PAYDAY 2 – Tips and Tricks for Getting Started

Before you play the Payday 2 game, you will definitely want to know these simple but useful tips and tricks. If you have any tips feel free to share with us!

Things to Know Before Playing

What to Buy

  • Almost all DLC for the game comes with the “Ultimate Edition”, which is discounted slightly if you have the base game, and more if you have some DLC already.
  • You do not need the Ultimate Edition to play DLC heists, just to host them. A ton of good weapons and equipment is only available in the full version, though.
  • The base game has hundreds of hours of gameplay. The full version has around two thousand. Your call.


  • There is now a pair of tutorial heists that explain some of the game’s basics. They’re worth running through first to get a feel for the underlying mechanics.
  • HOLD F to do things, don’t just press it.
  • The AMCAR and Chimano 88 that you have at first absolutely suck. Ditch them as soon as possible.
  • The CAR-4 is incredibly customize-able, just like in real life. Buy two, and mod one for stealth and the other for war.
  • Some weapons and weapon parts that come with the Ultimate Edition are locked behind achievements. Look up their descriptions to see exactly how to unlock them.
  • Always mark special units, guards and cameras by hitting F while looking at them. Not only does it let you see them everywhere, but it warns your team about them too.
  • When starting out, choose one perk deck and stick with it until you max it. All decks have some incredibly useful skills in common, including increased ammo pickup and 45% more experience gained. Armorer and Muscle are both solid starting perk decks and do not require DLC.
  • Once you complete a perk deck, only use it and other completed decks until you earn the points to complete all the other ones – one of the perk deck bonuses is increased XP, which also means faster perk points.
  • “Infamy” is the game’s prestige system. It costs a ton of money the first 5 times you do it, but it also reduces skill tier requirements those first 5 times. Levels after that are purely cosmetic.
  • “Continental Coins” are gained by completing safehouse raids, daily missions, and Crime Spree. They’re used to upgrade the safehouse and buy gun parts. Safehouse upgrades are 99% cosmetic, get gun parts first.
  • “Crime Spree” is a sort of endless heisting survival mode for advanced players. It’s also a huge continental coin sink. Don’t bother with it until you’ve gotten gud.
  • “Holdout” is an infamously ill-balanced multi-wave survival mode with limited maps, poor rewards, bugs galore and completely broken, nonsensical difficulty. There is no reason to play it other than to get special associated masks for completing weekly challenge runs. Find a full team of expert masochists if you want to do it.


  • Stealth is pretty much learned by doing it. There’s a lot of map-specific weirdness to grok. Don’t be afraid to mess up; unless you terminate the contract, you have unlimited attempts.
  • After killing a guard in stealth, be sure to answer his pager. Otherwise, an alarm will sound. Your team can only answer a max of 4 without an alarm going off.
  • Some stealth maps have only 4 guards-killing them all and tying down any civilians/other threats will make them “safe”. Bank heists are an example of this. Most maps have more than 4 guards and require greater care.
  • Some maps have a civilian or guard monitoring a camera bank. Taking them out or tying them down effectively turns off cameras (though guards will still freak out if they spot a broken camera). Beware, though! Some heists have no camera operator, meaning cameras are a persistent threat, and a couple have two operators in different locations.
  • The Burglar perk deck is basically dedicated to stealth. It’s similarly a good idea to have a dedicated stealth build – you can unlock all the relevant stealth skills and have spare points in one build.
  • A popular strategy is “ECM chaining”. A team uses their ECMs in sequence and rush the map’s objectives, completing the map before ECMs wear off. This requires map knowledge and coordination, but it vastly simplifies things.
  • Shotguns can “launch” enemies and civilians if they are shot from relatively short range. This method can let you control where corpses are, which can be incredibly useful with practice and map knowledge. This technique only works properly if you are host, though- the body isn’t synched, and the host’s body location are what is used for detection.


  • Payday 2 has had a lot of power creep over the years, and at this point difficulties below Overkill are introductory. You’ll only need to do them once or twice to gain some initial levels and get a feel for the game.
  • Difficulties above Overkill start to require in-depth game knowledge, a lot of skill, progress unlocking better equipment and/or a higher level.
  • Death Sentence, when played loud, is the difficulty for crazy idiot masochists. It’s not remotely fun, and should only be done if you’re a completionist. If you give it a pass, you’re not missing out.


  • Don’t rush off on your own. Payday 2’s like Left 4 Dead; being a loner will get you blown away. Unlike Left 4 Dead, “rushing” is rarely a valid tactic.
  • You do not want to “max out” a skill tree – mix and match according to your role in the team and what weapons you like.
  • Complement your primary; if you have a low-accuracy but high ammo main, bring an accurate secondary to help hit snipers.
  • Inspire Ace is insanely good but has a 20-second cooldown. If a teammate’s not in dire need (say, downed by a special with no other enemies nearby), you may want to pull him up by hand to save the Inspire for later.
  • Call out specials with the shout button whenever you can, especially if you do not use a microphone.
  • Make headshots at every opportunity. Practice getting headshots while hip-firing. The more you can land, the more unstoppable you become.
  • Familiarize yourself with each special unit’s sounds – Cloakers in particular.
  • It is okay to disengage in a bad situation – even if it is a single Bulldozer that you are not equipped to handle easily. Call it out and stick with your team.
  • It is also okay to not  try and revive someone who has been downed in a terrible place. If you do, thin the enemy near your teammate as much as possible before attempting to get him up.
  • Enemy police can be shouted down and turned into hostages if they have less than 100% HP. Note this does not work on criminal enemies, and there is a limit on how many cop hostages you can have at once.
  • Always shoot snipers. Pubbies have something against killing them, resulting in a pile of downed players.
  • No, seriously, shoot snipers. Not only do they have hacker-level aim, but their shots bleed through armor into health, which no other enemy does.
  • SWAT Turrets have a shield protecting them – it’s vulnerable to explosives. The first two times you take out the shield, the turret will retract, heal, and summon a new one. The third time, the turret stays up and can be killed. Turrets on helicopters stay out when repairing and can be destroyed during the process. Most of the time, though, it’s better to just make it retract and move on. Turrets in building interiors are way easier – they don’t heal.
  • Captain Winters will lock the game into assault mode when he arrives. He will also begin passively increasing all enemy max health while he’s around, until it’s doubled. Make him retreat quickly by taking out his escort – explosives work well.

Specific Heists

  • Expect to get lost in the Alesso, Murky Station, and Goat Heist maps during your first few runs – they are complex and weirdly laid out.
  • Beware: wide open spaces and bad firing lines make Goat Heist, Heat Street and Lab Rats much harder than most other heists.
  • Safehouse Nightmare and Cursed Kill Room are two gimmick heists with completely imbalanced enemy distributions. Do not expect to play them for fun; bring a skilled, experienced team if you want to survive.
  • If your group’s playing Shadow Raid and you’re lousy at stealth, haul bags back to the van. Hug the fence and crouch.
  • Don’t smash cases in Diamond Store until you disable the alarms. You do that by getting a keycard off the manager, or off a desk, and using it in a slot upstairs.
  • Day 1 of Rats, Lab Rats and the Cook Off heist, use a specific system of callouts for ingredients. Bain will say an ingredient, pause, and then say something else. If he corrects himself, the ingredient he mentions in his correction is the right one. If he says anything else (“I’m 51% sure”, for instance), the first ingredient was correct.
  • The non-Rats/Cook Off meth cooking sequence is exactly the same every time (Muriatic > Caustic > Hydrogen). It’s written on the whiteboard above the caustic soda’s table, if you forget.
  • When doing a stealth Bank Heist, shoot the tellers and guard the panic button in the back hall with extreme prejudice. ECMs don’t turn these off, and civilians can and will go right for them.
  • In Hoxton Breakout Day 2, save a keycard for the door leading to the escape.
  • Bags chucked in the water in Watchdogs Day 2 won’t disappear, but they do respawn all the way back at the beginning of the level. Don’t throw more than four into the boat at a time.
  • Jumping onto the folded-up blankets in Lab Rats keeps you from taking fall damage.
  • Be aware that the last couple heists in the game’s storyline, Hell’s Island and White House, never got a complete optimization pass and therefore suffer from serious performance problems.
  • Yes, the motorcycles in Biker Heist Day 1 handle that badly. Their hitbox is much, much larger than it looks.

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