Payday 3 – Review

Payday 3 has finally released after ten years. Has the wait been worth it?

Payday 3 Featured Image 01
Release Date
September 21, 2023
Starbreeze Studios, Deep Silver
Deep Silver, Prime Matter, Plaion
PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S
Reviewed On
Review Copy Provided By
Deep Silver

After ten long years, Payday 3 has finally come out. It may not seem that long but it’s actually been a decade since this game’s predecessor first came out. With the third game releasing, Starbreeze Studios shifted from the Diesel Engine to the much more modern Unreal Engine. With ten years between the second game and Payday 3, let’s see if this long-awaited sequel lives up to the hype.

Payday 3 is a first-person multiplayer co-op shooter that incorporates various stealth elements and tech. In this game, you’re tasked to complete different types of heists with a team of up to 3 other players as you quietly and loudly execute each heist with surgical precision or brute force. Your goal in Payday 3 is to complete a set of objectives in each heist before making a quick getaway. The kind of objectives your crew gets depends on whether or not you choose to do things silently or go in guns blazing.

Compared to its predecessor, teamplay in Payday 3 feels more meaningful. The first thing that comes to mind is the skills available for players to invest their points in as they level up. There are plenty of roles to fill in in accordance with your own personal playstyle and the approach for heists you and your friends choose to do. You can make yourself the team’s dedicated hacker who can access area cameras via your phone and loop them while your teammate sneaks in through the building as they complete objectives under your watchful eye.

With Payday 3 putting a large emphasis on teamwork, it can be frustrating when you team up with randoms online who don’t seem to care about finesse. This is really a game that best works when you have cooperative friends to play with. In fact, there’s a greater emphasis on stealth in Payday 3 with one teammate potentially getting caught causing the police to swarm the area.

Players coming from Payday 2 into Payday 3 will immediately notice the lack of preplanning. While I personally found this a bit disappointing as I loved to go over with my friends how to approach missions, it was forgivable enough with how fun missions could be even if we had to adapt to the heist on the fly.

Each heist in Payday 3 has randomized elements. So while the objectives are always the same what you need to do to complete them remains different. On one of our jewelry heists, for example, we were told to steal the passcode which was written on the whiteboard in the kitchen. Easy enough until we replayed the same mission earlier on with the passcode now located at the front of the jewelry store surrounded by eyewitnesses. This turned what was a simple walk to the employee lounge into a complicated matter. Thankfully, we were able to get around this by planting one of the spy cameras on a civilian passing by.

Payday 3 has two phases. At the start, you’re unmasked and can pretty much move around areas where anyone is permitted without any problems. You also won’t be detected by civilian NPCs even if you’re in restricted areas but security guards and cameras will take note of you. However, you can’t do much in this mode. You can’t even jump which means doing something as simple as vaulting through opened windows or jumping small gaps an impossible task.

Payday 3 may put a lot of emphasis on stealth, but it doesn’t mean combat has been neglected. You now have the option to negotiate with the police using hostages as leverage during a heist. This gives you more reason to actually take the initiative to hold as many hostages as you can. You can trade them to buy yourselves more time before the next police assault begins.

Unlike its predecessor, you can also now move hostages after you’ve tied them up. Placing them in key positions so that they don’t get spotted and cause the police to come running. This seemingly insignificant change eases a lot of the frustration once present in the hostage mechanics of Payday 2.

As of the writing of this review, Payday 3 is lacking in the content department. There aren’t as many guns to choose from but the guns present in the game can be further customized the more you make use of them. Gunplay does feel satisfying with a variety of enemies to fight against, however, there are some special police enemies that can somehow phase through the ceiling and melee attack you like a ninja which kind of broke a bit of my immersion.

With that being said, I had some rather frustrating experiences with Payday 3, particularly when it comes to playing a game. For one, it somehow takes a long time to matchmake even when you’re playing alone. Even when I’m playing by myself, I have to wait for a bit before it puts me in a lobby to get ready.

Another frustrating issue is that the server can disconnect you for whatever reason. One heist I was particularly close to completing perfectly after methodically planning everything out. Only for Payday 3 to disconnect me from the game and bring me back to the Main Menu with no rewards. There is no option to reconnect to the game.

With Payday 3 moving to Unreal Engine from Diesel, the graphics too have been upgraded. I am able to play the game on medium settings on my humble RX 5500 XT without any problems but there were the occasional frame drops when the civilian crows became a bit too much.

Payday 3 runs well on release and I haven’t experienced a single crash or any bugs during my time with the game. However, there were some issues connecting online during launch day which were a bit frustrating. I also got disconnected from matchmade games where I already made good progress. I’m not alone in experiencing this problem either.

Payday 3 is worth the ten-year wait. Despite some problems with the servers which will probably be fixed soon, I really enjoyed my time with this game and believe it’s a worthy successor. It’s definitely worth spending your time with friends

Payday 3 Featured Image 01
Payday 3 – Review
Score Definition
When the issues of a game are rolled and stomped by its greatness, then it’s something to invest on if you have some spare.
Skills add significant layers to teamplay
Stealth elements are much improved from the previous game
Well polished release with no bugs nor crashes
Hostage mechanic is more meaningful and important than ever
Experienced issues with the server
Potentially get booted out of a game forcing you to start again from scratch
No Razormind