PAYDAY: Crime War is a new first-person shooter for Android that recently entered into a closed beta on September 10th, and it runs until October 14th. Unlike Payday 2, you can now play as cops and robbers, which is an interesting twist. The idea is that teams of fours cops face get to off against teams of four robbers, and it works out well. Of course, this is still a Payday title, so you can also expect plenty of loot to collect, equip, and upgrade, along with a ranked mode for those that take their mobile shooters seriously. It's Payday in your pocket, and it's coming soon to Android.

I would like to briefly mention that PAYDAY: Crime War is a closed-beta release that's still in testing. Due to its unavailability for the majority of Android users, I have sideloaded the APK (version: 180906.1826) to report on how it plays. There may be a few adjustments made to the game before the stable release officially launches, so please consider that when reading this hands-on.

Gameplay

When you first jump into the game, you are treated to a short demo that shows you the controls and your goal. After that, you can jump into a quick match of 4v4 online multiplayer mayhem. Whether or not you play as a cop or thief is totally random. Once you are in a match, your goals are pretty basic. If you are on the team of thieves, you need to drill into multiple safes. If you are playing as the cops, it's your team's job delay the robber's drilling process. Points accrue as you do this, and whatever team has the most points at the end of the match wins.

This is what your homescreen will look like when you first start.

There is a ranked mode for the more competitive players out there, but it's locked when you first start out. You'll have to win ten quick-play matches to gain access. There is also an arcade mode that is marked as coming soon, and if you dig into the menu, you'll see that a Pro mode is coming soon as well.

As you can see, Pro Mode is coming soon.

Now, the core gameplay is solid, but you will have to deal with a lousy matchmaking system. I found that I was almost exclusively teamed up against higher level players, which can make things excruciating when your opponents are decked out with better guns, armor, and abilities. At least the matchmaking system takes no time to find these opponents, which is excellent, especially for a game still in beta. I just wish I would've been more evenly matched when starting out. This issue may be because the beta has a limited amount of people playing, but if it releases with matchmaking like this, new players are going to have a really tough time.

14 minutes of PAYDAY: Crime War gameplay. Watch as I flail about using the touchscreen controls.

Graphics

When you start out your graphics are set to low and 30fps, but you can change them to medium or high in the settings, and yes, there is a 60fps option.

Graphic options for low to high, and 30 or 60fps.

On both a GS8+ and OP5T I had no issues running the game at 60fps on the highest graphical setting. Now, these graphics may not compare to the console and PC version of Payday 2, but they're plenty good enough, especially if you are playing on a small screen. Everything so far has run without a hitch, which is a surprise for an online-focused game with graphics as detailed as this.

Take a gander at those detailed graphics.

Controls

Well, I'm not going to sugar coat it, the controls are awful, especially if you are a seasoned console or PC player. This isn't much of a surprise for a first-person shooter with touchscreen controls. There is perceivable lag between the time you hit a touchscreen button, and the appropriate action takes place, especially when a lot is going on in the game (this isn't lag or frame drops, it's just the game not instantly recognizing a button press). This isn't too bad when shooting, but waiting two full seconds for your grenade to be thrown after you've already hit the button numerous times is more than aggravating. Turning corners can also be tricky. If you like to strafe, forget it, you'll bump into so much junk you won't ever move in the direction you want.

At the very least there are a few options in the settings to adjust aim acceleration and touch sensitivity. You can also invert the camera and change your button layout by size and placement. These options are a nice to see and can help to alleviate your thumbs continually hitting the fire button when you are trying to turn, but even then, the touch controls barely compare to a physical controller.

Speaking of which, my Logitech F310 connected over USB OTG can only control movement and grenade throwing. Shooting isn't supported, which makes the physical controller useless. For some reason HID support is often hit or miss when it comes to Android games, and in this instance, it's a miss. Unsurprisingly, there are no options in the setting for physical controllers.

The control adjustment menu.

Monetization

Alright, this section can be difficult to fill in. A lot of the games covered in my hands-on articles tend not to be released yet, which means the monetization may not be active. This is the case with PAYDAY: Crime War, but there are still enough clues within the game to get a good idea of what is to be expected.

There are two types of in-game currency. Gold and cash. I've been able to earn both through gameplay, but gold is a lot more difficult to earn than cash. This is probably why there's a section in the store to purchase more gold, but it's not functional right now. I worry that this current system will be easily abused upon release. If you can buy gold and then purchase cash with that gold, you could easily use your newly acquired cash to upgrade all of your equipment and abilities. It's possible this is a loophole left unguarded since you can't purchase any gold in this beta, or maybe it is in there by design. I suppose we will just have to wait and see.

 

As long as you have enough cash, you can buy new equipment and upgrade it.

I'd also like to point out that loot boxes are very much a thing. They're fittingly called "safes," and there are three tiers you can choose from if you'd like to purchase one with the secondary currency of gold. Free safes are also available, but you can only unlock them so many times a day thanks to an attached timer. Of course, they won't potentially contain the best gear like the paid safes.

I wonder what kind of items you can win by opening these safes.

If I had to guess, I'd say PAYDAY: Crime War will most likely release as a free-to-play game. All the hallmarks of such a title are already visible in this closed-beta. They just need to be turned on.

Gold can't be purchased yet, but the cash section is already accessible.

Conclusion

On the one hand, I think it's great to see more high-profile releases coming to mobile. A big name like Payday releasing on Android is something I'm sure a lot of people have been waiting for. And while this is a more cut-down and streamlined version when compared to Payday 2, the cops and robbers gameplay is plenty enjoyable. I just wish the controls worked better.

On the other hand, PAYDAY: Crime War can be infuriating to play thanks to a junk matchmaking system, and if that wasn't enough of a detriment, it will inevitably release as a free-to-play game with loot boxes and two types of in-game currency. I can already see an easy way to abuse this system, which points towards a pay-to-win online multiplayer game. I can't say that sounds appealing at all. I would hope the devs and whoever they answer to aren't as greedy as this, and we get an excellent multiplayer shooter that only contains purchasable cosmetics, but that's rare in the mobile gaming world, and from what I've seen so far, I doubt it will come to pass.

I hate to say it, but the bad outweighs the good here. I wish I didn't have to play against people that were already leveled up when I started out. I wish the controls were precise and responsive. I wish for a title that's not filled with multiple currencies and an endless grind. I wish developers took mobile gaming seriously, instead of using it as a shovelware haven to make a quick buck. Time and time again I am utterly disappointed. PAYDAY: Crime War has a chance to be an excellent title, but I doubt much will be changed for the better before it's officially released.

PAYDAY: Crime War isn't listed on the Play Store just yet, but if you'd like to get into the beta before it ends on October 14th, make sure to click on the sign-up link below.

Sign-up for the closed beta: Payday Crime War