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Vermintide is an awesome game. It’s all about exterminating humanoid rats. You can blow them away with guns, slice off their limbs with swords, and bash their heads in with hammers. And you can do it with friends. The gameplay is similar to that of Left 4 Dead. You and three other players run through maps, trying to survive hordes of enemies, and make it to the end. The always online requirement is a bummer and I wasn’t a huge fan of the dice roll reward system but the gameplay was a lot of fun. Developed and published by Fatshark, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is the sequel released for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in 2018. Just like the first game, it’s a co-op focused action experience set in the End Times of the Warhammer universe. But this time, you’ll not only get to decimate hordes of rats, but also the Rotblood. For this review, I played the PC version and did obtain all of the DLC.
Like its predecessor, there is a plot but I can’t say I was super invested in it. I don’t think the game does a very good job of immersing you into the story. After the events of the first game, the Grey Seer captured the heroes and he begins working on a portal known as the Skittergate that allows the Rotblood army to easily access the city of Helmgart. The heroes escape and, together, they set out to stop the Skaven and Rotblood. You’ll get to play as the same five heroes from the first game and I did enjoy the voice acting. I just like listening to the banter between the heroes. I think Warhammer fans will appreciate the story more than I did but you really don’t need to know what’s going on to enjoy the gameplay.
If you enjoyed the gameplay in the first Vermintide, you’ll enjoy the gameplay in Vermintide 2. The game plays out in Acts with multiple missions per Act. Each mission is a map consisting of one or more objectives to complete and then you have to escape. Along the way, you’ll get to kill a ton of foes. You can walk, run, crouch, jump, block, dodge, and shove enemies. You can equip a melee and ranged weapon which consumes ammo. There is a limited form of character customization. Cosmetics like hats and skins will change your character’s appearance but they have no affect on the gameplay. New to Vermintide 2 are Careers which are essentially just variations of the existing characters. You earn experience and level up as you play and after a character reaches a certain level, they’ll unlock a new Career. Each character has different passive and active skills. Active skills can be activated manually during gameplay and do need time to recharge after use. Furthermore, you can unlock a set of three talents after certain levels and each Career has its own set. The Talents provide different bonuses and essentially let you create different character builds. Hero progression is much improved in Vermintide 2 and the Careers, Abilities, and Talents do make each character feel somewhat unique.
One of my gripes with the first game was with the dice roll reward system. After completing a mission, you would be rewarded with a random item based on a dice roll which I feel offered no sense of satisfaction. In Vermintide 2, you’re rewarded at the end of missions based the difficulty and other factors with chests and crates or boxes. I guess you could say loot boxes. You then have to open each one to see and receive the items inside. This is primarily how you get new equipment, skins, and Heroic Deeds. As far as I know, the rewards are randomized but I think this system works a lot better than the dice roll system from the first game. It’s basically the same thing, you’re getting random shit, but not actually watching the dice roll makes a big difference. At least in my opinion.
The Keep is where you can select a mission, change the difficulty, equip your character, claim rewards, and craft and alter items. Each character can equip different weapons including swords, axes, guns, hammers, bows, daggers, staves, and maces, among others. They come in different rarities and can have different properties and traits. You can salvage unwanted items for resources like scrap, weapon parts, toolkits, and dust and use those resources to craft new gear, upgrade your gear, re-roll an item’s properties and traits, convert dust to lower rarities, and apply illusions to weapons. Illusions are cosmetic enchantments or in other words, skins. New to Vermintide 2 is Hero Power. Your character’s Hero Power number is determined by his or her level and equipment. This number is important because it determines the difficulties you can play on. You unlock harder difficulties as your hero power rises. I can tell you that if playing solo, the jump from Recruit to Veteran is noticeable in terms of challenge. The game is a breeze on Recruit. Regardless, whether I was effortlessly mowing down foes or they were kicking my ass, the combat was always brutal and satisfying. Weapons have a good sense of weight, the strikes and blows feel impactful, and shots from guns can send enemies flying backwards.
In addition to playing through the standard missions are other game modes. Quick Play is a mode where you play a random mission for the opportunity to earn enhanced rewards. Heroic Deeds are tailored missions of varying difficulty. They come with different sets of challenges, kind of like modifiers. There’s special events, weekly events, and then there’s Weaves. Weaves are their own unique levels and you have to complete one to unlock another. Unfortunately, you can’t bring bots with you and playing solo can be quite challenging. Each weave has its own set of requirements and challenges. Furthermore, you can only bring weapons forged for the Weaves. Vermintide 2 does support mods and I downloaded a few from the Steam Workshop like Bot Improvements, a mod that lets you host solo Quick Play games, and a Bestiary. The Bestiary one is really cool. It adds an enemy compendium to the game which shows you each enemy, their race, health, and type, and how many times you’ve killed them.
All of the enemies from the previous game make a return and there are some new Skaven types. Some are equipped with shields, Plague Monks will attack you with a barrage of blows from their daggers, and a Warpfire Thrower is a rat equipped with a flamethrower-like weapon. Most of the new enemies are of the Rotblood and Chaos variety and it’s the bigger ones you need to watch out for. You can easily get past the lower-tier ones like Fanatics and Raiders but you’ll need to look out for the large heavily armored Chaos Warriors, Blightstormers that can conjur up storms, and Lifeleeches that can teleport around the environments and will capture and drag you to towards them. Every now and then you’ll have to deal with monsters which are giant foes that can inflict a lot of damage. The Rat Ogre is one of them but you’ll also have to face Stormfiends, Spawns of Chaos, and Bile Trolls. I like the enemy variety but the enemies aren’t very bright. You’ll always be outnumbered, they come from every direction, and the challenge comes from dealing with hordes. Once you’re spotted, they all just rush you. You’ll want to master the blocking and dodging, especially on higher difficulties, and know what attacks are best against which enemy types. You’ll want to aim for the head or other weak spots of armored foes. The Winds of Magic DLC adds some new content to the game including a new map which comes with new enemy types like Beastmen and Minotaurs. I really liked it. Despite the fact the new enemies feel like reskins of existing ones, I enjoyed the atmosphere of the map.
Several of the game’s Acts come from DLC but if you don’t own them you can still play through them online through Quickplay and the Custom Game mode if you join another player who does own them. One of them lets you play through a few maps from the previous game. All of the maps are pretty large and consist of a lot of branching paths and areas to explore. You’ll traverse through medieval looking environments and they are all diverse in appearance. You can blow up explosive and lamp oil barrels if you want to take out large groups of enemies. You want to be on the lookout for loot die, tomes, and grimoires. You need to escape with tomes and grimoires and all three items grant you extra experience and a higher percentage of the loot bar upon completing the mission. You may also come across Ravaged Art which act as a form of collectibles and helps you complete challenges that grant you artwork that can be displayed in the Keep. Scattered throughout the maps are items to aid you like health, speed, and strength potions, medical supplies, bombs, and incendiary bombs, great for clearing out mobs. New to Vermintide 2 is the Potion of Concentration which boosts your character’s active ability recharge rate. The best way to play this is with other players but playing solo is possible and can be very enjoyable. The friendly AI is good but they won’t help you complete objectives. They’ll attack and kill enemies, give you items, and revive you if you’re down. You’ll have to complete an objective at some point in each mission like destroying things, transferring items, and retrieving items. The friendly AI proves less useful on harder difficulties. However, they prove to be good distractions for enemies if your team is overwhelmed.
Visually, I think Vermintide 2 looks great and better than it’s predecessor. The game is filled with plenty of color, I love the lighting, and each map is oozing with atmosphere. Corpses will be hanging from things and can be found littered on the ground. Blood will splatter everywhere and can be seen on weapons during combat. You can decapitate enemies, sever their limbs, and arrows will be sticking out of their bodies. Watching the blood come gushing out of their bodies as you obliterate them is both comical and awesome. The combat is extremely enjoyable thanks to the visual and gore effects and excellent sense of impact. The bangs and clangs from the melee combat sound good, the guns and explosions sound loud and powerful, and enemies will grunt, grumble, and groan. Unfortunately, the music is nothing special. I can’t remember a single song from the game. On the technical side, the frame rate did dip when there was a lot of enemies and action on-screen with all of the settings maxed out but I didn’t encounter any major bugs or issues. The game does require an internet connection to be played, even if playing solo, and I’m not a huge fan of that.
I really enjoyed my time with Vermintide 2. It’s a lot like the first game but with more stuff. Outside of the story, I think the only thing the Rotblood add to the experience is more enemy diversity. The lower-tier Skaven and Rotblood basically feel the same and you can slice your way through them like butter. And it feels great to do so. The combat is brutal and satisfying which is really what makes this and even the first game so enjoyable. Vermintide 2 can start to feel repetitive after a while. Let’s face it, every mission basically feels the same. You run through a map and try to get to the exit while slaying a shit-ton of enemies along the way. That’s like the gist of each mission. The co-op aspect, multiple difficulty modes, and various game modes add plenty of replay value and I love most of the changes they made to the progression and loot reward system. Despite the mission rewards always being random for the most part, I would usually received something new and better than what I had so I was always getting to try new equipment. Best of all, the game is moddable and because of that I think it could live on for a very long time.
Ultimately, I would recommend Vermintide 2 to fans of the first game or action games. Like its predecessor, I don’t think you need to know much about the Warhammer universe or End Times setting to really enjoy this which makes it very appealing. Vermintide 2 takes what was best about the first game and refines it. Other things like the loot reward and crafting systems were revamped for the better in my opinion and the result is a fun and engaging sequel. Having to be online at all times even if playing solo does suck, and if you have a shitty internet connection, you may want to skip this. But if you have a stable connection, some friends to play with, and enjoy the Left 4 Dead formula, definitely check out Vermintide 2.