…until I can go Infamous. That’s what I told myself as I broke into the ATM at the Four Stores convenience mart and waited for the escape vehicle. Despite my best efforts to dislike the blatant grinding aspects of Payday 2, the lure of the co-op Left 4 Dead 2-inspired gameplay and the TLC (and DLC) the devs showered the game with on a weekly basis was too much to ignore. Somehow, despite still feeling like a complete newbie to the world of bank robbery I had reached the $200 million required funds in my offshore account, and after this ATM I’d hit the level 100 experience cap. With these two requirements met, I’d be able to go Infamous, a process that basically wipes the slate clean and starts you over at level 0 with no spending money.
I’ve written about why I dislike Payday 2‘s design choices because as far as I can tell, they took everything from Left 4 Dead 2 and added only multiple different levels of grinding and RPG mechanics. I see this as a transparent way to artificially extend the playtime instead of earning that replayability through tight and smart game design. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t attracted to getting my first level of infamy. Most of my friends had multiple levels of infamy, and I had to look good in front of them, right?
And now here I am. Level 100. It was a long road, and I’m ready to liquidate my assets and do it all again. But before I hit the button to join the criminal elite, I noticed an unfamiliar flashing yellow button on the heist selection screen called “offshore Payday”. Clicking through showed to be a gambling-style minigame, where you could spend your offshore money to roll for weapon or mask drops of your choosing. I’d never bothered to change my mask after assembling my first one (I like how colorful and not “2edgy2scary2badass5ever” it is, makes me stand out on a team) but there were some weapon mods I really wanted. And I had an extra 50 million after all, so why not roll a few times?
Perhaps I got a bit carried away; I was getting some amazing weapon mods, ones I’d waited 100 teeth-gnashing levels for without successfully dropping. But when I looked back at my bank account:
Holy crap! How did I burn over 100 million dollars that fast? I gasped, pulled my hair and felt something akin to shock. It was going to take ages to get back that $60 million needed to Infamy! I pulled out my sketchbook and started crunching some quick figures. Okay, I could do Hoxton’s Breakout five times for $3 million each, assuming no fails, or I could get quick and easy bundles of $500K from speed-running Four Stores, or maybe Election Day, which as a single-day $1.5 million heist could be something of a middle ground…
It was then that I realized…what was I doing? I was playing right into Payday 2‘s game, and not the fun part of the game. I was deriving pleasure from numbers rising, the very numbers I’d railed against in my previous blog post. Why did I want to go Infamous anyway? Sure, it probably had perks beyond lessening the experience grind, but I could just stay at Level 100 and never worry about XP again. I could enjoy the bank heisting for what it was, just like I can enjoy L4D2 and TF2 without needing non-diagetic progress bars filling up. I was free, and almost gave up that freedom just for another round of endorphin-releasing level-ups.
So to make sure I would never be tempted by Infamy again, I went back to the Offshore Payday and gambled away all of my remaining millions on weapon mods. And I have no regrets.