The heist is on! Payday 2 has arrived on Nintendo Switch, making it by default the first truly portable version of the game. Based on the editions released for PS4 and Xbox One three years ago, the port goes further, incorporating a wireless four-player option for nearby Switch users, along with other tweaks and DLC added since its last-gen launch. In most other respects, the game's core remains the same as before, which begs the question - to what extent can Nintendo's hybrid match the 1080p30 experience of the existing current-gen versions?
Obviously, we are dealing with a significant power differential between Switch and its established counterparts - tweaks to graphical settings are commonplace in Switch ports and there sometimes there are performance compromises too. To start, Switch runs at 1600x900 while docked. In itself, that's a pretty good showing, and it looks fine while connected to a HDTV. Any resultant jaggies from the resolution downgrade are mostly resolved via a strong post-process anti-aliasing, meaning that it's softer next to the direct competition, but it's hard to complain, especially when other ports have delivered a much lower 720p pixel-count.
Running at a lesser 900p is fine on its own, but even in docked mode, the quality of most the other visual features is either dropped or disabled outright. Take anisotropic filtering, for example. This is one of the oddities of the existing versions: it's fully maxed at 16x anisotropic filtering or close to it on Xbox One, but reduced to a mere trilinear implementation on PS4. Switch inherits that low quality texture filtering of the Sony version - an approach that muddies ground textures. There's a double-whammy here in that the core texture quality itself is downgraded on the Nintendo machine too: fine for handheld play, not so impressive when docked.
Overkill Software has offered a progress report on the development of Payday 2 for Nintendo Switch, and a brief look at some gameplay running in portable mode.
Payday 2 was announced for Switch during a Nintendo Direct back in April. At the time, Overkill said that its heist-themed multiplayer FPS was scheduled to arrive this "winter".
With winter almost upon us (sigh) and still no word on Payday 2's release, Overkill has returned. Sadly, its update video doesn't offer much beyond what we knew already - merely serving as a reminder, and a reassurance, that the Switch version is still in production.
In a press release announcing Swedish studio Starbreeze has bought the full rights to the Payday franchise, Payday 3 was confirmed.
Starbreeze's agreement with publisher 505 Games for Payday includes a note about money made from Payday 3.
The note says 505 gets a 33 per cent revenue share of Starbreeze's net revenues from future sales of Payday 3, capped at $40m (around £27m), and after Starbreeze has fully recouped its development and marketing costs.
Visual parity between the consoles, but severe online issues impact Xbox One.
Packing in all of the post-launch content added to the PC game over the past 12 months, Payday 2: Crimewave edition on PS4 and Xbox One has the potential to be the definitive version of the game. From a visual perspective, Overkill Software promise native 1080p resolution alongside upgraded graphics and higher frame-rates - the latter presumably in comparison to the existing 360 and PS3 ports. With that said, how does the Crimewave Edition of Payday 2 stack up against the PC game? Are we looking at any clear graphical improvements specific to these latest console ports, or simply a straight up conversion that delivers a nice upgrade over the existing console editions? More to the point, in an age where broken online games routinely hit the market, does Payday 2 present a robust, playable experience? Spoilers: Xbox One has severe problems right now.
However, in rendering terms at least, Overkill has delivered. Both console versions deliver a native 1080p framebuffer with all the benefits this brings over the game running on last-gen hardware. Image quality matches up exactly with the PC version, appearing fairly crisp, though quite unrefined - stair-stepping artefacts are clearly visible across long edges, and there are plenty of jaggies that frequently shimmer across the scene. A high level of post-processing softens smoothens over the presentation to a degree, with depth of field and chromatic aberration key in emphasising this effect. Initially a closer look at edges on a pixel level suggestions that some kind of rudimentary post-process anti-aliasing technique is in play. However, the PC game lacks anti-aliasing options in the video settings menu, and makes no mention of any edge smoothing modes in the game's render_settings.xml file, suggesting that any coverage we are seeing across all three platforms is perhaps just a side effect of the heavy post-processing in play.
Talk of graphical upgrades over the previous editions of Payday 2 sound rather enticing, with higher resolution textures and improved frame-rates touted as one of the main selling points of the new Crimewave Edition. However, are you've probably guessed, that's judged on last-gen console terms. As things stand, the PS4 and Xbox One releases look very similar indeed to the PC game running at its highest preset: the same core assets are deployed across all three formats, with texture quality, shadow resolution, reflections, and alpha effects all matching up nicely, though there are a several differences in the way some of these elements are handled across between platforms.
Video games often aim to take you away from the real world, but sometimes developers include something that breaks the fantasy and reminds you that there is life outside the monitor. From the humorous to the incredibly touching, I take a look at a few examples of games that bring you back to reality.
STICK 'EM UP, THIS IS A ROBBERY! That's probably what I should have shouted upon entering my most recent heist target, the Benevolent Bank - it would have been the sensible option. Instead, I threw a grenade at my feet and accidentally downed myself before the tellers even had the chance to trigger the alarm. With a performance like that, I should probably stick to virtual heisting in future.
The Payday 2 website has been updated with news of another upcoming DLC pack, but you may be forgiven for thinking you've clicked through to a different game by mistake. The page is a pretty spot-on parody of EA and DICE's Battlefield series, right down to the logo, glowing orange and teal colour scheme and pounding soundtrack.
"Warty and slightly shonky in places, but built on rock-solid foundations." That was the Eurogamer verdict on the first Payday when Rich reviewed it back in 2011, and it's a conclusion that applies equally to its sequel. Despite a couple of years to tidy things up, with help from the FPS innovators at Starbreeze, developer Overkill has delivered a game that is only slightly improved - and not always in the areas that needed it most.
As before, you and three others plunge into the Michael Mann-flavoured world of the professional thief. Select your crime, plan the best way to pull it off, then watch as your attempts to be cool, suave robbers give way to chaotic shoot-outs and desperate last-minute scrambles to the getaway car.
Those basics really haven't changed much. Missions still tend to boil down to a wave-based survival formula as you hold a position while a timer ticks upwards to 100% completion. It might be a drill boring into a safe or it might be a computer upload of data designed to smear a corrupt senator, but the mechanics settle at an identical level. Hold your ground and save your ammo as increasingly tough law enforcers are thrown at you, then leg it to the designated exit point.
I thought I was bored of shooting things in the face, but then I played Payday 2, a first person shooter where it's not just about planting bullets in bad guys. There's a quite dazzling world of possibility, actually, all set in the relatively humdrum world of the modern crime heist. Hooray, basically.
Also this week: Payday 2 and BioShock Infinite's Rapture DLC.
Dogs are bang on trend for autumn/winter 2013. After last year's fashionable dalliance with the bow and arrow, a pooch is a video game's must-have accessory. Not convinced? Read on, Eurogamers, and discover the week's top videos from Outside Xbox.
Payday: The Heist was a super-promising multiplayer shooter that took the co-op gunplay of Left4Dead and squeezed it into a contemporary, more natural world. Payday 2's hoping to deliver fully on that promise, and every time I've seen it I'm more and more convinced that Overkill really are going to bring home the goods this time round.
Imagine waking up to find that someone had turned your name into a video game Easter egg and hidden it inside one of the world's biggest shooters. Then imagine all this had happened nearly two years ago, and the internet had only just found it out after someone hacked into said game's innards.
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