Back in May of 2009, a game came to Steam that became an instant classic for Steam users, and that game was Killing Floor. The game featured a wide variety of maps, weapons, classes, and monsters, and the objective was simple — just stay alive and kill zeds. Featuring a mutated psychopath boss, called the Patriarch, the first game had several waves of “zeds” — mutated zombie-looking creatures — that the player had to shoot through with their friends. The more the player played, the more the player leveled up in their respective classes. Classes like support, a shotgun wielding class, would need to weld doors in addition to using their shotguns to gain class experience. The first game was on the second Unreal Engine, and perhaps had the best graphics of any game on the same engine. On April 21st, 2015, Killing Floor 2 was released into Early Access.
Killing Floor 2‘s Early Access brings much to the table that the first game could have. It’s been mentioned by the developers that the second game was supposed to be very gory, and it definitely is. There’s a lot more gore in the second game, and there’s new physics to accompany all of that gore and refined weapons handling. If a zed is shot with a shotgun, the zed will split apart wherever the player shot them. The larger the weapon, the more noticeable the gore is. The larger weapons, such as the AA-12 shotgun, feels almost like the player is shooting a watermelon that explodes into a rain of gore — blood and guts everywhere! “Zed Time,” the game’s slow-motion feature, drops the game’s saturation on most things other than gore, in order to emphasize blood spatter.
The first game’s seven classes, called perks, got some well deserved treatment and reworking in the second game, even if there’s only four in the second game, with more on the way. Currently, there’s support, medic, berserker, and commando. Supports use shotguns and weld doors, medics heal and use a powerful blue mist grenade, berserkers are the kings of melee, and commandos use assault rifles and can see cloaked zeds. Tripwire mentioned feeling that the players in the first game didn’t level up frequently enough, since there were only six levels per perk. Each level up provided different boosts to different things, such as more damage, better healing, or faster welding. Levels now go up to twenty five, nineteen more than the first game, and leveling doesn’t require all aspects to level now. In the first game, using support as an example, a player could get stuck dealing well over the required amount of damage to level, but could get stuck behind an enormous welding experience wall. In the second game, while welding does give experience, it’s not required for supports to weld. Just shooting things is enough to progress. Since the game has twenty five levels per perk now, at every five levels, the player can pick between two options of what skills they want to receive. These can be more damage, more health, health regen, allowing others to see cloaked zeds, faster reloading, or more ammunition. You’ll be wanting these perks to be leveled up to survive these maps on higher difficulties. They’re all different depending on what class that the player is playing.
At the time that this was written, there are three stock maps with a fourth on the way. There’s a snowy map called OutPost, a laboratory map called BioticsLab, and Paris, but on fire, called BurningParis. There’s a manor map on the way, but as of this time, it is unreleased. Each map has a different strategy, a different spot to stand your ground at, and different hazards to watch out for. In BioticsLab, it features many rooms of the same building, narrow hallways, vents that zeds can crawl out of, and a broken elevator that the player can use to escape out of if trapped. Of course, jumping down an elevator shaft does not come without damage. BioticsLab’s hazards come in its close quarters and confinement, but there are some good spots to hold out at, that if there’s three or more players, everything can be on lockdown. Of course, that all goes down the drain when a few fleshpounds come marching up the staircase. OutPost is probably the easiest of the three. It’s outside, there’s snow, and there are plenty of spots that only require two players to watch one another’s backs to get an efficient system going. Paris is by far the hardest of the three: It’s enormous, it’s open, there’s really no good place to hide out at, and the player is often completely surrounded by zeds. In Killing Floor 2, blood is permanently fixed to the map’s textures rather than tacking it on as a decal.
In the game’s short time being in Early Access, there’s already a huge amount of maps, user-made maps, and servers that exclusively run a user-made map rotation. These maps would have to be mentioned individually, and there are too many to include in this review, with more and more being added each and every day. User-made map “dark-dungeon_v2″ stood out the most of all the ones I’ve played. The map has winding corridors, pitfalls, and several rooms of varying sizes with statues of different zeds in each room. My first impression was that it was some sort of temple-like map. In one of the rooms, it even looks like one of the zeds, the Siren, is smoking a joint! Of course, to top all of this off, there’s a room with statues of fleshpounds, the game’s most feared non-boss enemy, and at the end of the room, there’s an iron throne from Game of Thrones, and it’s made out of knives and machetes. Of course, the regular strategy that players have for this map is to sit on the throne until a fleshpound smacks the player off of it to assert its dominance. You’ll need a good gun to protect yourself from those!
The guns in Killing Floor 2 were animated at two hundred frames per second. I’ll repeat myself: the guns in Killing Floor 2 were animated at a jaw-dropping two hundred frames per second! Tripwire likes their guns, and they want them to look pretty. Doing this gets them exactly what they want. Firing the AA-12, you can see every movement of the player’s torso from the recoil. Zed time, the game’s slow-motion feature, looks absolutely amazing. The projectiles leave a trail behind them, the game’s saturation drops, and the two hundred frames per second firearms show every bit of their animation. Unfortunately, Tripwire has chosen to have their voice actors call magazines “clips,” but the gun handling is solid. For the most part, guns in Killing Floor 2 shoot how you’d expect them to. Their damage is what you’d expect it to be, accuracy is within reason, and recoil isn’t ungodly unrealistic, unlike most modern-day shooters, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. A leveled up support class’s AA-12 will chew through any line of enemies in a few shots.
Killing Floor 2‘s enemies will come familiar to players of the first Killing Floor. Fleshpounds are still the scariest thing prior to boss waves, scrakes still will maul you to death with their chainsaws, and sirens still mess up your grenades with their screams. Overall, enemies in the sequel seem more buff. In at least appearance, if nothing else, enemies are far more muscular than the first. Clots, the most common enemy, will now stumble when trying to grab the player if the clot misses, and enemies will dodge a flaming shot fired from a husk. Husks will charge at the players when at low health, and will basically turn into a running time bomb, blowing up the players. The new animations for all the zeds makes them harder to hit. They’re more organic. They stumble, they spin, and it feels like gorefasts are really swinging a sword at me. The new physics and animations really make a huge impact on gameplay.
After waves four of four, seven of seven, or ten of ten, the boss, named Hans Volter, appears. In the first game, The Patriarch boss looked like a scientist with glasses, long hair, tentacles, and some sort of grabby plant-like protrusion coming out of his chest to grab the players. He was hard to take seriously with his silly appearance, even as players were getting chewed up and killed by him. In Killing Floor 2, there’s a new boss, though the return of The Patriarch is supposed to come in the future. Hans Volter has two MKBs, a weapon not otherwise in the game. His appearance is a lot more fitting than the first game’s boss, he has some sort of tubes running all over his body that end at his fingertips. He has metal running over his arms. He’s even got some sort of tank on his back that the tubes run to. He’s wearing a gasmask. He’s supposedly a Nazi! The boss changes color depending on what stage he’s in: green, then yellow, then red. In between stages, he’ll toss out white smoke and try to grab players in order to regenerate his health. After letting a player go, he’ll throw grenades. He throws three types of grenades in total: gas grenades, explosive grenades, and smoke grenades. All throughout fighting him, he’ll be shooting at the players with his MKBs. After the player(s) get the boss down to his red stage, he can be killed. Once he’s killed, a victory message appears on the screen, and the map is changed to the next one. In addition to adding The Patriarch boss to Killing Floor 2, The Matriarch has been talked about as also being added. She was not in the first game.
There are definitely bugs. I don’t think a single game in a beta is without bugs. It’s not to the point where it’s unbearably bad, but you will notice some. Occasionally, on certain maps, the game’s memory usage seems to grow and grow and grow. On three occasions that I’ve been on BioticsLab, the wave has continued well after the final enemy of the wave was killed. Sometimes, there’s some frame hiccups when cloaked enemies are near. Whether it’s a bug or truly a feature, the double barreled shotgun can be used to propel the player to places mapmakers did not intend for them to be. Tripwire has said that they do not release updates on a Friday so that they can guarantee swift fixes to major bugs.
It’s in the Steam store under Early Access, and yes, players who enjoyed some of the classes not yet added will be disappointed. The user-made maps make the game always fresh, leaving the player with the option to play through a map they’ve never seen before. If players of Valve’s zombie game, Left 4 Dead 2, remember the long wait before any SDK was released, that is not a concern with Killing Floor 2, since it’s already accessible for anyone to make maps in. This is something that Tripwire, themselves, advertise on the Steam store page. For the price of thirty dollars, Killing Floor fans can get a long-awaited sequel to the first game, made in Unreal 3. For somebody who usually mutes in-game music, this is a game where I’ve kept the music turned on. Metalheads, you’re going to be pleased, because it has a great metal soundtrack! The physics are great, the gun handling is great, and the maps are great. The new boss brings new mechanics to the game, perks are reworked to provide more enjoyment, and the game is far bloodier than the first. It’s a fantastic title that can only get better from here.
Killing Floor 2 is currently available on Steam , via Early Access, for $29.99 and will be available on PS4 later this year.