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Payday 3 Review – A Heist Not Worth the Hassle (PS5)

Payday 3 is the long-awaited, latest installment in the popular bank-robbing simulator series. Fans of the franchise have been eagerly an all-new entry for years now and were promised thrilling, high-stakes heists, action-packed shootouts, and technical overhauls to bring the franchise into the modern era. Unfortunately, the game fails to provide in all of these areas, instead delivering an experience that feels lackluster and is littered with frustrating drawbacks.

Payday 3 is out now and is available on PC, PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

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Right off the bat, the game hits its audience with a hard slap of frustration. Upon booting up Payday 3 for the first time, players are confronted with the unwelcome news that they need to create an account and then verify it through email confirmation before even getting to play a tutorial mission. Particularly on console, this is a cumbersome process and feels like a needless task.

Not only does it feel intrusive and inconvenient, but the last thing that a player wants after investing their hard-earned money in a brand-new game, is to be forced to do admin work in the form of creating a username and password. It is something that has sadly been cropping up in more and more games recently and it is extremely frustrating.

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Once eventually managing to get into the first heist, the first thing that players will likely notice is just how janky and sluggish the shooting mechanics feel in Payday 3. If you are coming from a few matches of Call of Duty Warzone 2 and going straight into this, then be prepared to feel as though someone has just violently slammed on the brakes.

Even after messing around with sensitivity settings, the gunplay feels notably stiff and outdated here. Not only is the lack of fluidity in aiming and firing weapons frustrating, it also looks terrible onscreen. In 2023, players have come to expect a certain amount of responsiveness and dynamism to their FPS controls and that is nowhere to be found here.

Aiming down the sights in Payday 3 is such a slog.
Aiming down the sights in Payday 3 is such a slog.

Another major issue with Payday 3 at launch is the abundance of glitches and bugs. Weirdly, these issues crop primarily while perusing the pre-game menus, rather than during active gameplay. The UI in this game is already a chore to look at due to how monotonous yet complex it is, without parts of it glitching out, or certain other sections refusing to function entirely.

Granted, not many players are going to be playing Payday 3 for its gripping narrative, but as a story guy, (and as a fan of Heat, Reservoir Dogs, and Point Break,) I always look forward to seeing how they tie these heists together. Unfortunately, the plot is delivered in the form of lazy slide-based cutscenes which are supposed to have voice-acted dialogue laid over the top of them. For whatever reason, both myself and my co-op partner were hit with completely silent cutscenes, only featuring the illustrated slides and some subtitles.

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Despite its multiple shortcomings, Payday 3 isn’t completely without merit. The game does offer an opportunity for that co-op camaraderie that the series is known for. It also offers a decent amount of tweakable settings options on console that allow the player to tailor their gameplay experience to their own preferences. This level of detail within game settings is always appreciated, particularly on console.

Additionally, the game’s five main missions manage to show enough creative variety to keep the experience from getting too dull and monotonous. Each heist could have easily been a basic rinse and repeat of the previous one, but Starbreeze Studios has managed to break that up with a few original mission objectives.

After ten years, is that really it?
After ten years, is that really it?

Speaking of the five missions; that is sadly all that Payday 3 has to offer at launch. Although this will undoubtedly grow with future updates, at the time of writing, the game can be completed in around five hours. Considering that Payday 3 is an entirely new entry in the franchise and not just an update to Payday 2, combined with the fact that it has been an entire decade since Payday 2 was released, the drought of new content is a huge disappointment.

I can say with confidence that the ten years between games wasn’t due to the studio grafting on graphical enhancement, given that Payday 3 is pretty mediocre to look at. The visuals are decent enough, but they fail to stand out in a crowded FPS gaming landscape. While character models and environments look fine, they lack the flair and polish that would make the game’s visuals anything to write home about.

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In summary, Payday 3 is a game that veers rapidly between moments of fun and frustration. Its stiff shooting mechanics and numerous bugs make it difficult to fully enjoy the moment-to-moment gameplay and most of the game’s value comes from having a laugh with your online cohorts.

The mandatory account setup at the beginning of the game will have you banging your head off of a wall and the overall brevity of the experience leaves much to be desired. Payday 3 does have future potential, but at launch, it is a lackluster product marred by a litany of issues that hinder its ability to shine in a competitive gaming landscape. It may be worth checking out on GamePass if you already have a subscription, but even then, there are better offerings out there.

Payday 3 – 5/10

Payday 3 was reviewed on PS5 with a code supplied to FandomWire by Premier Communications.

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Written by Daniel Boyd

Dan is one of FandomWire's Gaming Content Leads and Editors. Along with Luke Addison, he is one of the site's two Lead Video Game Critics and Content Co-ordinators. He is a 28-year-old writer from Glasgow. He graduated from university with an honours degree in 3D Animation, before pivoting to pursue his love for critical writing. He has also written freelance pieces for other sites such as Game Rant, and The Big Glasgow Comic Page. He loves movies, video games and comic books.