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Payday 3 Review: A Vault That’s Half-Full

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The heist genre has always been a playground for adrenaline junkies and strategy enthusiasts alike, and Payday 3, developed by Starbreeze Studios, is the latest installment in a series that has long been a staple in co-op first-person shooters (FPS). The game promises elaborate heists, a variety of gameplay mechanics, and a cooperative experience that hinges on teamwork… which all works when the server tech isn’t breaking.

Payday 3 Review

At first glance, Payday 3 seems to have all the elements that made the series popular: intricate heists, a focus on teamwork, and a plethora of weapons and gadgets. However, the game takes a more serious tone than its predecessor, Payday 2, known for its absurd and often humorous scenarios. The game’s eight-mission storyline is straightforward, lacking the absurd twists that once had characters swapping bodies with the President of the United States.

When it comes to gameplay though, Payday 3 explodes! The game shines brightest in its big firefights, which are among the slickest in co-op shooters. However, it stumbles in its emphasis on stealth. Missions like “Rock the Cradle” make stealth almost mandatory, forcing players into a gameplay style that may not suit everyone. This heavy incentivization of stealth can be frustrating, especially when the game offers an arsenal of weapons that seem designed for a more confrontational approach.

As a co-op FPS though, Payday 3 merely holds its own, improving on 2 but not necessarily breaking new ground. Where it does innovate is in its level design. Missions are not only elaborate but also slightly randomized, requiring players to adapt their strategies on the fly. This adds a layer of replayability that keeps the game fresh even after multiple playthroughs.

However, Payday 3 is not without its technical issues. The servers are barely able to keep up, while audio bugs and a lack of detailed in-game communication features mar an otherwise polished experience. Moreover, the game feels more like a foundation for future updates rather than a complete product…if it’s not abandoned like the console versions were.

Payday 3 is a competent addition to the heist genre, offering intense firefights and complex missions. However, its shift in tone and overemphasis on stealth may not appeal to all fans of the series. It’s a game that shows promise and could very well evolve into something greater with future updates…but for now, it’s probably best to wait and see.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5.

Payday 3 is now available for PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X.

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