While there are no classes to pick between in Payday 3, you do still have complete control over how your character plays and what role they will have in any given heist. The obvious changes will be in your weapons and equipment loadouts, but it is in the skill system where you are really free to personalize your masked criminal. You begin the game with two unlocked naturally, but quickly see that there are dozens more to unlock and try out within various categories. You’re not able to simply pick any one that looks good and give it a try, though, but must instead research them before you’re able to unlock them. Considering this will take a few missions at least with you and your friends, here are the ones you should prioritize researching first in Payday 3.
Researching a skill is mostly passive, but you do need to select which skill you want to be working on at any time — you can’t research them all at once. If you don’t pick one, the game will automatically apply research to the first skill in the list, which likely isn’t going to be what you want. To choose which skill you want to research, just highlight it in the skill menu and choose “Research” to mark it as the skill your points will go toward.
Some skills incorporate one of the three buffs, which are Edge, Grit, and Rush. When triggered, Edge gives you 10% more damage, Grit reduces damage taken by 10%, and Rush boosts your movement speed.
Even if you can’t fully manage to pull off a heist quietly, your team will at least want to try and get as much done as possible before the cops show up. Hacking is useful on nearly every level since it lets you hack into any level’s CCTV system via the cameras rather than having to get all the way inside to wherever the security room is. Cameras are tough to spot and can easily give away your team, so shut them down early.
Sometimes there’s no avoiding a shootout. When the bullets start flying, you’ll be glad to have some extra firepower on your side once you realize just how fragile you are. The Engineer skill gives you access to a Sentry Turret that you can plop down wherever you wish to cover an area.
Speaking of survival, Enforcer is great to keep you alive while being aggressive. For every two close-quarters kills you get within a four-second window, you get the 10% damage reduction buff. Most maps have you in closed space, such as banks, where you can easily funnel cops into close quarters for quick kills to activate this skill.
Every character has armor and health, with armor able to regenerate segments so long as that section isn’t completely removed. This can take a while, forcing you to hide in cover or lose your armor entirely. Tank makes your armor regenerate 20% faster, plus adds two more charges to your armor bag to restore lost chunks when it inevitably happens.
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