People come to videogames for vastly different reasons. Some games tell intricate stories loaded with details that interweave to form a rich narrative tapestry, while others rely on complex systems and complicated AI to challenge players into hammering out deep strategies to overcome these obstacles. Killing Floor 2 does none of that, but it’s still a pretty neat game.
Killing Floor 2 aims to satisfy that itch for mindless wanton carnage with friends or random like-minded strangers. There’s really not much story to speak of. You’d likely be able to discern some things through the occasional dialogue and the odd environmental detail, but really all you need to know is that there are zombies, you have guns, and it is advisable that you use one on the other. Don’t think too hard, just shoot the nasty things, reload and shoot the other nasty things.
It’s a formula that can get stale relatively quickly. The main mode you’ll be seeing is Survival, which pits you and your teammates against 10 waves of the rowdy zeds and a final boss, with breaks in-between to buy new equipment and shore up your supplies. There is a plethora of different implements players can acquire with which to dispatch the mutated masses. To me, that variety is the real draw here. Constant murder and gore can get tiring after a while, so it’s always nice to switch to a microwave gun or something that shoots circular saws. It’s hard to make circular saws boring.
There is a class system involved here, but it’s a little obtuse. While applying light cosmetic customization to the character model of their choice, players will pick a perk. However, this nomenclature is a lie. Traditionally, games reference character’s roles like “sharpshooter” or “commando” as a class, and the benefits they provide as perks, but Killing Floor 2 dares to be different. The classes provide a few passive benefits (more damage with their preferred weapons, reduced damage from appropriate damage types) and level when used appropriately. After gaining five levels in a particular class, you’ll unlock a more significant bonus, and so on. The classes are pretty varied and fun to play.
There is another mode players can delve into when they’re feeling more antagonistic. Versus Survival casts one team amongst the dead, to aid the zeds in their onslaught against the team of malicious survivors. The normal enemy AI is limited, so the first time you see a monster doing something other than charging straight at you and attacking, it can be a bit concerning. The sort of zed a player plays is random, and some of the weaker mobs can make the experience feel cheap and unbalanced. There’s plenty of room for improvement, and some balancing patches could go a long way in make this mode feel like more than the requisite Versus mode.
Visually, Killing Floor 2 is a treat, albeit a grisly one. Monster types are immediately identifiable, which is important for the fast-paced action inherent here. The first time you see a massive glowing fleshpound charging at you and shrugging off all of your shots, you’ll understand the importance of the monster design. Similarly, the environments range from open snowy fields to dark cramped corridors, all itching to be covered in the blood of the dead. One of my favourite bits was traversing areas after I had dealt with a particularly large horde and seeing that story retold on the bloodstained walls and floors. I also really dig the heavy metal soundtrack. It’s all over the top madness that fits the ridiculous premise perfectly.
Killing Floor 2 does a good deal of things right. The core game loop is as fun as mindlessly blasting through hordes of the undead can be. The problem is that this is all the game really does. It guides the player to wanting to master a style of play, but the fun is really in the variety. At the end of the day, Killing Floor 2 is a great title to visit every now and then, but I imagine more people will be playing this off and on rather than making this their go to game until we see some more interesting or balanced game modes.