Starbreeze’s Payday 3 is expanding on the previous games in several ways, from revamping the difficulty and enemy types to introducing separate progression paths for weapons. However, it’s also changing up stealth quite a bit. Its previous gameplay trailer showcased the tension of infiltrating the Surphaze Art Gallery, but there’s even more nuance, as evidenced in the latest Dev Diary.
Design lead Per Storlokken revealed that there are now “soft fails” when sneaking about. “We’re trying to make it less binary, so we have soft fails. So we have different security levels in different areas. If you get caught trespassing in certain areas, you don’t get cuffed. You get escorted out, and you can try again. You can make a mistake and not go loud immediately.”
It ensures that breaking stealth isn’t an automatic failure and that players can opt for another plan if some things don’t work out. The unmasked experience is also being changed to feed into the co-op part of the game.
“So creating a co-op stealth game as opposed to something solo only; a big difference there is players can do a lot of different things in parallel, right? Like, there is no, there is not one linear path and different players can essentially go to different locations and do their thing if that’s the way you want to play,” said producer Andreas Häll-Penninger.
“Every time we design a heist in stealth, we have to think about all the different layers tied to that and the different options that players can do, and also make sure that they feel incentivized to do that.” To that end, players can now complete several objectives and stealth a bit without masking up. This results in scenarios where some players can mask up while others “play it a bit safer” and perform less risky yet important tasks.
Even the civilians are more valuable than before. While you can still trade them to the police to break out your fellow teammates in custody, there’s also negotiation to buy more time. Enemies are also more careful if there are civilians nearby.
“Shotgun enemies will switch to a more precise weapon. And we have a new enemy as well. They’ll throw gas grenades, but they will resort to using flashbangs if there are also civilians in the area,” said senior game designer Miodrag Kovačević. “We also have some skills that leverage and give you more stuff if you trade civilians. So they have a value outside of just getting somebody out of custody.”
“There’s a lot of strategy involved in where you place a civilian. So you might not want to trade all civilians right away. But of course, there’s always the risk that you might kill them because they’re in the way of fire.”