The sequel to the hit Left 4 Dead-like Warhammer game has arrived. How does it stack up?
For a start, the game throws you right into a simple tutorial that breaks down the absolute basics of the game, as well as gives you the main story; The Skaven (the rat-like creatures) have captured the heroes of the original game, and have brokered an alliance with the Forces of Chaos. Shortly after escaping, the game throws you headlong into the game, forgetting to give the player some semblance of instruction on how best to navigate the hub area. Even worse, some of the game’s mechanics are left somewhat unexplained, such as tagging items for your allies to grab, and passing items in your hand to allies for their use, such as a health potion. I’m all for not holding hands, but players should not have to wait for the loading tooltips (or a helpful player online) to tell them how to do it.
The gamed doesn’t have any further mercy with its actual gameplay, either. Much like it’s spiritual ancestor, the Left 4 Dead series, the game sports an AI Director of sorts that decides when certain elements of gameplay happen, such as ambushes or even boss fights. Sadly, even on the lowest difficulty, this Director knows no mercy, and will throw you and your allies into a quick death with ease. Considering that you need to level up your characters to get even decently powerful, this can turn the early parts of gameplay into a horrifying grindfest if you don’t get someone good on your team. Even worse is the inability to play the higher difficulties as way to try and get experience faster, as you can only play the higher difficulties once your character reaches a certain power level. Add in the fact that each of the five characters has their own experience points to gain, and this can put a massive block in the way of encouraging players to try other characters. Why would you want to experience the repetitive death of playing a level 1 character all over again?
Don’t get me wrong though; as bad as the starting blocks might be, once you get going with a character, the game hits its stride. The combat manages to feel very desperate at times, but that only adds to the adrenaline. The lack of ranged options (save for the mage and elf) means that in most situations you’re up close and personal with a sword or some other melee weapon, dismembering foes left and right. After each level completed, you get a loot box (which CANNOT be bought with real money, fyi) which contains new goodies or you to equip your character with, or toss into the forge to be made into something better. And as you get higher and higher in levels, you unlock more equipment options for your character, even including entirely different skill sets. The elf, for example, starts out as a character mainly focused on using her bow and quick melee attacks. Get far enough with her though, and she can focus more on melee combat, or even become a stealthy rogue of sorts. Each character has 3 variations, and thankfully, they do not require individual levelling (unlike the five characters) so you can go a bit more wild with your experimenting.
Sadly, this experience is sometimes hampered by some poor stability. While trying this game out, I frequently suffered disconnects and outright crash-to-desktop situations that really began to test my patience. Even worse; if the host of a game disconnects during a level, it is possible for host migration to occur, but you will have to start the entire level again. Seeing as how stages can last around half an hour each, this can leave you fuming mad in an instant.
Overall, Vermintide 2 is a very fun experience. Nowadays we tend to ignore horde-type games due to their overuse in other games as extra modes (looking at you, Gears) but if they can patch out the bugs in the game’s netcode, this one does deserve a chance.
++ Great once you get far enough in
- Crashes and bugs
-- Difficulty curve, AI Director
A PC Review copy of Warhammer: Vermintide 2 was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review