Why You Should Play Vermintide

Are you a fan of Valve's four player zombie slayer Left 4 Dead? Have you ever wished that their winning formula of great writing, fast paced game play, great level design and cooperative survival could be transplanted into a Warhammer Fantasy universe with updated graphics by a team of developers who happen to be the publisher as well? Folks that care about the product they sell and keep the updates rolling?

Well it already happened, like a couple years ago now. Where have you been? Yeah back in 2015 a dev/publisher called Fatshark picked up the rights from the very skull happy, Games Workshop and we got Warhammer, The End Times: Vermintide.

Alright so before I get started I want to say that I'm not intending this as a review so much as I am a recommendation. The headline implies that but I figured I'd mention it anyway. As such I'm planning on not writing a four thousand word article, you're welcome. Alright so hang with me and I'll tell you why you should check out Vermintide.

Lore

Yeah maybe it's a little off to start talking about an action title by mentioning it's lore. But this game takes place in the Warhammer Fantasy universe and honestly it's pretty fascinating. I don't pretend to know much about it myself so learning about the characters in Vermintide and the various parts of the world has been really fun for me. Fatshark added an actual lore book to the game in a free DLC patch some time ago and it's pieced together by players who will pick up pages during missions. Once an area is complete and players return to the staging area -The Red moon Inn- they can read the book to learn more. Aside from that, the heroes will actually converse with each other while in a level which allows players to learn about their relationships, hangups, and reasons for being where they are now. It's really awesome stuff.

Progress

As in Left 4 Dead players will work together to combat an endless horde of enemies. While L4D loads players up with zombies, Vermintide presents us with countless slavering ratmen called "Skaven". Yes the goals are the same: Get your team to the end of the match while completing activities within. But unlike L4D, players will roll dice at the end of a mission and the results of the roll will lead to new pieces of gear to strengthen their heroes.

Now that sounds pretty small I know. After all L4D provides plenty of weapons to use. What stands out is variety, the sense of progress and of course the choice to gear your character for yourself. Don't get me wrong L4D is great and it holds up very well even today. But after a couple of run-throughs there's not much else to be had in the way of satisfying game play. Vermintide gives us a great campaign but after that's finished we also get the added goals of bettering our heroes. Whether it's through the aforementioned dice rolls or through completing contracts on the quest board.

Items come quickly and can be upgraded via the forge to increase quality. This takes upgrade materials that are gathered in a few different ways, bringing replay value to an already great formula. Before you know it you'll find yourselves able to handle much more difficult challenges than before.

Recently this realization has become evident to myself and Twinstiq friend, Nikolai. We typically play as two person, two bot team. That is when Cody isn't also slaying rats, but he was working on his recently posted Steep review and wasn't available for a good stretch of time. Anyway... Nik and I are now noticing that the Vermintide's many difficulties are becoming more manageable even with two bots. I'll talk about them soon. Basically 'Hard' is our new normal and that, besides being pretty exciting does say something toward overall balance.

Heroes and Enemies

When you fire up Vermintide you'll be asked to choose between one of five heroes. You'll have: The Witch Hunter, the Dwarf Ranger, the Imperial Soldier, the Bright Wizard and the Waywatcher. No unlocking heroes, they're all available from the start and they all have a basic gear set. Each one plays their role in the party and that can vary based on a player's style and preference.

The Soldier -Markus Kruber- starts with a sword and shield as a main weapon along with a blunderbuss as a ranged weapon. This indicates from the start that he's a fairly tanky and close ranged character. That doesn't mean he has to stay that way, he'll get longer range weapons as the dice roll and if you want to you can kind of play from the back. Various weapons have various attributes and mechanics that players will learn to use for each hero.

Different enemies also act in different ways, again much like L4D. You have the basic "Skavenslaves" who are just thrown at you in high numbers but can be pretty dangerous if you're surrounded. Then there's the "Clanrat" which is a bit stronger but not a huge threat unless in combination with something else.

Together they are your most common foes, but will be backed up by the powerful and tough "Stormvermin" which are heavily armed and armored and possess a higher functioning AI allowing for blocking and pushing. They can end a mission pretty quickly if one isn't careful but on top of their normal actions they also come in the form of patrols. On Easy there are four Stormvermin in a patrol, on Normal there are six, Hard gives us ten while Nightmare pushes fourteen of them. On the hardest Difficulty there are twenty! The patrols are usually easy enough to avoid as they telegraph themselves with a pretty unique marching chant. But good luck if you're caught up in one, especially on Hard or above. Then we've got the special forces of the Skaven throngs. They pop up throughout and your heroes will make mention of one when this happens. They also happen to telegraph their appearance with a distinctive sound, so make sure to pay attention because they can and will make trouble for your party.

First up and pretty common is the "Gutter Runner" an assassin capable of invisibility and long leaping attacks that will leave players defenseless until dead or the attack is interrupted by another player. If you're caught by yourself these guys usually mean game over. The "Poison Wind Globadier" will launch poison grenades that explode in huge clouds of gas that both hurt players and distort vision. "Ratling Gunners" post up in a spot and fire a seemingly endless supply of "warp shot" into whatever they have targeted, including their own units. "Packmaster" rats will drive headlong and fearlessly forward snatching players with a noose that slowly strangles them while being dragged away and hung until dead or rescued by another player or bot. Finally there's the "Rat Ogre", a Frankenstein's monster of a creature. Huge, powerful and capable of both taking and giving tons abuse they are the primary focus of a battle when they come into play. Ogres can knock players off edges and have the power to slam heroes large distances away causing tremendous damage.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Like in L4D sticking together and working in concert is the only way you're going to make it through any mission. Combat is relentless and on higher difficulties friendly fire is a thing to consider. Nobody wants to be smoked by their own team. Not to mention a few of the special enemies I mentioned above leave the attacked player completely helpless if alone.

Games can be set up as public where other random players can join your session. This works out alright actually as the community seem to be generally fun loving and aren't out to verbally abuse people. Thank goodness. However I still tend to set games up privately and just play with friends because that's the most fun; even with bots.

Speaking of which, I said I'd mention them so here we go. Vermintide bots are pretty solid actually as long as you're not playing above Hard difficulty. They have their issues, like just fighting everything instead of moving with the group or not using choke points like players would to maximize efficiency. But overall they aren't all that bad. Once you make it to Nightmare they're a bit a of crap-shoot. They can be extremely helpful especially if you've geared them right, but they have no sense of reason (duh) so they tend to take everything head on and that can lead to frustration.

Bots have priorities like: helping up downed players first and healing the most hurt before themselves. But they won't always hold special items -collectibles such as tomes or grimoires- in a level. Instead they'll discard the item for a healing draught. Which is fine, but a player may not do that because the items in question will increase the chance of better dice rolls at the end. They won't pick up bombs at all, probably again because of that friendly fire thing and teams killing their own, makes enough sense. Nor will they pick up consumable enhancement potions, instead leaving them for players. Again this makes sense but it would be nice to have that advantage at times.

In the long run though Nik, Cody and myself have been saved many, many times by the bots and the good usually outweighs the bad. Stick together and things usually work out.

Conclusion

Alright so before I just go on and on like I said I wouldn't do, let me end this whole thing. Vermintide takes place in a vast and deeply rooted world. Similarities with Left 4 Dead can't be ignored. In fact I'm a little surprised Valve never went after Fatshark for some type of infringement. But who can blame them for using such a great formula and even improving on it? The writing and dialogue are excellent as are the voice actors who speak the lines and the level design is pretty great throughout. Combat is balanced and working as a team and taking risks will lead to some very satisfying matches.

Fatshark keeps making DLC, both free and paid but affordable in any case and worth the money. They also bring regular stability and fix patches which keep the game going strong. I have had very few issues running Vermintide and even though the framerates can be inconsistent during lots of action there are boat loads of settings that will help you get it going smoothly. You can even select how many threads you want your CPU to use for crying out loud. It's got its own VOIP and it doesn't suck so that's a huge plus.

Guys I recommend playing this one or getting back to it if you stopped. Vermintide is great fun, it doesn't have to take a huge amount of time and in my opinion it improves on L4D and it's excellent formula. I've played about 120 hours now and I still look forward to each new session I fire up.

System requirements for Warhammer, The End Times: Vermintide are below

MINIMUM:

    • OS: Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 8/8.1 64-bit, Windows 10 64-bit*
    • Processor: Intel Core2 Quad Q9500 @ 2.83GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 940
    • Memory: 6 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 or AMD Radeon HD 5770 /w 1GB VRAM
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 30 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: *WARNING: 32-bit OS is NOT officially supported at this time

RECOMMENDED:

    • OS: Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 8/8.1 64-bit, Windows 10 64-bit*
    • Processor: Intel Core i7-4790K @ 4.00 GHz or AMD FX-9590 @ 4.7 GHz
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 or AMD GPU Radeon R9 290
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 30 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: *WARNING: 32-bit OS is NOT officially supported at this time