The Risk Levels, also called Difficulty Settings or Difficulties can generally be adjusted by selecting one of several available modes, with each difficulty being progressively harder than the last one but also award more money and experience.
In the first PAYDAY, only a few heists are playable on Easy. PAYDAY 2's basic heists only allow Normal difficulty. Higher difficulty heists costs more offshore money to buy than standard ones at the contract broker.
Choosing one of the many preset difficulty levels alters certain aspects of a heist's gameplay, with the most observable change being the enemy AI behavior improvements, spawn rate and number of hostiles engaging the crew at once.
The difficulty levels in order of increasing challenge are:
|PAYDAY: The Heist||PAYDAY 2||RAID: World War II|
|-||Death Wish||Very Hard|
|Overkill 145+||Death Sentence||-|
As difficulty increases, the amount of enemies in police Assault Waves, the frequency of enemy spawn, their accuracy and damage will also increase. From some of the difficulties onward, stronger enemy types will replace weaker enemy types and become the standard spawn. The contract prices and the price of Assets (including Pre-Planning Assets) will also increase. (Note however, excluding Mayhem and above, the stealth portion of most heists in PAYDAY 2 will have very little changes as difficulty increases.)
The prices of loot and contract payouts (both EXP and cash) will both increase as the difficulty increases, making a more difficult heist much more profitable than easier heists.
Of the five preset modes, the fifth difficulty level in both games could be considered a "Special" difficulty, with unique mechanics exclusive to the setting. Both requires the player to be at a certain character level before hosting, though in PAYDAY 2, one can join a heist in progress regardless of mission difficulty and player reputation.
In both games, unique map changes or events can either happen exclusively on the hardest settings (Overkill 145+ or Mayhem and above) or may occur at lower difficulties at much lower frequencies. These changes can range from subtle ones such as removal of passageways (Watchdogs Day 1), to special map-specific spawns (the Big Diamond in Diamond Heist and Room 145 in Panic Room) or even rather drastic game-changing degrees like the increased chances of hack or equipment failure/success (Diamond Heist).
Beating a heist on certain difficulties under specific circumstances, often on Hard and above (PAYDAY: The Heist) or Overkill and above (PAYDAY 2), may sometimes yield an achievement, with the completion of any given level on Overkill 145+ or Mayhem and above always granting one.
Mayhem, Death Wish, and Death Sentence (PAYDAY 2)Edit
These generally only vary in enemy damage and health. Death Wish and Death Sentence also have an additional level 80 lock for non-Infamous players. Additionally, heisters being helped up from an incapacitation have greatly reduced health (from 40% on other difficulties to 10%, and only 13% with Combat Medic Aced).
Two new enemy classes are featured on Mayhem and Death Wish modes -- the GenSec Elite SWAT Unit and the "Skulldozer", a Bulldozer wearing digital camouflage with a skull on its face plate and wielding the KSP Light Machine Gun. Death Sentence introduces the Zeal Team consisting of several new models of law enforcer units and specials.
These difficulty modes have a few unique map changes. However note that there are several maps such as White Xmas which do not have significant changes between Mayhem and lower difficulties.
Common changes include;
- Regular security cameras on most maps will be replaced with Titan-class versions, an indestructible variant of the normal camera. Apart from their invulnerability, they do not function any differently from normal cameras and remain vulnerable to camera loops from the nimble skill. They do not appear on the following heists:
- All regular safes may be replaced with Titan safes that take longer to drill, and cannot be blown open with shaped charges or lockpicked.
- Increased minimum heist completion requirements.
- Increased number of patrolling enemies.
Easy is as its name implies, the simplest difficulty setting possible for the game. It offers a relatively challenge-free form of gameplay that is suitable for players who are new to the game, or FPS in general.
Normal is the second easiest difficulty in PAYDAY: The Heist. This is best suited for players (still) new to the game, but have experience in FPS games.
Blue SWATs are the standard enemy spawns on this difficulty.
Hard is the intermediary difficulty in PAYDAY: The Heist, being the most balanced of the five and is suitable for newer players who have just mastered the lower modes.
From Hard onwards, Heavy SWAT will replace the Blue SWAT as the standard enemy spawn. Blue SWATs are usually only seen around the start of a heist.
Overkill is the second hardest difficulty in PAYDAY: The Heist.
Overkill 145+ is a PAYDAY: The Heist-exclusive difficulty and the most difficult difficulty in that game.
In addition, individual heists will have Overkill 145+ exclusive changes that will make them even harder to complete.
In PAYDAY 2, the hardest difficulty is Death Sentence, able to be hosted by players at and above Reputation level 80, or depending on levels for players with at least one Infamy level. However, all players can join a Death Sentence game regardless of level.
In PAYDAY 2, each difficulty level also corresponds to a "Risk Level", which appears as a heist asset showing some information on what to be expected in this difficulty.
Normal is the easiest difficulty. This difficulty does not have any skull signs and corresponds to Risk Level 0.
In PAYDAY 2, the XP gained is the default amount received. The price of the loot bags and loose items will not be modified. Aside from scripted events, the only special units to spawn on Normal difficulty are Shields and Snipers, with the Taser rarely dropping from a chopper on certain heists. There are no health multipliers.
Hard is the second easiest difficulty in PAYDAY 2 and corresponds to Risk Level 1.
In this game, the XP bonus for this difficulty is 2x base XP, making the total amount of XP received 3x compared to Normal. The price of the loot bags and loose items will increase to twice their value in Normal. Tasers will start appearing at this difficulty level. FBI Shields may occasionally appear, usually spawning in groups of four, but do not replace the SWAT shields. There are once again no health multipliers.
Very Hard Edit
The Very Hard difficulty is the third easiest difficulty in PAYDAY 2 and corresponds to Risk Level 2.
In this game, the XP bonus for this difficulty is 5x base XP, making the total amount of XP received 6x compared to Normal. The price of the loot bags will increase to 2.6 times of their value in Normal, while the price of loose items will have quintuple value in Normal. Bulldozers, Cloakers, Captain Winters and SWAT Turrets will start appearing at this difficulty level. Health and headshot multiplier is multiplied both by 2 here.
Overkill is the standard difficulty in PAYDAY 2. It was the hardest difficulty before Death Wish / Mayhem / Death Sentence were added. This difficulty setting corresponds to Risk Level 3. It is also the base difficulty for Crime Spree.
Here, the XP bonus for this difficulty is 10x base XP, making the total amount of XP received 11x compared to Normal. The price of the loot bags will increase to 4.2 times of their value in Normal, while the price of loose items will increase to 10 times of their value in Normal. At this difficuly level all specials including Medics will start appearing. Health and headshot multiplier is both multiplied by 3 on this difficulty level.
Mayhem is a PAYDAY 2-exclusive difficulty that was added on the first day of the Hoxton's Housewarming Party, along with Death Sentence (One Down prior to Update #173).
It corresponds to Risk Level 4, and is the third hardest difficulty in the game, added as a bridge between Overkill and Death Wish, and shares qualities of both.
In PAYDAY 2, GenSec Elite SWATs, mixed with Heavy Response Units and Maximum Force Responders will become the standard enemy spawn on this difficulty. In addition, the stealth portion of the heist is made harder with the introduction of Titan SecuriCams and corresponding safes. Loud heists become harder with the introduction of the "Skulldozer" and more specials.
On Mayhem, these units do less damage, and Skulldozers are rarer than usual. However, Death Wish map changes (such as there being two servers on Firestarter Day 2) are present.
The XP bonus for this difficulty is 11.5x base XP, making the total amount of XP received 12.5x compared to Normal. The price of the loot bags will increase to 7.2 times of their value in Normal, while the price of loose items will increase to 13 times of their value in Normal. Health is modified by 6 and headshot multiplier is multiplied by 2 on this difficulty level.
Death Wish Edit
Death Wish is a PAYDAY 2-exclusive difficulty that was released during the Death Wish Update. it was the hardest difficulty before Mayhem/Death Sentence were added during Hoxton's Housewarming Party.
Death Wish is corresponding to Risk Level 5 and is the second hardest difficulty
The differences between Mayhem and Death Wish include: the amount of damage enemies inflict, their headshot multipliers, Skulldozers being a regular spawn, Minigun Dozers spawning (who have doubled health). Enemy health is modified by 6 and headshot multiplier is multiplied by 1.5 on this difficulty level.
In PAYDAY 2, the XP multiplier for this difficulty is 13x base, making the total amount of XP received 14x compared to Normal. Loot bags are worth 8.2x more than Normal value and loose items give out 13x more money when collected.
Death Sentence Edit
Death Sentence is a PAYDAY 2-exclusive difficulty and the hardest of the bunch that can be considered a corresponding to Risk Level 6 or the difficulty of Overkill 145+ from PAYDAY: The Heist.
Being the hardest difficulty, it also comes with its own unique set of enemies, the ZEAL Team courtesy of the Department of Homeland Surveillance to replace the GenSec Elites and the FBI SWAT as a last resort to take down the PAYDAY gang for good. Standard units, Shields, Bulldozers and Cloakers will be replaced with their ZEAL counterparts, sporting more advanced armor and harder-hitting weaponry, in addition to Minigun Dozers and Medic Dozers from the Crime Spree game mode. Additional Bulldozers are allowed into the level. Most enemies will also receive a massive damage boost. Stealth is relatively unmodified, using Death Wish presets. Enemy health is modified by 6 and headshot multiplier is multiplied by 1.5 on this difficulty level, equal to Death Wish. However, Bulldozers will have a special health multiplier of 12 and Minigun dozers of 24. This does not apply to Headless Titandozers.
The XP multiplier for this difficulty is 14x base, making the total amount of XP received 15x compared to Normal. Loot bags are worth 9.2x more than Normal value and loose items give out 13x more money when collected.
- On the Death Wish announcement site, the poster advertising the GenSec Elite units was claimed to be found on a server and appears to be printed out, but clicking on it shows a version of the poster that appears to be ripped out of a magazine, complete with a page number in the corner.
- The images showcasing the GenSec units on the Death Wish announcement site show them in what appear to be the warehouse Election Day Day 2 Plan A/B, but oddly set in daylight.
- Any Death Wish heist completion achievement unlocked prior to the Housewarming Party Event will automatically have their Mayhem mode equivalent granted automatically upon booting up the game.
- The overview image for Risk Level 5 shows a GenSec Elite rifleman standing next to a SWAT Shield officer, despite the latter having his own GenSec counterpart on Death Wish.
- Easy is still a valid difficulty in PAYDAY 2, even though it cannot be accessed or played without crashing the game. This is presumably a leftover from PAYDAY: The Heist.
- In addition, the various difficulties follow a similar naming scheme from their internal names; "Very Hard" is the counterpart of Overkill, "Overkill" uses the spot for Overkill 145+, Mayhem is considered "Easy Wish" (being an easier version of Death Wish), Death Wish is called Overkill 290+ and Apocalypse, whereas Death Sentence is "Sm Wish" (presumably sadomasochism).
|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 • Civilians • Crew AI • Drills • Environmental hazards • Police Custody • Reputation • Risk Level (Overkill 145+) • Shout • Stealth • Upgrades|
|Miscellaneous||Achievements • Challenges • Companies (GenSec • Murkywater) • DLC • FBI • Gangs & Mafias • Graphic options • Masks • Overkill Software • Steam Trading Cards • Timeline • Update history|