A loose guide to Payday 2

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Samuel Tow
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A loose guide to Payday 2
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In request, I decided to create a sort of beginner's guide to Payday 2. I'll try to spread this out over several posts and probably several days, but I'd like start where you would if you just picked up the game, or if you'd never played it before: The very basics.

So you just launch Payday 2 for the first time?

Go into Options menu under Video -> Advanced and adjust your FOV slider to the maximum the game will allow. The default FOV (Field Of View) in Payday 2 is very, very low. What this means is you have next to no peripheral vision. This has the effect of making you almost blind to enemies coming in on your side and can cause some people to feel motion sick. There are other options to mess with there, but this is the one that you WANT to max out as soon as possible.

Once that's done, hit the "Safe House" option. This is your tutorial and it'll introduce you to the basics of the game. Don't worry about Skill or Inventory for the moment - you very likely can't do anything there yet, anyway. Once in the Safe House, a voice will talk at you over the radio. This is "Bain" and he'll be your mission control for the rest of the game. He'll teach you how to pick up and drop bags (a central mechanic of the game) as well as how to use guns. Eventually he'll let you into the basement and essentially leave you on your own. Don't end the tutorial yet. Explore the basement first. You'll find four rooms. Straight ahead from the staircase is your vault. This is where your money will stack up once you have any. The rest of the rooms I'll make into minor tutorials of their own.

Opening doors

Left of the staircase is a room with a bunch of closed doors secured to a makeshift wooden frame. You can walk around the doors and get to the other side, but that's not the point. This area is there to teach you how to open the doors themselves, as well as what kind of doors there are in the game. Generally speaking, there are three kinds of doors: weak doors, strong doors and security doors. You have examples of all three kinds in the room.

Weak doors are made of wood. You can pick their locks by hand without any skills necessary, and it'll take you 10 seconds to do so. Alternately, you can "breech" them by shooting the lock off with any firearm. Contrary to what NT might say, this is the preferred method for opening these doors. However, you may notice that you keep shooting the doors and nothing happens. This is because the locks have a certain amount of "hit points" that you have to deplete. With a shotgun that usually goes in a single hit but most other weapons will take multiple shots. You should also note that the game is very... Particular about where it wants you to shoot the door for the shots to count. You want to aim for the door handle/knob for best return on investment. While weak doors are usually made of wood, they also include glass doors with metal frames. Most of the doors in the "door room" are weak doors.

Strong doors are made of metal. You can pick their locks by hand without any skills necessary, but it'll take you 20 seconds to do so. Strong doors cannot be shot open with any actual weapons (not even the grenade launcher) but can be sawed open with the OVE9000 Saw. This is a high-level skill in the Enforcer tree, so I'll discuss it another time. For now, just assume that you need to pick the locks on those, and that it'll take you a long time. Strong doors almost always take the form of a featureless flat white metal door with a chrome door knob.

Security doors are marked with a GenSec sticker and have a keycard reader next to them. Security doors cannot be picked in any way, since they don't have a lock. The lock itself can be overridden with an ECM (low-level Ghost skill) or cut with an OVE9000 Saw. Assuming you don't have either - which is usually the case - you have two options to open these doors: Keycard or Drill. There's a keycard on the table in the training area so you know what it looks like. You can only carry one keycard at a time, and it's consumed when you use it. What this means is if you need to open multiple security doors, you'll have to pick which one to open. Failing that, you need to drill the door. The Payday gang have an infinite supply of automatic drills. Just interact with the drill symbol to place one on the door, then wait until the drill finishes. I'll talk more about drills in particular later.

Once you've had your fun opening doors, leave the room.

Guns, guns, guns!

Right of the staircase is a corridor with two rooms on the side. The first one is your firing range. The antechamber to the actual range holds racks where your guns and masks will be showcased once you have a few. The actual gun range is about the only reason to keep going back to your safehouse even after the tutorial is done. Hit the button on the wall to listen to Bain babble about nothing in particular and that'll activate the pop-up targets. Deal enough damage and they'll go down. Knock them down enough times and the next row farther down the line will pop up. If you run out of ammo, two ammo bags are provided for you to restock. But let's talk about weapon mechanics.

Guns in Payday work in an attempt at a semi-realistic fashion. Simply pressing the fire button will fire your gun "from the hip." While you have no on-screen crosshair when firing from the hip, your gun is still aimed at the centre of the screen. Laser sights (I'll explain later) can help show where that is. If you want to shoot accurately, you need to "aim down sights" (hold right mouse button by default), which will bring the weapon up to your face. By default, most weapons (with one exception) will use iron sights for aiming. I find this almost impossible to use, however, and would advise acquiring a scope as soon as possible, but more on scopes in a bit.

As you can imagine, most guns have their own accuracy. Here this constitutes a circle around your aim direction. Any shot you fire has a chance to land anywhere in that circle. Accuracy varies depending on how you shoot. Though this varies by the specific guns, a rough set of rules goes like this: Firing from the hip and firing while moving make you less accurate. Firing while aiming, firing while stationary and sometimes firing while crouching improve your accuracy. Accuracy also degrades as you fire in longer bursts, meaning your first few shots will be more accurate. To preserve accuracy and save ammo, fire in short, controlled bursts.

Weapon recoil is also a very real thing, and many weapons in the game can kick like a mule. Recoil here is represented by your aim shifting in a random direction away from where you're actually aiming with every shot you fire. Most guns kick up and pull to the right, but this isn't always the case. Usually, you can compensate for this by pulling your mouse against the recoil to recentre your aim, but this kills your ability to shoot straight, as you can imagine. Recoil can be mitigated with weapon mods, but only up to a point. Every single weapon in Payday 2 kicks to some degree. If you want to play this game, you need to learn to handle the kick.

Safes and drills

Past the firing range a room which showcases a number of safes you'll run across in the game. Generally speaking, they come in three sizes - small, tall and fat. There's no real mechanical difference between them. They only differ in how long they take to drill through and how much loot can be in them. In addition to drilling them, safes can be lockpicked but ONLY if you have Lockpick skill (high-level Ghost skill), as well as blown up with shaped charges (high-level Technician skill). Not featured in this room are Titan safes. These are much stronger and sport electronic locks. The only real difference there is Titan safes cannot be lockpicked or blown up. You HAVE to drill them.

Now seems like a good time to talk about "drills," for they are central to Payday 2. Indeed, it's been called a "drilling simulator." Almost every major objective in the game requires you to drill something, be it a door, a safe or something esoteric like a SWAT van. To do this, you need to interact with the object, which attackes a portable, automatic drill. The drill comes with an LCD on the side which tells you how long it'll be before it finishes. Don't be shocked if you see upwards of 200 seconds - drills in this game are slow. Payday 2 is, to a large extent, a horde defence games and drills are the game's way of enforcing this. They take a long time and you need to not just defend them but also manage them.

Every single drill you place no matter your luck will break on its own AT LEAST once. When this happens, it'll make a continuous distinct sound, the characters will never shut up about fixing it and the LCD will display "Error." Simply interact with the drill to fix it, though keep in mind this is a slow process and takes about 20 seconds. Drills can break on their own several times, but cops can also break them. When this happens, you need to clear the area around the drill and restart it as normal. Don't leave your drills unguarded if you can manage it. Having to fix a 5-minute drill every 30 seconds can slow you down tremendously.

You have an infinite supply of normal drills in your bag of holding and you can place as many of them there are things to drill. There are literally no limits to this. However, certain missions will require you to use a "thermal drill." For all intents and purposes, that's just a larger version of the regular drills which actually takes the form of a bag when not deployed. Thermal drills are used to drill bank vaults, so you need to bring the bag to the vault before you can start the drill. Past that, it behaves exactly like a regular drills. Both Thermal drills and regular drills can benefit from a number of Technicial skills.

Guys, the Thermal Drill! Go get it!

Cameras and guards

At the end of the hallway right of the staircase is a desk with a console at it. This is hooked up to the building's security cameras. Familiarise yourself with the controls, since this will come in handy in the actual game. You can flip through the various cameras with your fire and aim buttons (left an right mouse by default), you can zoom in with your forward and backward movement keys and you can leave the camera view with your jump key.

Cameras are useful for two distinct functions. For one, they help you get a better view of locations which might be difficult to observe directly, such as the interior of a bank that you can't get into yet. More importantly, however, is that cameras "mark" guards in stealth and special cops during a firefight. "Marked" enemies appear in red outline that's visible through walls and from very far away. This helps warn your team-mates of danger and give them better situational awareness.

I'd say more, but since cameras are mostly useful in stealth, I'll save that for when I talk about stealth.

You're done here

Once you've explored all the rooms in the Safe House, return to the staircase and interact with the laptop. That'll end the tutorial and return you to the main menu.

Samuel Tow
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So you've run the tutorial, huh? Well, if you did, that must have levelled you up and given you a bit of money. Let's talk about what you want to do with those.

Skills

From the main menu, hit Skills and Perks. This will put you in the Skills menu and probably flash an e-mail from Bain. Feel free to ignore this because it's confusing and I'll explain perks decks here anyway. You are now looking at the Skills screen. This is a VERY important part of Payday 2, so I suggest spending a good long time exploring it before you commit to any long-term plans.

Broadly speaking, skills in Payday break down into five separate trees - Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician, Ghost and Fugitive. You can think of these as classes, though you're not locked into whichever class you pick. Like Champions Online, you can pick skills from all classes, but higher-"tier" ones are locked and you need to invest in the tree before you can pick them. Like classes, however, each skill tree has a different "role," so to speak. Let me tell you them:

*Mastermind: This is your team support tree. It comes with passive buffs for team-mates and a lot of support skills, primarily revolving around yelling at people. Masterminds are exceptionally proficient at reviving downed team-mates and they excel at dealing with hostages. They're also able to "convert" cops to fight on your side. Masterminds carry doctor bags and specialise in handguns. Both NT and Marqaha are playing a Mastermind.

*Enforcer: This is essentially your soldier. Enforcers specialise in killing things and not being killed in return. Their skills have to do with better health, resistance to certain nasty effects and better damage. Specifically, Enforcers are the only ones who can carry the game's heaviest armour and equip the OVER9000 Saw to cut through doors you'd normally need to drill. Enforcers carry ammunition bags and specialise in shotguns.

*Technician: This is your engineer class. Technicians specialise in drills, explosive and auto-turrets almost exclusively. They have skills which speed up drilling, make drills silent and so on. They have trip mines which can be turned into sensors and eventually shaped charges to blow open doors and safes. They also wield them might Sentry - an automated gun in a suitcase which fires on enemies autonomously. They specialise in rifles, primarily single-shot ones.

*Ghost: This is your sneaky, agile class. Ghosts have a number of skills specific to stealth heists, but they can hold their own in a fight. Their skills make them faster, more manoeuvrable and less prone to environment damage. They carry the ECM multi-purpose deployable. ECMs can open electronic locks, disable cell phone communication and - with higher-level skills - even stun enemies for a time. Ghosts specialise in SMGs and silenced weapons in general.

*Fugitive: I'm not entirely sure what this is suppose to be, quite honestly. It has a number of ghost-like stealth-only skills but mostly seems to exist to make "dodge builds" viable. I'll talk about armour and dodge later, but for now just know that I don't know what this class is supposed to be. Fugitives carry first aid kits which work like a fast-use doctor bag but without the benefit of resetting the number of times a person has gone down. More on that in combat mechanics.

Skill trees aside, there are a few quirks to how selecting skills works. To "unlock" a skill tree, you need to take the very first skill in it, which is that tree's "deployable." To take skills from the higher rows - otherwise known as tiers - you need to have spent a certain number of skill points into the specific tree. You spend skill points to either pick skills or to "ace" them. Every skill in the game comes in two parts. One part you get for simply taking it, another you get for spending even more points into it to "ace" it.

Each character level gives you 1 skill point, with every 10th level giving you 2 more. At the level cap of 100, you end up with 120 skill points. The first three rows of skills cost 1 point to pick, 3 points to ace. The latter there rows of skills cost 4 points to pick, 8 to unlock. What this means is you can usually pick a lot of low-tier skills from "other" trees than the one you're playing for the 12-point cost of acing an upper-tier skill of "your" tree. There are some very potent low-tier skills to be had. For example: Endurance from Mastermind, Transporter from Enforcer, Nerves of Steel from Technician, Sprinter and Cat Burglar from Ghost, etc.

I should also note that while each tree may "specialise" in a particular weapon, you don't actually HAVE to use that weapon at all, or even take the skills related to it. I play Enforcer, for instance, and I don't use shotguns at all. I use machineguns. Every weapon in the game is easily usable without any skills related to it. Weapon specialisation just helps.

If you end up unhappy with your skills selection, keep in mind that you can "respec" each skill tree individually as many times as you want. This doesn't cost anything per se... But it has a cost all its own. Picking skills costs skill points and money, and a respec only refunds 50% of what you've spent. If you haven't invested in a tree very heavily, then the loss will be trivial, but you're looking at some major expenses if you respec your "primary" tree.

Perks

Once you're done with your skills, check the tabs at the top of the menu. You're currently under "Skills." Right next to it is "Perks." Hit that and you'll be taken to your "perk decks." If you've played Payday 2 a long time ago, you may remember that skill trees used to give you perks for every tier you unlocked. Well, they don't any more, and this is where those perks went. Perk decks are a collection of passive buffs which you need to unlock in order from left to right. Each "card" in those "decks" costs a certain number of perk points, with the first in every deck starting at 200. Even if you've played before, you'll still start with 0 perk points. To earn more, you have to earn experience, which then converts to perk points at an exchange rate dependent on your level (usually less efficient the higher level you are).

You can unlock all of the cards in all of the perk decks, but you can only use a single perk deck at a time, and you can only switch decks in-between missions. However, because of the considerable cost of unlocking a deck to the end, I'd suggest sticking with just one deck until you have all of it. Just make sure it's the one you want. Before you start comparing the decks, though, let me save you a bit of work - every second card is identical for all the decks. Essentially, the second, fourth, sixth and eighth cards are the same in every deck. The other five are the only difference. Perk decks break down like this:

*Crew Chief: This is where the old Mastemind tier perks went. Crew Chief offers mostly a variety of team buffs, such as extra health, extra armour, extra stamina and so on. The final card in the deck offers a pretty fat benefit for the whole team the more hostages you control. Get this if you want to play support.

*Muscle: This is where the old Enforcer tier perks went. This deck offers an absurd amount of extra health and the ability to cause cops to "panic." However, it also tries to be a "tank" by making you more likely to be targeted instead of your team-mates. I'll get more into health later, but for now know this: Armour regenerates. Health does. While Muscle gives you a lot of health, it doesn't help you once you're already hurt.

*Armourer: This is where the old Technician tier perks went. This deck offers mostly extra armour and better armour regeneration and that's about it. If you have a lot of armour, this is a good one to pick.

*Rogue: This is where the old Ghost tier perks went. This deck is almost entirely about dodge - being able to avoid getting shot. To get the most out of this one, however, you'll need to play without any armour on. It also has a perk which makes you less likely to be targeted, which some people decry as cheap. I took the skill which makes me more likely to be targeted, though, so I don't care Smile

*Hitman: This is the John Wick perk deck (yes, we have John Wick in Payday). Pretty much the only reason you want this is for the ability to dual-wield pistols, even though that's also part of the Fugitive skill tree O_o. I would recommend not bothering with the Hitman, as the rest of the skills give you better armour regeneration but slash your armour significantly. Not entirely sure how that's supposed to be good.

*Crook: This is the perk deck which came out with the Fugitive skill tree and one I'd only suggest picking if you also chose Fugitive. It works a lot like Rogue in that it's all about dodge, but it only really works on light armour. You get a little less dodge than Rogue but better armour values. If you want to play "super reflexes," I'd honestly play this over Rogue.

That's really all there is to Perk Decks. Pick one, hit "Equip Deck" and start playing the game. Every time you come back to Skills and Perks you'll see an experience conversion counter and gain more perk points. To use those, just use the + sign under the card you want to unlock and that'll deposit points into it. You can get points you've invested into a card back, but only if you haven't unlocked it fully. What this means is you can cancel out of partial progression, but you cannot "respec" your Perk Decks. If you want another, you need to unlock it.

Once you're done with that, let's back out and look at inventory.

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

NuclearToast
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I'm sitting in the back, auditing this class. Smile

Samuel Tow
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THIS POST IS SKIPPABLE. SKIP IF YOU JUST WANT TO HEAR ABOUT GAMEPLAY.

OK, so you've had a look at your skills... I presume, but there's one more item I'd suggest having a look at, and that's your Inventory. Go back to the main menu if you haven't and hit Inventory, specifically to your list of primary weapons. The tabs above will show you everything you can bring on a mission with you, which consists of one primary weapon, one secondary weapon, one melee weapon, one type of armour and one piece of equipment. The last two sections - mask and character - are purely cosmetic and have no impact on the game. So let's talk about guns.

Weapons and stats

If you just came out of the tutorial, you likely have just one primary weapon (the AMCAR Rifle) and one secondary weapon (the Chinamo 88 Pistol). You may want to think about getting new guns, but you probably don't have the money to do so yet. Still, if you want to look through what the game has to offer, find a free slot in either your primary or secondary inventory and double-click on that. You'll be taken to the shopping menu. I'm not going to get deep into the specifics of each separate weapon or we'd be here all day, but I will give a broad-strokes (and brief) description of each weapon category.

Primary weapons:

*Assault Rifles: Versatile automatic weapons with a very broad range of stats. No good summary I can give.

*Shotguns: Close-quarters weapons with limited ammo and slow reload. They suffer a severe range penalty and use a weird damage mechanic. Suffice it to say that accuracy is generally bad for shotguns.

*Akimbo: Dual-wielded pistols that I have no experience with. They require a skill or perk to use, either from the Fugitive skill tree or the Hitman perk deck.

*Sniper Rifles: Very high-damage, low-ammo bolt action rifles. They hit hard, fire slowly and are very accurate at range. Sniper Rifles can penetrate walls and can shoot through the shields on Shield Cops (more on that later). Sniper Rifles are locked behind two bits of DLC - Gage Sniper Pack and Gage Historical Pack #1. Note that despite the latter having a sniper rifle, it does not have a sniper scope.

*Light Machine Guns: Automatic weapons with giant magazines and ammo capacity but terrible aim and recoil. "It sprays like a hose and kicks like a mule." LMGs don't have iron sights, though they can still be "aimed" somewhat. Laser sights really help. LMGs are locked behind two bits of DLC - Gage Weapon Pack #2 and Gage Historical Pack #1 for the different guns.

*Saw: If you have the OVE9000 Enforcer skill, you can take a SAW (for cutting doors and people's faces) instead of a primary weapon.

*Grenade Launcher: There's only one grenade launcher in the game. It has six rounds total and deals friendly fire. The Grenade Launcher is locked behind the "Gage Assault Pack" DLC.

Secondary weapons:

*Pistols: Semi-auto handguns which usually come with decent accuracy.

*Submachine Guns: Essentially, automatic pistols though they tend to hit for less damage.

*Seconday Shotguns: Perplexingly, you can take one of two shotguns as a secondary weapon. Secondary shotguns look different but have identical stats with primary shotguns save for total ammo. Not really sure what the thinking was there.

*Saw: If you have the the Enforcer skill Carbon Blades aced, you can take the SAW instead of your secondary weapon. Technically, you can bring two SAWs into a match and while it's funny, I'd advise against it. Especially since you can't dual-wield them.

I should note that while the weapons in each category do share some broad characteristics, they do vary wildly in how they operate from gun to gun. Shotguns, for instance, encompasses pump shotfuns, auto shotguns, semi-auto shotguns and so on. Assault rifles go all the way from borderline SMGs into single-shot borderline snipers. Once you gain enough money to play around with the various guns, I would advise you to keep going back to the Safehouse to test your guns before you field them. It's not as good as trying the guns out in actual gameplay, but it's an easy way to get a feel for them in a safe environment.

Gun mods

Though simple, this does require a bit of explanation. Click on any weapon you already own, and from the menu on he right pick "Modify Weapon." This will take you to a tabbed list of possible mods that the weapon can take. If you're just starting out, you probably won't have any real mods so most will be locked, but you can still see what they would do if you had the mods and added them. Keep in mind that not all guns use the same mods, or indeed even have the same categories.

Two mod categories of note are "Custom" for SMGs and Assaut Rifles and "Ammunition" for shotguns. All rifles and SMGs in Payday 2 can switch between full auto and semi-auto fire. The "Custom" mod instead locks them to either full auto or semi-auto and confers bonuses to do with your choice. In this case, choosing nothing is a very viable choice. You always have an unlimited supply of "Custom" mods. The "Ammunition" mod messes with the way shotguns work, and most ammunition types are locked behind the Gage Shotgun Pack DLC. As before, choosing nothing is viable here, and indeed preferable in most cases. I'm not going to go into the other ammo types as they're explained clearly enough in the game, but... Pick those at your own risk.

Another set of mods which bear special mention are Barrel Extensions. These are essentially stuff you bolt onto the end of your barrel, and the reason they matter is they come in two varieties - "compensators" and "suppressors." They're not always called this (compensators are sometimes called "nozzles" and suppressors are sometimes called "silencers"), but there's a clear distinction between them: suppressors prevent unaware guards from hearing your gunshots with that weapon, compensators do not. I'll talk about this more when I talk about stealth, but that's a distinction to keep in mind.

Most of the other mods are self-explanatiory. You get weapon mods in one of three ways. One is the "card drops" feature which is basically a random drop at the end of every heist. Just keep playing and hope you get stuff for the weapons you actually own. Another is "packages." The Gage Courier Mod DLC introduces hidden collectables on all maps. Collect enough of a certain kind and you'll get a set of special mods applicable to almost every gun (lots of scopes, stocks and barrel extensions). Finally, most paid DLC weapons require you to earn certain achievements for mods to them to unlock.

For most mods, you need to own the mod itself AND pay for it to be mounted on the gun in question. You can remove the mod at any time and it'll return to your inventory. In fact, you can sell the weapon and the mods will be returned to your inventory automatically. However, you're still going to have to pay to install the mod again if you want to install it on another gun, or even reinstall it on the one you took it out of. Keep this in mind. Gage Courier Pack mods don't cost money to install, but you still need to have them. DLC achievement mods do cost money to install, but you have an infinite supply of them if you have the achievement.

That about covers that. Let's move on to...

Melee

The game defaults your melee weapon to a simple rifle butt attack. This does very little and should be avoided. You want to pick an actual melee weapon since all of those are better. Each melee weapon has a damage stat and a knockdown stat. I can tell you from experience that the damage on most melee weapons is not worth using since it takes far too long to kill a cop in melee and he and his buddies will be shooting you full of holes the entire time. The Fire Axe (from the Hotline Miami DLC) is the only one worth using for damage. Instead, pick a weapon with as much knockdown as you can manage. While this may not kill enemies outright, it puts them on their asses and out of your hair for quite a while.

Both damage and knockdown have two values. The first (and smaller one) for both is the stat when simply swinging the weapon. That is, a single press of your melee key. The second stat is what you get if you "charge" the weapon. You do this by holding down the melee key and waiting until the animation is done. When you release, the weapon swings for much higher damage.

Simple as that.

Armour

This seems obvious, but it's slightly less straightforward than meets the eye. Armour sets break down into three types:

*Suit: Alone in a category of its own, the suit has next to no armour but it allows you to run fast, dodge much better and makes you much harder to see in stealth.

*Ballistic Vests: These are three types of fairly light armour. The only reason to use those is if you picked the Crook perk deck or the Fugitive skill tree, as both give bonuses specifically when wearing Ballistic Vests. Note, however, that the Light Ballistic Vest unlocks AFTER the basic Ballistic Vest, but is actually a lighter version of it.

*Tactical Vests: These are the game's heavy armours. They slow you down considerably but offer quite a bit of protection. And yes, I'm counting the Flack Jacket in there. The last armour set - the Improved Combined Tactical Vest is locked and requires the Enforcer skill Iron Man to even wear. Tactical Vests also apply a SIGNIFICANT debuff to dodge, so don't bother building for dodge if you want to wear one of those. It's pointless.

Equipment

This is a pretty straightforward category. Here, you can pick one deployable item to bring on a mission with you. You should recognise all the ones I listed from the skill tree write-up, plus one more - the Armour Bag. I'll talk about it more when I talk about stealth, but for now just know that it allows you to start a mission in a suit and change into armour later on. There's really not much else to say about this.

Mask

As you know, the characters in this game wear masks. This is where you choose which one to wear. The default option is to just use whatever that character has in storyline, but you can create your own, as well. Similar to buying guns, find an empty masks slot and double-click it. This will allow you to "buy" a mask. These show up white and featureless, but can be customised from there on. To customise a mask, select a basic one and hit Customise. You'll need a basic material (plastic is always available in infinite quantity), a pattern and a colour. These mostly come from end-of-mission drops so it's likely you won't see any decent ones for a good long while.

"Mask crafting" costs money and uses up all involved pieces. If you sell a crafted mask, you don't get the mask back, you don't get the material or the pattern or the colours. There are exceptions, but do keep this in mid - when finalising a mask, you are committing to it. There is no turning back.

Character

This is a purely cosmetic choice. What this determines is the colour of suit your character is going to wear (and in the case of John Wick, the gloves), the default mask and the character's voice. That's it. John Wick is a "community item" so you need to "follow" the Payday 2 Steam group while Hoxton is unlocked by doing the Hoxton Breakout heist. If your chosen character is already in use in a game you just joined, you'll assume the role of a random other character. You have no control over who that might be.

If you really care about the characters, there are in-game biographies about them, to the tune of one paragrpah. You shouldn't care, because they're mostly faceless, but the voice actors are pretty good.

That wraps up inventory, and I'll get to the actual god damn gameplay next Smile

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

Samuel Tow
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Joined: Nov 18 2011 - 5:45am

OK, we've dealt with all the extraneous bullshit you didn't get the game for but kind of need to understand in order to play this. Let's get to the fun stuff - shooting 200 cops in the face! For your first game, I'd suggest either playing with people you know or else trying a solo game. Let's go with the latter. From the main menu, select Crime.net Offline. This will bring up a map of Washington DC, where various icons will begin to pop up. These icons are "Heists," the game's missions. Each icon will contain the name of the Heist, the difficulty and whether or not it's a "pro job." The name of the Heist just tells you what you're doing.

Difficulty is represented by a number of yellow "skulls" next to the icon - no skulls to four skulls, signifying Normal, Hard, Very Hard, Overkill and Deathwish difficulty, respectively. Normally, you can simply restart a Heist you failed, from the last day you got to (more on that in a bit), but "pro job" Heists will kick you out entirely if you fail, even if you failed at the end of Day 3. A Pro Job Heists have a red border.

For simplicity's sake, let's try a basic starter heist - Four Stores. Since you'll likely be doing this solo to try the game out, wait until Four Stores, no skulls shows up and click on it. It'll give you a little voice entry from Vlad the Ukranian and wait until you hit Accept. That'll put you into heist preparation. So let's talk about that.

Heist Preparation

As soon as you start a Heist, Bain will start running his mouth. Get used to that. You'll be put in a tabbed menu, with the game defaulting to the Briefing tab which just has a text representation of Bain's narration. You don't care about this. Nobody cares about this.

Instead, switch to the Assets tab. This tab will have two icons lit up and a number of dark ones. Th first lit up icon is simply a representation of your difficulty. It doesn't matter in the slightest since you have a readout of that at the top of the screen. The second is a representation of the various Gage Packages from the Gage Courier Mod DLC. It's just a static pic to let you know what the various packages look like. You can feel free to look at it once and then ignore it. The rest of the darkened, black icons you actually care about.

On Four Stores there isn't much to buy, it's why I picked it. I'll probably talk about Assets another time, but let me give you just the basics. A "darkened" asset is one you need to buy if you want it to show up on the Heist itself. Mouse over it to see what it's called and what it costs. Either somebody needs to pay that amount of money in advance. Clicking on the asset once will give you a vague description of what it does and will ask you to confirm buying it. That's as complicated as that gets (with some exceptions).

Next you have Loadout. This shows you your own chosen gear. You can change your primary and secondary weapons, melee weapon, armour and deployable. You can't change your mask or your preferred character, however. Next after that is Crew Loadout, which basically tells you what everyone else is bringing to the fight. Check this out if you want to synchronise weapons or make sure somebody else is bringing the "necessary" equipment. Next after that is Soundtrack which I don't care about you probably won't, either. Check it out on your own time, it's pretty self explanatory.

Your Environment

When you load into Four Stores, the game will put you into Casing Mode. I'll talk about this more when I discuss stealth. For now all you care about is that civilians will ignore your presence. You can walk the map and look around. Since this is likely your first run of Four Stores, take this opportunity to familiarise yourself with where everything is. Note, however, that cameras and guards WILL become suspicious if you walk too close to them.

Four Stores consists of... Well, four stores, two on each side of a street. The mission objective is to steal $15 000 in valuables. One side of the street has the "Pear" Store which sells smart phones and touch pads with a guard inside it, as well as a grocery store with cameras and an ATM inside it. The other side of the street holds a china store with cameras inside it and a cafe. Check out the various stores from the inside and look around the alleys in the back. You want to know how you can move between them. Once you're satisfied, find a secluded spot and put on your mask. From this point on, EVERYONE will become suspicious of you, civilians, cameras and guards alike.

At this point you're still in stealth mode, but I'll talk about this a bit later on. Four Stores is very difficult to stealth, especially if you don't know what you're doing so don't even bother. Walk into a store and start yelling at people. Sooner or later someone will call the cops and the Heist will go "loud." Once that happens, you have a few things to worry about.

Hostages

Any civilians on the map are potential hostages. When they see you, they'll cower for a bit, then try to run away. If you let them run too far, they'll leave the map and despawn. Don't let them. Your "use" key doubles as a "yell" key if you're pointing it at civilians (or cops, or team-mates). Yell at civilians once to make them stop, then once more to make them drop to the ground. Your yell has limited range, so you may need to chase them or at least get in their faces. Once a civilian is on the ground, you can "cuff" them using zip ties. By default, you only have two. The Mastermind skill "Cable Guy" can give you four extra ties when you Ace it.

Once you've tied down your requisite two hostages, you need to prevent the cops from freeing them, since you don't get your cuffs back. If you tied people down in a bad spot (say in the middle of the street) you can move the hostages. Stand over one and hold your Use key - that'll make the hostage stand up and attempt to follow you. Know that hostages move very. Very. Slowly. As they waddle towards you, the cops literally can't kill them (that was patched out of the game), nor can bots if you're playing with them, so don't worry about the AI killing your hostages. What CAN kill your hostages, however, is you - watch your fire. Hostages like to clip into your character model if they're following you, so keep an eye on what that hostage you're moving is doing.

Hostages will take the longest most circuitous route possible to get to you. At any point along the way, they may get scared and drop to the ground. If this happens, you need to walk back to them and bring them up again. This can happen if they get shot by the AI, if something intimidates them, if they get out of range of you, if they can't find a path to your current location and sometimes just at random for seemingly no reason other than to piss you off.

No matter how much they make you angry, never shoot the hostages. You get hit with a monetary penalty and this causes extra spawns of special cops, usually snipers. This goes for uncuffed civilians, as well. Don't shoot innocent people. Always watch where they are, too, because uncuffed civvies like to get up and run through your line of fire. Try to remember where the civilians are, yell at them occasionally and try to shoot at no lower than enemy chest level to avoid accidentally hitting people on the ground. Sometimes it's worth letting the cops free a bunch of civilians just to get them off the map so you don't have to worry about shooting them.

For now, cuff a couple of civvies and bring them into one of the two relatively secure places on the map - the rec room in the Pear store or the back room in the China store. This should be relatively quick, so you can focus on your...

Mission objectives

The objective of Four Stores is to steal valuables, but these come in several varieties. Around the map will be a number of safes, usually under counters. Each of these needs to be drilled individually and they take about two minutes. If you're lucky, a tall safe and/or a fat safe may show up somewhere on the map. These take around four minutes to drill. If you have the C4 skill, you can blow open the safes at no damage to the items inside. Small safes usually contain a single "loose item" which can be picked up for a small price. You have an infinite inventory for loose items. Larger safes tend to contain either many loose items or a single large item that you need to "bag." You can only carry one bag at a time and it weighs you down. More on bags later.

Additionally, you may find a number of "cash drawers." These can usually be found under cash registers but are sometimes found on their own under counters. Open them, then grab the money inside. Finally, the map may have one or two ATMs. If you have ECMs, you can override their electronic locks and get a considerable lump sum of money from inside. Failing that, you can cut them open if you brought a SAW. And that's pretty much it. Drill safes, grab money and fight the cops who respond to your crime in progress.

The environment

I hope you familiarised yourself with the map in casing mode because now you'll need to know where everything is. Generally speaking, Payday 2 is made with the assumption that you know where you are, where your team-mates, where you're going and what you're doing at all times. The game will throw cops at you in a constant stream and expect you to fight them WHILE accomplishing objectives. Don't expect that you can kill 'em all then go fix the drill. They won't stop coming. Keep your head in the game and your eye on the objectives. Everything else will sort itself out.

Four Stores is divided into two sides by a street. DON'T stand in the street. You'll get shot, usually by cops you either can't see or who are too far away to hit. Pick a side and stay in it, moving between the two stores in that side via the back ways. There's an alley behind the pear store and the grocery store with windows overlooking each other and there's a back door to the china store which leads to a window of the cafe. DO NOT attempt to cross the street unless you have a good reason to do so, such as having finished everything on one side or needing to rescue someone on the other. Open spaces are killing fields in Payday 2. Avoid them at all costs.

Invariably, cops will come for you and rush into the stores. All the better - let them. They're easier to kill at close range and they drop ammo you can pick up without having to be shot at. However, never leave yourself without cover. Think about where you're standing. Think about where you can be approached from. Think about where you can take cover. A sense of orientation really helps here, because it pays to know what's behind you without having to turn and look. Usually, you want to put your back to a "safe" direction where you're not likely to get shot from. When this isn't possible, you want to have a place where you can do this close by. If you get shot from behind, dash to that place.

On Four Stores, this usually means standing inside the stores themselves, usually behind something which blocks line of sight from the street but which you can still step around and get line of sight of the street-facing door. In the pear store, that's the rec room. In the grocery store, that's crouching behind the counter. In the china store, that's either the back room or behind the counters. In the cafe, that's usually the door leading to the kitchen. Find places that make you feel safe and don't stick your neck out for no reason.

If you MUST cross the street, do it quickly. DON'T stop to engage the cops. DON'T try to hide behind cars and have a little shootout. You will almost always lose, or at least lose health. Shoot as many cops as you feel comfortable from inside the safety of the store, then dash across. If you get shot along the way, ignore it. There's nothing you can do about that, just keep on running. Your first priority is to find cover and find a safe spot, THEN you can return fire. Whatever you do, DO NOT stand in the middle of an open street trading shots with cops. This is never a good idea and should only be attempted in utter desperation. The enemies spawn indefinitely. Your goal is to keep yourself alive and conserve your ammo. Do this, and the kills will come naturally.

The bots

Whether you play solo or with other people, chances are you'll have a bot or two, so it's worth knowing how they work. Bots in Payday 2 work kind of like they did in L4D2, but they're actually quite a bit smarter. Unlike you, Bots have unlimited ammo, so don't worry about them wasting shots. Bots also have a TREMENDOUS amount of regenerating hit points. They're pretty hard to take down, although they can still be overwhelmed. Bots will generally pick a person and try to follow that person as best they can. However, yelling at bots will cause them to follow you. If you're solo they'll always follow you, obviously. If you're playing with a friend, though, it's usually best to split them up - one bot following each player.

Though bots have a lot of hit points, they're pretty stupid and will get themselves into peril if you don't look after them. For instance, bots usually can't follow you if you move too fast. They're very easily distracted, and will often stand in open space shooting at cops instead of following. Yelling at them a second time will usually snap them out of whatever they're doing, but only for a few seconds. If you want a bot inside and it's circling the house like an idiot, it may become necessary to keep yelling at the bot. Like cops, bots have "hurt" animations. If they take too much damage, they'll stagger and sway and may even trip over. While this doesn't really do much, it's usually a sign that the bot's taking A LOT of damage and may need help. It also roots them in place so they can't follow you.

If you go down, all the bots on the map will attempt to revive you, but they're kind of stupid about this. They do have some degree of intelligence as to when they can revive you and when they have to kill the cops shooting at them, but this tends to cause them to "flip-flop." It's not uncommon to have a bot revive you 3/4 of the way, then stop to shoot at some cops, then repeat the process three or four times till you time out. You can still yell at the bots if you're down and that'll usually snap them out of it, but not always. Also, if you get downed by a Cloaker (more on that in a bit), bots will may act irrationally.

A bot is better than no team-mate at all (and indeed far better than a blithering idiot team-mate), but they have their limitations. Know those limitations, work around them and you'll have a dependable pet with infinite ammo and tons of health. Get it wrong and you end up with an annoying liability you have to babysit.

The cops

Since you're playing on Normal, most of what you'll see is "regular cops." On all difficulties, those tend to consist of three separate kinds of enemies. You have the "beyond the call of duty" blue shirt beat cops who show up from time to time. They're incredibly easy to take down since their armour is a blue shirt. However, note that they deal disproportionately huge amounts of damage. Shoot those bastards as soon as you can. You then have regular cops - usually SWAT dudes. They're your bread and butter enemy, fairly easy to take down but they show up in large numbers. You then have the "heavy" cops - "canaries" on lower difficulties. They have a lot more health but show up in smaller numbers. These guys are dangerous, so deal with them as soon as you can. I'll talk about "special" cops later," but you'll also run into Shields. These are regular SWAT guys with a large shield and a rapid-fire pistol. Unless you have explosives or a sniper rifle, you'll need to shoot them in the back.

There are a few things to remember about how cops work in Payday 2:

1. They have "hurt" animations. Shoot them hard enough or often enough and you'll make them stagger. They'll trip, they'll stumble, sometimes they'll fall flat on their backs. While this prevents them from shooting for a time, keep in mind that it doesn't mean they're dead. These guys are resilient and can get knocked down multiple times, depending on the situation.

2. They can be "suppressed." Shooting at an enemy - even if you miss - has the effect of suppressing them. Guns with a greater threat rating are better at doing this. Cops have three stages: normal, suppressed, scared. Normal is normal - their base stats. When you suppress them, they'll sort of crouch and shoot both less often and less accurately. If you scare them, they'll dive for cover, then run for their lives until they break line of sight for a while. This works through walls, as well, allowing you to lay down suppressing fire if you need to cross a street or cover a team-mate. Remember this.

3. They don't aim at all. Like in an RPG, all cops need is line of sight of your head to shoot you. The rest of your body literally doesn't matter. When a cop "sees" you, he'll start rolling to-hit checks. If he rolls a hit, you're hit. Doesn't matter if you were flipping through the air 10 miles away - you're hit. If he rolls a miss, he misses even if he was spooning you. What this means is there's no such thing as "partial cover." It doesn't help to crouch behind low cover. If the cop can see the top of your head, you may as well be standing on top of your cover dancing the can-can.

4. Their melee attacks SUCK. Just don't let cops melee you. They deal shotgun levels of damage and will strip all of your amour in one knife stab. What this means is you REALLY don't want to let cops sneak up behind you, or else walk in on them. Even the most basic grunt with the least impressive attack hits you as hard as a sniper can. The Martial Artist Aced skill from the Ghost tree can mitigate this, but my point stands - don't get stabbed and you'll live longer.

The van

So... Once you have your hostages secured, your bots managed, the cops killed and the safes drilled, Bain will tell you that "the van will be there in two minutes." It always shows up late, so hold out for the requested amount of time. Once this happens, the van will show up in one of I think two or three possible locations. Simply walk up to it, throw any bags you may be carrying in the back and stand in the outlined area. One of the locations is behind a locked metal door. This door does not become interactive until the van arrives, however. It takes 20 seconds to pick by hand, but you can blow it up with C4 or cut it with a SAW if you have either.

All Heists in Payday 2 end with you running to an escape vehicle. This is most commonly a van, usually one which will arrive after the fact. Somtimes this can be a helicopter, sometimes it can be a boat or a car. This varies, but every escape vehicle can carry bagged loot and has an escape are somewhere near it. When everybody stands in the escape area, the Heist ends. Bots don't count for this.

Any players left in custody when the crew leaves will take a fairly large hit to their experience and I believe cash rewards. Everyone else will get less, as well, as there's a "Crew Alive" bonus which adds up for every crew member left alive at the end. For multi-day Heists, this only matters on the last day since you get jack squat on any of the previous days.

Up next, all that stuff I said I would talk about "later" Smile

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

NuclearToast
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Two things. First of all, Sam is going into a LOT of detail. Don't let that scare you off. Just like in any game, you'll pick this stuff up as you play and it'll quickly become second nature.

Second, pet peeve. A "SAW" is a Squad Automatic Weapon, an LMG. A "saw" is a device that cuts things. One's an acronym, the other is a word. I think Sam is trolling me on this.

Orion Pax
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While I haven't had much more than a chance to skim through the first couple of posts, I did want to thank Sam for this write-up Good  I hope to try and explore PayDay 2 soon, and see how well I fare with this knowledge/walk-through Wink

Samuel Tow
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Believe it or not, I'm actually skipping a lot of detail Smile But yeah - treat what I write as the game's manual. This isn't something you're expected to sit down and read like a book. This is mostly the basics so you know what you're looking at and how the systems work. The real "meat" of Payday 2 is in mastering each individual Heist's specifics, which really just comes down to experience. I have a few more posts to write, mostly detailing stealth and the various special cop types.

As I know most of this stuff off-hand, I can guide your through it in person if we end up with enough people for an event Smile

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

NuclearToast
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Protip: Sam =hates= stealth missions. I'm not sure I'd trust him as a source for stealth tactics. Smile

Samuel Tow
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NuclearToast wrote:
Protip: Sam =hates= stealth missions. I'm not sure I'd trust him as a source for stealth tactics. Smile

Well, I'm definitely no expert, to be sure Smile However, as this is a loose guide, you don't need expert-level tactics like ECM rushing, AI bug exploits and map-specific stuff. I'm mostly going to talk about concealment and visibility, cameras, guards, noice, body bags and so on. I have a couple more posts I want to make, but I have guests over right now so probably later Smile

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

Samuel Tow
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OK, more guide stuff, this time a little more structured. Let's say you're running a random "loud" Heist somewhere in the game. Here are a few things you'll want to be aware of:

Heist phases

Start: Any time a heist "goes loud" (by which I mean the police learn of your presence), civilians will immediately try to run out of the map, guards will draw their guns and become hostile and police will be on their way. They arrive remarkably quickly, but you can delay their first appearance if you take hostages before the alarm sounds. This is your chance to get things done while in relative safety, but do it QUICKLY!

First responders: Usually, "blue shirt cops" will show up soon after you're detected, driving white police cruisers. You're not in trouble yet, but listen to Bain. One of the first REAL responders constitute a "hostage rescue team," or HRT. These guys will make a beeline for your hostages and rescue all of them. Guard your hostages, because it's very easy to lose 'em. This is especially true since you're likely still running around rushing jobs before the real cops show up.

Assault Wave: Look for a yellow banner at the top right of your screen obscuring your hostage counter, which says "Police Assault in Progress." This signifies that you're in an Assault Wave. During this time, cops will spawn almost constantly, maintaining a rough number of cops on the map pretty much at all times. Some will rush you, some will go camp specific spots, some will go for your drills and bags - they don't all behave the same way. A police wave ends either when you kill enough cops, or after a certain amount of time has passed.

A few things to keep in mind here: DO NOT leave cover during an Assault Wave unless you really have to, or unless you're very confident. Cops spawn constantly and you will be shot from everywhere. Don't move bags during an assault wave, either. Also - while killing cops helps make the wave end faster, this is NOT your priority. The objectives are, so focus on that unless you're covering someone working on an objective.

Pull-Back: Once an Assault Wave ends, police will "pull back." Special cops (but not Snipers) will leave and run out of the map, as will some regular cops. Any regular cops camping a spot, however, will stay where they are. New cops won't spawn, or else will spawn at a much slower rate (I'm actually not sure). What this means is the pressure's off you for a while. Pull-Back lasts 30 seconds, but each hostage you have tied up will delay this (I don't remember by how much).

When police have pulled back, that's a good time to run around in the open, move bags, get ammo and health and so on. You're relatively safe, but don't relax too much as cops will still hang around. If you're moving bags, make sure you move them from good position to good position. The last thing you want is to get hit with an Assault Wave with 12 bags in the middle of the street.

Point of No Return: Some heists will put you on the clock. When this happens, you'll see "Point of No Return" in red letters at the top of your screen with a timer next to it. This only ever shows up when you have an escape vehicle available. You NEED to escape before the timer hits 0 or else the Heist fails as though you'd gotten captured. Make sure that EVERYONE is in the zone, or else it won't work. The only way you can leave people behind is if they're in jail. People running around or downed NOT in the escape zone when time runs out will fail the Heist for you.

Cop types

Regular cops: These are what you'll be fighting the majority of the time. I covered their types earlier, but there are a few other characteristics worth talking about. Regular cops can be "intimidated." Hitting your Use key at a regular cop will cause you to yell at him. If you have the Domonator skill and a few requirements are met, the cop may surrender. Regular cops cannot be "marked," but they can be suppressed.

Shields: Shields are the most common kind of "special" cop you're likely to see. They're essentially regular cops equipped with a rapid-fire pistol and a large impenetrable shield. Sniper Rifles, certain Shotgun ammunition and all kinds of explosives can hit Shields through their shield, but regular firearms cannot. To kill shields, you either need to flank them while they're firing on somebody else or run around them really quickly. If you have the Iron Man skill aced, you can knock them back with a melee attack. Unlike all other cops, you cannot clip through Shields. They'll block your pack, and you can sometimes even stand on top of them. When shields spawn anywhere on the map, you'll hear a "metal banging on metal" sound.

Snipers: Snipers are the other common type of special cop you'll see. They're fairly fragile, but have very powerful, long-range rifles. You can recognise Snipers by the red targeting laser they use. Snipers deal a tremendous amount of damage if they hit you and can deal damage to both armour AND health on the same shot. Snipers are programmed to almost always miss their first shot against you, but will grow progressively more accurate with every shot. Keep in mind that a bug allows Snipers to sometimes fire at you without showing a laser beam and with perfect accuracy. Just so you know what that is.

Taser: Tasers only show up on Hard and above. They have the second largest pool of hit points of any cop and will often go down numerous times without actually dying. Tasers wear all-black uniforms with a black helmet and taunt you in a loud, staticy voice that you can usually recognise them by. When a Taser spawns anywhere on the map, you'll hear an electric charging sound. You can tell a Taser is near you if you hear a constant electrical crackling noise.

Though they have a pretty wimpy rifle, a Taser's primary danger comes from its... Well, taser. You'll hear a loud "charging" sound then you will be "tased." This makes you immobile and causes you to fire your gun continuously with awful accuracy and jumpy aim. If you're lucky, you may be able to use this to kill or at least push the Taser, but that's not always possible. If a Taser tases you long enough, you'll become incapacitated. When tased, your best bet is to look around and spam your Use key. That'll mark the Taser and help team-mates save you. If you go down from being Tased, however, this doesn't count as a "down."

Cloaker: These guys are insidious. Cloakers dress in a grey uniform and have Splinter Cell night vision goggles. They have a lot of hit points but are VERY susceptible to headshots. They don't announce their presence when they spawn, but you can tell if a Cloaker is near by a high-pitched radio static sound. If you hear that BE CAREFULY because these guys can take you down in one hit.

Counter-intuitively, Cloakers spawn the most frequently during the Pull-Back phase and less so during a Police Assault. When they spawn, they'll duck-walk to an ambush spot. Cloakers like to hide under cars, behind doors, around corners and sometimes even in the ceiling. If one targets you, he'll run at you, and the bastards run FAST! The Cloaker will make a distinctive sound while running and his visor will light up green. If you see that, ACT FAST. They'll jump over obstacles, they'll jump down buildings, they'll run around corners, etc. Once targeted, you almost can't escape unless you kill the Cloaker.

If a Cloaker "kicks" you, he'll incapacitate you in one hit. You won't even be able to fire back. Usually, the Cloaker will remain on you, kicking you an beating you with his baton while yelling taunts which give away his position. He will, however, also deploy a smoke grenade. Sometimes, Cloakers won't pummel you, but will instead squat near your broken body, waiting for someone to come rescue you. If you're downed by a Cloaker, SAY SO! We need to know when we come rescue you. Being "kicked" by a Cloaker does not count as a "down."

Bulldozer: AKA, the "Tank." Bulldozers are are guys in bomb disposal suits with ridiculously overpowered weapons and crap-tons of health. Bulldozers will yell taunts almost constantly in a specific "bulldozer" voice. You can tell one has spawned by listening to his taunts. You can also tell one is approaching the same way. Generally speaking, you'll run into navy green and black Bulldozers, with the black ones being generally more dangerous.

When he first spawns, a Bulldozer will roam around aimlessly for a while. This gives you time to notice he's there. Once he's done this, though, he will walk towards you at a constant pace and chase you anywhere, including climbing up sheer walls. Any time you're within range, a Bulldozer will shoot at you, and his fire HURTS. If you lose your shield, take cover and wait for it to regenerate. You can't stand toe-to-toe with these guys. They have too much health.

Bulldozers have a ridiculous amount of health if you don't know how to fight them. They can take hundreds of rounds if you shoot 'em in the chest. Unless you happen to be sporting the Thanatos .50 cal rifle, you'll need to aim for the head. Every Bulldozer has two "collars" and two "face plates." The two collars and the outer face plate can be shot off independently of each other. Grenades are good at knocking those off, though they deal little damage to the bulldozer himself. Once the outer face place is down, you need to shoot off the plate glass of the helmet itself. This exposes the Bulldozer's face and allows you to score headshots for ridiculous damage. Once his face is exposed, a Bulldozer can go down in a few shots.

A Bulldozer is always a team effort and he must be fought cautiously. If you see one, mark him and tell your team. Gang up on him and take turns shooting at the guy. Hidewhen you're hurt and stay in cover. A shotgun Bulldozer can take you down in two shots. And they sometimes come in pairs.

"Going down" and health

When you lose al of your shield and all of your health, you "go down." This puts you flat on your back but - like in L4D2 - still allows you to use your secondary weapon (though the Die Hard skill allows you to use your primary). When in this mode, we say you're "down." The cops will ignore you entirely if you don't shoot, but as soon as you fire your gun, they'll shoot you again. Once your "down health" expires, you'll reach a phase that NT calls "all the way down." This is the same as simply "down," only you can no longer shoot. Tasers and Cloakers will put you into this latter state directly.

When you go down, you're put on a timer of I think 25 seconds. Until this timer expires, a team-mate can revive you, usually by standing over you and holding the Use key (although Inspire Ace from the Mastermind tree can do this by yelling at you). If this is successful, you get up with full armour but less than half health. How much health you have depends on the difficulty (less the higher you go). Though you're back in action, you have now suffered a "down." Like in L4D2, you can only go down three times. The fourth time sends you directly to jail - no reviving. You'll know you're on your last down when the screen goes desaturated as you fall. This, however, can be a bit hard to see. Note that going down to a Taser or a Cloaker does not count as a "down" in this sense.

If you go down four times or else you go down and your timer expires, you go into "custody." You're effectively out of the game and spectating at that point. On Normal and Hard, you get released from custody after a set amount of time (with the Ghost skill Cat Burglar Ace halving that time). On higher difficulties, however, your team-mates have to get you out, which they can also do on lower difficulties to get you out early.

When an Assault Wave ends and the game enters the Pull-Back phase, Bain will start negotiating for your release. Once he's done this (it takes five seconds by default), a living team-mate can trade a hostage for your release. You show up with full health, full armour and full ammo for all weapons. The cops were kind enough to resupply you, it seems. This, obviously, requires a hostage - civilian or dominated cop, either works. If you don't have one, you're SOL. Get one.

There's a catch to this, however. If you've killed civilians prior to going into custody, this will put a time penalty on both your time spent there on Normal and Hard and on the time it takes before Bain can negotiate a hostage trade. In fact, if you kill enough hostages then negotiations may take so long you miss the entire Pull-Back phase. I honestly don't know what you're supposed to do at that point. Don't kill civilians, I guess. But don't worry about killing any cops you have hostage. There's no penalty for that.

Bags

Any loot larger than a wad of cash needs to be "bagged," as do mission objectives quite often. Most missions which even have bags to begin with will give you far more of them than you have people in the game, so you'll need to move large numbers of bags by hand. To do this, you need to know what kind of bags there are. Each bag type slows your movement speed, reduces your jump height and can be thrown a different distance. All of those are affected by the Enforcer skill Transporter, so I won't be mentioning it for every damn type.

Light bags: Usually drugs and jewellery count as this. Light bags slow you down a negligible amount and can be throw a long distance. You can also sprint with light bags. You'll barely feel one on your back. With these, it's usually best to just carry them.

Medium bags: Mostly money, but Thermal Drill bags count as this, as well. Medium bags slow you down noticeably and prevent your from sprinting. However, you can still throw them the full distance. For this reason, it's usually better to throw these bags and run after them than to carry them.

Heavy bags: Gold and stolen weapons usually count as this, though some Heist-specific items can sometimes also be heavy (samurai armour, large drill parts). Heavy bags slow you considerably and almost kill your ability to jump. Without Transporter, you can barely throw them any meaningful distance. Usually, it's best to carry these on your back.

Super-heavy bags: Right now, I know of only two Heist-specific items which are super-heavy, but they're a big deal. With a super-heavy bag on your back, you can barely even move (more like waddle) and you can't jump but at all. Super-heavy bags cannot be thrown - attempting to do so just drops them at your feet. Whoever is carrying a super-heavy bag becomes an escort objective and everyone else NEEDS to cover and support that person.

There are a few more things to know about moving bags than just what you're carrying, though. A very important aspect and a real time-saver is the ability to catch other people's thrown bags in mid air. There's even an achievement for this, though it's hard to pull off. Generally speaking, you need to know where a bag will land and wait for it there. Aim for the bag with the centre of your screen, wait for it to come into range (it'll light up) then hit use. If you time it right, you'll take the bag instantly without having to go through holding your use key on it. "Bag-catching" is useful to speed up moving bags long distances by forming a human chain. It's much, much more useful for throwing heavy bags up to a ledge that's too high to reach otherwise. It's usually best to have someone stand on the ledge and catch bags that another throws to him. That saves off A LOT of time dragging backs around the long way.

Finally, I want to talk about "bag discipline." If you learn one thing, learn this: KEEP THE DAMN BAGS TOGETHER! Grabbing one bag and trying to bring it all the way to the van is never a good idea, nor is splitting the bags up into multiple groups. Any bags you're not within line of sight of, the cops can steal. Sometimes you can stop them in the act. More often, they'll bring the bags out of sight and a long way away from where you want them. Getting the bags back at that point is such a huge pain in the ass it's usually not worth it, if not outright impossible. Keep all the bags you want to move in a nice, tidy pile that's easy to defend.

When moving bags, move the entire pile one step at a time. Know what kind of bags you're moving, then pick a nearby location you want to move them to. Then, one by one, move EVERY bag of the original pile to the new pile BEFORE you start moving bags from the new pile anywhere else. Pick those locations carefully, as well. Never pile bags in places that you can't defend easily from a cover position, especially if you have many bags. Trust me, moving 10 bags of gold and 15 bags of money out of an open lobby where every cop in the state can shoot at you ain't gonna' happen.

Always plan a route BEFORE you start moving bags. Yes, an actual route, not just a general direction. Which window are you throwing them out of, which staircase are you bringing them up, which corridor are you bringing them down? Pick the route which gives you the most cover. Avoid crossing large open spaces when moving many bags - that's suicide. If you have to do this (say your van is across the street), then pick a defensible position just before the open space and pile the bags there. Wait for the police wave to end, then move the bags as quickly as possible before too many cops spawn. Remember - bags are an escort objective.

Bag don't move on their own. What this means YOU have to move them. Yes, you. Not somebody - YOU. When moving bags, your objective is to make sure they keep moving and don't get stolen. Don't waste time taking potshots at copes a mile away. Don't waste time running around looking for kills. Help me move bags. Right now, preferably. If you picked your route carefully, all it really takes is a single person to cover you, often not even that. And let me tell you - the difference between one person moving bags and three people moving bags is... Well, about 30 minutes, in my experience. It's a slow process, and your primary objective is to make it faster. Unless we happen to be crossing open ground or are being overrun, move bags.

Well... That should about cover everything besides stealth Smile

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

Samuel Tow
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OK, so about that "stealth" thing I keep promising... Let's do a quick refresher on the stages of a Hesit: casing (where you don't have your mask on), stealth (where you have your mask on but the alarm hasn't sounded), loud (when the alarm sounds and you start shooting) and escape (where you leave the map and end the Heist). Everything I say from here on out has to do with the "stealth" part of the heist. Some of it may also apply to casing mode as that's technically still stealth, but let's keep things simple: We're talking about the time after you up on your mask but before the alarm sounds.

Visibility

The most common danger in stealth is being seen. Once your mask goes on, everyone will become suspicious of you if they see you. This includes cameras, guards and civilians. Once somebody sees you, the game will play a sound sting and display a "suspicion meter" in the centre of your screen. The person who saw you will also display a blue question mark over his or hear head - this also applies to CCTV cameras. The suspicion meter goes from 0 to 100 and fills up gradually but quickly. If it reaches 100, the person or camera has seen you and is alerted. We'll talk about what that entails later. For now, let's just say that you don't want that to happen.

People who've seen you but have not yet become alerted (have not reached 100 suspicion) won't actually react to your presence in any way. If you break line of sight before they hit 100 suspicion, their suspicion meter will start dropping and will disappear when it hits its minimum. Remember that in order for people to see you, they need to see your "head," i.e. you need to be able to see their head from your first-person view. The rest of your body doesn't matter. You could be doing the can-can on a table while wearing the Borat thong and people won't react to that if your head obscured by a light fixture or a ceiling truss. Inversely, you could be hiding in bushes in the dead of night dressed like Solid Snake and a random guard can still spot you through the crack of an open door from inside a lit building. Line of sight matters A LOT.

What also matters is how you conduct yourself. There's no difference between standing still and walking normally - you're visible from the same distance regardless. Sprinting, however, makes you visible from MUCH farther away while crouching makes it so guards and civilians have to get closer to you in order to spot you. Keep in mind that this modifies only the distance at which you're seen, not how fast people grow "suspicious." That's controlled, generally speaking, by how close you are to the person in question. The closer you are, the faster people grow suspicious. NOTE: This does not apply to security cameras. They always spot you from a fixed distance and always grow suspicious at the same speed.

Concealment

Something you'll notice almost immediately is that when people first see you, their suspicion doesn't start at 0, but rather at "some" number upper on the meter. Specifically, it starts at whatever your "visibility" stat is. You can see your current visibility in the inventory screen and in the team list during a Heist Day's planning stage. Visibility goes from 0 to 75 and defines where on the meter your suspicion starts when people or cameras become suspicious of you. It doesn't in any way change how fast that meter fills or empties, but it obviously changes how quickly you're seen. People will alert on you much faster if they start at 75 than they would if they started at, say, 3. Visibility does not in any way control the distance at which people spot you, however. All higher visibility does is give you more time to react, which in turn means more margin for error.

Now, if you just started out and equipped the Eagle Heavy Rifle or an LMG, you may find yourself at 75 visibility and wonder how you can get that lower. You'd think there's be a -visibility stat you can get from somewhere, but this is where Payday decides to throw you a curveball just to be confusing. The game has a stat called "concealment" which does more or less that - the more concealment you have, the less your visibility stat is. There is literally no place to check what your concealment is short of adding up the values from all your items - you're supposed to watch your visibility, instead. Remember this simple rule of thumb: If you want to stealth you want HIGH concealment but LOW visibility. +Concealment is GOOD!

Concealment comes from guns (both primary and secondary), melee weapons and armour. Guns rarely have good concealment values, but they can be customised for that with concealment-granting mods - shorter stocks, shorter barrels, smaller magazines and so on. A bug gun is harder to hide. Note, however, that concealment-centric mods will almost always debuff the actual performance of your gun, usually reducing accuracy or stability. Inversely, note that if you want to "mod" your weapon for actual shooting performance, you'll end up using mods which give you combat stats but reduce concealment. That's a tradeoff you'll have to judge for yourself. Melee weapons cannot be modded, so they just have a single concealment stat. The smaller the melee weapon, the more concealable it is but also the weaker it hits. Again - you'll have to figure out a good balance for yourself.

Armour is probably the biggest contributing factor to concealment. Very clearly, the Two-Piece Suit is made for stealth. Pretty much any other armour set is bad for stealthing in, with the exception of the Light Ballistic Vest. In fact, the heavier armour sets will cap you at 75 visibility all by themselves. Mind you, it's not impossible to stealth with high visibility (I have - ask NT :)) but it's much harder. Inversely, you very much can fight in a suit (if you have a dodge build) but that's generally not recommended for new players. That's why you have the "Armour Bag" deployable. Remember Perk Decks? Well, every single Perk Deck has a "Walk-In Closet" perk. This gives you an Armour Bag you can put in your deployable slot (instead of ammo bags or first aid kits or turrets).

To use an Armour Bag, equip it as a deployable, then equip any armour suit. Whatever you pick, you'll start the game in the Two-Piece Suit, NOT what you picked. If you fail stealth and need to be in a firefight, simply deploy the Armour Bag and that'll dress you in whatever armour set you chose at set-up. While this is convenient for tentative stealth, keep in mind that it also replaces your deployable, and those things can be VERY powerful.

When it comes to visibility/concealment, this is one of those "do it all the way or not at all" deals. If you're going to stealth a Heist, you NEED your visibility to be under 20, ideally under 15. While you CAN stealth with higher values, anything over 30-40 is basically only marginally better than 75. At hat point, you may as well just put on heavy armour and bring heavy guns. You'll also note that you can't bring your visibility to 0. I'm told really good builds can reach as low as 3 visibility. I've never been able to hit much below 17-19, mostly because I balance my guns between concealment and firepower. 10-20 is generally good enough so don't beat yourself up too hard if you can't get it down to 6 like NT. I can't Smile

Being seen

Unless you happen to BE Solid Snake, chances are you'll get seen and people will become alerted. When they do, the blue question mark over their head will change to an orange exclamation point. Once this happens, that person can never be made "calm" again, but you have a few options. If a civilian saw you, he'll freeze in place. Yell at him to get him down and time him up. You can, alternately, just shoot the poor sod, take the cash penalty and deal with the problem that way, though I wouldn't recommend it. It's mean, but it also makes the heist a lot harder if it goes live after you've killed a bunch of people in stealth.

If you're spotted by a guard, then definitely kill the bastard. Nobody cares about people with guns so you won't face a penalty of any kind. You will, however, need to answer his "pager." I'm pretty sure the developers don't know how pagers work since you're actually answering his radio, but the game calls 'em "pagers" so we'll go with that. A few seconds after you kill a guard, he'll flash yellow. You NEED to interact with him for the required amount of time. If you fail to do that in time, the alarm sounds. "Pager operator didn't receive a response." If you start answering a pager but stop before you're fully finished, the alarm will sound immediately. "Player disconnected from pager response."

Oh, but it gets better! In any given heist, you can only respond to a pager four times. Well, you can respond to as many as you want, but the fifth pager you respond to will sound the alarm automatically. "Pager operator was unconvinced." What this means is you can only ever kill/incapacitate four guards. No "ifs," "buts" or "maybes." Only four guards. Some missions have random guards who don't have pagers but this is rare. Don't rely on it. On missions where the guards are actually criminals (Russian mobsters, Columbian drug runners, gangbanger thugs, etc.), they obviously don't have pagers. However, note that in these guys will sound the alarm as soon as they alert on you.

You actually CAN dominate guards during stealth if you have the Dominator skill from the Mastermind tree. In fact, there's a short time window immediately after a guard alerts on you where yelling at him will practically guarantee he surrenders. However, you still have to answer his pager and that still counts against your four total. Also, watch out when you do this - if guards get too close, they'll cuff you and call the police. If you get cuffed, someone needs to help you our lest you wriggle for 60 seconds.

People's reactions

As I said, when people alert on you, they'll develop an orange exclamation point over their heads. They won't act immediately, though. Civilians will freeze in place, then they'll run. They'll want to run either out of range of you or else out of line of sight of you. Once that happens, they'll call the police. This is indicated by a cell phone icon over the caller's head. If you see this, yell at the person IMMEDIATELY, or outright shoot him. If his call goes through, stealth ends. Guards will often do the same. They'll draw their gun and point it at you, then try to call the cops. However, there's a catch here. Aiming your gun at them (i.e. looking at them) will be interpreted as a hostile action and it WILL cause them to fire. Guards do not have silenced weapons so as soon as they fire, EVERYONE on the map knows you're there. The alarm doesn't sound instantly, but in a lot of cases it might as well.

If you don't aim at guards, however, they may idle for a long time before they try calling you in. In fact, you can often sprint up to the guard while staring at the ground or looking over to the side and smash him over the head in melee for a quiet kill. Beware, however! A common action guards will take upon spotting you is they'll approach you and cuff you. If a guard decides to do this and you run at him... Well, you just handed yourself over to him.

Something else to keep in mind: You can yell at civilians who have spotted you to get down and they will. However, they won't stay down for very long if you don't cuff them, and you usually won't have enough cable ties for everyone. If left alone long enough, civilians will get up and try to run away. Worse - if you're out of line of sight, they'll call the cops on the spot. You can sometimes yell them back down, but they don't take too long to call. You can either try to tie everyone down, shoot people you don't have ties for or just keep doing the rounds and yelling at them as they lie on the floor. This essentially "resets" them and they'll get up much later. You'll have to keep doing that repeatedly, however.

Cameras

As I said, Cameras are a special case. They always see you from a set distance and grow suspicious at a fixed rate. Cameras are sometimes watched by a guard on-sight, usually in a security room somewhere. Open the security room, kill the camera guard and the cameras become inert. You can even use his camera controls to look through them, but more on that in a bit. Sometimes, the camera operator is a civilian and sometimes he's "off-site" meaning you can never disable the cameras entirely. Well, what then? If you could just go around them then they wouldn't be an issue, would they?

You can try breaking the cameras. Guns and melee weapons work pretty well. This, however, is a double, even triple-edged sword. A broken camera hangs off its mount. Any civilian or guard who passes by it will become alerted IMMEDIATELY upon seeing it, no suspicion meter required. And guards patrol. Civilians wander. A broken camera becomes a liability. Worse, the camera operator will radio one of the on-site guards as soon as a camera goes down. You don't know which guard he picked, you don't know where he'll come from, but sooner or later a guard will go check out the broken camera. When he does, he'll alert immediately. At the same time, though, this tactic can be used to lure guards into out-of-the-way locations by breaking cameras in blind spots away from civilians.

If you've taken out the camera operator or have the "Camera Access" asset, you too can tap into the building's network of security cameras. This is useful for a number of reasons, as I stated earlier. You can get the lay of the building, you can see where everything spawned (rooms in Payday can "move" between replays), you can see where the civilians are and even mark the guards. On smaller maps, it's usually a good idea to leave a single player manning the cameras at all times. On larger maps, however, that player will see very little and usually see stuff too far away to be of any real use. Watch the cameras at your discretion.

Sound in stealth

As you can imagine, shooting guns while trying to be sneaky is not a good idea. Gunshots are loud and people in a VERY wide are will hear them and call the police. Worse, construction equipment in the Payday universe is considered evil incarnate so using your OVE9000 Saw to cut anything is actually LOUDER than guns and will cause people to call the cops immediately. "Is someone sawing? Help! Police! Help! Someone's using a fucking concrete saw here! Call the national guard!" FFS...

No, what you want is silent weapons, which means fitting a silencer to your guns. As I said in the "mods" section, certain barrel extensions count as suppressors (or silencers). These will make your shots completely inaudible to people nearby. Neither the gunshot nor the bullet hitting a wall can be heard. What this means is you can shoot guards, civilians, cameras and each other with impunity, knowing nobody can hear... Except not really, because this is where the game is designed to screw you ever so often. Any time you kill a civilian or a guard using any quiet weapon, he has a small chance to "yell." If he does, people within range will hear him and alert. They will hear this yell through walls, floors and even underground if they're within the yell's not insignificant range. Short of taking specific skills, there's no real way to avoid this. Just hope it doesn't happen. Oh, and just to be cruel, sometimes killing a guard will make him squeeze off a few shots from his unsilenced weapon, specifically if he's already pointing it at you. "I rolled some dice and decided stealth will fail now" is basically how the game handles this.

In the event that you don't have silent guns - if you're like me and you came armed with a machinegun, grenades, an industrial saw and half a car strapped to your body - you're not entirely SOL. Melee weapons of every kind can kill people silently... Provided they can kill the person at all, which not all melee weapons can. Regular "blue shirt" guards will typically go down to even a charged-up pocket knife, but some mission's military-style guards will take a bit more. Plan your loadout accordingly. I personally carry an axe with ridiculous range and damage but a very slow swing speed, just to make sure what I hit goes down instantly. I've managed to Batman quite a few guards with it even when wearing heavy armour.

Other things which make a loud sound include grenades, obviously. You can use grenades during stealth but please - don't. Just... Just don't. Sawing, as I said, will also alert people, as will blowing open doors with C4. Drills are also loud (unless you have the Silent Drilling skill from the Technician tree). People who wonder too close to one will be "attracted" and will then seek out the drill, then alert upon seeing it. This, too, can sometimes be used to lure guards, though proceed with caution as it's unpredictable. Breaking windows - even by melee - will also make a loud sound and alert people. By contrast, loudly opening crates with a crowbar will NOT attract any attention, even within a quiet echoy warehouse.

Other ways to fail stelath

People in the Payday universe are complete cowards and will call the police on you over the most minor details you can think of. If you smash a window and somebody sees it, they'll alert immediately, even a random civilian passing by the street. If you drop a bag of any kind and a civilian or a guard sees it, they'll alert immediately. "Oh no! A duffle bag! It must be a terrorist bomb! Help! Police!" As I said before, they'll also alert if they see any of your drills anywhere. Like I said - construction equipment just freaks these people out.

There are, additionally, mission-specific ways to fail, as well. Banks, for instance, have panic buttons that Civilians will run for. If they get there, they sound the alarm instantly. Some maps have security lasers - the kind that don't exist in real life. Cross those and the alarm sounds instantly. If you see a metal detector, avoid it at all costs. You're carrying guns, after all. That'll sound the alarm immediately. Certain maps have a specific order of things you need to do, and failing to do them in that order will sound the alarm. A number of missions will electrocute you. As I said in relation to the Taser, being electrocuted causes you to squeeze the trigger on your gun. If it's not silenced, you just fired your entire loud magazine and everyone heard you.

If people see other people acting suspiciously, they'll alert on that, as well. If a civilian spots you and panics, anyone who can see that civilian will also alert, and anyone who sees any of those people will also alert in a chain of panic. If cameras see anyone alert, they'll alert. And if a camera alerts, you're screwed. Can't stop that, even if you break it or kill the operator after the fact. Finally - of course - people will freak out if they see a dead body. That needs a bit of explanation.

Corpses

Obviously, killing people leaves behind a dead body. If you killed that person in a high-traffic area, someone will come by and see them very soon. You need to move the body, but unlike... Say, Hitman, you can't just drag the bodies around. You can only move them if you "bag" them inside a body bag. At the start of every heist, each player gets precisely 1 body bag. Bag one body and you can't do it any more. Body bags can be moved like loot bags, though they look a bit different. They count as heavy bags for the purposes of movement speed, jumping and throwing distance. Though people will alert on a body bag just like they would on a dead body, you have the benefit of stashing those where people are unlikely to wander.

Once bagged and moved, a body leaves no trace that it was ever there. There may be a blood splatter where you shot the guy's brains out of his head, but that doesn't matter. It's not construction equipment so people don't notice it. All enemies killed drop an ammo box, but nobody ever sees that, so don't worry about it, either. Move the body and you move all traces of it.

Relevant skills

Rather than clutter the text with constant skill mentions, I put them all here:

ECM: This is the beginning Ghost tree skill. It allows you to place down an electronic countermeasure device which blocks communications for 30 seconds. By "communications," I mean cell phone signals. I don't believe it blocks cameras from seeing you. This is useful to put down if you're going to rush into a crowd of people to yell them down, as it prevents them from calling the cops before you can get to them.

Shinobi Ace: Another Ghost skill, acing Shinobi means that guards shot or meleed will not yell. The skill description is confusing and wrong, that's what this does. Basically, it removes the RNG "Screw you!" chance.

ECM Specialist Ace: Yet another Ghost skill. If you deploy an ECM jammer and kill a guard, that guard's pager won't go off until the ECM expires. You still have to answer the pager and it counts against your limit of 4, but it delays when you have to do it.

Camera Loop: Still another Ghost skill (did I mention the Ghost is the stealth tree?). This one allows you to stop a camera for a few seconds so your team-mates can run past its field of view. Note you have to be close to the camera to do this.

Cleaner: ANOTHER Ghost skill. This one allows you to buy a Body Bags deployable case asset with three extra body bags in it, while the Ace version allows you to carry two body bags at a time. You start with both.

Winston Wolfe: NOT a Ghost skill - this one's from the Fugitive tree. It allows you to carry a second body bag that you start with, similar to above.

Undertaker: Allows you to place one or two body bag deployable cases, the same as what you could normally buy from the assets. That's a lot of body bags and it lets you pick where you set them, but remember - you can only kill four guards. Unless you plan on murdering two dozen hostages, what will you do with all the bags?

That's about all I can think of. If anyone wants to know something else, something more specific... Or something less specific, let me know.

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.