Killing Floor 2 preview: bullets, blades and blood
The hills in San Francisco suck. That's all I could think of heading to a small, behind-closed-doors event hosted by Tripwire Interactive for their upcoming game, Killing Floor 2. I'm from Florida; I prefer flat ground. Leaving the event, I still hated those steep inclines and declines, but I enjoyed what I saw from the game.
Killing Floor 2 is the sequel to the 2009-released Killing Floor. What started as a mod for Unreal Tournament Floor turned into a cult hit that has sold over 2.6 million copies, fueled by blood, guns, monsters and co-op gameplay. Killing Floor 2 is an extension of the original but on steroids.
Taking placed just one month after Killing Floor, the sequel picks up in continental Europe. Horzine Biotech's failed experiment has caused the outbreak to spread quickly as governments collapse, communications fail, and military forces get decimated. A group of civilians and mercenaries have banded together to combat the outbreak, establishing privately funded operation bases across Europe. Utilizing them, players will take on the Zed head on.
The Three Pillars
Killing Floor 2 is build on three pillars: bullets, blades and blood.
Bullets, otherwise known as guns (which will feature classics, futuristic, and Mad Max style weapons), is all about the weapon system and how they handle. Since guns are the primary way that players interact with the game, Tripwire Interactive spent a lot of time working on them. All of the guns are fully motion-captured, from shooting to reloading. A lot of detail went into them, from the barrel of an AR15 wiggling as you shoot it, to seeing a clip move on the side of a rifle as you shoot it.
Blades, or the melee combat system, is easy to use but has depth to it. Left clicking will perform a regular attack, and right clicking will perform a heavy attack. The player has control over the direction of the melee attacks, which are tied to the movement keys. Horizontal strikes will be performed side to side, and lunging attacks moving forward. You can also link together directional attacks to create your own combos, or hold down the button to perform a predetermined strike system. There's also blocking and parrying, both tied to the same key. Holding block will reduce enemy damaged received from melee attacks, while timing your parry will make the enemy stumble, giving you an opportunity to strike and finish them off. We were able to see the melee system in action, using the katana. There are also going to be sledge hammers and crazy melee weapons, but we weren't able to see any of those.
When switching to the melee weapon, players will perform a quick swipe attack for a chance to halve your opponent. Also, new to this year's game is a quick melee attack button to use when you have a gun equipped. We didn't get to see it in action, and the devs didn't mention it until I was able to speak to them after the presentation.
Blood, the most important pillar, is all about gore. Killing Floor 2 features a dynamic gore system called MEAT – massive evisceration and trauma. The devs said that this is the most important visual system in the game. Once a Zed is killed, you can continue to dismember it. There's head destruction, blowing away parts of the head revealing the skull underneath, until a critical hit finally explodes the head. Each Zed can be dismembered into 19 chunks, with just five for the head alone. Blow off limbs or get up close and land a perfectly placed shotgun blast to the chest, which chunks the enemy apart. And with the tons of death animations, you'll constantly see new, cool and unique deaths. Death animations are blended together from location-based attacks and ragdoll physics. Basically, it depends on where you hit them from and the hit zone.
What makes this probably one of the most bloody games you'll ever play is the persistent blood rendering. When you kill an enemy and blood covers the area, that blood never fades away. And it's done in a way that no matter how much blood you have in a level, performs won't be an issue. You can almost completely cover an area in blood. Another cool think with blood, if you shoot a Zed and it's bleeding out, it will leave a trail of blood.
The Perks from the original Killing Floor have been re-imagined and added to. The perk system in Killing Floor 2 now has 25 perk levels, and you level up on a much more regular basis, as opposed to the long grinds between levels in the original game. Every perk – berserker, commando, support, field medic – starts with a unique primary, secondary and grenade weapon. Where as before you would need to, for instance, level up support with shotgun damage and welding, those are now combined into one unified XP value. It allows players to level up how they want.
There are perk passives, like more damage, that you gain as you rank up. Then there are perk skills; you choose which skills you want and tailor your gameplay style with those skills. For example, if you want to play a run 'n' gun commando, you might want to choose the Large Mags perk skill, which gives you 50% more rounds in each mag, and Tactical Reload, which lets you reload 20% faster. But if you want to play more of a tactical commando, you could choose the Night Vision perk that replaces your flash light with night vision, and take the Single Fire perk, which gives assault rifles more damage when set to single fire.
Also new are skills that buff/benefit the whole team. The Callout perk skill lets you share the capability to see cloaked enemies with the whole team. There's another called Supplier that has that player carry a backpack teammates can access once per wave to reload.
New Zeds and Gameplay
There are a bunch of new Zeds being added in Killing Floor 2, which you can watch in the trailer at the top of the page. The new and updated Zeds shown to us were the Crawler, which is black and looks like Venom; Bloat, a fat and gross monster with two cleavers who spits bile; Gorefeat, who has a large blade as an arm; Stalker, which can cloak and be right next to you without you knowing; Husk, who sports a flame thrower on its arm; and Siren, who screams and destroys light. Oh yea, lights can be destroyed, as well as environmental aspects, by both monsters and your weapons. Destroying lights will make it darker, which will make it harder for you to see the enemies, which is frightening.
What we saw was still in Alpha, but the AI looks awesome. Also, when you increase the difficulty of the game, the monsters just don't gain more health and damage – they gain new abilities. For instance, on the game's hardest difficulty level, Hell on Earth, the Zeds will move quicker, charge you when they take damage, have a leap ability, a lunge attack, and frenzy attack combos. And that's just the regular Zeds. We didn't even get to see what Boss monsters hold in store for us. Really, Hell on Earth is about giving monsters new capabilities that challenge the players in new and different ways. Tripwire really wants the hardcore players to be challenged.
The gameplay was intense and thrilling, as well. I even jumped in my seat a few time. Zed Time – which slows down time, saturates all colors and make red blood really bright – really lets you take in the carnage in front of you. And the heavy metal music during savagery in front of me had my heart racing – not racing as fast as me trying to walk 10 blocks uphill, but still racing.
A popular map from the first game has been re-envisioned in Killing Floor 2 – Biotics Lab. It has some nice details in it that hints toward how the Zeds are made.
Kill Floor 2... The Movie
Last but not least, we saw a quick teaser for a short movie called Killing Floor Uncovered. It's a short film that's based in the world but stands on its own. It's not completely based on the events in the game, but it's a part of the story and it can keep growing. The teaser starts off as a Horzine Biotech commercial, which becomes static-y, then shows Zeds killing scientists in a lab. It also shows a first hand view of a scientist walking around with a pistol.
Killing Floor 2
That's all I got for ya. After seeing that presentation, I went back to the hotel – after the long walk – and downloaded the first Killing Floor from Steam. What I saw made me excited to play Killing Floor 2, surviving with five of my friends against hoards of Zeds. Tripwire CEO John Gibson said other games like Red Orchestra 2 goes for realism, while Killing Floor 2 goes for coolism. Well, they got the coolism thing down.