The Warhammer franchise is taking another stab at the Left 4 Dead inspired 4 player co-op multiplayer. While Space Hulk tried its best, the original Vermintide worked far better in execution. It did need some refinements and a little more polishing off in terms of design, but overall did the job right. So does Fat Shark manage to smash it out of the park this time round?

Vermintide 2 is going to guarantee several things to gamers; giant angry rats who want to eat your face, a merry bunch of warriors who like killing said angry rats and massive locations where you can again kill said rats. Continuing from the first game, Vermintide 2 returns players to the beginning of the End times, where the world is surely doom but never fear as we have our heroes near. The heroes of Ubersreik make a return to fight the Skaven hordes of Clan Fester who’ve allied with the Rotbloods, a warband who worship and love the Chaos God of Disease and Decay, Nurgle. Aww he sounds like a real sweetie!

So it’s up to our heroes to embark on various quests that allow them to destroy the Skaven hordes, stop the incoming invasion and have a nice cold pint afterwards.

The focus of Vermintide 2 is banding together 4 players (otherwise you can play by yourself) and plaing them in the worse possible situation. Often enough players will need to venture across large, open areas to a single objective which will put a dent in the Skaven army’s plans. The best way to describe the structure of each mission is a relentless gauntlet filled with encounters that range from battling a few patrolling NPCS to a fighting off an overwhelming number of minions and super powerful mini bosses. It’s like going from listening to a mellow poet reading at a coffee shop to being plunged into a mosh pit in front of Megadeth!

Combat is brutal, harrowing and simple brilliant. Vermintide 2 does well to pace out the action and gives you plenty of resources to make sure you have a fighting chance without spoiling the intensity, by making it too easy. The original Vermintide made things a little too agonising but the sequel manages to adjust the difficulty with a refined director system that measures your performance during the game. Taking more notes from Left 4 Dead, Vermintide 2 balances out the difficulty while keeping it engaging and enjoyable.

However there are still moments of madness when playing the higher difficulty and even with a few friends it does go a little overboard. The same thing did happen in Left 4 Dead when the difficulty would spike to ungodly levels and while bringing a few laughs here and there, it can be a little grating to grind through a level and be hammered near the end.

Off course this is the type of game which is more fun with friends and there’s plenty more campaign to dive right into. After a short and sweet tutorial, players will embark on 4 four acts, each with four missions and a final epic climax. The scenarios will take players on a broader range of location from mountain top cities, farm lands, troll caves and decaying castles, moving away from the repeating cityscapes of the original game.

While the immense combat and relentless gauntlet like nature to pacing is very entertaining, I wish there were more elements that lent towards lateral gameplay or bigger boss battles that don’t feel the need to bring a thousand and one minions to make it tougher.
There’s more depth to progression with new character types unlocking as you rank up and loot boxes rewarded for playing the game. Don’t worry, they’re not bought with real money but given when completing levels and accomplishing special tasks. There’s enough here to last you and your friends for many, many hours with bigger levels, more variation in enemies and mission objectives which have more substance and better executions.

Vermintide 2 is simple, straightforward but a lot of fun when it comes to 4 player co-op. The influences from Left 4 Dead are shown here and thankfully Vermintide 2 has turned out to be a stronger, more compelling and balanced (for the most part) sequel. There’s plenty of brutal action, intense combat and a ton of campaign for you and friends to enjoy.

++ Intense and tactical co-op gameplay
+ Looks and sounds great
+ Plenty of content and replay value
- Some (overkill) difficulty spikes
- Needed more new bosses

An Xbox One Review copy of Vermintide 2 was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review