For the first time ever, the Payday series is finally coming to a Nintendo system with Payday 2. This unique first-person shooter has a ton more going on than your typical run and gun affairs. You’ll be tasked with multiple objectives in each stage and will need to infiltrate various institutions to grab the goods and escape. Part of the series’ appeal is that it promotes teamwork via its four-player co-op mode, and if you have the friends in place it can really be something amazing. The Switch version holds up well to the other console versions, but with a higher price tag and no built-in voice chat there’s little reason to pick up this version over the others if you have access to them.
So, if like me you have never played a Payday game before, Payday 2 revolves around you breaking into different facilities and retrieving specific items. These activities range from bank heists to high-tech company espionage missions. You’ll always have items at your disposal, like cutters to get through fences and body bags to hide people you’ve killed so others aren’t alerted. You’ll get tech gear that will allow you to bypass security cameras and unlock keypads. The game has a first-person viewpoint, but in many ways I felt like I was playing a Splinter Cell title, where stealth and patience off pays off.
Although completely different in setting and tone, the first game I thought of when playing Payday 2 for the first time was GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64. That’s because of the way the missions unfold. Very often there are multiple paths and ways to meet the overall goal and often you can find auxiliary items and things to do as well. For example, one of the very early missions had me breaking into a shipping yard to find a specific container with some goods in it. After breaking into like fifteen of them, I finally came across the right one, but it contained a safe that had to be broken into by overheating the computer controls.
To do this I had to explore the area and find something to jam up the fans that were cooling the container. I ran around and found some rooms that were locked, but I could break into them with a drill, and upon doing so found a crowbar, which I then threw in to the fan, eventually causing the computer mechanism to overheat and open the security doors on the container. Once inside I was surprised to find out the items we were trying to secure were six nuclear tipped warheads! Only able to carry one at a time, I was able to place them on a forklift and drive them across the rather large map to a train car for shipment, all the while avoiding bullets and an onslaught of police and other enemies. Throughout that level were plenty of areas and rooms to explore, new items to find, and different ways to tackle the incoming enemies. It was pretty exhilarating and many of the missions have this sort of open-ended way to accomplish the tasks that I really appreciated.
Graphically Payday 2 looks rather good when compared to its console counterparts. I’ve watched several comparison videos and there are very little compromises made to the Switch version. The game is rather smooth and runs at 30fps most of the time, although there are hiccups here and there. The docked performance when playing on the TV is fantastic, and the portable mode takes a hit in resolution, but otherwise worked really well. If you’ve always wanted a portable Payday 2, this is the version for you!
The game’s audio is adequate with some rather interesting musical choices at key moments in the game. The guns and voice acting both come across well throughout. I feel like the surround sound could have been more discreet and better mixed, but it’s not a huge deal for the most part.
When it came to reviewing Payday 2 for the Switch I was a bit torn. On one hand there is no doubt an audience of gamers who have never played the series since it has never been on a Nintendo system. Although I own all of the consoles, I fall into this game’s target market of not having played a Payday game before. The Switch version adds the functionality to play in the same room with you friends (providing they have a copy of the game) as well as online (no chat function, but you could use Discord or any number of other means). There are plenty of levels to burn through alone as well, which is fun to do in handheld mode.
However, the game does truly shine with co-op, since the A.I. does little in the way of helping you reach your objectives. With a ton of DLC included, the game does have a huge amount of content to unlock and enjoy. Sure, it’s not as updated as the PC version and it’s slightly behind in updates when compared to the consoles, but the point is that this version is more than competent, especially for newcomers to the series who won’t obsess over a piece of missing gear here and there. This is a perfect entry point for those who are new to the series. For what it’s worth I had a blast playing the game for the first time and I feel the content included makes the suggested retail price of $49.99. However, if you have access to a PS4, primarily game on the TV, want to get the game about $20 cheaper and have easier access to voice chat, then I would go that route. No matter what, you’re bound to have a fun time.
Payday 2 Review
Final Thoughts: GREAT
If you’ve never played Payday 2, the Switch version has plenty of content (50 missions) to keep you busy solo or with friends. No online voice chat is a bummer, so you’ll have to use your phone or something like Discord to strategize with your friends – unless of course you play locally! If you have access to Payday 2 on other systems, you might be better off served there. It all depends on what your priorities are. No matter what, expect a fun time!
Payday 2 was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.