Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is, as many would have guessed by now, a remastered edition of Payday 2 which released in August 2013. It collects the base game and all of its DLC together while refurbishing the visuals and presenting the co-op, heist simulator to current gen console owners. The fact that the Crimewave Edition hasn’t released for PC should be more than enough indication of the standard it should be adhering to. Do the current gen versions measure up to what the PC delivered roughly two years ago?
It should be noted that of all engines, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is running on Diesel 2.0. This is the engine developed by the now defunct GRIN and saw usage in games like Terminator Salvation, Flatout, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 1 and 2 (on PC only though) and the original Payday: The Heist. The overall presentation feels a bit odd at times, with the native 1080p resolution contrasting the uneven animation. One could talk about the overall template requiring improvement above all else but that would venture into remake rather than remastered territory.
Payday 2: Crimewave Edition features rendering quality similar to the original PC version. Both the PS4 and Xbox One versions run at a native 1920×1080 resolution and unlike the previous gen versions, there are plenty of post processing effects employed for smoother edges. There’s no full-fledged anti-aliasing solution here, with the Crimewave Edition instead relying on post-process anti-aliasing. While it removes a good amount of jaggies, the lack of a true AA solution dulls the impact of the 1080p presentation and makes it look less crisp than it should be.
Other than the lack of any real AA, both current gen versions resemble the PC version down to a T. The quality of assets is similar with Overkill Software employing the highest shadow resolution (though shadow edges aren’t as crisp as we would have liked), texture quality and alpha effects that the PC version could manage. Chromatic aberration and depth of field have been added to the PS4 and Xbox One, further bumping the visual quality up higher. As noted previously, both console versions are based off of the highest quality settings on PC. This means that assets are similar across both consoles. Even the geometry and texture detail are similar across all three platforms.
Of course, there are some differences. As has been the case for quite a number of third party releases, the Xbox One uses anisotropic filtering compared to the PS4 which employs an inferior, tri-linear filtering. This results in a lesser amount of details on textures and it’s quite odd at this point. When you look at current games like The Witcher 3, the difference in texture filtering for the PS4 and Xbox One is minimal. And that’s a huge open world action adventure title – such implementations shouldn’t be difficult for a co-op shooter like Payday 2: Crimewave Edition.
Interestingly, both versions of the game run at 30 frames per second. Overkill didn’t guarantee a 60 frames per second experience but at least locked the frame rate down to ensure better overall performance. For the most part, the frame rate remains solid throughout with no drops even when there’s a hefty amount of action on screen like explosions and excessive gunfire.
The asset streaming on PS4 and Xbox One is similar to the PC version but a bit slower. The environments, despite their initially bland design, contain more depth in the Crimewave Edition thanks to the lighting model’s high contest nature. There’s a bit of destructibility employed as well – windows shatter and cars blow up quite nicely. It doesn’t detract from the overall blandness of the environments but it does help decorate action-packed scenes better.
Is Payday 2 a better game with the Crimewave Edition? That depends on how much you liked the previous gen version. There aren’t a number of improvements or changes to the core mechanics. The offline AI is still pretty dense and incapable of carrying out basic orders. All the previously released DLC has been collected here and that’s a pretty good deal for those who want to try out Payday 2 for the first time.
However, when Overkill Software talked about upgrading the graphics, it meant in terms of how the PS4 and Xbox One would compare to the Xbox 360 and PS3. The overall visual quality is similar to the 2013 PC version and in some cases, it’s clearly inferior. Of course, even if you decided to try the PC version instead, you would have to buy all the DLC separately. Decisions, decisions.
However, Payday’s focus has never really been on the visuals and for the most part, if you’ve heard of the series then Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is as good of an entry into its gameplay as you’re going to get. There’s enough value in this package to appease co-op shooter fans though there are still plenty of areas where it could have been improved. Both console versions are inherently the same, right down to the locked 30 FPS and native 1080p resolution but the Xbox One version has better anisotropic filtering. Regardless of which console you purchase it on, you’ll still receive the same explosive experience.
Those who really want the best visual quality that Payday 2 is capable of delivering may want to go back to the PC version instead, if only because the appeal of a 60 FPS frame rate is appealing. However, when it comes to experiencing the core game and its numerous DLCs in one place at a single price, there’s no better solution than the Crimewave Edition.
Note: Bill Smith carried out the performance analysis.