Every Bullet Counts in Killing Floor 2

“If you can’t have fun killing monsters with them, then what kind of friends do you have?”  John Gibson, president of Tripwire Interactive joked before the media event for Killing Floor 2, the followup to Tripwire’s extremely successful horde shooter Killing Floor.

It’s hard to disagree.  I spent countless hours in the original Killing Floor, shooting down wave after wave of enemy zeds, the series’ zombie-like enemies, with my roommate while avoiding schoolwork in college and I can’t imagine time better spent.  Yelling into a microphone while inevitable death closed in on all sides and monstrous arms filled the screen was an indescribable satisfaction. Killing Floor 2 captures the mayhem of the original and adds even more stylized gunplay and violence, with a whole new gorgeous aesthetic.

Killing Floor’s biggest strength was its gunfeel, and Killing Floor 2 brings just as much bang with its weaponry.  “We started wondering, ‘what happens when we start animating the guns at super high frame-rates?'”  Tripwire’s co-founder and creative director William Munk said, “We animate [the guns] at 242 frames a second, that way each kickback is 22 frames.  Just that little tiny kickback.  In those 22 frames, we can animate the barrel wiggle, smoke coming out of the chamber with sparks, and all these little things that in real-time happen so quick, but it just makes it feel that much more real when you see it in slow-mo.”

One of the aspects that made Killing Floor so successful was its overwhelming community and developer support.  “With Killing Floor 2 we’re building upon all those things. Let’s make it easier to mod it, let’s make it so we can expand it even better,” said Munk.  Killing Floor 2 will be even easier to mod than the original, with support for complete conversions and coding changes available in the final build in addition to the ability to add new skins and levels in the early access version of the game.

“In the first Killing Floor every time we would add new content it would actually increase the total memory so it really hamstringed us with what we could do; so [with Killing Floor 2] we architected it from the ground up and make it so we can add whatever we want and never expand the memory.”  That means the team, as well as community modders, can add new zeds, weapons or even playable characters without weighing down player computers.

Killing Floor has consistently been updated over the last six years, and Munk plans to keep a similar track record with its sequel.  “As long as people are loving it, playing it, and are into it, you’ll see the same level of support that was in the first game.  We’re already working on content that’s not in this build that’s going to be available right after early access is released.”

“We never wanted to have it feel repetitive when you killed stuff, so we’re using a simulated ragdoll and mixing that with an animation system.  Each set has roughly 95 different animations that will play depending on where you shot them in the body randomly.” In Killing Floor 2, every bullet counts, and you can really feel each one make an impact. “It’s all about cause and effect,” Munk added.

Even after a wave is completed and the zed horde has dispersed, Tripwire makes sure that the chaos you and your friends have ensued stays evident.  Along with destructible environments, Killing Floor 2 has persistent blood splatter, so throughout an entire level, which can last 20 or 30 minutes, the blood of zeds covers floors, walls and even ceilings.  As you progress back and forth between checkpoints in Killing Floor 2’s rather large levels, you’ll be reminded of the carnage of waves past by splotches of blood shimmering in the environment.  Munk wants players to constantly be reminded of their triumphs, “when you survive a big battle and look around, you can see, ‘Holy $#!% that was crazy!'”

Tripwire plans to make Killing Floor 2 available initially through Steam’s early access service with a “very polished beta.”

John Gibson, president of Tripwire Interactive, stated, “What we’re doing will only include a subset of the full release content.  We took a portion of the game and really, really polished it up.”  The levels playable at the event included a snowy science lab and a city street littered with abandoned vehicles, and they looked and felt like a finished product.

“We really wanted to nail that core gameplay loop of fun monsters and having fun with your friends and get that in early access, then a lot of the big stuff we plan for later will be bolted on top of that.”

And Tripwire isn’t using early access just to fund their development.  “One of the most important things we’re going to do is incorporating the early access player feedback,” Gibson told us. “One of the things that we found in the past when we released games was that we’d release our game, and then we’d spend about six months working on the game to incorporate player feedback because a short beta before release just wasn’t enough time to put all the feedback in, so six months later we put out an update of really what the game should have been at launch.  This time we’re going to use early access… to make sure that the game is what we want it to be.”

Killing Floor 2 will be available for PC through Steam Early Access on April 21, 2015 for $29.99 US, ₤19.99 UK, and €26.99 EU.  The final release of the game has yet to be announced, but will be available for PC and PS4.