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Have You Played... Payday 2?

Daylight robbery

My initial instinct when playing Payday 2 was to be sneaky. If I could creep through banks, jewellery stores, and all the rest without being detected, surely that’d be awesome. Only, the pursuit of that was anything but awesome. It was a gruelling slog of planning and restarts with rarely a sliver of success. So, I chucked my silencer away and donned the biggest suit of armour I could find. Unsurprisingly, the biggest joy in Payday 2 is going loud, and it turns out I’m a big fan of playing stealth games that allow you to skip stealth entirely.

When you’re entering a loud heist, the rules of engagement are very different. You charge in with the heaviest armour and biggest weapons, blasting down civilians in a mad dash to the loot. Casualties are crucial here because you don’t have time to tie hands and take prisoners. It’s kill or be captured, so the best tactic is to shoot your way through and hope that you can delay the cops by preventing alarms and phone calls. That might mean a hefty pile of bodies, sure, but it also means big piles of money.

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When you find the safe, vault, or whatever else you’re trying to rob, the party splits. Some start shovelling treasure into duffel bags and hoisting them back to the van, while others whip out buzzsaws and start hunting for extra loot. Speed is key, but victory means nothing if you haven’t rinsed the place for all it’s worth. Of course, that’s when the police usually arrive, causing your van driver to relocate and forcing your team to survive a shootout.

It’s a liberating way to play, and one that reminds me of all-time great open world stealth ‘em up Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Sure, Snake might be a sneaky fella, but he’s also happy to put on a juggernaut suit, whack some A-ha on the speakers, and order his helicopter into the middle of an enemy fortress. Bullets are already flying before you even hit the ground, but that’s the point. As it does in Phantom Pain, going loud in Payday 2 removes the anxiety of getting caught and lets me let loose on the hordes of cops without a care in the world. It’s lovely.

Don’t take this as an attempt to turn everything into a Michael Bay-style explosion fest, though. I specifically want the explosions and massive shootouts when the best way to play is clearly the contrary. Sneaking is obviously superior in Payday 2, with bonuses galore if you ghost through a level. However, subverting my own expectations of how I should play and opting to plunge into chaos made me a very happy heister, and it’s an approach I’d strongly recommend.

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