Payday 3 Review - A Disappointment


Back in the day, as online co-op Focus titles were finding their footing, Payday the Heist established a niche. Payday 2 further refined it, creating the definitive heist shooter supported to this day. When Payday 3 was announced in 2016, an eventual evolution felt like a given. as it turns out to familiar territory and then several steps back.

Instead of a big step forward, it feels more like a flawed foundation, not unlike P Day 2 at launch but without half the novelty. The story, as it unfolds, sees the gang back together after their escapades in Washington, DC. Some new forces emerged and wiped out all their money, and they need to take revenge but also money.

You get the drift. It's not the worst setup for a thrilling Heist shooter, but certainly doesn't go beyond schlocky imitations of Hollywood Heist films, especially with the dialogue. The plot isn't all that important, and with all the story-cut scenes essentially being still images, it seems Starb felt the same way.

Payday 3 has eight heists and four difficulty options for each. Normal is your starting experience. Hard is moving up the ranks. Hard pushes your skills, and Overkill tests true mastery over the mechanics while changing certain elements. Each heist is unique but familiar as you avoid or disable cameras.


Take down or ghost the security guard. complete multiple objectives, steal cash and other valuables, and escape. For example, the first Heist No Rest for the Wicked is a smaller operation meant to get you back in the saddle, infiltrate the bank, then use thermite to blow a hole through the vault's ceiling while fending off police or sneak through obtaining the manager's password to open it.

Some little hitches can develop throughout, like cops turning on the sprinklers when using thermites, so you need to react. Accordingly, some heists are better suited for stealth, like dirty ice. While others, like Road Rage, are more high-octane and combat-focused, regardless of whether you want to complete a heist, coordination and teamwork are key, as you would think at first.

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However, due to how the progression works, you're often incentivized to speedrun through a heist with the minimum required bags to get XP for weapons and skills. I got the sniper, my patience, and a shield. While each heist is competent, some objectives can feel contrived, and in terms of overall co-op mission design, none of them feel like a major step up.

Don't get me wrong, they can be fun, but there's nothing revolutionary. Some will be fine with that. While others like me will be left wanting more, nevertheless, gun play feels pretty good with the right dose of aim assist and heft; it's neither clunky nor exaggerated, keeping things grounded even as bodies ragdoll and go flying.

There is a weightiness and tension to your actions as you disable die packs on money stacks. Chuck money bags into the getaway vehicle or desperately reload while fighting off waves of police, unfortunately. If you play solo, not offline, because there is no offline option, crew member AI leaves much to be desired; they either follow your lead or meander around.

is a bad game

Sometimes shooting enemies and other times standing in place while being shot at by snipers, they won't perform any objectives or retrieve any bags, leaving you with all the heavy lifting. It just makes the heists longer and more tedious without any additional rewards; they're all also eerily quiet, sometimes further reinforcing how foolish it is to play solo.

But this is a co-op. Focus game, you say, and I agree. However, after the matchmaking from hell that defined the first days of launch, matching with real players has been hit or miss. If you can't get into a full lobby, the game assigns bots with seemingly no interest in joining in. The police AI is disjointed at times, casually walking away when an assault is called off, though they remain in the area, ready and willing to be shot in the back.

I also encountered cloakers who would straight up run at me uncloaked to get mowed down, but I digress. You can match based on the heist and difficulty, making it even tougher to match with people to do the activities you want. A quick play option or even a Lobby browser would have been far better while minimizing the chances of matching with players who have no CL clue what they're doing.

is a good game

Not that Payday 3 provides tools to help players coordinate with each other; there's no text or voice chat or any pre-planning in the lobby; you can't suggest gadgets, loadouts, or weapons; never mind coordinating tactics. There isn't even an option to be ready. If you mistakenly roll with a shotgun instead of a sniper for a stealth heist, you should.

is a recommended game

Keep, what happened to the pre-planning mechanic from Payday 2 was it just too difficult to implement even more baffling is the lack of any option to stay together as a group after a heist if you finally found some competent teammates through luck of the draw add them to your friends list or say goodbye until matchmaking deems you worthy to meet again and now there's no looking for group features either, payday 3 does make some interesting advancements in its skills though you have more freedom in picking and choosing skills from different lines and master nodes let you benefit from a skill line even without taking the starter skill, research is necessary and skill XP is required for unlocking each one I didn't spend too much time messing with the skills because there weren't many available due to the lackluster skill XP; nevertheless, the available options felt fine.

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Nothing spectacular or insane is just fine; infamy leveling is anything but fine; however, playing through heists doesn't give infamy points for your levels; you must complete challenges. Instead, these challenges range from completing a heist a set number of times on specific difficulties killing enemies with specific weapons and so on so if you're not progressing your challenges then no progress is being made on your infamy levels, given how weapons skill points and cosmetics are locked behind higher infamy levels it feels like an annoying grind than meaningful progression not to mention rendering any manner of skill completely pointless, why should I collect all bags from a heist or flawlessly stealth it at the highest difficulty for no infamy points when I can load up road rage for the 15th time to complete a challenge, for a game so focused on its challenges there's no way to pin those in progress or search for specifics, even when filtering the challenges in progress aren't immediately brought forward to the first page to view, not like this is the only UI floor with annoyingly empty spaces in menus There's no distinction between primary and secondary weapons when purchasing them, and weapon stats are represented as bars instead of tangible numbers.

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