E3 2011: Payday: The Heist - My favourite discovery of E3

Payday The Heist thumbnail

Just ten days ago, the world didn't know of Payday: The Heist, nor did they know of the existence of the developers working on it, Overkill Software, formed out of the ashes of the collapse of GRIN. The game they're working on is a shooter in which you play armed robbers. Think Left 4 Dead, set it in a bank/casino/celebrity party/skyscraper. Take out the zombies. Replace them with cops. That's Payday. It's not going to remain a secret for long; I thought it was superb.

They're showing one level, in a bank. The game starts with you and three friends walking in. It's not immediate shooting – first you have to locate the bank manager. When I played, he was upstairs, but the location changes each time you play. Then, you threaten him by pressing 'F'; your character letting out a diatribe of profanity.


“Ooh. This is a bit different,” was my immediate reaction.

You then have to take a key to his office, where a drill and some semtex has been stashed earlier. Once the heist starts, the police will attack in waves. Your goal is to fight them off while making your way through a series of checkpoints – working together to get away with as much cash as possible.

First we started shouting at all the civilians. If one gets killed, the police attack with more ferocity, so telling them to GET THEIR FUCKING HEADS ON THE FLOOR is a good move. Then we had to guard our drill as it cut through the first door. At one point, a police sniper appeared at the top of the building to our right. I took one look, aimed a pistol shot, and took him right in the head.

There was a moment of peace between waves as I waited for the drill to finish its work. The developer guiding me explained that I should take a hostage. I tied a poor girl up with a cable tie and got back to guarding the drill. The police were clearly annoyed with us.

“You can slow them down a bit by shooting out of security cameras,” said a watching dev. FUCK YEAH.

Through the gate, we then headed into the back office. We were now being assaulted by tougher cops, SWAT guys, alongside the equivalent of Left 4 Dead's specials – one was wearing a bomb jacket straight out of The Hurt Locker, one had a riot shield, while another kept attacking with tasers.

Once we reached the back office, we had to hold position while thermite burned through the floor and the ceiling of the vault below. Again, police attacked in waves – tagging one of our teammates. We could have revived the guy, but he was surrounded by cops. So we let him go. Instead, we dashed back out to the lobby and undid the cable ties on our hostage – exchanging her for our team-mate.

With the vault now accessible we had around a minute to grab as much cash as possible, before fighting our way out and into the streets. By this time, most of my team had been killed, so I made a mad, mad dash for exit. I thought I was going to be overwhelmed… but was saved by a miracle. The game has an XP and level system, and at each level you can pick perks and new abilities. It also heals you, and refills your ammo. The level-up kicked in at just the right time.

I made it.

$600,000 heavier, I ended the demo.

Payday is seriously cool, seriously profane, and seriously fun. It's going to steal E3.