Don your fa­vorite magic ar­mor for some sub­lime co-op smash­ing

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - CONTENTS - Tom Se­nior

Warham­mer Ver­mintide: End

Times was a game about clonk­ing mil­lions of gi­ant rats on the head, ideally with help from three friends. You run through gothic towns from the Warham­mer uni­verse, splat­ting hordes and fend­ing off the odd boss mon­ster un­til you reach the end, at which point you level up and un­lock some new weapons and ar­mor.

The se­quel fea­tures more of the same glo­ri­ous first-per­son vi­o­lence, only this time the gi­ant rat men have al­lied with an army of body­builders who have pledged al­le­giance to the evil Chaos gods. The new lev­els are more var­ied and ex­cit­ing than the first game’s too. You fight through mis­er­able over­run towns, stone-hewn cities, and even the oc­ca­sional sunny for­est on a bloody trip across the Old World.

The mo­ment-to-mo­ment ac­tion has splen­did heft, whether you’re blun­der­buss­ing en­e­mies or ig­nit­ing them with a fire­ball staff. There are five he­roes to choose from, and each has three sub-classes that you slowly un­lock as you level up. The dwarf can be a tank, a ranged spe­cial­ist or, best of all, a half-naked ‘slayer’ with dev­as­tat­ing dam­age out­put. The wood elf Ker­il­lian can be a long-range bow spe­cial­ist or a stealthy char­ac­ter who strikes ef­fec­tively from be­hind. Al­ter­na­tively you can run with a fire wizard, a knight, or a sneery witch hunter with two pis­tols.

Tool up

As you keep lev­el­ing and open­ing chests, you fur­nish your char­ac­ters with a wide range of weapons that sig­nif­i­cantly al­ter their func­tion in bat­tle. We par­tic­u­larly en­joy the fire wizard’s rapid-fire staff that bom­bards en­e­mies with the fe­roc­ity of a Call Of

Duty sub­ma­chine gun, but you might pre­fer Kru­ber’s huge two-handed ham­mers, or Ker­il­lian’s dual blades. Be­tween the sub­classes and weapon op­tions, you can spe­cial­ize ef­fec­tively. If you’re lack­ing a sniper to pick off spe­cial en­e­mies at dis­tance you can nor­mally rum­mage through your loot to find a suit­able tool.

Play­ing a role ef­fec­tively is a big part of the fun of team play, es­pe­cially when the game throws over­whelm­ing forces at you. The hordes you face are mar­shalled by the level’s AI, which means you never quite know whether the next turn will re­veal a rat army or a par­tic­u­larly nasty com­bi­na­tion of spe­cial en­e­mies, or all at once. Spe­cial en­e­mies in­clude tough Chaos spawn, who can pick you up and fling you re­peat­edly into the floor with a gi­ant ten­ta­cle arm. Also look out for as­sas­sins—who can leap great dis­tances and pin down a stray team­mate—and sneaky rats with long hooks who like to drag you away from your pals and string you up in a cor­ner.

If you do get over­whelmed by the en­emy you en­ter a downed state, and have to wait on a team­mate to come res­cue you. If you can find the time in the mid­dle of a melee, you can stave off this point with a hastily chugged health po­tion. These are in

short sup­ply, so you need to man­age them care­fully and keep an eye out for more as you ex­plore the lev­els. You can also find bombs, strength, and speed po­tions, as well as a po­tion that fills up your spe­cial ac­tion bar. Each char­ac­ter has a spe­cial abil­ity that recharges as you splat foes. Some are bet­ter than oth­ers. Kru­ber yells so loud en­e­mies nearby are thrown back (use­ful), while the fire wizard just sets her feet on fire and leaves a fire trail where she walks (not use­ful, but cool).

Hav­ing a laugh

The Skaven rat men and the Chaos fac­tions both have great per­son­al­ity, and Fat­shark has done an ex­cel­lent job of cap­tur­ing Warham­mer’s sense of hu­mor. Ver­mintide owes a large debt to Left 4 Dead, but it’s rich with jokes, and fea­tures some of the best first-per­son melee com­bat in any game.

Only a few mi­nor quib­bles let it down. The en­emy AI di­rec­tor can get a lit­tle too trig­ger happy, caus­ing sud­den dif­fi­culty spikes that can wipe out a low level party very quickly, and when your party wipes you have to start these some­times lengthy lev­els again from the start.

Chal­lenge is good, and you can’t win every time, but this par­tic­u­larly af­fects low level play­ers who don’t have the loot or ex­per­tize to fairly com­pete. The de­vel­op­ers are still tweak­ing and patch­ing the game to give new play­ers more early ex­pe­ri­ence, along with ex­tra trea­sure chests, to get over this hump. Once you reach level five, and you can start un­lock­ing stat buffs for your char­ac­ters, progress is smoother.

It’s worth not­ing that while you can play Ver­mintide 2 solo, it’s much bet­ter with friends and voice chat. If you’re a reg­u­lar crew look­ing for a solid ac­tion game that doesn’t feel too grindy,

Ver­mintide 2 is a great choice. Even if the loot and lev­el­ling even­tu­ally get a lit­tle stale, blast­ing the head off a bloated Chaos ma­rauder still feels im­mense. On a good run the game pushes your party to the brink of death while giv­ing you just enough health po­tions and rest points to let you fight back and over­come. It feels awe­some to stum­ble into the exit por­tal with three friends af­ter an ex­haust­ing trial, laugh­ing and cov­ered head to toe in bits of rat.

“The new lev­els are more var­ied and ex­cit­ing than the first game’s”

right Hordes fea­ture many dif­fer­ent types of en­emy.

Left Some sec­tions, like this Skaven lair, will al­ways be full of rat crea­tures.

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