The original Killing Floor had a budget charm, largely thanks to its roots as an Unreal Tournament 2004 mod; the sequel manages to maintain that unique identity, whilst a cash injection smooths over most of the rough edges.
A lifetime of headbanging doesn't seem to have had any adverse effect on the team, because the folks responsible for level design certainly have their wits about them. Settings play on recognisable horror tropes while seamlessly incorporating open outdoor areas to kite Zeds around, looping corridors to funnel targets through, and defensible interiors in which to hunker down for the long haul.
Take care to ensure there’s an escape route if adhering to that latter tactic, especially when welding doors shut, or all you’ll succeed in doing is quite literally sealing your fate. There’s a relatively steep learning curve to Killing Floor, due to it having defined right and wrong ways to play - without knowing how, where and when to choose either fight or flight, you won’t graduate from the lowest difficulty level.
As a result, there’s an immensely satisfying sense of progression when you eventually do. Each notch climbed rejuvenates the game, requiring somewhat vast advancements in playstyle to succeed. Playing with randomly matchmade teammates also becomes decidedly less tedious, everyone now beholden to the knowledge that anything other than a close-knit unit is doomed to fail.
Unfortunately, whilst the dedicated servers seldom suffer lag, provided you pause any active downloads, we did encounter an issue that often left us stuck on the loading screen and kept some degree of disappointment in the matching process. The glitch was most frequent when searching the new competitive match variant, which sees a team of players take control of the enemy in an all-too-easy effort to quell the human forces.
It’s incredibly unbalanced in favour of the Zeds, who suffer few to no concessions to counterbalance the fact they’re now powered by someone’s grey matter, rather than predictably regimented AI. Most egregious is what this does to boss battles, removing the staple design behind their patterned behaviour and telling animation, and with that, what makes for hard-fought, but fair, encounters.
Despite a high likelihood of victory, you’ll probably want to avoid playing the Zeds due to some inherent flaws. They’re subject to lengthy periods of downtime, not just at the hands of frequent respawn timers, but for upwards of a minute come the conclusion of each and every wave. In addition to seeing decidedly less action, the Zed side lack any form of customisation or progression, meaning time spent with them can feel wasted.
Sticking to the balanced cooperative play is recommended, and, thankfully, you’re well accommodated in doing so. Match lengths can be customised and don’t feel overly stilted or long at either end of the spectrum, difficulty scales dependant on the number of players, and quitting mid-game won’t negate the experience points you’ve earned up to that point. These simple, quality of life features make KF2 perfect for both quick sessions and hefty all-nighters.
Though it’s displayed at a sharp 1080p on standard PS4 hardware and 1800p upscaled to 4K on the Pro, (which is how we played) the visuals aren’t really anything to write home about. It’s a typical case of sacrificing graphical fidelity in favour of increased on-screen carnage at a sustained frame rate - not that that’s a bad thing.
While there are niggly issues elsewhere, like the touchpad routinely throwing dosh on the floor, despite that function being mapped to right on the d-pad, the biggest foible isn’t a technical issue at all. KF2 carries a large console tax that sees the PS4 version retail for 75% more than its Steam counterpart, while simultaneously charging for the same cosmetic DLC and offering less content in the absence of mods.
Despite the dodgy value proposition, we’d still argue you get your money’s worth. Killing Floor 2’s brutal combat and demanding difficulty are presented with a light-hearted character that, along with great accessibility, make for a winning formula that’s hard to resist.