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Killing Floor 2 EA First Looks

[Review in Progress]

So finally, the-day-after-Weedsgiving (is that a day now?) the rest of us finally have our collective clutches around the somewhat-polished, still-a-bit-rough-draft of Killing Floor 2, and I certainly have to say (as a fan of the first game) that it’s a LITTLE bit of a mixed bag at this point.


(Seems like a near 180 to me! -ed)

No.  Seriously.  It’s a very promising game with an EA release trailer and everything, that very obviously has some features to add / complete, but is already very playable; there’s little question in my mind that upon general release when all the content has been fully included (e.g. all perks, maps, weapons, etc), that $30 (or $40 for the digital deluxe version) will be totally worth it for the average schmo.  Right now, you probably only want to jump in this early if you want to be a part of the larger beta experience (check) and/or you’re just frickin’ sick of waiting (double check).


To be fair, there are plenty of alternatives

The EA product at this point is still basically the same as what PC Gamer had in its hands not long ago, and frankly they have not only better video capture tools, but also the oomph to actually run it at 60FPS with beefy settings:

The Tech

The look and feel compared to KF1 is obvious; it’s built from the ground up in Unreal Engine 3, as opposed to the first game, which was originally a Unreal Tournament 2004 mod (in turn built on Unreal Engine 2.5).  That might not sound like much of a difference, but a lot of it has to do with per-pixel calculations as opposed to per-vertex, which makes , for example, far more intricate lighting and shading possible in comparison.  Perhaps equally important was the fact that the original was polished up by 10 people at Tripwire over about a 3 month period, whereas as of 2014 they had expanded to about 50, and building the game from the ground up over a number of years, rather than in a compressed time frame.

It ‘feels’ harder and polished; like comparing Quake to Quake III in terms of how much more realistic the environments are detailed, though the Zeds themselves are a night-and-day comparison, especially considering Tripwire’s patented M.E.A.T. system, which not only gives models’ body parts several more junction points (for more memorable dismemberings), but also renders more realistic blood spatter across levels permanently rather than as their own overlaid textures.

Overall, KF2 brings all the modern graphics tech to the table that you’ve already seen in plenty of other titles for years, but Tripwire’s focus on “Bullets, Blades and Blood” attempts to (and largely succeeds) to keep the classic Killing Floor style of gameplay intact while also bringing it into line with its peers.


Keep It Simple

Do I need to upgrade my rig?

Probably.  That is, if you’re running anything less than a Core i7 or any graphics card less than, say, a 2500 on PassMark’s GPU scale (as of this writing, at least).  For testing, I have an MSI Ghost Core i7 2.5Ghz laptop (running Windows 10 tech Preview x64) with 16GB DDR3 memory, SSD and a GeForce GTX 850M, and an AMD Bulldozer 8-core 3.2 Ghz desktop with 32GB DDR3 memory, SSD and 2x Crossfire’d Radeon HD 7970’s (Running Windows 8.1 x64).  Needless to say, the desktop’s performance was out-of-the-park better, but it was still playable on the laptop (albeit with most of the settings off) [Videos Forthcoming].  Check out KF2’s System Requirements (and pretty much everything else).

Part of the issue, of course, is the fact that it’s a Windows beta AND there aren’t really any ‘official’ GeForce drivers for it yet, so we’ll see what kinds of optimizations occur over time.  On the desktop, I can run everything on High or Ultra, and you can REALLY experience what PC Gamer’s Evan Lahti refers to as a “bloody ballet”, when every bloom of light, every gout of blood, every piece of a Zed eviscerated from its brethren is a smooth, gritty experience that adds to the survival experience

Ultimately, you CAN play KF2 on even a low-to-medium machine, but the juiciest bits of the “Three B’s” is lost in a mediocre framerate.  Over the course of EA, though, that’s likely to change as nVidia and AMD eventually publish some updates to address it, so don’t count your aging rig out just yet.


You’re not fooling anyone, you know

Interface / Dedicated Server

The main menu overhaul is one of the most welcome updates, operating on basically a single tabbed screen, though the in-game HUD takes some getting used to from the original.  Dedicated Server setup through SteamCMD is basically the same as it was for KF1, though you can get away with fewer command line options, and the management GUI more or less matches the main menu’s aesthetic, with easier access to pretty much everything.


“Oh, this?  It’s just a Sharepoint skin, boss. Totally work-related.”

You can basically follow the original setup, while taking into consideration KF2’s slightly different ports and config files.  You don’t HAVE to use a tool like Firedaemon (you can just run the server .exe ad hoc), but it’s far less of a headache as a service, provided you have some spare CPU cycles, or a reasonably-equipped box you can run as a 24/7 server.


Yeah, there’s no verdict yet, but if you’re a Killing Floor fan, this should be a no-brainer for $30, or even a buy-five-get-one-free option if you’re looking to get the band back together with your best mates of 2009.  There’s little question that you’ll need some graphics beef to enjoy the full experience, but even mediocre equipment will get better with time and driver updates.  Worst case, you get KF1 for free (as if you didn’t have it yet), so you can always fall back on that if needed.


It’s not even DONE yet!