I didn’t have very high expectations for Payday 3. According to Steam, I put about seven hours into the original Payday and five hours into Payday 2. While both games were fun enough to play as a group, we found that neither quite had that hook to keep us wanting to play for weeks, nevermind months. However, with Payday 3 available on PC Game Pass, we thought, “Why not give it a shot and see if the third time’s a charm?”
It had been almost a decade since we last played any Payday title, so we went into Payday 3 without any particular expectations. We decided to skip the tutorials and dive straight into the first mission. The three of us started by trying to figure out how to follow the objective, when one of us decided to just brute force the robbery. After all, we have guns and masks and this is how it goes down in the movies.
Now, I don’t remember very much about the original two Payday games, but I feel like doing this in either of those games meant the mission was all but over. But to our surprise, in Payday 3, you can shoot your way out of anything in the game — and that’s really fun! In the next mission, we initially attempted a stealthy approach—until I “accidentally” lockpicked a door in plain sight, forcing us to don our masks. Hilarity and chaos ensued, but we were able to clear the mission. Sure, we were penalized tens of thousands of dollars because we murdered a bunch of innocent bystanders, but they probably deserved it.
At the time, we didn’t realize just how lucky we were to be able to play a few hours of the game that evening. We got a chance to explore the tech tree and how different “classes” unlock. We saw some of the available upgrades to our weapons, and how to unlock even more. We looked forward to grinding some levels so we could test out different weaponry. In other words, we were really excited to jump back into the game the following evening. Except we couldn’t.
And we couldn’t the night after, or the night after that. There have been some serious issues with Payday 3 at its launch, likely due to the fact that it’s available on Xbox Game Pass. It’s unfortunate too, because the worst part about the game’s rough launch is that it’s actually really fun to play. Instead of the narrative being how enjoyable the experience is, at least the initial few hours, people are talking about how you can’t even play the game. The game’s always-online requirement and server issues could turn players away for good. In a year where developers and publishers are purposely delaying their games to get out of the way of major releases, Payday 3 couldn’t afford to have this disastrous of a launch. There are just too many different options out there to capture a gamer’s attention.
We’re hoping one of these nights we’re able to play the game again, because I’d personally love to put enough hours into it to write up a review. I don’t think the game is particularly deep, and the classes and skills might not be all that meaningful, but I do believe the game offers dozens of hours of entertainment if you have friends to play with. The game blends solid co-op gameplay with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Sometimes, that’s all we really want from a game.
Well, that and the ability to actually play it would be nice.