Payday 3 is shaping up to be another fantastic heist game in the mold set by the series, but there’s a new challenger in the wings – and it’s somewhat of an inside job. At Gamescom 2023, PCGamesN spoke to former Payday and Payday 2 leads Ulf Andersson and Simon Viklund about the upcoming co-op game they’re working on with their new studio, GTFO developer 10 Chambers Collective.
Both Andersson and Viklund worked on Payday: The Heist and Payday 2 – Andersson as its lead designer, Viklund as its composer. They’re now acting as game director and narrative director respectively on a new project that looks to learn from what the pair achieved with the Payday series, but aims to expand on areas where that game is naturally limited.
“I don’t want to s**t on them – I thoroughly want them to succeed. For us, it’s more like a step to doing the next game.” With ten years having passed since the launch of Payday 2, Andersson notes that his sensibilities and priorities have changed. Part of that is creating a more interesting pacing. “Payday builds up and just stays on that high note,” he remarks, explaining that it was tough to ramp down once things had kicked off.
Viklund expands on this idea further: “If you’re starting in stealth [in Payday] and you get found out, it just stays full-on combat, basically, all the way through until you either fail the heist, or you succeed.” 10 Chambers’ GTFO, by comparison, has a much more stop-start structure, where spikes of action punctuate the more quiet, suspenseful stealth sections.
“It’s an exhausting game to play in that way – but we learned a lot from doing what we set out to do. So the new game is sort of doing a similar thing, but in a different way, you could say, for a slightly different audience.” The emphasis remains on a “hardcore cooperative” experience, then, but the team wants to make something that’s easier to get into than the more hostile GTFO, but that can still “gradually get you to that point where you’re constantly challenging yourself.”
This untitled heist game is set to support “at least four players,” Andersson says, but the team wants to cater to people who want to play by themselves. However, 10 Chambers is avoiding a traditional class-based system. “It sort of limits your expression or your planning.” Rather, the team wants to offer something more flexible that doesn’t tie you down in any permanent manner.
“It’s even harder when you have to pick a class in the beginning of the game – you don’t know s**t about it, you don’t know what’s what, and it gets worse with time, these permanent decisions. You pile your time into that character and now it’s almost more and more s**t for you.” Viklund notes that this extends beyond gameplay, to the likes of visual character customization.
The new game focuses on “late stage capitalism,” Viklund tells us. Andersson explains, “We have a bit of that classic corporate structure – it lends itself to that flexibility of ‘who’s the enemy and who’s not?’” He points to techno-thriller movies and the likes of Black Mirror, posing the question of who you’re even working for in a given situation. “We’re going back to the idea of reinventing what a heist can be,” Viklund adds, “You’re a criminal doing criminal things, but then you’re sort of a criminal within that by doing something that your client hasn’t asked you to do, for yourself.”
The pair tell us the game has been in development for around three years, with the concept for it dating back further, although the wrapping up of GTFO allows the entire team to move over to work on this new project. However, they’re adamant about not giving any release dates for now, emphasizing that their self-funding approach allows them to wait until the game is “good enough.”
While he stresses that nothing is being announced yet, Andersson says the team likes the early access approach and the freedom that allows players to test things, giving the dev team a chance to analyze. “Is the game playing like we want it to be playing – rather than saying ‘what do they like, should we pander to them?’ it’s more like, are they having the experience we want them to have?”
With the discussion around monetization in Payday ever swirling, we ask what the team’s plans are for potential post-release spending. “With monetization hopefully comes quality and content,” Andersson remarks, “because you’re getting money, you can make more s**t. For us as a developer, it’s more about painting yourself into a corner where you have to make good things to sell more, instead of just saying ‘let’s monetize hats.’”
That doesn’t mean hats are out of the question! “We might do a bit of [making] hats, if people want hats, but in general we want it to be about the quality of the experience. So yes, we will monetize it.” The exact specifics of how this will be implemented aren’t yet determined, but the pair emphasize “No pay to win” and “no gambling” as central to their ethos.
So how does the team expect to win over Payday fans, we ask? Andersson ponders if that’s even the team’s goal. “We keep making the games we want to make, and we love making them, and they’re fun. People will like that, hopefully.” He does however say to that audience, “If you’re into Payday, it’s the same dudes – so you’ll probably like components of that.”
“There’s going to be Payday 3 players who look at our game and think, ‘I wish Payday 3 had these things,’” Viklund says, “and then at the same time there’s going to be some who wish our game had some of those Payday 3 things.” Andersson concludes, “We’re just working on making a good game – everything else is a multiplier.”
We’ll have more on the next outing for 10 Chambers, including the final name for their project, when it’s announced. In the meantime, take a look through the best FPS games you can currently play, or scare yourself silly with the GTFO VR mod if you prefer.
Gamescom 2023 reporting by Ed Smith.