The Call: Survival In The New Domain
A Journey into Killing Floor 2’s Co-op
The night sky is no longer dark. Instead, looking out of the window, What should have been a cloudy, dark night had long since become orange, with the lights of a thousand burning embers rising up into the sky, singing their song of chaos that had been ripped from the once peaceful streets of Paris. The wind continues to howl through the half boarded window I am looking out of, and nearby, my partner is checking his gun, and making sure he is fully loaded, ready to go. I look down, and I see my tool of trade; though simple, the shovel has served me well thus far, and with a little luck, perhaps it will serve me through one more night. Just one more night. I look over to my partner and he asks me if I am ready. I nod, and brandish my shovel, pushing my glasses back to the bridge of my nose. The timer counts down and in a matter of moments, he and I will have to push back another horde of Z. Another Zed dead means another head for pay. It is then, the timer stops, and the doors are pushed open. We are now on the street. It’s time to fight…
Killing Floor 2 is the sequel of the overly popular Killing Floor, developed by Tripwire Interactive back in 2009, and is one of the shining jewels on the company’s roster. In Killing Floor 2 you play as a survivor of the outbreak that had originally broken out in London due to Horzine Biotech, a company that focused on research of Cloning and other technical research. In Killing Floor 2, you find yourself in Europe, Just one month after the devastating outbreak that crippled London and hurled Great Britain, and most of the world, on its knees. By now you have developed the skills to keep you alive, move faster, do better, and hit harder, but alas, so have the clones. It is imperative now, more than ever that you work with your team, and not against them if you wish to stay alive long enough to see your next pay check. After all, we all need dosh, do we not?
In the original Killing Floor, six teammates found themselves back to back to back, often wondering if the next wave of zeds, would be the one to bring them all down. Perhaps there would be the lone medic, who decided that staying with the team would be more of a hindrance than a help, deciding to break away the first chance they got. Using this tactic to survive on their own, they might use their team as bait, so they could get away to plan their own next move, thus allowing the team to wither die, but hopefully taking enough with them so the medic’s job could be easier and the pay could be all theirs. Perhaps instead, it might have been a Rambo, not with guns, but with blades, instead running off into the sunset, disappearing knee-deep in clones, only to return at the end of the wave, covered in blood, guts, and gore, keeping the glory of the kills for themselves. Imagine also of a commando, wielding his guns of trade, mowing down everything that moves, targeting a specific Zed for himself, unwilling to break away to help a friend who desperately needs his help. More often than none, In Killing Floor 1, Team mates found themselves splitting away from the rest of the group, down to pairs, or often times, even by themselves until the later part of the waves. A high level Berserker could often hold a wave on his own, and many times not need the rest of them team. This has all changed with the introduction of Killing Floor 2.
It is now a month later, and once again six people are facing down the legions of the damned, hoping to make it through the horde just long enough to get to the trader, and get something better than what they now have. Long dead are the holdout days of Killing Floor 1, the mentality shattered by the panic inducing attacks of the Zeds in Killing Floor 2. Players are no longer able to pick a single hallway to hold, for now there is almost nowhere the zeds cannot crawl from. It is because of this that players are forced to keep moving, moving from space to space, holding an area only long enough to catch their breath and possibly reload before moving out to the next room, street, or alleyway. This dynamic way of playing forces players to develop strategies on the fly, and look out for teammates they would normally leave to die. The fact of the matter is, one death within the team at the wrong time could result in a cataclysmic downfall of the entire operation. One of the biggest changes between Killing Floor 1 and 2, is the fact of necessity which overrules personal gain. Every class needs some form of support. The Medic Often needs the Berserker, and in turn, the Beserker needs the Medic. Think of it as the Heavy/Medic Combo in Team Fortress 2, and you find something very similar in Killing Floor 2. The Other classes tend to need the Commando, for without him it is near impossible to see Stalkers, Zeds which are invisible until they attack you, yet otherwise remain hidden away from view most of the time. The Commando tends to rely on the Support, for Ammo can quickly run dry unless you are strictly counting your rounds- and during moments of sheer panic, this strategy is often times completely erased from memory, replaced with a “Oh god shoot everything that moves!” mentality. The Support is able to refuel the team, Providing much needed ammunition and is often vital to the survival of the team. The support rely on near everyone, as they can often become overwhelmed otherwise. A strict balance is formed, and the team must identify everyone’s strengths and weaknesses in order to survive. It is to this idea that keeping everyone alive is imperative, for as the saying goes, “The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”
…It is now wave six. My partner and I have fought off enough zeds to purchase some decent gear from the trader. In my hands I have a nifty little tool called “The Pulverizer.” A hammer, ingeniously infused with a shotgun, with rather explosive rounds embedded into the shell. For my partner, I see he has chosen a classic, the SCAR; a weapon that many people have learned to adore in their career. However, the calm is quickly lost to the howls, wails, screams and cries of the zeds, in their endless pursuit to rip us apart where we stand. The city of Paris burns overhead and now it is only a matter of time before they find us, only a matter of time before-
Too late. Somehow, in the moment of calm, the windows shatter, and out leaps everyone’s favorite butcher; the Scrake. It is then my partner shouts, “Behind you, behind you!” And I barely have time to block the chainsaw that has come down on top of me. I back away, and reposition my hammer, trying to figure out a way to attack. It is then when I find zeds have began jumping through windows, coming out of the subway, crawling out of the sewer, tumbling over cars and quickly surrounding us. My objective is clear, take out the biggest threat first. I turn to my partner and shout, loud enough for him to hear over the screaming, “Keep the little ones off me, I’ll try to take him down! Hurry!” I turn to face the great hurling monster in front of me. He looks down at me and points at me- he has clearly chosen me as his target. I raise my hammer up in the air, and bring it down on the Scrake, the shotgun round thundering from the hammer, stumbling the Scrake to the side. This precious moment allows me enough time to pull the slot back down, and load the next shell into the hammer. The Scrake stands tall, revs his engine and screams, and begins to charge me down. I throw my hammer forward but out of nowhere I am grabbed by a Clot! I bash it away, but not before the chainsaw comes down upon my back, ripping through my Kevlar and slicing open my skin. I fight against the pain, turn and manage to hit the Scrake two more times, knocking it over. Things get far worse. More zeds show up to the party and I See my partner getting engulfed in zeds. He’s quickly running out of ammo…and the Scrake has stood back up. It is then, to our great peril we hear the great, ominous roar of the Fleshpound. It’s quickly closing in on my partner, and without intervention… he will die. I charge down the Fleshpound with all I have and scream out, “Run, go!” I turn to face down the Fleshpound and-
Sacrifice. Perhaps one of the most important callings in Killing Floor. When the time comes, and when the dice is rolled, there often times comes a point where you must make a decision. Do you give up everything that you have worked for, everything you have done to survive to assure the chance that those you have come to care about live? Or do you forgo your soul, and put your own survival in higher priorities than others? Do you watch your partners fall, one by one, or do you step in and give yourself as the ultimate price for their survival? In Killing Floor 2 this situation has a much higher impact than it ever had in Killing floor 1. When the fire has reached its peak and the world has fallen apart around you, you will often find yourself looking around for others. You don’t know why you are looking, but you seek to find another person, another living soul that is not your own. And in doing so, you may see that they do not have long for this world. It is then you have a choice. Do you let them die? Or do you sacrifice yourself? This one decision could very much change everything. It could be the difference between a victory…or a sad, and hollow defeat. But no matter what, everyone has their moment, and you may find yourself in this very position. You must make this decision very carefully. For it may very well be your last. Sacrifice. It is the highest Calling in Killing Floor.
Bullets ring out from behind me. The Fleshpound stumbles backwards. I turn and I see my partner bashing through the zeds. They are ripping at him, tearing through his armor and gripping at every limb they can. But he tears through, ignoring all of the damage that was being dealt to him. Time seems to slow around me, turning the world into a greyscale art piece. Maybe magic is happening around me. Maybe I’m dying. Maybe this is it. I watch as my partner’s magazine drops out of the gun, and topples to the ground near his feet. He slaps in another magazine and unloads, firing everything he has into the Fleshpound. I see the Fleshpound beginning to jerk and convulse in front of me. Without missing a beat, my partner rushes to my side and screams as loud as he can, “Run!” I pick up my feet and I begin to stumble, running to a set of stairs that was just down the street. I’m too hurt to look behind me, and all I can see is red, much like the blood that is running down my face. As I run, I hear more and more gunshots behind me, fading into the distance as I top the stairs and get around the corner. I make distance between me and the horde…suddenly…the gunshots stop…soon after, I get the message. “Cameron Toveryn was eaten alive.”
In a time now where games focus solely on the highest score, or beating another person, or assuring your place in the highest of rosters, it’s good to know there exists a few games that take away the concept of being the sole victor. Killing Floor 2 plays emphasis on the fact you cannot run alone. It makes sure to remind you that there are people who need you, and you too, need them. Decisions made here are not so quaint as trying to figure out which gun you can use, or what tactic you can use to beat the rest of the team. Instead, these decisions are replaced with other, more complicated ones. What are you doing to do to survive? Who are you willing to sacrifice to assure you can live, if only for a few more seconds? What can I do to protect my team? How…how can I protect my team? For such a fast paced game, Killing Floor 2 makes sure to give you pause for thought, which is lost in many games where the only thing you truly have to do is pull a trigger and run forward. Be wary though, as this game may pose some questions one may not want to answer. Killing floor 2 is a survival horror Coop game that will put you through your paces. It will bring you to the edge and push you over without a second thought. It will test you at your core and bring you a new understanding on what “survival” is really supposed to mean. Don’t neglect your team; work together and make sure you are watching one another’s back. There’s no place for mistakes, and there is no time to panic. Stand tall and fight hard, no matter the price. Remember, no matter what you are not alone. From Veterans to rookies alike, Everyone will have a place to stand on the Killing Floor.