Payday 3 devs have ‘no plans’ to change controversial new progression system

Jake Nichols
Screenshot of three players in Payday 3Deep Silver

Payday 3 developers are standing firm on their controversial new challenge-based progression system, stating they have no plans to change it, even as frustrations continue to mount.

Constant server issues, matchmaking errors, and a new online-only requirement have marred Payday 3’s highly-anticipated launch. The “half-baked” game is suffering from a wave of negative reviews that have resulted in a ‘Mostly Negative’ rating on Steam, as some players are already opting for refunds.

Beyond the problematic launch and general instability, many players have expressed frustration and disappointment over a new addition to the series – the challenge-based progression system. This system has been criticized for being restrictive, forcing players to adapt to specific playstyles to gain XP, rather than simply allowing them to play the game as they prefer.

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One notable thread on Payday 3’s Reddit community highlighted the restrictive nature of this system, with a player stating, “This game might have the most backwards character leveling system I’ve seen in gaming.”

“Why does the game punish you for having a playstyle?” the player asked.

The player further elaborated on how the game seemingly punishes you for having a preferred playstyle and weapon type, with challenges requiring completion of heists in specific ways and kills with every weapon type.

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“Basically, Payday 3’s progression system is not based on gameplay the way you like it. It’s based on what are essentially Xbox achievements / PS trophies. Starbreeze wants you to play the way THEY want you to. Or else you don’t progress.”

The challenges, some of which require players to complete the same heist 150 times, have led players to call for a complete overhaul of the system.

But now, Starbreeze Studios, the developers of Payday 3, have responded to the community’s backlash surrounding the challenge-based progression system, stating, “We don’t have any plans as of today to change how the progression works.” However, they are evaluating ways to make the challenges more intuitive and to communicate them better to the players.

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Unsurprisingly, the reaction to the developer’s stance has been mostly negative, with players quickly expressing their dissatisfaction. “Saying they have no plans to change how progression works is nuts,” one player reacted. “It’s so blatantly unfun it’s insane. I don’t think I’ve finished a heist in a while due to the fact that it gives me more XP to just grind out weapon challenges and last as long as I possibly can and kill as much as I can.”

Another wrote, “If you don’t listen to what the community wants, you deserve to fail. The progression system is one of the worst I’ve ever seen, even after 10 hours I stopped progressing with my favorite build using the shotgun. Also, challenge based progression is tried and tested and it failed every time.”

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However, Starbreeze Studios did hint at possibly dropping the online requirement following the widespread criticism and the problems it has caused, which is at least one positive sign for the community.

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About The Author

Jake Nichols was formerly a Senior Writer on the Australian Dexerto team. A "washed-up" competitive gamer with an economics degree, he has a unique angle on industry trends. When not writing, he's snapping away in Marvel Snap and hunting purple sector times in sim racing games. You can contact Jake at