Not all horror games need to be as immersive as Until Dawn or as mysterious as Limbo – sometimes they just want to show off how much chaos, mutilation and gore can be included in one fast-paced, action experience. Sometimes that’s all anyone really needs. It was certainly all I needed this past weekend, when Tripwire Interactive’s bloody multiplayer FPS, Killing Floor 2, went free-to-play for a short period of time. If I wasn’t writing, eating or sleeping, I was playing KF2, and here’s why.
For starters, it’s simple, messy fun. Up to 6 players are pitted against wave after wave of unusually ugly and aggressive enemies, and it is non-stop chaos from the moment the first round begins its unrelenting assault. KF2 is completely fine with this – it knows what it is, and doesn’t try to be anything else. Heavy metal plays over the top of the chaos, and while I can’t say it’s my go-to genre of music to listen to on a Sunday afternoon, it does a great job of getting the blood pumping – while it still remains in your body, anyway.
As players make their way through the rounds, the game becomes much harder, and introduces a multitude of new enemies that want to rip you to shreds. While the first wave consists mainly of zombie-like creatures that move slowly and are only really worth worrying about in big numbers, the latter stages include a mix of crawling spider-like enemies, obese acid-spewers, screaming banshees, and over-sized chainsaw wielding maniacs. Think Leatherface, if there were three of him, all running at you. And that's not all. If by some miracle you manage to make it through to the last round, you'll meet Doctor Hans Volter, a mad scientist that is now as much a robot as he is human, and he really, really wants you all dead.
Well, it's mutual. You want him, and all of his friends, dead as well. How will you get the job done? GUNS. And lots of them. Using cash earned by killing the hordes, players can purchase guns, swords, armour, grenades and ammo – though these purchases are made at random vendors dotted around the maps, which can only be accessed at the end of each round for a limited amount of time.
Each players begins with a handgun and an assault rifle, but can quickly earn the cash to branch out into any of the satisfying weapons on display. This includes assault rifles, SMGs, shotguns, flamethrowers, explosives, swords (such as a katana), and even more unusual weapons, like the Microwave Gun, which fires a ray of energy at oncoming enemies. Needless to say, there’s plenty of choice for any kind of playstyle, and it was immensely fun trying out all the different weapons on offer.
Even with all of this firepower, KF2 is the kind of game where you’ll play better as a team, as you can provide each other with items, such as health and ammo, and may just survive a little longer. If you do happen to get split off from the group, it’s extremely easy to become overwhelmed or cornered and curl up into a ball, waiting you die. You won’t have to wait long. Then you’re stuck watching everyone else have all the fun until your character is revived at the end of the round (having lost all of your purchased weapons).
There may be more to KF2 that I haven’t experienced, or that wasn’t available during the brief time that it was free, but I felt like it had enough to keep me going for a while. The Survival mode was incredibly fun, the enemies, weapons and maps were all varied, visually impressive and/or disgusting, and it quite quickly became a part of my morning, afternoon and evening routine. Don’t judge me, it was free for two days only and I made the most of it. I’d do it again. In fact, I’d probably play it more…
If you’re looking for your next team multiplayer, or even just looking for a fix of mindless, gory fun, Killing Floor 2 seems to be just perfect for it. It’s currently £13.79 on Steam, which is 33% off its regular price, and will only stay at this price for 6 more hours. So, y’know, get going. Now that it’s no longer available for free, I feel like I’m missing a big part of my new routine, and may have to buy it myself. Bravo, Tripwire. You got me.