Heist Design in PAYDAY: THE HEIST & PAYDAY 2

PAYDAY: THE HEIST is a game that owed more
to works that were outside of it s own industry in order to stand up as a bold, new property.
It s from those works that PAYDAY gained its concept and style, then looked towards existing
videogames to determine how it would execute all of this. PAYDAY vividly drew inspiration
from Valve s Left 4 Dead series, with certain levels following similar design philosophy
and both being 4 player co-op horde games. Levels in PAYDAY: THE HEIST can be broken
down into two basic categories. Firstly there are heists which take place in smaller environments
where areas interconnect and you ll find yourself needing to return to previously visited locations
in order to complete crucial objectives later on. The heists covered under this classification
are: First World Bank, Panic Room, Diamond Heist, Counterfeit, Undercover and No Mercy. The other category encompasses the heists
generally taking place in larger maps in which the route of progression follows a more direct,
simpler spatial approach. These heists do not see you being required to return to previous
areas to complete the objectives with the exception of when routes overlap. There are
only three of these heists in the game, with those being Heat Street and Green Bridge and
Slaughterhouse. But in order to get a sense for how PAYDAY:
THE HEIST differentiates itself from it s sequel in regards to heist design, there are
two specific heists that I need to examine. First World Bank and Heat Street. You know
how earlier I mentioned that PAYDAY used existing works from which the game s foundations and
style formed? Well this immediately comes into play in the first two heists. The idea
of level design is typically trivialized as being map layout and determining the interactive
structure of a mission. But there is so much more that goes into it. Layout, pacing, sound,
visuals, gameplay mechanics and more all play important roles in the heist design of both
PAYDAY games and here it is style and the art of imitation that act as the driving force. The opening seconds of First World Bank make
no attempt to hide the level s inspiration with the stealth portion of Simon Viklund
s Gun Metal Grey theme being near identical to the music used during the bank heist sequence
of the 1995 film Heat. Establishing events within PAYDAY s bank heist are also dictated
by the same sequence in Heat. Down to finding a bank manager s keycard and how guards can
be intimidated if you re quicker to the draw then them. But fitting this concept into a
videogame framework means that divergence from the original inspirations becomes necessary. It wouldn t be very fun to play over and over
again if the events in First World Bank played out in exactly the same way the bank heist
did in Heat. So Overkill looked towards the hoard game genre for PAYDAY: THE HEIST, building
a grand bank that law enforcement can enter in a myriad of ways, while giving you an immense
amount of potential routes and strategies to take in order to complete the heist successfully. PAYDAY: THE HEIST is a substantially more
difficult game than PAYDAY 2 on almost all difficulty settings. This is largely due to
how the game takes an alternative approach to mitigating difficulty, gunplay in PAYDAY:
THE HEIST is very basic so honing your shooting skills won t get you very far, instead how
you navigate the levels and the time you dedicate to holding out assault waves and doing objectives,
is ultimately what will decide your fate. Every heist in the game is built around this
concept. Using First World Bank as an example, when the drill is started on the lobby gates,
you have to hold out against assaults from the police, if playing with others then you
have the option of splitting up to spread their forces thin or grouping up as to protect
each member of your crew. On top of this another objective will appear, meaning that you have
to go to the opposite end of the map to complete it, but the drill by the gates is also prone
to breaking and you can t continue without fixing this. This one scenario has many many ways to be
approached, for example you could hold it out by the drill to open it up quickly and
get a head start breaking into the vault, doing the other objective while the thermite
burns or towards the end of the heist when you pass by the area anyway. The downside
to this is that you would be subject to the full force of the police, defending a spot
with very little cover. Alternatively splitting up and having another player do the secondary
objective while you defend the drill is another viable option. What becomes apparent in PAYDAY:
THE HEIST is that most methods are viable as they all have their own upsides and downsides
so experimentation with heist approach is the best way to improve at the game. Heat Street also borrows heavily from the
film Heat, acting to capture the thrill and style of the shootout scene that occurred
shortly after the bank robbery. This is one of three heists that I earlier mentioned fit
into a second category. These heists make use of map navigation as a means of mitigating
difficulty less consistently than the others but that is not to mean that they use it any
less effectively. Heat Street, Green Bridge and Slaughterhouse all require you to hold
out in specific locations at certain stages of the heists, here assault waves play an
even larger role in determining when the optimal time to take certain actions is. The reason
being that these heists, Heat Street especially force you to abandon earlier visited areas
as progression focuses on an onward push. This means that the area you decide to place
medic bags and ammunition in can make the difference between failing and succeeding
as they will become very difficult to access if placed early on during the heist. PAYDAY 2 gives very different first impression
to it s predecessor, that game s first bank heist comes in 3 variants, cash, gold and
deposit. Already PAYDAY 2 is throwing more options and variables to you, establishing
the main difference between the 2 games. The bank itself is tiny compared to the one from
PAYDAY: THE HEIST, this downscaling of heists was a persistent pattern with all of the ones
released with the base game. But this was due to a change in priorities and to an extent
a necessary restraint for developers delving into new territory. PAYDAY 2 s bank heist vividly demonstrates
the new approach to heist design that departed big time from what the first game explored.
The concept of optimizing map navigation to mitigate difficulty became far less important
in PAYDAY 2, especially early on given how maps generally became smaller and there was
suddenly a much more consequential variable in this game. There is the addition of a different skill
system where, unlike the first game, you choose the specific skills you want to equip, being
unable to attain them all and having the ability to change your skill build whenever you want
to. Heists in PAYDAY 2 are predominantly built around this. The change meant that maps needed
to accommodate for potentially hundreds of different player builds, in order to prevent
certain ones from being too optimal over others on particular maps. Overkill being a team
who at the time had very limited industry experience downscaled heists in order to optimize
balancing and this was to the benefit of the game. PAYDAY 2 s bank heist is much more replayable
than the sprawling First World Bank of the first game, acting less as a cinematic stage
play and more as a miniature sandbox for players to experiment with skills and weaponry. Not
to mention the way in which in can be completed fully in stealth, something not possible in
PAYDAY: THE HEIST. It s an impressive feat that so many of PAYDAY 2 s heists accommodate
for loud and stealth approaches with neither leading to level design restrictions for the
other. The game also introduced the concept of the
multi-day heist, here events take place over the course of 2-3 consecutive missions. This
not only allowed for more broad events to take place by splitting the experience up
into individually defined chunks but also introduced a better risk and reward system.
PAYDAY 2 having throwable bags meant that you could take as much loot as you wanted
before deciding to leave, with higher rewards for getting more but with that increased risk
of failure. The multi-day heists, Rats especially, up the stakes by having the ramifications
of your mistakes carry over into the next days. In rats you re tasked with cooking a
specified amount of meth to be traded on the second day in exchange for information. Not
cooking enough by allowing the lab to explode will mean that the trade can t take place
and you ll have to fight your way to the information. The map of the second day is intentionally
designed to be awkward to navigate, with multiple apartment blocks, tight twisting corridors
and many flights of stairs. The information is randomly placed somewhere in one of the
apartments and failing to get to it in time will mean that it gets burned. Instead of
failing the heist, this simply makes the third day more difficult as you can t defuse the
bombs on the bus so only a portion of the optional loot can be taken and attempting
to snag it without defusing the bombs risks killing you and your crew. The new dimension
this style of heist brought on was very exciting but unfortunately it s a format that has very
rarely been used since and never to quite the level of success seen in Rats. Eventually PAYDAY 2 did deliver with a grand
bank heist that combined the map navigation and scale of PAYDAY: THE HEIST with the innovations
of build influence and advances of interactivity introduced in PAYDAY 2. Appropriately named
Big Bank, the heist acts as a testament to PAYDAY 2 s improvements over the first and
the newfound confidence that Overkill have in their game s mechanics. Big Bank also expands
on the series tradition of randomly generated map variables, with key items and this time
vault locations randomised within a number of possible locations. The importance of learning
how to tackle the unique downsides to each potential vault location manages to capture
the same appeal that learning optimal routes in PAYDAY: THE HEIST managed. The only way for heists in PAYDAY 2 to innovate
from this point on was to introduce new mechanics that would dictate how the heist is designed.
The most notable addition would be the introduction of drivable vehicles. Here you see heists
like Carshop and Meltdown where the majority of the heist follows the same general rules
of conventional heists and then an entire new area would open up in a finale that would
see you speeding away in a car, mixing long stretches of road with sharp corners with
the added inclusion of either a time limit or turrets firing at you to make for an intense
finale. Meltdown adds a level of unpredictability by having SWAT vans re position so each journey
in the car with require different navigation and present new threats. The main flare missing from PAYDAY 2 s heists
is the influence and stylistic nods to cinema. PAYDAY 2 has had various crossovers including
the likes of John Wick, Scarface, Hardcore Henry and Point Break. These don t have the
same impact that PAYDAY: THE HEIST s influence from cinema did, take PAYDAY 2 s Scarface
Mansion heist for example. It s Tony Montana s mansion, the music imitates the vibe of
the film s soundtrack really well and in it s own right it s a well made heist. But being
an official Scarface DLC, I find it difficult to put aside the knowledge that this experience
is one of corporate dealings rather than a love letter the film, regardless of the passion
that the devs put into it. There is just something special about imitating the sights and sounds
of a property, bordering on copyright infringement but omitting any mention of the name as to
not cross the line and remain a sincere ode to it instead. When stacking everything up, many of the heists
in PAYDAY 2 improve considerably on those in PAYDAY: THE HEIST. However PAYDAY 2 also
has a lot of weaker heists, with so many in the game not all of them are going to hit
the mark and some are simply the necessary victims of trial and error. PAYDAY: THE HEIST
has simple premises and the execution is brilliant for what it strives for, if somewhat shallow
compared to it s sequel. The original maps carried over into PAYDAY 2 make it abundantly
clear how the same approach to heist design would neglect many of the innovations that
PAYDAY 2 has made and that a change in direction was absolutely necessary for ambitious, creative
visions to be fully realised.

2 comments on “Heist Design in PAYDAY: THE HEIST & PAYDAY 2”

  1. SkrataNe says:

    good video, now make one talking about how maria changed the meme and mashup game for payday

  2. Rose says:

    FUck that was good, I wanna play Payday now.

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