Why Killing Floor?
I started playing Killing Floor all the way back in 2011, which is what brought me to Steam in the first place. This was right after high school, when I had been introduced to a group of friends through a friend who graduated with me. Killing Floor was the first game that we all had in common that we put the most time into. Thought out the entire friendship, until the day it ended in 2016, Killing Floor was a game that we always ended up going back to. Even when the game got stale, we found ways to make it more interesting through the use of many different mods. The community was filled with talented creators who would make new maps, weapons, and even complete overhaul balance mods.
Gameplay & Mechanics
Killing Floor is a first-person shooter, wave-based survival game. The setting for the game is a post-apocalyptic London, overrun by zeds. A company - Horzine Biotech - was contracted by the military to research genetic manipulation and cloning, which is what caused the outbreak. I'm sure you can understand the rest of the plot, that's essentially as deep as it gets. You're summoned by the British government as a member of the British army to contain the outbreak, and stop the Patriarch.
Killing Floor has a simple premise. You spawn into a map with nothing but a basic weapon, and killing zeds gives you money. Once you kill all the zeds in a wave, a trader opens up for 60 seconds and you can restock and upgrade your gear. After each wave, you'll face harder enemies in greater numbers. Harder enemies will have certain strategies to taking them down, which we'll talk about later. If you make it to the final wave, you face off against the Patriarch, the father of all zeds. Defeat him, and you've beat the stage! With five different difficulties to choose from, you're given a lot of room to grow and experiment.
Killing Floor has ten different enemies: clot, gorefast, crawler, bloat, stalker, husk, siren, scrake, fleshpound, and the Patriarch. The clot, gorefast, and crawler are basic enemies; the clot approaches you slowly, the gorefast charges with a blade-arm, and the crawler leaps at you from the ground. More advanced adversaries include the bloat, a lumbering mass that spews acid, and the elusive stalker, who moves quickly and attacks while invisible. The husk attacks from a distance with fireballs, and the siren lets out armour-ignoring screams that damage your character directly. Two mini-bosses, the scrake and the fleshpound, pose a significant threat. The scrake wields a chainsaw arm and charges when its health drops below 50%, while the fleshpound becomes enraged if it locks onto you for an extended period. Both have a high potential to end your game. Lastly, there's the Patriarch, equipped with a missile launcher and chaingun, as well as cloaking technology. Upon spotting you, he'll charge at you, unleash a barrage from his chaingun, or fire a devastating missile. Once you've depleted a third of his health, he retreats to heal, repeating this process up to three times before becoming vulnerable to kill. Despite its challenges, the encounter is far from balanced; you can exploit it by stacking explosives to eliminate the Patriarch in less than a second.
In Killing Floor, players can choose from seven distinct classes, each with its own set of specialized tasks for leveling up to a maximum level of six. The available classes are: berserker, commando, demolitionist, field medic, firebug, sharpshooter, and support specialist. Each class has its own area of expertise. The berserker excels at using melee weapons and has increased armour resistance, while the field medic focuses on healing teammates. The commando is skilled with machine guns, and the support specialist is adept at using shotguns. The demolitionist is an expert in explosives, and the firebug specializes in fire-based attacks. Finally, the sharpshooter can deal massive damage with headshots. Each perk can do something different for the team. While Killing Floor offers a range of specialized classes, the game's balance feels like an afterthought. For instance, scrakes are resistant to explosives but vulnerable to headshots, while fleshpounds resist headshots but take extra damage from explosives. This would suggest that sharpshooters are best for taking out scrakes, and demolitionists for dealing with fleshpounds. While true, support specialists can effectively handle both types of enemies without any added risk. Meanwhile, the firebug and commando classes mostly excel at eliminating basic enemies — a task that any class can perform. The field medic seems almost too versatile, capable of performing any role with any weapon, given enough time. With the announcement of Killing Floor 2, it became clear that official balancing for the original game was no longer a priority. The responsibility for achieving a more balanced gameplay experience shifted to the community. Fortunately, the community rose to the challenge and developed the ScrN balance mod, which has done a wonderful job at and making the game more enjoyable.
Core Gameplay Loop
What's the point of playing if it's so unbalanced? Well, the game is brutally difficult, even on the second easiest difficulty. You wouldn't know about these unbalanced parts of the game unless you've played it long enough to learn about them because they aren't obvious. Over the years, they've also released a ton of maps, totalling 37 official maps. The number of maps in combination with thousands of custom maps from the community leave you a lot of variety and things to learn about the game. Couple that with multiplayer, you have countless hours to try something new. While the game may be unbalanced, the fact that you can play with other people allows you to enjoy these classes while still being able to win, and fill a role. I've met some funny, and amazing people on Killing Floor over the years. People who have taught me all about these exploits, and strategies to beating certain popular maps. Learning that, and sharing it with the new players who still play to this day, is a rewarding experience.
Killing Floor will always hold a special place in my heart. The amount of charm the characters and scenery has, mixed with the core gameplay, you can easily squeeze 500 hours out of this now very cheap game. It often goes on sale for 2 to 5 CAD, allowing you to buy it for your friends as well. Levelling up your perks, and trying out what works on each map is a fun experience, and I suggest doing so without looking up too much. The game is completely solved since it's been out since 2004, so you can beat every map without trying too hard, knowing the strategies. I whole heartily recommend playing Killing Floor in any way possible. Bouns points if you can get some friends together on this decades old game.
Should you complete Killing Floor?
While I've sung the praises of Killing Floor, I have to admit that completing it might not be worth the effort for everyone, largely due to its achievement system. The game doesn't make it easy; beating a map on the hardest difficulty won't unlock the achievements for easier levels. As a result, I've sunk a lot of time into the game. Each map has to be completed four times at a minimum, and a single map can take 20 to 35 minutes to finish. With 37 maps, you're looking at an average of around 67 hours of gameplay. It may not seem like much, but it does become tedious, and the last thing you want is for a game you enjoy to become a slog.
If you can play online with friends or a community that still engages with this decades-old game, or if you have a sentimental attachment to Killing Floor, then by all means, go for it. But if it's just another game in your game library, it might not be worth the time commitment.