- "Civilians are an asset; you kill them, they're gone."
- —Bain warning the crew of the risk of killing civilians
Aside from law enforcers, most of the NPCs encountered in both games are civilians, innocent bystanders who may be present when a heist begins.
A large number of civilians dot the many maps in both PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2, most usually in heists where stealth is the main approach where they pose hindrances to the crew by way of detection. Unlike guards and cameras, civilians cannot detect a player in casing mode, though will quickly panic at the earliest sight of one with a mask on and weapons out, and cannot be pacified if fully alerted. Panicking civilians will usually either seek out the nearest viable panic button, call the police, or simply run outside the map boundaries where an alarm will inevitably be raised. As an alternative to killing poorly placed alerted civilians, some civilians on certain maps' frequency to run away can be exploited in order to get them into a more favorable position.
Players may shout at civilians to intimidate them and get them to lie on the ground, or produce any kind of noise if they have Control Freak which gives the same result. This temporarily gets them to stay down in one spot, keeping them out of the line of fire or delaying their attempts at contacting the police, though if not kept a close eye on they will eventually rise up again and resume their phone call(s) or race towards the nearest source of alarm. Civilians on the ground can be restrained with cable ties to render them immobile until moved by the players.
The players are discouraged from killing civilians; collateral damage will immediately deduct funds from the player's spending cash (regardless of whether the heist is completed) and add a trade penalty to that player if he or she goes into custody. To further complicate matters, the civilians have mindless AI, and tend to run around randomly whenever there is gunfire. This makes them a significant liability, as they may run towards shooting players, stand up in front of shooting players, run through trip mines, run in circles around police, and perform other actions that can cause them to accidentally be killed and penalize a player.
In Heat Street, Green Bridge, Diamond Heist, and Undercover of PAYDAY: The Heist, there are special "VIP" civilians whose presence are vital to the success of the mission, and thus cannot be harmed by any source (however, in Undercover, the Taxman can be knocked unconscious while trying to get passwords from him, slowing down progress). This mechanic is reintroduced in PAYDAY 2 in the White Xmas heist, the VIP being the drunk pilot of the crashed plane, Vlad's brother in-law, in the Hoxton Revenge heist, the VIP being the FBI boss, who may be required for opening the panic room in stealth, in the PAYDAY 2 remake of Undercover, the Taxman having the same role as in the last game, and in day 1 of The Biker Heist, the VIP being Mike the mechanic. However, the FBI boss in Hoxton Revenge can be killed before completing the objective he is required for, which will force the heist to go loud. The mechanic is also present in The Big Bank, Nightclub, Bank Heist, and Firestarter Day 3, in the form of optional achievements.
Civilians are completely absent in the following heists:
- Art Gallery
- Big Oil Day 1
- The Biker Heist Day 2
- Firestarter Days 1 and 2
- Flash Drive Days 1 and 2
- Framing Frame Days 1 and 3
- Prison Nightmare
- Rats Day 2
- Safe House Nightmare
- Safe House Raid
- Scarface Mansion
- Watchdogs Day 1
While civilians do appear in Rats Day 1 and Cook Off, they are scripted to always die before the players can reach them and thus can't be taken hostage. Also, a civilian does appear in Undercover and can be killed but cannot be reached.
A hostage is a civilian who has been restrained with cable ties or a law enforcer who has been intimidated using the Mastermind's Dominator skill. They are a means of rescuing crew members from police custody.
In an active combat situation, the presence of hostages can help delaying the eventual assault wave, or dispersing the enemy's main force during the shootout, as active police forces will prioritise rescuing hostages over engaging the crew, removing their cable ties when they move near the hostages.
If a civilian hostage's cable ties are removed, they will attempt to flee; however, a player with more cable ties can recapture them. In PAYDAY: The Heist, if a security guard or law enforcer is uncuffed, then he cannot be taken hostage again and will resume attacking the crew.
In PAYDAY 2, through the use of certain skills, the behavior of civilians can be altered to produce different results, with effects ranging from reviving downed players, giving them ammo, or simply require less cash to "cleanup" when killed.
Get a Heavy SWAT to give up.
| Blood in, blood out|
Trade all the butchers in SLAUGHTERHOUSE. To complete this challenge, you will have to have played the heist from the start.
| Crowd Control|
Beat COUNTERFEIT without letting any hostage escape or die. To complete this challenge, you will have to have played the heist from the start.
Beat COUNTERFEIT on hard difficulty or above without killing any law enforcers or civilians. To complete this challenge, everyone in your crew will have to have played the heist from the start.
| Don't panic|
Complete NO MERCY on hard or OVERKILL without any civilian raising the alarm. To complete this challenge, you will have to have played the heist from the start.
| We Are All Professionals|
In the GO Bank job, complete the heist without the alarm going off and without killing any civilians on the OVERKILL difficulty or above.
| Backing Bobblehead Bob|
Bring Bobblehead Bob to the vault. Unlocks the “The 18th” mask, the "Gemstone" material, the "God of War" pattern and the Wooden Stock for the Falcon rifle.
Finish the Bomb: Forest heist without letting any civilian flee or die, having at least five civilians in the heist, while escaping with the boat. Unlocks "The Doctor" mask, "Plywood" material and "Caduceus" pattern.
| Hey Mr. DJ|
In the Nightclub job, have 12 hostages or more on the dance floor when you escape. Unlocks the "Aluminum Grip" for the AK weapon family, the "Aluminum Foregrip" for the Krinkov submachine gun and the "LW Upper Receiver" for the CAR weapon family.
Note: Untied hostages will count toward this achievement if they are intimidated.
| Keep the Party Going|
In the Nightclub job, zip-tie the DJ and bring him to the escape zone by the escape van.
| Hail to the King, Baby|
In the Golden Grin Casino heist, kill "The King" and complete the heist in stealth. Unlocks the "Sports Utility Mask" mask, "Carpet" material and "Dices" pattern.
| Hidden Hostages|
Finish the First World Bank job with 6 or more hostages alive behind the wall by the elevators in the main lobby.
| Crowd Control|
On the Counterfeit job, have all civilians as hostages until the safe is opened.
| Saint Francis|
Complete the Bank Heist job after finding the 2 punks in the parking lot and bringing them next to the van, without letting them get away or die on the OVERKILL difficulty or above.
Can also be done on Firestarter Day 3.
| Christmas Party|
On the Stealing Xmas job, escape the heist while keeping at least 10 zip-tied civilians alive within the 4 pillars around the Christmas tree.
- It is possible for players to kill civilians without penalty in some maps. In Mallcrasher for instance, players can ignite gas cans with civilians present in the stores and they will be killed but no deduction in spending cash is inflicted.
|Heists|| Release: First World Bank • Heat Street • Panic Room • Green Bridge • Diamond Heist • Slaughterhouse|
DLC: Counterfeit • Undercover • No Mercy
|Weapons|| Primary: AMCAR-4 • Reinbeck • M308 • Brenner 21 • AK|
Secondary: Mark 11 • Locomotive 12G • Compact-5 • GL40
Pistols: B9-S • Crosskill .45 • Bronco .44 • STRYK
|Deployables||Ammo bag • Doctor bag • Trip mine • Sentry gun|
|Enemies|| Regular: Security guard • Cop • FBI • Gangster • Blue SWAT • Heavy SWAT • Murkywater|
Special: Bulldozer • Cloaker • Shield • Sniper • Taser
|Characters||Dallas • Hoxton • Wolf • Chains • Bain • Minor characters|
|Gameplay||Assault Waves • Cable Ties • Civilians • Drills • Environmental hazards • Police Custody • Reputation • Risk Level (Overkill 145+) • Shout • Stealth • Upgrades|
|Miscellaneous||Achievements • Challenges • Companies (GenSec • Murkywater) • DLC • FBI • Gangs & Mafias • Masks • Options • Overkill Software • Steam Trading Cards • Timeline • Update history|