Warham­mer: The End Times: Ver­mintide

DE­VEL­OPER Fat­shark PUB­LISHER Games Work­shop WEB­SITE www.ver­mintide.com

Custom PC - - GAMES / REVIEW -

Im­i­ta­tion is al­legedly the sin­cer­est form of flat­tery, but if some­one copied al­most ev­ery­thing we did while dressed in a gi­ant rat cos­tume, it prob­a­bly wouldn’t be par­tic­u­larly en­dear­ing. Such is the case with Warham­mer: The End Times: Ver­mintide, a game that doesn’t so much bor­row the struc­ture and sys­tems of Left 4 Dead as claim squat­ters’ rights to them.

Set in the clas­sic Warham­mer uni­verse – specif­i­cally the gothic city of Uber­sreik – it teams you up with three other play­ers, task­ing you with fend­ing off hordes of ro­dent-like Skaven as you nav­i­gate the city’s twist­ing streets, com­plet­ing var­i­ous ob­jec­tives to hold back the epony­mous Ver­mintide. To sur­vive, you must work to­gether, watch­ing each other’s backs as you hack and shoot your way through the Skaven. A game is lost if all four play­ers are in­ca­pac­i­tated.

The sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Ver­mintide and Left 4 Dead are many and spe­cific. Controlling Ver­mintide’s ac­tion is an AI di­rec­tor, which de­ter­mines where and when en­e­mies spawn. Some­times it trig­gers swarms of Skaven that at­tempt to over­whelm you through sheer num­bers. At other times, it dis­patches a range of spe­cialised Skaven such as the Ratling Gun­ner, who sup­presses your team with heavy ma­chine-gun fire, or the Pack­mas­ter, who grabs un­sus­pect­ing play­ers with a chok­ing snare be­fore drag­ging them into a cor­ner to hang them on a pole. Along­side their two weapons, play­ers can use heal­ing items and throw ex­plo­sives. Mis­sions then con­clude with a sur­vival se­quence in which play­ers bat­tle a par­tic­u­larly large horde of Skaven, be­fore rush­ing to a nearby cart to es­cape.

The ex­tent of Ver­mintide’s copy­cat­ting is frankly vul­gar, al­though there are a few dif­fer­ences. For ex­am­ple, your cho­sen char­ac­ter af­fects your avail­able load­out – some char­ac­ters em­pha­sise two-handed weapons, while oth­ers are hap­pier with a one-handed weapon and a shield. New weapons and items can also be un­locked by per­form­ing well, adding a sense of pro­gres­sion to the pro­ceed­ings.

Ver­mintide is also much big­ger than Left 4 Dead, in­clud­ing 13 cam­paign mis­sions and mul­ti­ple smaller sid­e­quests. How­ever, it lacks the qual­ity of Tur­tle Rocks’ mas­ter­piece. The en­vi­ron­ments, while well de­signed, are spoiled by dark, murky tex­tures that make ev­ery mis­sion feel de­press­ingly sim­i­lar. The mis­sions them­selves are sim­ply too long with no op­por­tu­nity to save progress dur­ing them. There’s no bot sup­port ei­ther, and the game re­quires four play­ers in or­der to work, which can re­sult in lengthy wait times for a game.

Then, when you’re in the game, the char­ac­ters are too large and too slow, while com­bat is light­weight and spongy, as if all the weapons are made out of bread. There are ex­cep­tions, such as the Witch Hunter’s Zwei­han­der and flint­lock pis­tols, which feel suf­fi­ciently lethal, but they’re ex­cep­tions. In the end, Ver­mintide feels like a su­per­mar­ket value prod­uct. It will sat­isfy your coop shooter needs for a while, but you can’t help yearn­ing for the real thing.

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