RAID: World War II – Beta Impressions

You’ll be hard pushed to find a bigger fan of Payday: The Heist and Payday 2 from Overkill (A Starbreeze Studio) than me. I’ve racked up over 1000 hours between the two, owning every DLC available and a number of the rarer promotional masks. I’ve even got a physical Dallas mask that was a promotional item at one of the US conventions.

So when I tell you that I was deeply disappointed with the Beta for the upcoming Starbreeze title ‘RAID: World War II‘ you’ll understand the gravity of that statement.

I was late to the party in terms of finding out the game even existed, discovering such only earlier this year. The Beta only snuck onto my radar at the very last minute as well. While the ‘Open Beta’ has finished, lasting only a single weekend, the ‘Closed Beta’ is available for those who own Payday 2. Which is just about everyone in the world considering they’ve handed it out for free multiple times.

RAID: World War II is using the same dated Diesel engine that Payday 2 uses, itself an upgrade on the original Diesel engine that’s been kicking around since 2001. As such RAID looks dated, very dated, even at times looking more dated than Payday 2. Models and many animations are re-used from Payday 2, and sadly so is the often terrible AI.

You’d believe me if I told you this was a PS2 game.

In fact apart from a few cosmetic changes it wouldn’t be unfair to say that RAID: World War II isn’t much more than a total conversion or mod of Payday 2.  For fans of the game (myself included) more Payday 2 but in a fresh setting sounds like a good thing though right?

Except the changes they have made are often for the worse.  The game consists of four characters (Russian, German, American and British) which you can pick purely for cosmetic purposes and then stack on top of one of four classes: Recon, Assault, Insurgent or Demolitions.

Sadly there is little variety in the different classes, with the only noticeable differences being the order in which skills are unlocked (it appears all classes have access to all skills, much like the original Payday: The Heist) and weapons. Weapons (at least with the beta) are locked to the classes meaning that you have to change your entire character for specific missions rather than simply change weapons. Your Recon for instance is lumbered with a rifle, which is great for picking off targets at a distance if the mission or map has open areas, but completely useless at close combat if the mission is inside a cramped building. This really feels like a step backwards from Payday 2 where one could simply outfit their character with the appropriate gear for that particular mission. Further to that characters all level up independently, so if you want that Recon to level up you’re either going to struggle on certain missions, get carried, or only play missions where you can use your rifle to good effect.

Haha! Now I’ve got you… with my wildly inaccurate and low damage weapon.

Weapons become even more of a problem when you consider the swarms of enemies from Payday 2 remains consistent, except now you must defeat them with archaic World War II weaponry.  No AK47 or M24 to be found here.

Speaking of enemies one of the current special units, the Flamethrower is ridiculously overpowered requiring an awful lot of bullets to put down and almost entirely lethal at any close range.  With a quick flame spray he’ll drop the entire team in under a second, too bad if you round the corner to face one.  Rumour on the forums is you are suppose to be able to hit the gas tank for a quick kill, but currently this does nothing.

Couple this with the removal of any and all body armour and a health bar that doesn’t regenerate naturally.  While some might argue this creates the need for more strategy and better play, I argue it breaks the flow of the game with players backtracking and cracking open crates to look for healing rather than pushing on and engaging the enemy.

Voice acting is largely cringe worthy as are the majority of the cut scenes.  Not even an aging John Cleese playing the part of ‘Control’ can save things here.  Even the humour misses the mark and I found none of the laughter I did in the witty one-liners from Payday 2 – Just checking. I ask for papers and then I shoot, right? Yes, good procedure.”

Yet another bridge level in Payd– I mean RAID: World War II

About the only thing I found better in this title over it’s predecessors is the Stealth.  Without pagers or dead-man switches you can silently kill as much as you want.  Body-bags aren’t an issue either because now you can simply pickup cadavers, sling them over your shoulder and drop them out of sight some place.  No sign of a suppressor though for any of the weapons though so you’ll be doing it all by hand.

“But Toby” you say “the game is still in Beta!  All these problems will be gone by the time the game releases!”

Except the game releases September 27th, there is just no way in heck they are going to fix this mess in three weeks.  But hey, I hope to be proven wrong.

Perhaps the biggest insult of all is the price.  The ‘Standard Edition’ will set you back $39.99 USD (~$50 AUD) without any discount and the ‘Special Edition’ which ironically includes a copy of Payday 2 Ultimate Edition that you can’t trade or give-away (making it utterly redundant for most people) is $64.99 USD (~$80 AUD).  $40 USD for something that is little more than a mod or ‘total conversion’ feels like a real slap in the face.  I spent over five hours with the RAID: World War II Beta and to me it’s a $10-$15USD title at best.

For my part I would suggest avoiding the game currently.  No doubt it will be heavily discounted in 12 to 18 months and likely include a bunch of DLC by then, much like Payday 2 and hopefully be half the price or less.

For those still curious you can checkout the Steam Page here – http://store.steampowered.com/app/414740/RAID_World_War_II/

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