In fact, aside from a brief tutorial and offline modes, there's no single player to speak of in the game. As a result, you might feel a little intimidated when playing for the very first time.
But don't worry, because we're here to help ease you into the experience with this guide to how it all works. Thanks to this, you'll go from a shambles to a valued member in no time at all.
Practice makes perfect
When you first boot up Payday 2, you'll receive an invite to pay a visit to your Safe House. Accept it. Here you can play a brief tutorial that explains how it all works, from opening doors and safes, to shooting enemies, and testing out skills and weapons.
In fact, you should try and revisit the Safe House often – particularly when you get a new weapon, perk, or skill. That way you can test it all out in a safe environment without making a complete fool of yourself in multiplayer.
There's also the nice incentive to witness your cash stores growing as you complete various contracts.
So you understand the basics, let's go put them into practice. To kick start a contract, pay a visit to CRIME.NET either on the main menu or via a laptop in the basement of your Safe House.
You can now pick from two different contract types: online or offline. Pick your poison, then choose your difficulty. You might want to stick to normal on your first few runs, and there's no shame in that.
Bear in mind that you do get more cash and experience for completing higher difficulty contracts though, so you will want to bump it up eventually. We recommend that you wait until you're feeling more confident though, and have a few perks and skills at your disposal.
There are a bunch of different types of heist, and then a variety of contracts for each type. Try them all at first to get a feel for your favourites, then you can just rinse and repeat those.
It's entirely up to you which type of heist or contract you pick, but we recommend sticking to the easier ones at first while you build up your supply of skill points and equipment. Then you can start branching out.
Fortunately, many of the most difficult heists aren't available until you've reached a certain level, so Payday 2 itself will keep you safe. Here's a list of heist types and contracts.
- Bank Heists
- Diamond Store
- GO Bank
- Jewelry Store
- Shadow Raid
- Transport: Crossroads
- Transport: Downtown
- Transport: Harbor
- Transport: Park
- Transport: Underpass
- Big Bank
- Big Oil
- Election Day
- Framing Frame
- Four Stores
- Ukrainian Job
Different types of contract
There are three different types of contract in Payday 2: a standard, single day contract, a multi-day contract, and pro jobs. These vary in difficulty and offer different rewards depending on the difficulty of the contract.
Standard contracts are your typical heist, taking place over a single day. Multi-day contracts, as the name suggest, take place over multiple days. They're typically a little trickier too, and reward you with a ton of XP and cash for completing them.
If you fail during a particular day of the contract, you start at the beginning of that day, rather than right at the beginning. You can also drop out or drop into a multi-day contract at the end of each day, receiving a lesser reward than those who stick it out from start to finish.
Pro jobs are by far and away the most difficult type of contract in Payday 2. So dangerous, in fact, they're marked with a red border to warn you.
They're pretty much just a more difficult version of the typical contract, with the same objectives and map layout.
The real difficulty stems from the fact that you can't restart the contract if all of your team gets taken into custody. That's frustrating on a single day pro job, but imagine being unable to restart on the final day of a multi day pro contract.
Preparation is key
Once you've selected a contract and the level of difficulty, you'll get some intel. This provides a layout of the building you're about to perform the heist in, as well as key locations and personnel.
It might provide the location of a key or keycard you'll require, or the location of a particularly dangerous enemy. You get a few pieces of intel by default, but you can pay for better intel. This will make the contract a little easier, but at a cost.
Bear in mind that each contract is generated randomly. You'll likely face events that completely disrupt or alter the intel you receive, so don't rely on it. It does provide a decent starting point though, when choosing skills, perks, and equipment.
Time to go
Now it's time to perform the heist. Your first order of business should be to case the joint, which involves wandering around and making a note of enemy locations, unguarded entrances, and anything else you can spot that might be key.
Remember that each contract location remains persistent no matter how many times you play it. Everything else is random though, like enemy layouts.
Cameras can spot you, civilians can alert the police, and guards can attack you. You can subdue anyone who finds you suspicious to buy you more time though.
Also, bear in mind that your equipment itself might arouse suspicion, so make the crew member with the lowest visibility to ensure success.
Once you've decided on a plan, don your mask and the heist will begin. If you do arouse suspicion, and the cops are called, you'll wear your mask and start automatically.
Get in, get out, get paid
There are a lot of random elements to each heist, so we can't prepare you for absolutely everything that happens. That being said, there are many persistent aspects too.
First of all, your goal remains the same no matter what: get in, get out, get paid. You're rewarded entirely by how much you manage to steal, and the amount of time it takes you to escape with it. As a result, the most cost effective strategy is to take as much as you can in the smallest amount of time.
This might come as a surprise to you, but this is a first person shooter in which shooting should absolutely be a last resort. You receive no monetary rewards for kills, no matter how stylish and cool they are.
Don't assume that you can just go in all guns blazing as soon as you're done casing the joint and have kicked off the heist properly. That's often not the best approach.
In fact, ideally you get in, get out, and get paid without getting caught or setting off any alarms. That's easier said than done, so don't beat yourself up if you fail, but that's the sort of mentality you should adopt while playing Payday 2.
Remember that the clothing, equipment, and weapons you choose can arouse suspicion in and of itself, so pick the right person for the particular task. Also, your actions have consequences. If you kill or knock out a guard or civilian, make sure to hide them in case someone else finds them.
The same applies to breaking stuff. If you smash a window, make sure no guards regularly patrol that area. Use casing mode to consider every single eventuality to help you succeed.
How to deal with combat encounters
Once the police have arrived, they won't stop coming no matter how many you kill. So the best approach is to make your exit as soon as possible when they arrive.
Officers that join the fight a little later also come equipped with some of the best gear too, like vests, riot shields, and even sniper rifles. You're likely to get overwhelmed pretty quickly.
If you can't avoid a firefight, aim for the head. As in most first person shooters, that's the weakest part and will bring down officers faster. Pretty much all of them drop ammo too, so make sure to replenish your supplies.
Breach and assault
Occasionally, the police will mobilise into an assault unit with a single minded determination to take you out. You'll know this happens when a yellow strip appears on the top right of the screen.
When this happens, you've almost got no choice other than to dig in and fight. Find a location that you'll find it easy to defend, and use every trick in your arsenal to try and survive.
There are a few things to bear in mind during these scenarios. For a start, the number of doorways into a room matters. If there are two, police will approach from all angles to try and bring you down. You can either split into two groups of two to fight, or set traps at one entrance and focus your assault on the other.
If there's only a single entryway into the room you're in, the police won't enter, and will try and pick you off from a distance. They may even use equipment to kill you, so prepare for that.
No matter how you choose to deal with these scenarios, they don't last forever. When the yellow strip on the top right of the screen disappears, it's all over. That doesn't mean the police will leave the scene though, they'll just revert back to their ordinary behaviour.
Avoid the slammer
If you run out of health, your crew has 30 seconds to revive you before you're taken into custody. Once this happens, you're unable to do anything for two minutes until you come back into play. Well, unless all of your crew are taken into custody too.
Your crew can bring you back into play early by trading a hostage for you.
What's this about hostages?
If you come across a civilian causing you trouble, you can take them hostage. To do this, point your weapon at them and yell at them to get to the ground. Once they've surrendered, you can use a cable tie to subdue them and take them hostage.
Taking a civilian hostage has positives and negatives. As we mentioned earlier, you can use them to bring a crew member back into play if they're taken into custody. The downside is, police officers will work hard to rescue them so you'll have to keep them with you while you work.
Herein lies another downside – if a civilian is killed while taken hostage, either by you, your crew, or an officer of the law, you'll lose money. So there's a real risk/reward to taking hostages.
What do I do with the loot?
There are two different types of loot you can collect during a heist, aptly-titled small loot and large loot. Small loot has no effect on gameplay, and you can pick it up without consequence. It will then get tallied at the end of the heist.
Large loot, on the other hand, goes in your bag, and the more you pick up, the heavier the bag gets. This slows down your movement, and skews your camera.
You can offset this issue in a couple of different ways, and both of them involve throwing it. If you need to move fast, you can pass it on to a team mate, or you can chuck it in the back of the van to guarantee you'll walk away with it at the end.
It's absolutely worth grabbing this type of loot though, because it's by far and away the most valuable type. As a result, police will take it off you if they can, so you might want to make a mental note of each type of large loot you find on each heist and grabbing it all in one fell swoop before escaping, rather than carrying it around with you.
Once the heist is over, you'll receive a cash and experience reward depending on how well you performed. This screen will even show up if you fail the heist.
You also get to select from one of three cards, which unlocks a weapon, accessory, or mask. Bear in mind that you do still have to purchase an unlocked item.
If you levelled up, pick a new skill
Once your new experience points have been tallied, you might find that your character has levelled up. This provides you with a skill point, unless the level you've attained is a divisible of 10 (10, 20, 30, 40 etc.), in which case you'll get three skill points.
Spend these on skills that compliment your play style. If you have a favourite crew to roll with, it's definitely worth planning a skill setup for each member that compliments each other. That way you can seriously boost the effects of all skills.
Don't worry about spending your skill points though, because you can reset them at any point. You can even create a bunch of different skill point setups to use depending on the situation.
Spend your cash
There's no point hoarding your cash unless you're saving up for a particular item, as you can just go out and get more by performing another heist.
Instead, spend it on new weapons, accessories, or pieces of equipment. Make sure you spend it on stuff you'll actually use though, so none of it goes to waste.
Each new piece of equipment you buy will make future heists even easier. That means you can either boost the difficulty for higher rewards, or boss lower difficulties for lots of cash.