Guys, you’re in for a long ride, so brace yourselves. Let’s start with who I am in regards to KF2: I bought the game in the summer of 2017 and started playing regularly in the autumn of the same year. I did so because I had a couple of friends who were playing KF1 for quite some time, and they convinced me to give it a try. The Humble Store even offered it for free at the time, so I did just that. And guess what: I hated it. I can’t really put my finger on it, I simply feel that while KF1 is way scarier than KF2, it’s just not very enjoyable as a game. Then KF2 was on sale so I gave it a try as well, and for whatever reason it was way more entertaining to me. And so it began.
I became a regular somewhere between the 2017 Summer Sideshow and the 2017 Halloween Horrors. Then we came full circle because I convinced my friends to get KF2. We hung out regularly on my own server, which was great because I could get any custom maps, and we decided who stays and who has to leave if refuses to cooperate, as is necessary in a coop game.
Since I also happen to be a Linux Server veteran and a graphomaniac, then I went as far as to compile a complete guide and an automated installer so that others could follow suit, because I believed everyone deserves to experience KF2 the way we did. The state of the game was really healthy at this point, and the community was thriving.
Then TWI released the 2017 Halloween Horrors update, and then also the 2017 Twisted Christmas update. We also got 2 new bosses in just a couple of months, as in, the boss count doubled. Which at the time was rather unusual, since what took TWI 2 years before now took less than 2 months. And sadly, it shows. Both the King Fleshpound and Abomination seem to have taken very little effort to create. What ever happened to quality over quantity? But honestly, that’s the least of our problems. In any case, if you look at the release cadence, you can’t help but notice the sharp change:
|Full Release (“1.0”)||November 18, 2016|
|Tropical Bash||January 19, 2017|
|The Descent||March 21, 2017|
|Summer Sideshow (2017)||June 13, 2017|
|Halloween Horrors (2017)||Oct 17, 2017|
|Twisted Christmas (2017)||Dec 12, 2017|
There was more than a year between 1.0 and Tropical Bash. And it was fine. At this point the game was a game, and not a subscription. It’s pointless to list the updates afterwards, since it’s become a regular 4 patches a year schedule and according to TWI, it’ll stay so for the full year of 2021 as well.
Then came the Infinite Onslaught update. This is the first update that made some very serious changes to the playerbase, and the way many people approach the game. Why’s that? Well, previously you had no other choice but to grind yourself through all the perk levels with hard work, cooperation, and thought put into your games. You simply couldn’t survive otherwise. No endboss XP, no guys to play with, no ever-growing waves of zeds to feed on.
Endless changed this. To many, it became just a farming fest, an infinite influx of free XP. If you ever saw the Make Love, Not Warcraft episode of South Park, you know exactly what I’m talking about. So why’s that a problem? Well it’s not a problem if you’re still willing to learn, put thought into your games, and cooperate. But it’s all about feedback and reinforcement. If players aren’t required to do these things, they probably won’t. I was very lucky to be part of the KF2 scene well before the addition of Endless, otherwise I would’ve probably ended up being just another XP farmer. It became so much easier to get to level 25 now. Many people ended up playing Endless on Hard difficulty for the first 15 waves. Why? Because the first 15-20 waves are extremely easy. Unlike in Normal mode, in Endless the difficutly only ramps up gradually, every 5 waves. And you get that precious boss XP every 5 waves. The 5th wave boss is like 5 shots with a sharpshooter lol. They also figured that Hard is the best compromise between difficulty and XP. So it went like play 15 waves in solo, press F3, type
suicide, rinse, and repeat. They even bragged about it on Reddit at the time. Then it just became the norm.
And I have to say, I played a helluva fucking lot of Endless at the time. Why? Because I wanted to reach 100% and that required beating wave 25 on DieSector, on all difficulties. Boy, let me tell you, it was hard AF. Especially since we had Fleshpound waves back then, and the Scrake waves had like 220 scrakes, which could take literal hours. If RNG dropped the FP or Scrake waves on us, we just thanked each other immediately, then wiped within a minute lol. But still, we had so much fun. I pretty much always played with randoms, but after a good match I always added them as friends on Steam. So after a while, I ended up seeing more and more familiar faces. We had great chemistry, the teams worked, we played together, helped each other, each perk did its own thing, and after months of trying, I eventually received all my badges.
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all these good guys and gals for those times. Really, it meant a lot to me. You guys rock.
Without the normal 4/7/10 wave games, I would’ve never been able to learn how to play the game properly. Endless just won’t teach you much of anything. There’s no risk, responsibility, or guilt involved. If you play like a complete idiot, you still won’t feel bad, since in the case of Endless, wiping is not an ‘if’, but a ‘when’ question. Like I told you, it’s all about reinforcement. It’s going to be a recurring theme here.
I think Endless on its own wouldn’t have ruined the game. It was manageable. There were jackasses every now and then, but still, many great players were showing up. But to add insult to injury, then came the Treacherous Skies patch. Man, did they nail that name, huh? I couldn’t come up with a more fitting title if I tried. This patch dropped the ball royally. It had at least 3 very huge issues.
First off, it introduced the Prestige system. If the XP farmers weren’t bad enough since Endless, now it pushed players even more to just farm and farm and farm. Skill became less and less of a thing, now it was just a grinding contest. Since I have OCD and I just have to have everything achieved, I played along, so I was most definitely part of the problem.
32P servers proliferated more and more. Why’s that? There’s 2 game mechanics involved. First, if you have more players, the game spawns more zeds. Second, in KF2, you gain XP for damaging a zed, not for killing it. That means if you have 100 zeds coming at you, and you just press LMB and empty your magazine all over them (and hit most of them), you’ll gain all the precious XP after each, even if you don’t kill any of them. So that’s why it was ridiculously easy to reach level 25 with demolitionists on 32P servers. You just kept dropping nades or shooting rockets, and this was it. You could reach level 25 in a couple of hours, which was unthinkable before.
Then the players also figured: why bother even with that? How about just leveling maps, like Training Day? Leveling maps are maps where it’s impossible to die, because you’re physically separated from the zeds. So you just enter the game with 31 other dudes, buy your shit, press LMB, and that’s it. Sounds like a good skillful coop game, huh? You might ask, why didn’t TWI disabled XP on community maps? Well, because there were about 3 approaches to resolve that, and neither was perfect:
- They could restrict XP to official maps only. This would’ve essentially killed map making.
- They could also ban specific maps from XP. Then anyone could just reupload the map with no effort, so TWI would’ve had to do this endlessly.
- Or they could’ve created an allowlist, but then again, that would’ve taken enormous, continuous effort on their part. Just not really doable.
Now, these guys spamming LMB on these stupid maps wouldn’t be a problem on its own, would it? If they want to do that, be my guest. But then these peeps kept maxing out all their perks, even on prestige, so then they entered the regular games. And ruined them with their complete lack of understanding of any game mechanics. And they compensated their lack of skill with arrogance. And this is when the online matches became less and less tolerable.
And the whole sad irony of it is that this Prestige system was begged for by the KF2 veterans who grew bored of the game not offering any challenge or variety anymore. Which is extremely unfortunate, because they could have CD and thousands of community made maps, so prestige was definitely the wrong answer to an otherwise legitimate problem.
As if weapon balance wasn’t fragile enough, TWI introduced weapon upgrades. This completely messed up the builds. Weight and damage were all over the place, and what worked pretty fine before may have become utter crap.
And then came Dosh balance. Again, it became easier to be an idiot. Without the upgrades, you couldn’t waste too much Dosh on your loadout, spam REQUEST DOSH in the chat, waste it on stupid things, die the next wave, then repeat. Now people started upgrading the 9mm, waste like thousands of Dosh on it from borrowed money, die and therefore lose it, and start over without any usable weapon. Thousands of team Dosh down the toilet which could’ve been spent on tier 5 weapons instead of a friggin’ 9mm.
This is definitely the most controversial topic, and to this day, I stand by this: EDARs do NOT belong in this game. They completely mess up game mechanics, and turn the dynamic of the game into something completely different. Not to mention that they don’t even fit in visually. Or logically. Or in any other sense. What on Earth do these robots have to do with anything? The EDAR proponents usually say they’re great becase they add ‘variety’ to the game. To them I still only have this meme:
Think about it. Before, there was only one zed with a projectile: the Husk. Just one. Then TWI added another 3. THREE. They quadrupled the ranged attacks. The game simply became something else.
I still believe the EDARs might have worked as a new boss trio. But not like regular zeds. Heck, they’re not even zeds, they’re just friggin’ robots. So what are they even doing in this game?
After this atrocious patch, many veterans were so pissed that they simply quit KF2. Gamers disappeared, workshop content were pulled. Which is, like I said, very ironic, since the prestige system was something that they were asking for. This might be the perfect time to embed Day9’s take on the matter. It’s a bit drawn-out but he makes a good point:
Then came the Monster Masquerade patch, which I consider to be the single most glorious patch ever released for KF2. As someone on Reddit said, it was a brief return to form. We had the MonsterBall map, which is OMG, so well designed and colorful. Then Hans as the observer and commentator in endless matches on that map. Then that dance floor with DJ Hans. The bell and grill traps, that hidden room, all that spooky scenery. My god, this is where it’s at. I played the shit outta this map. Hundreds of hours wasted on it, no kidding. That hidden room used to cost like 16k Dosh in the first beta IIRC, so it really took some team effort even in endless. See, TWI? That’s how positive reinforcement works. So what did they do? They reduced the price to like 1-2k or something to ensure no one’s ever forced to cooperate on that either. LOL.
In that winter they came up with the idea of reviving Objective mode from KF1, which could’ve been an interesting concept on paper, but what Season’s Beatings delivered was anything but. Not to mention on HoE it was like impossible. But this wasn’t destructive to the general gameplay experience at all, so I just didn’t bother or care.
Then came the Cyber Revolt update. And this is where they started to put the last nails in that damn coffin:
We increased the fire panic resistances of the Scrake, Quarterpound, and Fleshpound to help alleviate frustrations with accidental panicking from fire and microwave damage. It will require a few seconds of focus firing to force them to panic. We also added functionality to temporarily shut off enrage the moment any panic (fire, toxic, microwave, emp) triggers. Once the panic duration ends, the Zed will return to being enraged. This should prevent Zeds from becoming both enraged and panicked as this previously caused Zeds to run off enraged and become difficult to aim and shoot at.
You get it? Let me translate:
It has come to our attention that more and more people refuse to understand that this game isn’t a ‘mindlessly shoot around like Rambo and hope for the best’ solo performance with 5 other people around as dead weight, and this is especially apparent for firebugs, so we change the game to not punish you for being an idiot. We also understand that many players can’t aim very well at the zeds that they make run around like crazy, so we’re slowing them down to improve your target practicing experience.
And very recently, they went as far as to disable kicks and bans in webadmin just for the sake of not hurting people’s feelings, regardless of why they’re being banned or auto-kicked. HRG weapons, a half-assed Matriarch with EDAR minions, ridiculously priced weapon DLC… What’s even happening in this game?
Since Cyber Revolt, I started caring less and less. Consecutive patches were more and more about lowering the skill ceiling. Let’s make the firebug not enrage scrakes. Let’s make SWAT a tank and a big zed killer. Let’s make medic deal more damage. All these adjustments turn these perks into something they’re not. All these make it not important to play according to your perk. All these kill team work, because you can be your own one man army even when you have people around you. All these are about turning every specialist perk into a generalist, where anyone can pick any perk and play in any way, it just won’t matter. I’m sorry, but if a game does not punish you for not cooperating, for not working as a team, then it’s not a coop game per se. But then why the hell is this called as such? Are TWI really just a bunch of morons?
No, I don’t think so. My theory is that they wanted to make KF2 mainstream. Turn it from a <10k playerbase into a >100k playerbase. And that can’t happen if the game is really hard, because most people don’t want to put hundreds of hours into reaching just decent levels.
Now, the problem is, the trick didn’t work. Like, at all. You see all those spikes? They’re all just. Free. Weekends. Or even straight out giveaways. So at this point we have a game that appeals neither veterans nor huge amounts of noobs. This is the jack of all trades.
Sadly enough, TWI seems to be well aware of (and fine with) this fact, because they outsourced all development to Saber Interactive at the end of 2019. And this is where you can’t even hope for things to improve anymore.
What We Are Up To
At the time of writing, I have more than 900 hours spent on this game. And I’m not saying this for bragging rights, I’m saying this to fend off the “who the hell are you to say this or that” kind of criticism. I’ve been following the game’s progress for years now, spent endless hours talking on /r/killingfloor, developing the automated Linux server installer, curating new workshop maps for my own server, and last but not least, playing the game. Heck, I’ve been wording this article for at least 4 hours already…
I have many ideas about how the game should be fixed. But I know this is about money, and it’s understandable that 4 years after release TWI simply wants to maximize income while minimizing the cost. If TWI wants to just milk the newcomers with the most minimum effort, fine by me. Pull some obligatory quarterly content patch, and be done with it. But it’d be so good if you released something like Killing Floor 2 Classic. For that, I think the Infinite Onslaught patch would be a good fit. It already has Endless with a couple of fixes, Skip Trader, AF2011s, good stuff. Release it and add it automatically to everyone’s library who already owns the game. Let the old folks play these games with ease. It’d be so great to go back every once in a while. I miss those days and players. I miss the old Killing Floor 2.