The 4 player co-op market has been dominated by Valve’s Left 4 Dead series ever since its inception in 2007. Back in 2015, an indie developer called Fatshark released Warhammer – End Times : Vermintide, their own take on the formula. Even though Vermintide failed to topple the position held by L4D2, it garnered a cult following and sold over two million copies worldwide. Now Fatshark is back with a full-blown sequel and Indian Noob got a chance to delve into the full game. Here’s what we think.
Warhammer : Vermintide 2 is co-operative first person action game based on Game’s Workshop’s Warhammer fantasy universe and is set during the End Times setting. The game was released for Microsoft Windows on 8 March 2018 in Steam. The console versions are in development and will be released in the near future.
Warhammer : Vermintide 2
Story & Narrative
Vermintide 2 is a direct sequel to the previous game, starting with the Skaven (a race of humanoid rats) and Chaos tribes teaming up for a second invasion. The five heroes from the first game are captured by the opposing force. The world is on the brink of another apocalypse while the heroes makes an escape from clutches of Skaven and start their not-so intimidating resistance once again from scratch.
The 13 missions in the game are separated into 3 acts which are interconnected by brief exposition dumps and culminate in a boss fight at the end of each act. The ultimate goal of the game is to push back the endless horde of Skaven and Chaos forces to save the world. Although the focus is not in the story, there is a big amount of background information and lore available in the official wiki for those who are interested. Vermintide 2 captures the feeling of the End Times period quite well through the looming sense of dread and desperation. The good thing is you don’t need to have played the previous game to enjoy the game. But looking up the lore of the game always helps to further immerse yourselves. There isn’t much to say about the story other than the fact that it provides a well defined reason to slaughter dozens and dozens of overgrown rats (not that you need any).
Vermintide 2, like its predecessor is an objective based co-operative action game where you’ll hack, slash, crush, slice, dice and burn your way through endless hordes of enemy forces to the end of each level. The core gameplay is somewhat similar to L4D2. Each level is managed by a sadistic and dynamic A.I director who just wants to watch you suffer. The enemy and item placements, special encounters and the number of enemies spawned are determined by the director. All the placements are mixed up by the director for each playthrough that it doesn’t feel repetitive when making multiple runs of the same level. Maps are very big and range from wide-open cityscapes to claustrophobic tunnels and caves with multiple pathways and lots of detail. Sometimes the RNG plays a bad hand and the game puts you in a near unwinnable situations, like spawning a miniboss in a closed area or surrounding you with so many enemies that you won’t be able to even move. But these instances are few and far between, and this is where the similarities to Left 4 Dead ends.
Vermintide 2 features a steep learning curve for newcomers to the series. The first few hours of the game can be genuinely unforgiving, as the otherwise well done tutorial leaves several key mechanics for the player to interpret. Understanding your character, their strong points, weaknesses and synergy with other characters becomes vital for your survival. Learning to play as a particular character and the mechanics forms the bay between life and death, success or failure. After you have reached certain power levels (similar to Destiny 2) you can move on to higher difficulties that will further challenge your skills and knowledge of maps and mechanics. It’s a game that requires your patience and time. There are about 20 or more different enemy types. They include your average grunts, shield-bearers, armored monstrosities, extremely dangerous special enemies that can swiftly incapacitate you and of course; the gigantic mini-bosses who will often give your party a run for their money.
Vermintide 2 is mainly a multiplayer co-op game which means it’s meant to be played with other people online. The best experience comes flowing in when you and a bunch of buddies play together. Frequently communicating and knowing each other’s strength and weaknesses goes a long way. Playing with randoms on the internet is also an option, but don’t expect the same experience with them. It’s an easy way to level up, then again one can expect some toxicity or cancerous behavior from some of the people you find online. But the mileage may vary from person to person. The game already has thrice the number of people playing it than the first game, and it’s just been a few days since release. So you’ll be easily able to find matches. If there are any criticisms regarding the multiplayer, its that there is no indicator to show who is speaking using the in-game voice chat. It can get quite annoying and lead you to stupid decisions unless you know whose voice is which. For some baffling reason, the player latency is hidden too.
Playing with bots is also an option. But bots can only help you so much. Recruit difficulty is perfectly doable with bots, but sometimes they do exhibit the usual braindead behavior and cost you the mission. If you want to experience everything the game has to offer, get yourself a mic, gather your friends and go hunting. Aside from the standard missions, there are one-time usable items called ‘deeds’ which are basically mutations that adds additional challenges to the main game like increase enemy spawns, decrease your health overtime, etc. These deeds grants you better rewards and xp. An additional one or two modes would have been nice. But let’s see what the future holds for Vermintide 2.
Vermintide 2 features a class system similar to the first game and it’s something that sets it apart from the its contemporaries. There is the Mercenary, Ranger Veteran, Waystalker, Witch Hunter Captain and the Battle Wizard. All 5 classes play completely different to each other in terms of speed, weapon of choice, active and passive abilities etc. But what is changed is that each of the five heroes can branch out into two additional specialized career paths at levels 7 and 12 respectively. These career paths are varied for each of the five classes with different appearances, abilities, talents and weapons. So you end up with a total of 15 careers on 3 characters. In addition, there are 30 levels for each character to go through which unlocks talents for each of the 15 careers. Pretty much all of the classes and their subclasses are well balanced and viable. Thus you end up with 15 unique careers, enhancing your replayability and enjoyment factor. . It’s as much fun to play as a Zealot obsessed with purging heretics from the world as is playing a tanky dwarf who is no taller than the average wheat plant.
Compared to the projectile focused combat of L4D, the focus on Vermintide is on in-your-face visceral melee combat. That doesn’t mean there isn’t ranged combat in the game. All of your characters are equipped with a ranged sidearm like the rapid firing repeater of the Witch Hunter or the Staff of the Wizard. Ammo for ranged weapons are scarce but they are lethal if you manage to score a critical hit. The melee combat can be summed up in a few words as satisfying and brutal. All your attacks are physics-based and has varying effects on the enemy depending on where you hit them. Hit detection is surprisingly good considering the amount of enemies appearing at the same time. Whether it be a fast slashing rapier or a cranium crushing warhammer, both feel significantly different in weight, speed and damage, yet does the same job; dismembering your foe to bits.
The combat is plenty deep with a lot of factors such as stamina, attack speed, damage, critical chance etc contributing towards the dps. But the main gripe I have with this system is that as of now, there is no current way of determining your individual stats or bonuses. The game doesn’t tell you what your critical chance or attack speed is. How can the devs expect experimentation when the underlying mathematics isn’t made known to the player? In addition, many of the stat improvements like “+10% increase to shield angle” or “+10% dodge distance” does not translate well in to gameplay and will surely leave some players baffled. The combat might seem brutally difficult at first, but learning to use block and dodge effectively, as well as increasing your power level and getting better gear will exponentially increase your chances of survival.
On each successful mission, you get weapon and item rewards in lootboxes. Even though it’s all absolutely free in all sense, it’s kind of ironic for a anti-lootbox studio to implement lootboxes as the reward system. But that’s just nitpicking. Rewards vary from axes, swords, flails, guns to amulets, charms and trinkets, of which there are plenty. They follow a rarity level from white to red, with red being dubbed ‘veteran’. Each of these items contribute to your power level and ultimately determine your effectiveness in combat. It’s a relief to see that you only get the type of loot for the character you open the box as. But what is not ok is the inventory UI. It’s all over the place and has you going over tabs and tabs to get to what you want. There is a crafting system where you can make, dismantle or upgrade weapons and items. It’s a nice addition, although a bit grindy. Throughout each map are collectibles such as Tomes, Grimoires and dices that boosts the quality of the rewards chests. These occupy item slots (Tomes takes up healing potion slot and Grimoire takes up consumable slot and also decrease your maximum health). So players keen on leveling up their characters fast can look forward to these items in each map.
Visuals, Presentation and Sound
Vermintide 2 is hands down one of the best looking games released this year. The visuals of the game is a Warhammer fan’s wet dream. Weapon and character models are of very high fidelity. The lighting is fantastic. There is a lot of detail packed into each nook and cranny. The art style is grim, apocalyptic and very atmospheric. They really did a great job with the particle effects of this game, especially the blood and smoke effects. With everything maxed out, Vermintide 2 is a drop-dead gorgeous and an extremely polished game.
Vermintide 2 runs rather well considering everything that is happening on screen at one moment (50+ enemies on screen at a given time). Even on a GTX 750 with 1 GB vram, 1080p on low settings gets you anywhere between 40-90 fps. A 1050Ti will be enough to play the game on medium settings, 60 fps and at 1080p. There are a plethora of graphics options to tweak and configure if you decide to go for more eye candy or more frames.
The music of the game is composed by none other than Jesper Kyd. Honestly, the name enough must be enough to explain how well the music is. The music feels natural, primal and sets up the tone of the atmosphere excellently.
As for sound effects, everything is rather well done. Swords, maces, hammers, guns and arrows; all sound just as you’d expect them to. The sound of cold steel on vermin flesh is rather invigorating to the ears. Sounds play a huge part in the gameplay as you’ll be able to spot various enemies by the subtle sound cues they make before they appear on screen. Among all the chaos and fighting one should be able to recognize one enemy from the next just by sound alone. That’s saying something. Your party members comments on each other’s actions and banters every now and then. It becomes old very quick and somewhat annoying (especially the elf), but that too is just nitpicking and I’m glad that the feature is there.
Warhammer : Vermintide 2 is a is a highly polished and extremely fun co-op title that improves on almost every aspect from it’s predecessor. From the extremely polished visuals to the satisfying combat, it’s apparent that the developers has put a lot of love into making this game. Newcomers will find something new and exciting in Vermintide 2, while fans of the first game and the Warhammer universe will end up loving it even more. Add to the fact that it’s only half the cost of a AAA title. Vermintide 2 is a must-own if you and your buddies are looking for a challenging yet fun co-op game to spend a lot of time on.