It’s no secret that Payday 3 has struggled to gain its footing since its launch in September. From unpopular systems to continuously delayed patches, the long-awaited continuation of Overkill’s co-op crime simulator hasn’t been met with the warm welcome it desired. Now that the game has a few updates under its belt, including a free content drop that includes a couple reworked Payday 2 heists, Starbreeze is ready to drop the first scheduled DLC: Syntax Error.
Chapter 1 – Syntax Error is a bundle of Payday 3 DLC, which includes the titular new heist, three new weapons, and a handful of cosmetics to customize those in-game heisters. Each of the three components can be purchased individually, if desired, but we’ll be reviewing the comprehensive package here.
A Heist Done Right
Let’s start with the heist. Syntax Error sees players take on data security firm Scry Digital, one housing countless server racks and an advanced AI system named SINS. Not long after players are dropped into the new Bad Apple storyline mission, it’s clear that Syntax Error is the most elaborate heist to date. And that’s good because it’s exactly what Payday 3 has needed since its debut. Syntax Error takes players into a contemporary corporate building that quickly reveals its neon-lit basement, teeming with protected hardware, before finally spilling out into a luscious green courtyard (assuming the plan goes loud).
The layered structure of Syntax error properly puts the developer’s skillset on display, reminding us of the more involved multi-day heists from Payday 2. It stands as a strong start for the kickoff of post-launch content, providing one of the best (if not the best) levels for both stealth and loud playstyles as well as setting the bar high for all DLC heists that follow.
Chapter 1 – Syntax Error also tosses in a few new firearms to level and modify as you clear out Scry Digital of their electronics goods. It’s a fair variety, packing in a submachine gun, shotgun and marksman rifle. The WAR-45 SMG may boast a lower fire rate compared to others in its class, but its hefty fire power makes short work of opposition. It’s a solid addition to the lineup and includes a rather flashy reload. The FSA-12G shotgun brings devastation with its semi automatic, mag fed nature. It’s immensely satisfying to blow away enemies with this rapid fire shotgun. Lastly, we have the FIK 22, a marksman rifle that trades raw power for a higher fire rate.
Of the bunch, the FIK 22 may be the weakest link, but it’s hard to say that without any hesitation since later attachment unlocks could boost the weapon’s viability. If you aren’t already aware, leveling weapons in Payday 3 is a complete slog. While it’s always welcome to have additions to the arsenal, going through the process of incrementally boosting weapon levels is a stark reminder of the continued poor state of the progression system.
Whether or not there’s enough value in the new weapons to justify the grind will be up to the individual. You may find yourself going back to one of those tried-and-true loadouts you maxed out previously (and definitely did so without resorting to the old 99 Boxes glitch).
Closing out the new Payday 3 content, we have a tailor pack. Several new masks, outfits and gloves are included in the Chapter 1 bundle. Admittedly, there are some great masks designs on offer here, three of which adhere to the tech vibe of Scry Digital’s lower floors. The outfits mostly follow this theme, too, with three embodying the life of an IT worker. If you’d rather look like a walking nerd emoji or deck yourself out in more tactical wear, those options exist here as well.
Now before we wrap up, there are two lesser areas of the Chapter 1 – Syntax Error DLC that must be called out. First, the bundle costs a staggering $17.99. If that doesn’t sound like a lot to you, let me remind you that the entirety of Payday 3 carries a $39.99 price tag. Starbreeze is effectively charging half of their base game for one new heist, three weapons, and a few cosmetics. That’s a hard sell. It may not be the biggest departure from the Payday 2 pricing when you look at its tailor packs, weapon packs and heists, but Payday 3 has a long way to go to establish itself in the same way.
There’s much work to be done still and that’s largely what makes the price point hit harder than it might have if the game were in a better place. And that’s the other issue affecting Syntax Error; the core game’s issues persist and that drags down the new experience. As I previously stated, progression is still an absolute chore. The insulting increase to Infamy Points gained after each mission has had a near-negligible effect on leveling overall. Also, the analog stick deadzone issue still exists on PlayStation, making aiming feel wonkier than an FPS of this caliber should and detracting from the enjoyment of the new weapons.
And that’s not all. I could go on about the numerous quality of life changes that have been asked for by the community since launch, but it’s all been said too many times now. The core Payday 3 experience is still in need of an uplift so that new content, such as Syntax Error, can truly shine in the ways it deserves. But for now, Syntax Error is held back by a game still trying to dig itself out of a muddy start and weighed down by an unappealing price tag.
Payday 3 Syntax Error Review Verdict
Payday 3 Syntax Error: Payday 3 Syntax Error brings the co-op heist FPS its best heist to date. Traversing the multi-layered structure of the Scry Digital mission is a real treat, one that can be enjoyed adorned in new threads and armed with punchy new weapons. Unfortunately, the content can only rise so much, as its weighed down by the issues still plaguing the core game and a price point that fails to match what's on offer. – Joshua
Editor’s Note: Payday 3: Chapter 1 – Syntax Error was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.