Why Killing Floor 2's animations rule in 12 gunslinging GIFs

Image via thecakeisaliegaming

Image via thecakeisaliegaming

Killing Floor 2's Zed Time is what I imagine it's like to get opera. Time slows to a crawl and your existence becomes pure sensation. You're crying, you don't know why you're crying, and then you're laughing, and you experience the spectrum of human emotion in an instant as your vision becomes nothing but light and an angel descends on golden wings and offers you a deeper understanding of the universe and your tiny-but-significant place in it. Zed Time is like that, but with guns and disgusting piles of flesh. 

Killing Floor 2 is a co-op game about shooting genetic freaks and watching their guts explode in beautiful, filthy slow motion. It's become dramatically more fun since its first Early Access release, thanks to a wide variety of character classes and weapons added over the past couple years. It's still a really straightforward and repetitive game—see mutants, shoot mutants—but with a secret weapon to keep that repetition entertaining. KF2's secret weapon is that its arsenal of guns is the best-realized in gaming: thanks to absurdly detailed high framerate animations and great tuning, most of its guns feel and look incredible with every single bullet leaving the barrel. And then there's Zed Time.

Zed Time is a fancy name for slow motion, but in KF2 it kicks off for everyone when some Cool Shit happens, like a perfect headshot or a grenade that separates seven charging zeds from their legs simultaneously. When you trigger Zed Time yourself it's hard not to immediately mutter a fuck yeah or an ohohoho as your screen explodes in viscera. Suddenly you're hearing the chug chug chug of every bullet as it fires and feeling the power of the gun in your hands as the action hammers back and forth and the barrel trembles from the force. 

When someone else triggers Zed Time, you might laugh because you're watching a set of legs and arms fly across your screen in slow motion, or because you just started reloading and have five seconds of no-shooting ahead of you. It's agonizing, but that five seconds is a great opportunity to admire detailed reloads that would otherwise go by in the blink of an eye. Like so:

All of Killing Floor 2's reloads are motion captured, which includes its faster "tactical" reloads like the one above. You unlock those faster reloads in a skill tree as you level up KF2's classes, and they're definitely cooler when you know some guy with expertise in 19th century pistols actually did that sick reload in mocap gear.

As I've been playing a ton of Killing Floor 2 lately, I've come to appreciate the little details of all of its weapons more and more. So I asked developer Tripwire to send over some special captures of its weapons firing at full speed and in Zed Time, without the background confusion of a bunch of exploding bodies distracting the eye. Let's look at some cool guns.


Here's a really simple one to start with. There's nothing crazy going on here, but if you look closely you can actually see the barrel wobbling after it fires. That's the kind of detail you'd only pick up in Zed Time, and most games would never both to animate, because the entire firing animation would only be a few frames. 

9mm pistol

Another basic one, but damn that must be the best looking 9mm pistol in a game.

Kalashnikov AK-12

Okay, now we're talking. The animation on this gun is incredible. Watch the barrel. Watch the sight mounted on top. Watch the ejection port. So many tiny movements.

SCAR-H Assault Rifle reload

What happens if you try to reload a weapon but are already full on ammo? There's a unique animation for that, of course. Actually, there's more than one. 

M14 EBR Reload

Of course, sometimes you just want a regular old reload. But why remove the magazine by hand when you can knock it out with the new one?

Okay, let's look at some gibs

There's some amazing detail in those animations, and they make those guns feel good when you pull the trigger. But so do explosions and headshots. And KF2 does those incredibly well, too. Cue the opera.

Yes, that is, in fact, a map based on Peach's castle from Super Mario 64.

No, it's not usually this bloody. But now I'm imagining a Brutal Mario 64 mod where each Goomba is filled with five liters of blood.

An Evan Lahti special. Gibs + physics = magic.

See, it's not just the gun animations that are ridiculously detailed. Zed bodies gib depending on the type and directionality of an attack. In this case, that means a perfect knife slice from head to toe.

This is the kind of silliness Zed Time was born for.

Firing the gunslinger's dual pistols in Zed Time is SO SATISFYING.

And, finally, the best damn gun in Killing Floor 2: the double barrel. Quite possibly the only shotgun outside of Doom to earn the Super Shotgun name.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).