Payday 3 lets you carry out some daring heists and feel like a professional bank robber. With a well-prepared team, you can properly coordinate a variety of strategies whether you are aggressive or stealthy. Unfortunately there aren’t that many missions and playing solo is a difficult endeavor thanks to poor AI. Team matchups can also be risky if you aren’t with friends. There’s some good fun to be had, but it fizzles quickly if you aren’t a dedicated player.
Developer – Starbreeze Studios
Publisher – Deep Silver
Platforms – PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X & S, PC (reviewed)
Review copy given by publisher
Bank heists and sophisticated robberies have ramped up with Payday 3 as you step into the shoes of the familiar crime gang. Blocked from retiring in peace, they get back into the game to earn more money. You must tackle a variety of locations by going in guns blazing, using stealth tactics, or a mix of both.
Choosing your tactics adds a strategic element to the gameplay instead of limiting you to only one approach. There are pros and cons with each approach, making all approaches relatively equal and viable. If your team works together, each approach can be a lot of fun. Sometimes you want to challenge yourself without alerting everyone and risking your teammates. Other times it’s best to go in quickly and get a fast reward. The tactical element is fun to consider and pulling it off is rewarding.
The maps also have decent variety between them and it’s rare to pull them off heists the same way. You must think on your feet and adapt to the situation. Teamwork is crucial if you want to succeed, even if some players are more experienced. Fortunately, it’s easy for players to figure out what to do and learn on the go. Even if you aren’t as experienced in your team, you can still contribute to the success. It’s a great way of fostering teamwork while encouraging players to practice.
Earning money isn’t just about getting the highest score; all the money you earn can be spent on new equipment. Getting new weapons lets you find your personal playstyle and handle difficult enemies. You can also invest in new appearances that are purely decorative but give your character a unique look. Customizing your appearance and loadout helps you feel invested in your character while giving them better tools for the situation.
Unfortunately, players will often have to find friends or risk their games on random players. Playing solo for practice with AI bots is unreliable since you are the only one doing the work. The bots are only useful for combat which isn’t nothing but that’s all they do. They don’t contribute to taking loot or storing it in the getaway vehicle. It’s frustrating to work by yourself because it’s a game that requires a lot of teamwork.
While the maps have decent variety between them, there aren’t many maps to play through. After going through them the first time, the only remaining appeal is testing yourself on higher difficulties. There’s not much variety available if you want to try something new and higher difficulties only make things harder. It feels like the best way to get the most out of Payday 3 is to constantly challenge yourself.
Learning to play can be intimidating if you are playing in public servers. While you might come across people who are just starting out and having fun, this disappears in the higher difficulties. High performance is expected and it’s difficult to maintain if you aren’t used to it. Some players can learn through trial-by-fire but it’s also hard to get practice since the AI isn’t helping. Public teams are a big risk and that turns off some of the teamwork appeal.
Payday 3 can be an enjoyable experience as long as you have a great source of teammates and enjoy challenging yourself. There are several options for weapons and customization that are fun to explore. Unfortunately practicing on your own without inconveniencing your teammates is a challenge. The lack of map variety forces you to challenge yourself to get more entertainment. There’s a solid multiplayer experience behind the game, but it’s dragged down by some flaws.