Payday 3 is out on September 21st for Xbox Series X/S, PS5 and PC, launching over a decade after Payday 2. A lot has changed as the gang relocates to New York City to deal with a new threat, and the gameplay is changing too. From a new progression system that influences your Skills and weapon unlocks to new gadgets, enemies and tactics, there’s much to look forward to. Here are 15 things you should know before jumping into Payday 3.
New York City
The gang is going from Washington D.C., where they enjoyed a cushy retirement after Payday 2, to the Big Apple, New York City. While initially touted as a “living, enormous representation of the city,” the team has since clarified that it’s not “faithfully” recreating New York or working with a strict map. “We are building a Payday New York, and it is very different. It looks and feels the same, but when you start looking at the details, it’s not the same,” said lead environment artist Fredrik Larsson in a dev diary. Nevertheless, you can spot numerous details from various ads to civilians taking out cash from ATMs or hailing cabs.
If you never played a Payday game, what can you expect? Firstly, you can’t just go in guns blazing, killing NPCs and enemies left and right (you know who you are). Instead, Payday is about scoping out the scene of a heist, spotting weaknesses in security, patterns for guards and setting things up to skillfully and quickly extract as much money as possible using the tools on hand. The complexity of heists varies, and make no mistake, plenty of running and gunning while escaping the law is present.
While Payday 3 retains the principles of its core gameplay loop, there are several changes to improve the experience overall. It’s possible before heists to go in without masks and scope out your surroundings. You can complete more objectives and sneak around without using a mask, and enemies now have a phase where they’ll look for you before stuff hits the fan. Other changes include enemies being more strategic and having updated behaviors, while civilians have more uses.
More Civilian Uses
Civilians, particularly hostages, are worth keeping alive since you can use them to reduce the time for allies to exit Police Custody. However, you can also trade them during the Negotiation phase of a heist for more time. Enemies are more cautious when civilians are present, like shotgunners using precise weapons. Technically, you can use them as cover, at the risk of them dying in the crossfire. Some skills also provide more things when trading civilians.
Number of Heists
Payday 3 launches with eight heists, each feeling like a “set piece”, but still slightly lower than Payday 2’s ten heists. Starbreeze hasn’t outlined the full list, but we have seen the Surphaze Art Gallery in Dumbo, Brooklyn, where players must sneak inside and steal some paintings and statues. The twist is that you must distinguish which ones are real and then escape. Other gameplay trailers have showcased hectic shootouts with police, so there will be plenty of action for those who seek it.
In addition to weapons and skills, Payday 3 also offers gadgets. Several of these will be familiar, like the Ammo and Medic Bags, but you also have the Armor Bag. Health no longer regenerates passively, and armor is your main means of negating damage (with more armor making you slower). You need an Armor Bag to restore it, but enemies also have armor-piercing weapons, so you must be careful.
The Sentry Turret also returns and should provide some covering fire when things get too crowded. There’s also hacking, though it’s more focused on dealing with cameras. Starbreeze plans to expand on it down the line as more content is added.
Progression is overhauled in Payday 3, with the Infamy system seeing some changes. It’s now your main leveling mechanic, with 150 levels in total. As you reach different levels, you receive a Skill Point, to unlock Skills. Like Payday 2, you can equip and unequip Skills freely – the Skill Points are more like a resource determining how many can be unlocked and upgraded at a time. There are 21 Skill Points, so choose carefully.
Another change is that Skill Trees are gone. There are now Skill Lines, with Base Skills and upgrade nodes. Each Skill can have three to five upgrades, but you don’t need to unlock any of them in a particular order. Once the Base Skill is enabled, choose the upgrades that best suit you or save those Skill Points to unlock other noteworthy choices.
There are also Mastery Nodes, which don’t require taking their Base Skills or upgrades. The trade-off is that they’re somewhat weaker. For example, Medic is a Base Skill that revives teammates 20 percent faster and provides two additional charges for Medic Bag. You also gain Grit (more on that later) on reviving teammates, reducing damage taken by 40 percent. The Mastery Node, Field Surgery, allows for restoring an additional 10 percent of max health and restores one “down”, giving you another lease on life. It’s worse than the Base Skill but may be good when speccing into something completely different.
While weapons have separate progression paths, how do you unlock new ones? That’s where the Challenge Book comes into play, as you gain Infamy Points for completing different Challenges, which increases your Infamy Level. At certain levels, you also unlock new weapons. There are several Challenges to filter through, and more will be added post-launch.
In addition to money, there are also Crime Net Stacks or C-Stacks. These are like the in-game version of cryptocurrency, obtained by converting cash (and can’t be purchased with real money). You can use these to acquire high-end equipment and weapons, cosmetics, and even the final upgrade for weapons. However, as you trade more cash for C-Stacks, the amount required will increase (though it resets weekly). C-Stacks will have more uses post-launch.
Three Core Buffs – Edge, Grit and Rush – are present, which increase your outgoing damage, damage reduction and speed. Depending on your build, you want to spec into things providing these buffs, though you can’t have multiple stacks of each. However, when you gain a Core Buff – like a Skill that provides Edge on aiming down sights – it will apply to all of your damage (though whether that includes gadgets like the Sentry Turret remains to be seen).
Difficulty Options and Security Modifiers
Payday 3 features four difficulty options at launch – Normal, Hard, Very Hard and Overkill. Starbreeze has already confirmed that enemy health won’t change between difficulties, but they become more accurate, deal more damage and appear in larger numbers. However, Security Modifiers also exist to “throw a wrench” into the proceedings. These are rotating security firms which change how you approach tasks. Details are sparse, but they offer ways to keep heists challenging while increasing replay value.
Your favorite enemies are getting updates, whether it’s the Bulldozer having a bullrush and tackling players or the Cloaker melting deployables and using two nightstick bracers. However, there are also new threats like the Nader, who throws gas grenades that stop sprinting and deal damage over time. They switch to flashbangs if civilians are near, so there may be a way to use that to your advantage. You also have the Zapper, who can stun players – fight back quickly, or you become incapacitated.
The PC requirements for Payday 3 are a little…sparse, at this time. What we do know, based on its Steam listing, is that you need Windows 10, an internet connection (with the game always online) and 16 GB RAM minimum. Other minimum requirements include an Intel Core i5-9400F and an Nvidia GTX 1650 (4 GB). Recommended specs include an Intel Core i7-9700K and a GeForce GTX 1080 (8 GB). As for installation space, specific settings for different resolutions and frame rates, we need to wait for more details.
Payday 2 was known for its extensive post-launch support, and Payday 3 is no different. It has two Season Passes – one for six months and the other for a year. The former provides access to two new heists, Tailor Packs and Weapon Packs. The one-year pass offers four heists, Tailor Packs and Weapon Packs. There are also microtransactions for Payday Credits, which the developer states are only for cosmetic items that don’t affect gameplay.