A History of Killing Floor

After a fair bit of rumour and speculation, on May 8th of this year Tripwire Interactive confirmed that development for Killing Floor 2 is underway. For a lot of PC gamers, this is great news. For those uninitiated here’s why.

Killing Floor Cover Image

Killing Floor, originally a mod for Unreal Tournament 2004, was re-released on Steam in 2009 with it’s massively upgraded retail version and was widely regarded as a huge success.  With fun and frenetic gameplay, beautifully gory visuals and exponential customization, this little wave shooter found its way into the hearts of many, making over a million sales since its release.

After an outbreak at Horzine Biotech – a biological research company contracted to work on creating super-soldiers – the city of London falls into mass panic as these not-quite-Captain-Americas began tearing the city – and it’s inhabitants – apart.  Desperate to stop the evil he has played no small part in letting loose upon the country, scientist Dr. Kevin Clamely undergoes extreme cybernetic and genetic modification convincing himself that this will help in some way… it does not.  More on him later.  What remains of the British army and police force mount an operation to bring about an end to the multitude of ultra-freaks running rampant across across the country.  This is where the player comes in.

The game is simple.  Players, in groups of up to six, enter infested areas and purge the specimens found in them in increasingly difficult and varied waves.  Starting with Clots, simple humanoid enemies with little more than the ability to grab, bite and gouge; continuing through to the spider-like Crawlers, with the added ability to jump and be awkwardly small; then come the Bloat, big fat meat-cleaver wielding monstrosities that will unload a stomach full of acidic and blinding puke on any victim silly enough to get within range.  And that’s just the first two waves – to say nothing of the Siren, Scrake, Gorefast, Stalker, Husk or the dreaded, and justifiably nightmarish, Fleshpound.  All of which will be thrown at the team in random combinations until the final wave at which point players are introduced to the ever protective father of these abominations, The Patriarch née Dr Kevin Clamely.  A haunting and almost unstoppable combination of everything above… with the ability to heal and call for backup.

Players defeat waves, receiving cash based on contribution and survival to the end of a wave.  Dying results in loss of cash carried and no end-of-wave-payout, but the player will be brought back to life assuming at least one other players survived.  At which point cash can be shared to those “low on dosh”.  All the while, a trader is close by and will move from place to place between waves so players are forced not to set up a comfortable location as they’d then have to hightail it to the other side of the map, lowering the already finite amount of time they can spend upgrading their arsenal.

Killing Floor Screenshot

What you spend your hard earned cash on depends on your chosen perk.  In Killing Floor perks essentially means classes specializing in a variety of different areas.  They are:

  • Field Medic – (Who heals, obviously, but eventually gets a gun that heals – awesome)
  • Support Specialist (Who deals primarily in shotguns and welding doors to strategically filter specimens)
  • Sharpshooter (Long range rifle and pistol specialist)
  • Commando (Assault rifles)
  • Berserker (Melee)
  • Firebug (Brings the team tea and biscuits)
  • Demolitions Expert (Provides the option of a footrub between waves)

Killing Floor Perks

Each perk can be leveled up, making their perk-specific stats increase by doing something related to what that perk is.  For instance, a Support Specialist will get better a shooting shotguns and welding doors the more he shoots shotguns and welds doors.  Perks are not set in stone however.  There’s not exactly a “perfect team composition” per se, sure it helps to have a healer, but everybody has the ability to heal themselves and others, the Field Medic is just better, more consistent and sustainable at it.  A support specialist isn’t crucial as everybody can weld, the difference being a professional welder is faster at it.  So it’s not essential until you’re doing long game modes on the hardest difficulty setting that you’re going to feel it necessary to consider team composition, and even at that, you’re free to switch between perks between waves.

During combat players will receive a brief moment of slow motion referred to as Zed Time, which comes into effect for a variety of reasons such as long range headshots or particularly gruesome events.  Regardless of who is responsible for its trigger the effect is shared amongst the team, giving them a few seconds to pick off a few zeds in the more strenuous moments.

Killing Floor Gore

It’s a natural, and understandable, reaction for someone to say “Oh, so it’s a zombie shooter… whoopee”, but even putting aside the fact that it’s a shooter vs. a horde of once-human mostly weapon-free abominations, that would still be an unfair comparison.  When a mod sells over a million units, you’ve got to take a step back and assess the situation.  Perhaps it’s being a mod isn’t the thing to look at.  Perhaps gameplay outweighs visual fidelity.  The reason, at least from my perspective, that Killing Floor has done so well is because it’s brutally apparent that the development team genuinely love this game – which is becoming more and more rare these days with every passing rehash.  Knowing they come from humble beginnings – a 10 man team at Killing Floor’s release – Tripwire Interactive openly allow their player community to mod their mod.  Embracing the Steam workshop at the earliest convenience, Killing Floor now has thousands of user made maps, weapon, player and monster skins and much more.  As well as this, the developer themselves have poured attention into it making intricately detailed content from maps, such as Aperture – a disused Aperture Science test lab block in which the trader is replaced by Glados, to holiday events such as Christmas, Halloween and even a new objective-based game mode.  They’ve added new more powerful weapons to bolster the perks found in the core release.  For free.  There’s even some paid DLC which, for the amount of stuff they’ve put in for the price of nothing, is extremely fairly priced and entirely cosmetic so as not to mess up the game for those not willing or able to buy.

Killing Floor Aperture

A fairly priced game that has been on sale more times than I could even try to remember that never stopped providing for its fans.  I’ll admit, over the years my interest has faded somewhat, but that’s me.  The servers are still going strong and even more so since the games sequel has been announced.  And the amount of upgrades that the now 50 strong development team have shown so far is enough to say that I am all over Killing Floor 2!

I very much enjoyed the first and plan to put some more time into it in the future while I prepare for the awesome looking follow-up!

Bring it on Tripwire!


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When Cevyn isn’t writing for Codec Moments, he can be found either obsessively feasting on the many facets of geek culture or writing bad, unpublished fiction novels.

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