Last night I got an exclusive sneak preview of the Christmas update to Killing Floor, in which the familiar range of nightmarish mutants are replaced with an even more disturbing group of gingerbread men, murderous elves, fiery snowmen, and super-powered death Santas. It's an impressive piece of work, and also a little strange, and comes with free stuff for TF2 players. More on these things, to the slightly off-key tune of Jingle Bells, below. (Also, a seasonal trailer.)
Killing Floor, in case you happen to be unfamiliar with it, is an Unreal-based mod that found itself evolving into a full-blown commercial release. That commercial release was - if I recall correctly - a little overshadowed by Left 4 Dead, which was a shame because Killing Floor is a strong game with a pace and character all its own. The heart of the game is, essentially, fighting off waves of mutants while you make your way around a map, traveling between "shop" points, which open up for weapon purchases between rounds of combat. It's totally co-operative, so it's about killing the monsters together, and keeping everyone alive. On the Hard setting, that was actually fairly tricky, as I was to discover.
So anyway, I was able to drop in on a game with Tripwire, who are gearing up to launch this Christmas event, for free, for everyone who owns Killing Floor. I suppose it's a kind of temporary free DLC. The overhaul of the game for seasonal horror is pretty comprehensive. There's an entirely new map, Evil Santa's Lair, which is bedecked in grotty grotto gumph, Christmas lights, trees, presents, and snow. Into that level are injected a series of familiar, yet different, Killing Floor mutants. The crawlers have been decked out with bells and antlers, the Fleshpound is a Nutpound, the stalkers are Santa's helper ladies, and the patriarch boss monster, well, let's just say he's now the daddy of Christmas. The new monsters are beautifully done - amazing for a time-limited one-off event like this. (Although I should think they will roll out next Christmas, too.)
I had riot in last night's session, playing through three games on the new map. The balance of the game is, of course, precisely the same, because it's a reskin. But the new map is entertaining, and KF itself has had a few tweaks since I last played it. Six of us battling away around the level was great, even if I was the newbie journalist without much grasps on the finer points of the game. Taking to the enemies with a fire axe, because you've burned through your ammo, feels splendidly heroic. KF's weapons remains splendidly solid too. It's perhaps the player models that make it for me, though, particularly the Grenadier Guard in his bearskin hat. There's even a new Santa player model, a rough-looking faker who wouldn't look out of place on "Santa - no!". All in all, it could be the best single Christmas comedy event ever.
But there's actually more to this, too, because there's even a crossover with Team Fortress 2. The pyro from TF2 will be appearing in Killing Floor as a new player model (although this one seems unambiguously male) and there will be a new hat unlocked for TF2's Pyro - a gas mask and tie from KF, as you can see below. Presents!
The Killing Floor "Twisted Christmas" Event will be running from December 14th to January 4th. It's probably worth an RPS Game Club event, or something, right? Okay then.