Killing Floor 2 Logo

Recently, GeekDad received a chance to try out the beta for Killing Floor 2 on Steam. I hadn’t had an opportunity to play the original Killing Floor despite the good things I had heard, so it was a pleasure to fire up the game and enjoy some Zed-slaughtering action. Here’s what I learned that parents need to know:

1. It’s Violent.
Well, maybe that should be evident from the name. The game is built around killing Zeds (not zombies–actually failed experiment clones). As creative director Bill Munk noted in an article with PC Gamer: “You have weapons. You see something that looks messed up. And you kill it. You get money for doing it and you buy better weapons. Rinse and repeat.”

2. It’s Gory
It’s really gory. Really, really gory. I have this great screenshot of me shooting a Zed in the head, its skull blowing apart into chunks of brain matter and its neck turning into a blood fountain. But, this being a family-friendly site, I don’t really want to show it. So instead, here’s a metaphor piñata:

Smiley-faced pinata with candy spewing out of the top.
Oh, the humanity! Image: The Unhappiest Piñata by Dee Ashley, licensed under CC BY 2.0

If you’re the kind of person who can see over-the-top gore and laugh a little maniacally because it’s awesome and you can’t believe that just happened, then you might find the plentiful viscera to be the red-tinted frosting on the cupcake of Killing Floor 2. When it comes to your kids, however, I can’t imagine how this game could receive any less than a mature rating from the ESRB (like its predecessor).

An open space in the game, covered in blood that has been turned blue for this article.
The gore is very persistent. This fight happened five minutes earlier and the environment was still splattered. Presented here in blue, utilizing amazing De-Goreivision™ for family-viewing fun!

3. It’s Fun.
Killing Floor 2 brings the co-operative gameplay of the Left for Dead series and adds character classes and perks that you gain via experience that persist between games. There’s less story and level progress than L4D; it’s more like you’re defending a fort. The game supports up to six players working together, though you can go it alone if you want. A set of increasing difficulty levels should ensure that the game doesn’t get old as you gain skills and perks.

Enemies have distinctive models that are easy to recognize and help immerse you in the dystopian world. The only boss in the game for the beta, Hans Volter, was a delight to fight against, sporting a memorable design and hilarious German accent with inappropriate quotes. (“Just like in Stalingrad, fools!”)

Creeping looking green-glowing Hans Volter attacking.
Hoooogaaannnnn! OK, maybe Hans Volter doesn’t yell that, but he should.

The game plays fast with short breaks between waves to let you catch your breath. During this time you can also purchase ammo, weapons, and armor. One bit that really stood out for me was “Zed Time,” a slow-motion moment for everyone on your team that triggers when one of you does something awesome (like a head shot). During that time you can still aim at normal speed, giving everyone on the team a moment of advantage, while getting a great look at the action. Remember that head shot I described above? Rendered in Zed Time it was a spectacle I highly enjoyed.

4. It Has Built-in Voice Chat.
Out-of-the-box voice is increasingly common and with much higher quality than has historically been possible. I found a number of players using it to coordinate our fights, and every interaction was very positive: they were willing to help me learn the ropes and we had some fun taunting the Zeds along the way. Given that it’s a cooperative game, hopefully the chatter won’t get vitriolic.

A huge beast with rotating spikes on each arm menaces the camera.
Enemies are highly distinctive. When the Fleshpounder shows up, everyone scrambles.

5. It’s Soon to Be on Early Access on Steam.
The game will be available as a Steam early access purchase April 21 for $29.99 (USD). Tripwire has confirmed that the early access period will include 3 levels, 4 classes, 11 Zeds, 7 playable characters, and 1 boss (I’m guessing this is Hans Volter). The early access time will be used to garner feedback and refine the game prior to launch.

The game is also coming to PS4, with Tripwire stating that the game will not be “consolized,” but instead that they will be “Tripwirizing” console gamers. The people I played with seemed to feel that this intent is being met so far, but there is much discussion on the forums of the addition (gasp!) of a crosshair to the game, a departure from the first Killing Floor. Some of these issues may matter to fans of the series, but the game was fun for me, with or without a crosshair.

6. It’s Already Polished.
The game looks and plays so well that the only reason I see it headed to Early Access is that the remaining content isn’t complete. It played on my system without an issue, was smooth, and looked fantastic. If the game sounds appealing to you, this might be one to check out. Just be sure to pick up some virtual bleach–you’re going to need it.

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