Koch Media Payday 3 Payday 3 PS4 Review Payday 3 PS5 Payday 3 PS5 Review Payday 3 Review PlayStation PS5 Review Sony Starbreeze

Payday 3 Review (PS5) – Making Money Moves…Eventually

Payday 3 Review (PS5) – Payday 3 is, for better or for worse a game where you always have to be connected to the internet to play, at least for now.

In 2023 that’s not as unusual as it was a decade ago, but Payday 3’s launch has been a shining example of why that’s still a bit of a problem. When I first began playing, across my first three days with the game I was only able to join two matches due to how awful the server issues were.

Now, at the time of writing things have been fixed, and I don’t have an issue getting into public or private servers, everything just works as you’d expect it to, and I’m having a great time when it does.

All this to say that Payday 3 is a very good game, unsurprising from Starbreeze due to the fact that the team has been iterating on a formula it made popular for years, but it’s not a great game, at least not yet.

Payday 3 Review (PS5) – Making Money Moves…Eventually

It’s Payday Time

To make things clear, I’ve been a casual enjoyer of Payday 2, but not on console, on PC. While I’ve heard stories of Payday 2 being a lackluster experience on consoles, I’m happy to report that I’m not feeling that with Payday 3 on PS5.

It plays great, looks great, and it’s definitely one of the strongest shooters on the market. When a heist goes sideways, or even if you mask up from the top, Payday 3 really shines as an excellent PvE co-op shooter, made even better when playing and communicating with friends.

But this was clear from my earlier impressions of the beta. Starbreeze knows how to make a good shooter, Payday 2 is a great FPS, and Payday 3 follows suit.

It’s all the little changes in Payday 3 that make it a step above, like being able to simply toss a bag to a bot player for them to carry, or lock-picking not taking anywhere near as long as it used to.

Also I should clarify that Starbreeze knowing the genre it helped build doesn’t mean Payday 3 is more of the same. Well, it is, but it’s still better. The gun play is far improved from Payday 2.

Movement has been greatly improved, every weapon feels great to use, and while I definitely have a favourite heist, there’s something special about the starting eight that make them so replayable.

Considering how much of a smoother experience it is to play Payday 3, it almost feels like Starbreeze is being generous with its reduced price given that there’s only eight heists for now.

It almost feels like that, but the launch experience that myself and plenty of other players have had, on top of other issues made more clear due to its always online nature keep it from actually getting there.

It’ll Be Great Eventually

I know that it feels like a tale as old as time now in games, but all these online multiplayer games, live service or not, or the odd ones that try to walk the line and mostly fall all seem to be launching in poor condition.

That’s not just the multiplayer games, as we’ve seen from the likes of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order along its sequel Survivor, and of course who could forget Cyberpunk 2077’s launch, a game that we now know wasn’t going to be ready until September 2023.

In Payday 3’s defense, it’s not riddled with bugs (it has funny ones, but nothing actually bad) but the fact that it launched and players couldn’t actually play it because of how awful the servers were really stung.

Made even more painful by the knowledge that this wouldn’t be as big of an issue if there was an offline mode, something Payday 2 has, that could at least alleviate some of the frustration players, some of whom paid extra to play the games a few days before everyone else, rightly held.

Yes it’s all fixed now, and Payday 3 is a good game when you can actually play it, but we’ve seen launches like this kill titles that don’t have the fallback of being franchises with a huge following.

Outriders was a brand new, three-player PvE game that could even be played solo, with an always online requirement. Queue times were terrible at launch, and it put a sour taste in players mouths from the beginning.

The tragedy of it all being that when you did get into it, and upgraded your character, Outriders was actually a lot of fun, and the abilities you wielded felt great when you really got in the flow of things.

As of March 2023, Outriders has yet to turn a profit according to its developer People Can Fly. That won’t happen to Payday 3, hinted by the simple fact that it’s the third game in an already popular, long-running franchise.

And that almost makes it worse to swallow, especially considering the absence of simple features already found in other online games Payday 3 just isn’t doing.

Having a list of players I’ve recently played with so I can more easily add others I meet in pubs would be helpful. I’d also personally enjoy being able to see my co-robbers when we’re in menus, instead of needing to squint and see the tiny indicator showing there’s more than one person in the party.

Or at the very least something that isn’t incredibly tiny telling me that information. The menu layout overall is another thing that needs a fair bit of tweaking.

It’s all business, that’s for sure, but to the point where it’s displeasing to the eye, or at least mine. It’s minimal and cold, instead of being minimal and thoughtful.

Shown more in the Challenges section in the menu than anywhere else, as keeping track of different challenges is made more difficult by needing to constantly search across the pages and pages of challenges. Why can’t I star a few challenges to keep track of at a time, that show up on the game’s main menu?

Why is the challenges menu as tedious as it is to begin with, is really the question, especially when you want to be keeping track of challenges since completing them is how you level up and progress.

The main menu also lags and it’s more than odd to me that it takes as long as it does for any cosmetic changes I’ve applied or purchases made with the money I’ve stolen to take effect.

Perhaps that’s something to do with my connection, as it confirms the change to my newly created Starbreeze account across all platforms I might play on.

Because at some point it was decided that our punishment as players wanting to play with their friends across multiple platforms was that they need to spend an annoying few minutes typing out their email and creating a password with a controller.

Surely there’s a better way to make cross-play and cross-progression work in 2023, right? Perhaps that’ll get patched in later on.

Which is the big problem. Payday 3 is a good game right now, and it’ll be a great game eventually, as Starbreeze iterates and fixes issues players are vocal about.

If you read this review next year, it’s possible Starbreeze has fixed everything I’ve mentioned here, but does that mean Payday 3 should’ve released a year later? Not to publishers, but it makes a huge difference to players who paid to be here at launch.

A lot of these issues aren’t on Starbreeze itself, it’s just unfortunate to see Payday 3 join a trend that only highlights the problems with the always-online world that has become the norm.

If this is the new standard, every game that continues to launch like this only works to prove that being able to play a game offline still needs to be a priority.

Stealth Steals The Spotlight

Rant over, on to more things I actually love about Payday 3, namely the overhauled stealth gameplay that absolutely steals the show. It’s incredibly fun to sneak around and take oodles of money, jewels, drugs and valuable servers out of their secure hiding places and into the back of your van without anyone being wise to your actions.

Gold & Sharke is probably my favourite heist for stealth, partly because by the end of it I think it’s hilarious how you can leave the vault with a duffle bag and no one bats an eye, the other part being that it’s just a good, classic bank robbery. It feels really good to turn a big vault wheel and watch it slowly open in front of you.

Under The Surphaze also shines in stealth, particularly because of all the little conditions required to make sure you grab the right art pieces, without ruining them. The settings themselves and how well realized they are within each heist also help play into how much fun it is to sneak through them.

Jumping across platforms in a floor-is-lava style room or cautiously walking past interchanging lasers to steal some expensive art truly never gets old in a way that almost makes you consider a career change.

Going loud also has its time and place of course, but going the stealth route in Payday 3 is the most fun I’ve had with the game, and its what makes me keep coming back to play each heist again to complete challenges, and complete them on higher difficulties.

Making Money Moves, Eventually

A progression system that’s slower than I would like aside, Payday 3 does a lot of core things really, really right. Movement and gunplay feels great, while the stealth overhaul has been the best addition to the franchise yet.

Every heist is intricate and interesting, and all endlessly replayable while also looking great on PS5. It’s also nice to confirm that console players who maybe stayed away from Payday due to issues they might’ve heard about can now forget all that.

However new players should be warned, the tutorial may teach you some basics but it does not feel nearly as in depth as it should be, so the learning curve could be worse than you may think.

Payday 3 is a great experience no matter where you play it. I’ve plenty of issues with its always-online nature, and though Starbreeze is already looking into adding an offline mode, that doesn’t make what happened over the course of launch any more acceptable.

Again, that’s not all on Starbreeze but it’s still worth pointing out because it further highlights how offline play shouldn’t, and arguably can’t go anywhere anytime soon. Especially when the lack of an offline mode also adds fuel to the feeling that Payday 3 is currently light on things to do.

Right now, Payday 3 is a very good game that I’m having a joy playing every day whether solo or with friends. After a few expansions, and some tweaks to the experience, there’s no doubt in my mind that it won’t be a great game.

Wouldn’t it have been nice though if it launched as the game it’ll eventually become.

Payday 3 is available now on PS5.

Review code kindly provided by the publisher.



The Final Word

Payday 3 is a good game right now, with great heists that are fun to play no matter the direction you take, though the overhaul to stealth gameplay steals the spotlight more than anything. How it launched was however unacceptable, and further highlighted the issues prevalent with games that require you to always be online. It also doesn't help itself by not providing a well-thought out experience for an online game. Due to that online nature though give it a year and it'll likely be fixed, and a great game, but its a shame it didn't launch like that.