Skills are a means of unlocking new equipment, abilities, or basic statistic improvements in PAYDAY 2. They are divided among five skill trees: Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician, Ghost, and Fugitive; often described as classes. Players are free to distribute skill points however they choose across the five skill trees.
The Skills system was overhauled in Update #100, with the five skill trees possessing three "subtrees" each, each with a different role.
One skill point is awarded each time the player gains a Reputation level, plus an additional 2 points at every level divisible by 10 (meaning that instead of just 1 skill point, 3 skill points will be granted at levels 10, 20, 30, 40, and so on). Thus, once the player reaches the maximum Reputation level of 100, the player will have a total of 120 skill points.
Because the total skill points needed to unlock Basic and Ace for every skill in a single tree totals 138 points (145 on the consoles), it is impossible to Ace every skill in even a single tree (and furthermore, there are five separate trees in total). Because of this, it is advisable to only spend points on specific skills you truly need and want, and to spread skill points over multiple trees if necessary.
Skill tree structure
Each skill tree has three subtrees, named after their intended role (for example, the Fugitive's Brawler subtree enhances melee combat capability). For each subtree, there are four tiers, the top three unlocked by spending a minimum total number of points in that subtree:
- tier 2 is unlocked by spending 1 skill point,
- tier 3 by spending 3 skill points,
- tier 4 by spending 18.
All subtrees have one skill in tiers 1 and 4, and two skills in tiers 2 and 3. Tier 1 skills cost 1 skill point to unlock Basic and three skill points to Ace, tier 2 skills cost two skill points for Basic and four for Ace, tier 3 skills cost 3 for Basic and 6 for Ace, and tier 4 skills 4 for Basic and 8 for Ace.
Party bonuses do not stack with the identical bonus coming from other players in the party that have the identical skill (thus it is somewhat sub-optimal for multiple players to get the same party-benefit skills, if you always play with the same team of players). All other bonuses stack, unless stated otherwise, including bonuses from Basic and Aced versions of the skill.
Re-specifying skill trees
Skills can be withdrawn and skill points returned simply by right-clicking on the skill. Aced skills are withdrawn separately from Basic skills; to fully remove a skill that has been Aced, one will have to right-click on the skill twice. Skills cannot be withdrawn if the skill points invested in them allow skills unlocked above them to be used. The higher-tier skills will have to be removed before the lower-tier skill can.
On the PC, PlayStation 4, and XBOX ONE versions, players can unlock additional skill sets to use, allowing them to switch between multiple builds without having to re-spec skill points. This allows, for example, one to switch from a stealth build to a combat build in an instant. Skill sets can be selected and unlocked by pressing the S key.
Skill sets also have a perk deck selection associated, hence switching skill set will switch perk deck as well, although perk deck progress is universal across skill sets.
The skill set used is selected from the skill screen, meaning that it can be selected from the main menu or while in the lobby screen of a Crime.net server.
On consoles there are 5 possible skillsets available, on the PC there are 15. The requirements for the 15th is the requirement for the 5th on consoles.
The skill sets are unlocked as follows: 1. The starting skill set, available from the outset. 2. Available for unlock once you reach level 50. 3. Available for purchase once you reach level 75, costs $1M of offshore money. 4. Available for purchase once you reach level 100, costs $10M of offshore money. 5-9. Available for purchase once you reach level 100, costs $25M of offshore money. 10-14. Available for purchase once you reach level 100, costs $30M of offshore money. 15. Available for purchase once you reach level 100, requires the Tabula Rasa achievement, and costs $20M of offshore money. When resetting your level by going infamous, the skill sets unlocked remain unlocked and therefore can be used immediately afterwards.
Class building is made easier through the use of Profiles, which are collections of loadouts (weapons, throwables, skill sets, perk decks and masks). Profiles can be swapped around in the pre-game menu, allowing players more room to plan out by having multiple loadouts to tackle any kind of situation, especially when playing multi-day heists where rule changes between days are often significant. Because profiled skill sets can not be modified during the pre-game phase, setting them up in advance is often required.
Blank profiles will default to skill set 1 when selected with all skill points unallocated. There are 15 profile slots available at the moment. Profiles can be renamed (if using keyboard and mouse) by clicking on their name in the inventory.
|Tier 3||Uppers||Combat Doctor|
|Tier 2||Quick Fix||Painkillers|
|Tier 1||Combat Medic|
|Tier 4||Hostage Taker|
|Tier 3||Stockholm Syndrome||Partners In Crime|
|Tier 1||Forced Friendship|
|Tier 3||Ammo Efficiency||Aggressive Reload|
|Tier 1||Stable Shot|
|Tier 3||Far Away||Close By|
|Tier 2||Shotgun CQB||Shotgun Impact|
|Tier 4||Iron Man|
|Tier 3||Shock And Awe||Bullseye|
|Tier 2||Die Hard||Transporter|
|Tier 4||Fully Loaded|
|Tier 3||Extra Lead||Saw Massacre|
|Tier 2||Bulletstorm||Portable Saw|
|Tier 4||Tower Defense|
|Tier 3||Engineering||Jack Of All Trades|
|Tier 2||Sentry Targeting Package||Eco Sentry|
|Tier 1||Third Law|
|Tier 4||Fire Trap|
|Tier 3||More Firepower||Kickstarter|
|Tier 2||Combat Engineering||Drill Sawgeant|
|Tier 1||Hardware Expert|
|Tier 4||Body Expertise|
|Tier 3||Lock N' Load||Surefire|
|Tier 2||Heavy Impact||Fire Control|
|Tier 1||Steady Grip|
|Tier 4||ECM Specialist|
|Tier 3||Nimble||ECM Overdrive|
Effect lasts for 25 seconds.
|Tier 2||Cleaner||Sixth Sense|
|Tier 4||Sneaky Bastard|
|Tier 3||Dire Need||Shockproof|
|Tier 2||Parkour||Inner Pockets|
Run and reload - you can reload your weapons while sprinting.
|Tier 1||Duck And Cover|
|Tier 4||Unseen Strike|
|Tier 3||Low Blow||High Value Target|
|Tier 2||Optical Illusions||The Professional|
|Tier 1||Second Wind|
|Tier 4||Trigger Happy|
|Tier 3||One Handed Talent||Desperado|
|Tier 2||Gun Nut||Akimbo|
|Tier 3||Swan Song||Feign Death|
|Tier 2||Running From Death||Up You Go|
|Tier 1||Nine Lives|
|Tier 2||Bloodthirst||Pumping Iron|
|Tier 1||Martial Arts|
- The full changes of the skills and introduction of perks in Update #39 can be read here.
- Each skill tree is represented by one of the original heisters and the now-separate Houston; with Dallas as the Mastermind, Chains as the Enforcer, Wolf as the Technician, Houston as the Ghost, and Hoxton as the Fugitive.
|I'm a Healer-Tank-Damage-Dealer|
Spend 10 skill points in each skill tree.
- As of Update #39, the skill tier bonuses have been removed from the game, being replaced by the Perk Decks system which works in a similar way, but opens up the player's access to beneficial bonuses as to encourage calculated character building, rather than spending points in trees just for the tier upgrade, such as the old Tier 3 Technician headshot, which is a perk in all perk trees. Most of the tier bonuses have been revised into Perks, but some are removed entirely.
- Several of the subtrees introduced in Update #100 use the same names as pre-update skills. Those that weren't removed or split across several skills were renamed.
- Sharpshooter uses the same name as the pre-update Steady Grip.
- Ammo Specialist has a very similar name to the pre-update Extra Lead.
- Oppressor uses the same name as a former tier 1 Enforcer skill. The skill was removed from the game entirely.
- Shinobi uses the same name as a former tier 3 Ghost skill. The full effects of the skill were made default gameplay features.
- Silent Killer uses the same name as the pre-update Specialized Killing, later removed from the game.
- Gunslinger uses the same name as a former tier 5 Mastermind skill. It was split across Desperado and One Handed Talent.