Payday 3 Bank Robbery Mission
Image via Starbreeze Studios

Key Differences Between Payday 2 and Payday 3 Explained

One more heist to make it big!

Payday 2 had a long and illustrious career as one of the top cooperative shooters on the market. But it also gained a reputation for its excessive DLC practices, with over 80 downloadable packs available alongside the main game. With the upcoming Payday 3, fans are hoping for more. More polish, more refinement, and more memorable gameplay moments. But is it more of the same? Let’s explore the key differences between Payday 2 and Payday 3 to see how the third release holds up!

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The Many Differences Between Payday 2 and Payday 3

When it comes to the third entry in a series, folks hope for more innovation and polish after, hopefully, the team learned from past experiences. Payday 3 is shaping up to be more of the same, in a good way, but with innovations to keep the gameplay fresh, rewarding, and replayable.

The Setting

Payday 3 Shootout Screenshot
Image via Starbreeze Studios

First and foremost, the setting of the game is vastly different. We’re no longer robbing banks and armored trucks in Washington, D.C., but instead delving into the dirty streets of New York City.

In Payday 2, the world felt almost empty. You saw the same set of NPCs wandering the sidewalks outside of the jewelry store, and only a handful of them at that. But in the third game, from what we’ve seen thus far, the world felt more alive. There were crowds of people, albeit small crowds for the big city, pushing past each other outside of a heist. That immersion will help!

Horde Shooter Influences

Payday 2 was often a hectic experience. In a matter of seconds, an entire map would flood with police, leading the players to mow down whole hordes of opponents using automatic weapons. It was nothing to waste hundreds of rounds of ammunition, scoop up countless ammo boxes, and keep holding down the fire button for a minute without relenting. It was a horde shooter masquerading as a heist game.

But in Payday 3, that’s changed. This time around, the gameplay experience is more refined. There’s less horde shooter influence and more cooperative, tactical gameplay focused on genuine heist scenarios.

Related: Payday 3 Closed Beta Impressions | Feeling the Heat

Furthermore, the game is meant to be more open and welcoming to newcomers. The last one could feel overwhelming with so much going on in each heist, from taking hostages to opening the safe to fighting the cops.

Hostage Refinement

Payday 3 Stealth Gameplay
Image via Starbreeze Studios

Speaking of hostages, Payday 3 expands upon the hostage system greatly. In the past, taking hostages felt more like a waste of time. You could trade one when prompted if a team member was arrested, but that’s about all.

In Payday 3, hostages play a more significant role. This time, you can negotiate with the police using hostages as a bargaining chip. If you trade a hostage, you can vie for a little more time before the police storm the bank. Or, you can trade hostages for resources. And lastly, hostages make excellent human shields against the police. They’re so versatile!

Hard-Earned Cash

Previously, once you became a successful heister, the cash you earned from completing a bank job sat around. Sure, you could use it to buy weapons and upgrades, but the money felt useless and simply ticked upward after a while.

In Payday 3, you can use your money. Not only will you buy new equipment and clothing items, but you can also buy a new currency using your cash stash, which may then be used to purchase unique cosmetics, like clothing and unique variants of weapons.

Payday 3 releases on September 21, 2023, on PC.


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Brandon Morgan
Brandon began writing in 2012, for websites such as OnlySP, before transitioning to digital marketing in 2016 to learn the ins and outs of SEO. In mid-2023, Brandon returned to write strategy guides for Prima Games, IGN, DualShockers, and more, with a focus on ARPGs, RPGs, and Survival games. His past coverage includes Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, Starfield, Skull and Bones, and many more!