- Developer: Fatshark
- Publisher: Fatshark
- Release Date: Mar 8 2018
- Original Price: $30
- Average Sale Price: $8 USD
- Genre: First Person Melee, Hack and Slash
- Playtime at Review: 111 Hours
Warhammer Vermintide 2 is a game that was released back in 2018 to mostly positive reviews, with praise of its combat and level design, but had criticism of the game’s technical difficulties and server issues. It’s a game that I bought back at the end of 2019 where I played it for a few hours, thought it was fun, but didn’t really play much afterwards. Then, in early 2021, developer Fatshark released the new free expansion/game mode Chaos Wastes that got me back in the game, and over the next month from that point I dumped over one hundred hours in the game and completed all of the Steam achievements. I can’t believe how I dropped playing this game a few years ago because the game is so fun and satisfying to play, albeit with a few issues here and there.
This game is a direct sequel to the 2015 Fatshark developed game Warhammer The End Times - Vermintide, which I have never played although I do intend to. It has the same main cast of characters and same basic mechanics, as well as being set in the same Warhammer Fantasy world. Vermintide 2 was my first introduction into the Warhammer world, one that I did not realize had so much in-depth lore and world-building that it seems a little overwhelming to understand it all. Vermintide 2 doesn’t go very deep into this lore, but if you like what you see with the locales and enemies, I would highly recommend looking into the tabletop game and the Total War Warhammer games, because they have a lot more meaty lore content, but I still think that Vermintide is the perfect introduction to this place.
Now, what made me dump so much time in this game so quickly? Well, for starters the combat absolutely blew me away
Another game that I have not played, though I do have it in my Steam library, is Left 4 Dead and its sequel. These are some of the highest rated games on Steam, with both of them sitting at 95% overwhelmingly positive. Vermintide takes Left 4 Dead as inspiration for its hordes of enemies and combines them with extremely engaging and satisfying combat. First person melee combat is not the easiest thing to get done right. A lot of the time it can end up like Skyrim where you spam left click and occasionally pause to eat a truck full of cheese wheels. Vermintide on the other hand makes combat fun by giving it depth. The two things that make Vermintide’s combat so good are the movements and the weapon attacks. When engaging in a battle, you have a lot of different options for when you want to attack or defend. You have a standard attack or a charge attack, which is common in a lot of other games. Vermintide adds a block, block shove, parry, ultimate ability, and dodge move that when all combined will allow a skilled player to take out a horde of skaven or a tough boss without losing any health. A block shove can be used to stagger an enemy just long enough to charge up an attack and strike. A dodge can be used to get around to the back of an enemy while they are finishing their attack animation so you have some time to get some strikes into their back, and a parry can stun an enemy to let you run away while you replan your attack strategy. All the moves at your disposal can be used together to deal more damage to your enemies and take less from them. On the first difficulty you can get away with just spamming basic attacks, but as you reach difficulties like Champion or Veteran, a good understanding of the synergy between your attacks and other moves will be essential to survive.
More depth in Vermintide 2’s combat comes from its weapons. Each character has access to different types of weapons, and each weapon can change up your playstyle pretty well. For example, my favorite weapon, the Mace and Sword for Markus Kruber, is meant for horde slashing. It has big sweeps and can be used to take out an entire skaven ambush in a few hits. In contrast, the rapier for Victor Saltzpyre is more for poking enemies in the head and taking out tougher, singular enemies. Some weapons do both, like Kerillian’s greatsword which has wide sweeping attacks for its base attack, but when charged, the sword is jabbed foreword into the face of any enemy unlucky enough to be in its front. Kerillian has another weapon, the sword and dagger, which for its base attack has a combination of the two, with the first two attacks being wide sweeps then the last being a jab. Each weapon can be studied by the player to find its true effectiveness and each one can create a new playstyle, adding so much depth to the game’s combat.
There are also guns and bows in the game, but they don’t seem overpowered compared to melee weapons. Nearly every ranged weapon relies on ammo, which you’ll slowly run out of over time. On easier difficulties you’ll find ammo deposits everywhere, but on harder difficulties they will become scarcer, making you rely on them less and less. Ranged weapons are best used on elite enemies far off, otherwise I would suggest sticking to the good old fashion swords and hammers.
Now, who are these one-liner spewing band of heroes that wield such fun to use weapons? Well, the Ubersreik Five, of course! Vermintide 2 has five heroes, which are basically the same as classes. You have Markus Kruber, the empire sergeant, Bardin the witty dwarf, Kerillian the elf, Saltzpyre the Witch hunter, and Siena the fire wizard. These five characters are the same as from the first game, but each has new careers. Careers are Vermintide’s equivalent of subclasses. You are able to play as every hero right from the beginning, but you’ll unlock their careers as you level them up. Each character has three sub-classes, with an additional dlc career that I’ll talk about later, that changes the hero’s ultimate ability and passives. Some careers have stat boosts in certain areas like ranged weapons, or the ability to heal others, and they all have access to different and sometimes unique weapons. These careers add even more depth to the combat and a sense of progression as you level them up and select upgrades for them.
One mission can have up to four heroes playing at once, which is a bit strange because the game has five heroes, so it makes sense, at least to me, to allow for all five heroes to play at once. This may have been done for balancing purposes or something like that, so one will have to be left out, probably Sienna. The characters interact with each other as you play through a level by having different short conversations which I think is a neat little touch, since you can see which ones are friends and who are rivals, as well as learn about each person’s personalities. And there’s enough voice lines where they don’t feel repetitive, except for this one line that seems to appear in every single level.
Grungni's mattock! A globadier!
The enemy variety is crazy in this game, and each type of enemy needs to be dealt with differently. There are two different factions of enemies that work together to take you out, known as the Skaven and the Warriors of Chaos. The Skaven are a pact of man sized rats, hence the name Vermintide, and the Warriors of Chaos kind of remind me of those guys from Mad Max Fury Road. Each faction has their own types of infantry units, specials, and elites. Infantry are the types of guys that swarm you when the horde begins, Elites are elite versions of infantry and spawn randomly around the map, occasionally joining a horde, and then specials are enemies that will spawn at random as you play through the level and will chase you down. Each special has a specific sound cue to them like the clanking of the Ratling Gunner’s minigun or the snickering of the Gutter Runner assassin. Sometimes specials and elites should be taken out with ranged weapons before you even engage with them, and some need a strong blow to the head to take out.
The last enemy type are bosses, which can either be scripted into the level or randomly show up. Throughout a level there’s a random chance that one, sometimes even two, of four bosses will appear and sometimes none will appear. This encourages players to always be ready for a fight, because you’ll never know when a massive troll will bound into the map and start barfing all over you. Some levels also have scripted bosses, called lords, that are connected to the story of the level. These guys have whole arenas and special fights that are pretty easy on lower difficulties, but will test your skills on others.
Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is structured into a level based game, but it’s not a strictly linear game. There are 16 levels included with the base game, and on the first run through you’ll have to play the levels in order. You can do this by selecting a custom game and picking the level and difficulty you want. The first time I played, I didn’t realize this was the case, so I was turned off when I kept playing the same few levels over and over because I was using quick play, which selects a random level to play on from the levels you have unlocked. Each level tasks the player to push through the end, kind of like a Mario game, but along the way you’ll run into hundreds of enemies and a couple tasks like defend a certain area or push a minecart.
You’ll be playing these 16 levels over and over again as you level your heroes, especially for achievements which require a playthrough of each level with each of the 15 careers. While the mission objectives stay the same, the main faction of enemies can change, the location of enemies, random boss encounters can change, and a few other small things. While you play these, you’ll also slowly start to find the locations of special tomes and grimoires hidden across the map. These are additional challenges that you can put upon yourself to collect as you play a level. There are three tomes in each level and two grimoires, and the more you get, the better rewards you will receive at the end of the level. This is not the only challenge related to these books however, because holding a tome takes up a healing slot, and a grimoire will take up an additional potion slot as well as taking away some of your health permanently. You can drop a tome to take a quick swig of a health potion and then pick it back up, but grimories can’t be dropped unless you die, in which then it is lost for the rest of the level.
The other level system, and really it's a different gamemode entirely, is the Chaos wastes. This was added at the beginning of 2021 in the free Chaos Wastes expansion, so if you haven’t played since then, well then I would highly suggest you hop on and try it out because it adds a lot of new content. It adds fifteen new levels, which nearly doubles the amount of free levels in the game, it’s crazy. The thing about the Chaos Wastes is that it’s kind of supposed to be a board game, where you can choose which level to go to from a few different options. It’s like a gauntlet of levels.
There are still enemies sprinkled about, random hordes to attack, and mission objectives to complete. However, when selecting a level, you’ll be able to read into the levels modifiers, such as extra hordes but less specials, or extra roaming enemies but less elite enemies. Some levels are even cursed by the chaos gods, which are these entities that you don’t see but they have these powers or something, I’m not 100% sure cause I don’t know a lot of the lore but one of them is fire related, one is lightning, one is poison, and one is about greed which slowly drains your health over the course of the level. These are the same chaos gods that make up the armies in the new Total War Warhammer game which I’ll be playing very soon. The chaos wastes also adds bonus powers, extra potions, and a few other mechanics that spice up the gameplay from the regular game. While the chaos wastes adds a lot of new content to the game and makes the game way more replayable, I usually stay away from this gamemode because it is so long, with each run usually lasting an hour or so if you make it to the end.
Gear and Loot
The last thing I want to talk about is the gear system and how you can progress in Vermintide 2. The game uses loot boxes. Now, calm down, calm down, this isn’t like Shadow of War loot boxes or other games’ loot crates, the loot boxes in Vermintide 2 are free to get and there is no way to purchase them. The only microtransactions in the game are some trashy skins. Fatshark just decided to make the loot drops come from loot boxes instead of dropping from enemies. I think it would be more visually appealing to see weapons drop from an enemy, glowing in the item’s rarity just like in Borderlands, but the loot boxes kind of fit the rest of the game with them being rewards for completingd different challenges and leveling up characters. They also just recently last year added the ability to open multiple boxes at once, which helps the dread feeling of having a bunch of boxes to open and they take so long to open.
The gear you can get from these boxes are weapons, necklaces, charms, and trinkets. Weapons are pretty self-explanatory, you get a new weapon type at a random rarity which you can equip to the character you opened the box with. Most heroes have a melee slot and a ranged slot, but some heroes only have melee slots. The other three item types, necklaces, charms, and trinkets, give your character a stat boost in a large variety of different modifiers at varying degrees that can again help you hone in a playstyle. Some include extra stagger power, Grimoire curse resistant, and extra damage to certain enemy types. Oddly enough there are no armor drops, but this may have something to do with the cosmetics of the game.
Another thing you can unlock from these chests are deeds. Deeds are modified levels with set difficulties that reward completion with high tier boxes. These modifiers include double health and double damage enemies, periodic damage over time, no pickups, and way more hordes. I don’t usually do these, but they can definitely provide an even higher challenge for those looking for it.
Going back to the gear drops, there is a system of crafting and gear modification that is somewhat important to mention. Any gear that you deem too weak or not necessary for your build, you can salvage, which in turn gives you different weapon parts and rarity that will allow you to craft specific gear types. Say you really want a blunderbuss for Markus Kruber, you can simply craft one. It’ll give you that weapon or item at a random rarity and at a random power level, which determines your item’s effectiveness, relative to your hero’s level. But say you have already have a blunderbuss, but you want it to be a little better. Well, if you craft a new one, it might end up becoming worse than the one you already have, so instead you can upgrade the rarity of the item, or reroll different traits on it. This is a nice system that allows you to turn all of the unneeded items you get from chests into items you actually care about or into upgrades for your favorite weapons and jewelry.
The only left to mention is the bugs and visuals in the game. There are very few bugs, which is to be expected for a game that is almost four years old now. The main bug I see is this visual glitch for one of Bardin’s careers, the outcast mechanic, where it looks like he is spinning out of control. Another somewhat common bug is Bot heroes not picking up books that they are told to because they are stuck on the terrain or something like that. There are no random crashes or game breaking bugs, at least for me, so don’t worry about those. As for performance, the game runs pretty well, except for when you are in the middle of slaughtering a horde, which causes my frames to dip from around 60 fps to around 40 fps.
In terms of visuals, the game at certain parts looks beautiful, especially in this forest level, but sometimes the textures look muddy and blurry. When scrolling through menus, some textures take a half a second or so to load which is quite annoying. That is really on in the menus, not during actual gameplay. I don’t need to talk a lot about visuals, you’ve been watching the game on the screen, so you can make a decision for yourself if it looks good or not.
Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is not an extremely complex game, but there’s enough depth in its combat and mechanics that leads to you always having something to improve on. It’s one of those easy to pick up, hard to master types of games that you can sink hundreds of hours into if you ignore the repeated playthroughs of levels and shallow, extrinsic progression. Above all else, there’s nothing more satisfying than popping into a mission in Warhammer: Vermintide 2 after a stressful day of work or school and slaughtering hundreds of rats.
If you already own this game and haven’t played it for the last year, there’s tons of new content to experience and dive into with the Chaos Wastes and small DLC packs, which I will talk about in another video. If you have never played Warhammer: Vermintide 2, I would highly recommend doing so, it goes on sale regularly for eight bucks, which is a steal in my opinion. While nowadays I am not playing it as much as I used to, I know this is a game that I will play here and there for years and years to come.