Payday 3's Player Experience Is A Rollercoaster

Intro

Intro

So Payday 3's launch has been absolutely disastrous, but for this article, I wanted to mostly ignore the server issues and just focus on the current player experience. The issues would still persist even if the servers were working perfectly. I was on Alma's stream recently, Global Brand Director at Star Breeze, and he was answering a question in regards to the negative reviews the game has been receiving.

Bear with me here because I am paraphrasing a lot, but the message in his response was clear. He basically said something along the lines of people feeling compelled to write a negative review because they can't actually play the game. Other than that, people are actually enjoying the game. My understanding of this response is that he sees people who are actually able to play the game having fun, but people who can't understandably want to write a negative review.

This response scares me, but I take it with a grain of salt because he was mid-heist on a live stream. The reason it scares me is because the game still has major issues, even if the servers were working perfectly, and I hope that Almir and the rest of the team realize these issues. This is a game that wears its heart on its sleeve and shows you both its positives and negatives within the first few hours.

So, let's run through the current player experience, assuming the servers worked fine, and focus on the macro elements of the game's design to see if we can make sense of the other reasons people are giving the game negative reviews because it is not just the server issues.

The ui

The ui

Okay, so to start off, you load up the game, and first, you need to log in with Nebula. The UI that needs to be taken care of is far from the case here; the entire user interface experience is a terrible trifecta. Because the game is unfinished, unpleasant to look at, and missing many important quality of life details, some people will be able to ignore the quality of the UI and focus on the more important aspects of the game, like we will now.

The lobby

The lobby

Okay, so you're done traversing the UI, and now you actually want to play the game.

You've got your basic loadout, and right now you're not focused on progression, so you click the play option. Choose a heist from this menu that I hope eventually will be rearranged, and then you're brought to this screen where you can choose the difficulty and type of lobster: This is user experience number two that will leave you livid if you play as a group of people.

The game does a horrendous job of making that experience smooth. Basic social features are missing, and we've experienced plenty of bugged lobbies leading to a lot of game restarts. If you want to play with randoms online, then those missing social features will hurt you even more, as a lot of the attention to detail that Payday 2 had is no longer here.

There is no option to vote for allowed or stealth and things like that, but worst of all, if you play solo, which so many people will be doing well, you know the funniest thing happens when you press match and you just sit there waiting. For a server, this is by far the second biggest complaint coming from the community after the server issues, but even if the servers worked perfectly fine, solo players would still need to wait to be put into a game by themselves.

There is no option for offline play. This is a huge, huge turn-off for so many people. I included people who want to quickly be able to get into a game if they're playing by themselves, but that's not an option here. Whether it was deep silver or Star Breeze, we've made the call on this. I don't really care; one or both parties should have known the cluster that this would cause anyway.

Making your way into the actual lobby, you're greeted with the asset and loadout UI, which is some of the most disgustingly basic UI I've ever seen, and the game doesn't care to explain to you how assets work either. At this point, you can finally get up and get into the game.

Gameplay

Gameplay

We are now at the one saving race that Payday 3 has fundamentally This game is pretty good. I have my own personal complaints about movement, but I've come around to the shooting mechanics for the most part. So loud heists are a great time, and they've always been a great time in Payday, and this time around the soundtrack, enemy, spawn pacing variety, and challenge all come together for a complete experience.

There seems to be a lot more deliberate action in the little micro choices you make during loud heists, mainly due to the new armor and health system rework, both resources being very valuable stealth. They have been upgraded and made much more enjoyable. It's far more malleable than in Payday 2 owing to the separation of public, private, and secure areas and the way that Pages security cameras and guards work too, all coming together to create a relatively realistic experience that still keeps you on your toes, creating some very tense moments as stealth heisting should.

All in all, the actual gameplay that Payday 3 has to offer is pretty great, and that's important for multiple reasons, the biggest of which is the fact that solid core gameplay allows For potential to actually be reached. Star Breeze doesn't need to deal with core mechanics; they can focus on fixing and reworking the elements that need it. This is the biggest thing that Payday 3 has going for it.

Progression

Progression

Back to reality now. However unfortunately for all the fun you just had in your heist, you're then introduced to the element responsible for the game's longevity progression. This time around, they've created one of the most boring, limiting, and counter-intuitive progression systems I've ever seen.

You see, this is a live service game, meaning it's meant to be played for years and years to come, and yet the only way to gain XP is by completing the limited number of challenges that exist. You cannot gain XP after just failing or completing a heist. If Star Breeze wants people to play the game for years to come, then this style of progression might be the worst way to go about it.

action

It also shows an incredible lack of awareness on the development side, like you're telling me that the developers didn't play their own game enough to the point where they were also annoyed that they themselves weren't progressing after completing heists. Yeah, what a dog system! It limits players, it's boring, it forces players to do things they don't want to do, and it doesn't even do the one thing live service games are good at, which is exploiting your dopamine system enough to keep you engaged so that you continue to put more money into the game.

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SORRY ABOUT THE MIC SOUNDS IDK WTF IS HAPPENING. But yeah, PD3, what a launch. Potential is there, yes, but right now what we have is kinda fucked.
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