Killing Floor 2

Work In Progress: Killing Floor 2 New Incinerate N’ Detonate Content Pack Brings The Heat

It’s been awhile since I last spent quality time with Killing Floor 2. In my last report, I mentioned that the game was in a very playable state, more polished than the original if not lacking a lot of the content. Well, the people at Tripwire seem to want to address this concern, with the latest major update “Incinerate N’ Detonate” providing a metric shit-ton of new stuff. Here’s a rundown of what it brings to the table:

-Two New “Perks” (read class): The Firebug and Demolitionist bring fire and demolition respectively, rounding out the roster to six diverse roles
-Two New Maps: Catacombs and Evacuation Point, bringing the total number of maps also to six
-New Weapons: Along with the four new weapons for each of the new Perks, dual 9mm pistols make a return. Also, a new Berserker melee weapon the Zweihander is available as a cross promotion for those that own Chivalry: Medieval Warfare
-Two Crossover Promotional Characters: Along with the Zweihander, owners of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare will recieve the Knight character. Players who own Red Orchestra 2 recieve the Anton Strasser character
-New Rebalanced Berserker Skill Tree: According to fans, this needed an overhaul. They did that.
-After action report recaps players’ accomplishments and allows for map/kick votes
-New hit zones make damage more than just a game of headshot vs bodyshot
-New Achievements
-Tweaked and rebalanced skill trees
-Audio fixes

Whew, that’s quite the list of new content. Aside from enemy additions, that’s 50% more game for your buck. Not bad for a totally free update. Still, the content doesn’t matter if it isn’t good, so how does it hold up? As someone whose only real problem was the game’s lack of content, I have to say that it holds up pretty damn well.

Let’s dive into the meat and potatoes of it first, the new Perks. While the previous four Perks were varied enough to give each player a distinct role, it was odd math that a six player game would only have four different specializations. Moreover, support was the only class that could deal with the sub-bosses like Fleshpounders. While every class generally had a way to be combat effective in most situations, a well rounded team comp was necessary to survive. Without enough options for everyone to play a different role, you’d have people double up, which adds an unnecessary feeling of redundancy in situations your class doesn’t specialize in.

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The Firebug Perk on face value serves the same crowd clearing roles as the Commando, but with fire. Seems like a win right there, but the class is slightly more complex than that. While the Commando focuses on precise kills at a distance so that the Berserker can finish off what’s left, the Firebug actually splits between damage over time area of effect and heavy focused damage. It is a more diverse class than the “kill it with fire” image, and the skill tree splits between these AOE clear and high impact roles. The base weapon “Caulk n’ Burn” and the Flamethrower both throw fire over a large area, but the Trench Gun and Microwave Gun are more focused. Even with the area of effect specialization, any MMO player can tell you the value of liberally applied DOTs to even the mightiest of raid bosses. As far as the feel of the class, it can be a bit difficult to tell exactly what kind of impact your Flamethrower has on the heartier enemies, but is well worth the Zeds crumpling to the floor in agony or exploding via microwaves.

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The Demolitionist plays as dual purpose AOE and boss-killer. While that might sound overpowered, dealing with both hordes of brutes and single towering monstrosities with equal prejudice, the class is more complicated to play than the others. Most obviously, as an entirely explosive class there is constantly the threat of damaging yourself and teammates. Given your limited ammo and long reloads, shots have to be set up before taken. Brush up on your circle-strafing, and remember to check your six for an opposing wall of Zed. Get cornered, and it is hard for this Perk to get out of a bind.

While explosions might seem simple enough, it adds little caveats beyond the friendly fire that makes the weapon choice more interesting than other classes. The basic weapon is the HX 25 Grenade Pistol that simply enough fires grenades, but the first available purchasable weapon option is a bundle of C4. The C4 can be placed up to eight times, and detonated in the order it was placed. Most players will pass this up for the second option, the more expensive M79 Grenade Launcher. Even this has limitations, requiring a max distance before the projectiles explode. The unexploded rounds still deal enough damage to kill a basic Zed, but certainly not with the desired effect. The last weapon is a RPG-7 Rocket Launcher, which launches rockets and brings bosses down in a handful of rounds. Okay, so maybe only MOST of the class is complicated. The skill tree further complicates things, with few straight power upgrades. Most of the skills deal with some kind of functionality, like the ability to booby trap doors vs a percentage of your grenades going through sonic barriers.

Between the Demolitionist and Firebug, I’ll have to say I enjoyed the Firebug more. Call me old fashioned, but it isn’t a proper slaughtering unless fire is involved. I’m a man that enjoys a good fragging as much as anyone, but there’s something more satisfying about killing shit with fire. Those agonized screams, that crisp pork smell… heaven. The two classes bring enough new to the table to make the common rolls of “trash clearer” and “boss killer” a bit more diverse and interesting, without stepping on the toes of any of the previous classes.

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Speaking of previous classes, the Berserker got an overhaul. Fair warning, I did not play a whole lot of Berserker during my first foray into the world of Killing Floor 2, so my baseline of knowledge is entirely based on fans, a.k.a. oversensitive scum who will claim holocaust at the slightest perceived offence against their favorite class. Even so, I can see the problem with “Night Vision” being a skill opposed to a 20% ammo increase. Previously, the Perk was divided between skills that activated when you had lower health and another set of set that just made you better. Skills that improve based on how dead you are are only cool until you realize they make you dead, and their general improvement skills were pretty lackluster and hard to notice.

Now, the tree is divvied up between general stat improvement and counter-attacks. The parry system is hard to master, especially with the unblockable attacks denoted by a fiery red animation. Still, if you main Berserker, it is a system you will enjoy delving into. It doesn’t really make sense that they didn’t previously have skills for this mechanic, since it is unique to the Berserker playstyle.  Giving a skill tree focus on this mechanic makes playing this class more rewarding, and as far as I can tell is a welcome improvement. Also, previous lame functional skills like Night Vision and immunity to Clot grabs now just come with the Perk.

Two new maps were also introduced in the patch, bringing some much needed variety to the sparse list of locals. Evacuation point feels more like a standard KF map: plenty of space to move around, choke points to funnel through, and new zones to fall back to. From a design standpoint, it is pretty vanilla, but balanced. It can be a bit too easy to lure Zeds into an area more advantageous to your play style, but at least everyone will find some way to excell on the map. Not likely to be anyone’s favorite, but a solid addition.

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The new Catacombs map, on the other hand, will likely be either your favorite map or absolutely despised. In a renovated tourist attraction in Italy, Catacombs takes place entirely in labyrinthine cramped tunnels with artificial lighting. There are very few vantage points to take aim from, and the twisting tunnels could mean a wall of Zed lurks around every corner. Most of the lighting can be destroyed, so wanton explosives or errant shots make for a much more challenging experience. It isn’t exactly the most balanced map, and I’m sure the amount of cheap deaths will turn players off, but it’s unique enough to make up for that in my mind.

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There are also a few functional improvements that you might not recognize if not a fan. New hit-zones were introduced, making the previous “headshot vs bodyshot” system more intricate. Power cores on the Fleshpounders and Hans Volter’s now take increased damage, and metallic implants will make a “ping” sound when shot. This comes hand-in-hand with the updated audio system, with heavier sound effects giving better information. As a small edition, the boss spawn now also comes with a hint as to how to beat him, which will be welcome for new players. After Action reports will now recap how each player did, and allow players to vote on the next map/kicking that filthy scrub who doesn’t know the difference between a Clot and a Bloat.

As someone who enjoyed Killing Floor 2 even in its content deprived state, this is just what the doctor ordered. Even for a game still in Early Access, it is impressive to see so much content delivered at once. While some people prefer a perpetual trickle of stuff, as someone who doesn’t really have time to follow a game week after week, these larger chunks are exactly what I like to see. Fans of the series will be pleased with the update, and those still on the fence should give it a look. When it hits shelves “soon” (the release date is still unconfirmed), it’ll make the whole $30 package well worth it.

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