Warhammer Vermintide 2 is the latest entry in the coop survival title from developer Fatshark Games and a sequel to Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide, which released on PC on March 11th. Here’s our review, nearly two months in the making.
It almost seems hard to review a game such as Fatshark Games’ Warhammer: Vermintide 2, but not for the reasons you may be thinking. I’ve had countless missions where the games ‘AI director’ proved just how much of a sadistic pain in the arse that it could actually be.
Motherboard: MSI Z270 Gaming M7
Video Card: MSI Nividia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Game Ready Plus
RAM: Corsair Vengeance 16GB RAM
CPU: I7-7700K 3.6GHz| OCed to 4.2GHz
Cooling Unit: Cooler Master V8 GTS Radiator
I had plenty of missions where this ‘director’ would decide when the best time it was to unleash a newly summoned AI controlled element such as a Stormvermin and Gas Rat within just a few seconds of one another. Often times tossing a Chaos Warrior or a troll into the mix. I’ve often times seen my AI or player-controlled companions quickly tossed about, being dismantled all too quickly. Often times I’d see an Assassin Rat pinning Bardin the Dwarf to the floor, stabbing at him furiously while a Gas Rat bombarded the area in a poisonous smoke, leaving us to be spread apart and unable to revive one another.
With Bardin down, we were left with Kruber the mercenary, dressed as a knight of sorts, Sienne the fire mage, someone we’ve often had to revive from burning herself to death with the use of her staff, and Kerillian, the nimble elf, the one who fights best from the shadows and in the distance with her bow. But the downside? We weren’t always expecting that Chaos Sorcerer that would suddenly appear in the distance only to teleport into close quarters, draining the soul from Kruber, leaving him unable to fend for himself while a horde of rats closes in on Kerillian, leaving her unable to defend herself.
The downside of this all? We’re having to rely on Sienna, who is already overheating from all of the firebombs she has tossed about in order to take out the Assassin Rat that was lurking in the shadows. Now she’s low on health, almost dying due to the beating she has taken combined with the overheating she experienced due to her fire magic. But little were she and I prepared for what came next. Kruber has died, Barin has died, and now, we have a Chaos Warrior whirling his blade about, quickly finishing Sienna off before coming after my character, Kerillian, and finishing her off as well in one mighty swing of his blade.
But don’t get excited yet. This is how many matches will play out in your first few initial hours of the game. You’ll come to find that Warhammer: Vermintide 2 isn’t as forgiving as the games that came before it. Titles such as Left 4 Dead, Gears of War, and even Call of Duty have all given us a chance to hammer our way through their own takes on horde mode experiences, but Fatshark Games isn’t ashamed of what they have to offer. They’ve decided to capitalize on how very few horde-focused games there actually are and luckily for them, the pay off is there and it has worked quite well in their favor.
The challenge is real, it’s unforgiving, and it’s absolutely hard for beginners.
Unlike Left 4 Dead or the Gears of War titles, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 can be insanely difficult, so much so that it can be maddening and rage inducing. Toss in the act that missions, even on the easiest difficulty are already a hefty challenge on their own, players will quickly know when it’s game over during a mission. I’ve often found missions getting underway before an enemy has executed one of our teammates and having downed another. Luckily, this is where experience in later missions pays off, not everything is lost, and players will often find themselves having a fighting chance.
With a little time, a little patience, and experience, you’ll quickly find yourself bashing away at your foes, unlocking the ability to keep level-headed when no one else might, and even clearing more difficult missions as you progress. This includes new perks, armor, weapons, and stats thanks to those newly unlocked pieces of equipment.
But as good as Vermintide 2 actually is and how great it is as creating epic scenes that push a games tension to the max, the experience can be diminished by the games frustrating multiplayer setup, one where players rarely communicate, rarely focus on a singular target, and rarely play a game with thoughts regarding the wellbeing of their group rather than themselves. Need that health pack or potion in the distance? Don’t count on it, someone may run off to grab it while you’re fighting off a few unexpected foes.
A formula that’s tried and true thanks to Vermintide 2. Even the Performance proves to be tried and true.
Just like many of the horde mode games on the market, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is one of the most profound games one can play. Much like Left 4 Dead, teams consist of four players, each taking on a specific character with specific traits. Over the course of the game, players will wade through 13 of the game’s levels, each massive in size and offering varying degrees of difficulty. Each coming with their own uniquely gorgeous and moody settings.
But surprisingly enough it’s not just the settings or gameplay formula that works in the favor of Fatshark Games’ Warhammer: Vermintide 2. The game itself runs spectacularly well on a wide array of GPUs and CPUs. Personally, I’ve tested it on three different sets, three different builds, and saw the game itself run quite well even if locked at 30fps or bumped to 60fps on our high-end rig named Scarlet here at Blast Away the Game Review. Thanks to the fact the game predominately focuses on its melee combat, which helps when working with a variety of framerates and performance consistencies, Vermintide 2 is a remarkable title.
On a Nvidia GTX 970ti GPU and an Intel I7-4770K (4.2 GHz) the game ran almost solid at 55 FPS on ultra high, taking the shadow’s setting down we saw the game consistently perform at 60 fps outside of the games most intense moments, which saw it dip back to 55 fps. On our build called Scarlet, system specs above at the top of the review, the game consistently performs at a solid 60 fps on Ultra High settings, even higher when lowering down settings in a custom settings setup.
But most noticeably, the better the CPU, the better the performance out of Vermintide 2, which is something that will help keep your framerates from bogging down your performance. Missions have an average duration that runs between 25 and 30 minutes, unfortunately, you’ll also end up repeating these missions quite often, but if this does sound boring, don’t let it. It’s actually not boring. Every mission plays differently as you unlock new gear, perks, and level up your hero of choice.
Toss in the fact that there is a bit of variation in creature spawns and what creatures will appear during the course of a mission. Every mission, needless to say, is procedurally generated as you go through the game. Every time you go through one mission or another, something changes when it comes to item drops, the enemy spawns, and mini-boss placements.
This continually proved true as I played through each of the missions on a freshly played Sienna. After all, I loved her in Warhammer: Endtimes – Vermintide. I’d blown up countless Skaven without a second thought, sending back to whence they came. So over time, I’d done this, countless times to hordes of Chaos and Skaven alike. But now it was time to end it all, to go back to where it all started – The Skittergate.
In this mission, players get an in-depth look at just how meticulously crafted Warhammer: Vermintide 2 actually is. Players will actually get a look at what it looks like inside a Skaven fort, one lined with wooden planks barely held together by rope and cloth, often barely held together by whatever the Skaven chose to use to forge their fort. After a short while, the scenery changes from the dank caverns of their Skaven fort, eventually showing us a look inside a location taken over by Chaos forces and altered by Skaven magic.
Here, players will take the fight directly to the Skaven leaders, the ones engineering the chaos that has begun to consume the lands. What’s more astonishing isn’t just the fact that the team’s creative capabilities are put on display, bringing the events of the End Times to life. It’s almost unimaginable to think that this team could bring a game to life that takes place during the age of 2523 as the end of the world began.
Loot, loot and loot some more!
Unlike the aforementioned Horde-themed games such as Gears of War and Left 4 Dead, Vermintide 2 is remarkably different, one where layers of RPG elements have been brought to life. It, in many ways, is overwhelming to take in at first. There’s a lot of nuances that come into play including each character’s career paths (a subclass system of sorts).
What’s most interesting about the game isn’t just how the classes play, even the subclasses alter the gameplay, but only slightly. However, this approach does not take away from the overall critical importance for each of the classes and the roles they play. To add more gameplay mechanics into the game, Fatshark Games tosses perks into the mix, each one offering different incentives including reduced damage, faster cooldowns, or various other traits. However, each of them plays their own unique and extremely important role to how players will approach a combat scenario.
Toss in the fact this game is a loot grinder, you do need to consider several things while bashing through the Rotblood’s and their Skaven allies. As you progress, your loot drops will get better, but so will your ability to craft and upgrade your gear, often times enhancing your combat capabilities as you go. Want increased damage with a +7% Stamina? That can happen as you proceed, but so do the bonuses, you may find weapons offering more than a single boost, but not till later on.
Higher difficulties mean better loot, better loot means better stats. But your loot drops also are determined by your team’s ability to find loot dice, tomes, and whatever more may affect our loot drops. Renaldi’s gift being the biggest of them all. Within three hours of gameplay, I already sat around an item level of 97, which puts me right on par with the next step up on the difficulty ladder.
The real enemy here isn’t your loot in the complete and total truth, it’s the mechanics. Learning when to dodge, when to block, when to parry, all of it is hard at first. It’s hard knowing when to take multiple swings at your foes, bashing their skulls in, whenever possible. It takes time and the idea of mortality is very real when it comes to Vermintide 2. You aren’t some immortal, one that can survive being beaten half to death in any form. You’re merely a mortal, one that bathes in the blood of their foes, one that has to face the consequences that come with any small mistake they make.
With time, the brutal gauntlet that is Vermintide 2 will begin to ease up in difficulty, allowing the song and dance that’s filled with blood and metal become all too familiar. The only variable you have to consider to the loot, to the reflexes you will need to have, and communication that must happen between your team and yourself is when to call out special enemies such as a Skaven Packmaster, Skaven Assassin, or a Chaos Knight.
Heads will roll, your team will die, but not our adventures.
There’s no thrill unlike that which comes with Warhammer: Vermintide 2. Even with 80+ hours invested in Vermintide 2, I’ve found myself to end up quite busy from time to time trying to fight with every ounce of strength my character and teammates have. However, there are minor irritations that come into play over the course of your time. You’ll find hosts will leave or games will crash, causing all progress made to come to an end, making that half hour spent fighting through monstrous hordes to be a waste in the final moments.
What’s even more troubling is that when troublemakers arise, ones that AFK or purposely rush in and die, hogging all the valuable resources, there isn’t a kick option available. You won’t find yourself having a way to open up a spot for someone more useful, someone who will help your team benefits from their presence. But none of that is completely caused by the team behind Vermintide 2. I can’t be mad at them by any means. Everything happens for a reason and anything out of my control is just that – out of my control.
Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Release Date: Now Available
But even with these minor problems, I can’t deny the fact that I enjoy the game as much as I do, often times sitting for hours on end bashing my way through endless hordes of Skaven in order to hear the sound of a Rotblood warhorn, which signals the oncoming rush of foes that will try and tear my team asunder and erase our presence as the end times approach.
Our review is based on a retail version that was provided to us by the game’s publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPGs, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.