s shop between waves. Leveling up has also been made easier – no longer will your support stagnate because of welding and no longer will your commando remain unplayed because your friends aren’t letting you kill any Stalkers. Instead, all of your class-related activities contribute to the same pool of experience and once a certain threshold has been reached, congratulations! You’ve gone up a level. This new model should guarantee that you can play your preferred class the way you want to and not spend countless hours doing something you hate just so you can level up.
The environments themselves have also underwent a major overhaul, courtesy of the Unreal 3 engine. During the demo we were shown two maps: Burning Paris and Biotic Labs. Burning Paris is a large, mostly-open map, somewhat reminiscent of good ol’ West London. Biotic Labs is the map from the first game, remastered for the new generation. Among the new features are loads of destructible objects as well as lights that can be smashed by you or the Zeds, making the level progressively darker. The upgraded engine really does the game justice: glass panes shatter, small items get kicked around, decorative displays fill up with holes where you’ve shot them and shatter in a realistic way.
Apart from environments and leveling, the melee system has also underwent a much-needed overhaul. Besides being the number one beneficiary of the new MEAT system, a defensive side has finally been added: you can now block attacks using your melee weapon. But wait, there’s more! Why block when you can parry? in Killing Floor 2, whenever you time your blocking just right, not only will you negate some of the incoming damage but you can also stagger the Zed that attacked you, providing you with an opening to cut them open and with the addition of directional attacks, you can get quite creative when wielding a melee weapon.
There is just one more thing I’d like to talk about in depth and that’s the difficulty. Again, the people at Tripwire took their time to really fine-tune the challenge level of the game and make it something more than a simple “make monsters stronger” adjustment. Now, a higher difficulty also means that the Zeds get a few new tricks that they wouldn’t have used on a lower setting. For example, on a higher difficulty, one of the clot-types will perform a roll forward to engage the player while passing underneath the stream of bullets coming from an assault rifle. In another example, a stalker used a very impressive aerial maneuver to dodge and close the distance even faster than she would have otherwise. There is obviously more work to be done on the Zeds and not everything has been finalized and decided but the core concepts are there and they are solid.
I hope you’ve learned a bit more about the upcoming sequel – Killing Floor 2 will launch on Windows PC and Steam OS with no date set as of yet.