WARHAMMER: VERMINTIDE 2
Don your favorite magic armor for some sublime co-op smashing
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.
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.