Vermintide manages to do exactly what Left for Dead 2 did well, but in an amazing fantasy setting with a very interesting enemy which creates an interesting gameplay loop and one that cannot be missed. But to compare Vermintide to Left for Dead is unfair, it is so much better.
The premise is more or less the same, you play as one of five heroes, in a co-op team of four and are given an objective to do. You’ll fight different types of Skaven (a rat-like enemy), the tank, the spitter, the assassin its all very unoriginal but that isn’t where this game shines. For the majority of your time with Vermintide, you’ll be playing using melee attacks and weapons, the fantasy universe of Warhammer offers many different types of weapons from swords and axes to crossbows and bows. Each weapon plays differently and requires a certain skill to use well. You need to time your strikes correctly, block at the right time and conserve ammo. It isn’t an easy game to jump in at the highest difficulty and has a very respectable skill-ceiling.
The Skaven and even the heroes you play as all have their own personality with their own remarks and movements. The Skaven do act like rodents and while they’re easy enough to fight one-on-one, in large numbers you’ll need someone to watch your back. This abundance of personality really does help give the game a certain charm, making it much less dry to play for longer sessions compared to similar games.
There is also an element of progression, with levels to be earned and weapons and skins to unlock of varying rarities. At the end of a successful run, you get the chance to ‘roll the dice’ and earn a new piece of gear making sure that there is always something to do and unlock. This upgrade system also has a cool upgrade system where you can trade in your current gear for the chance at a piece of gear at a higher rarity, meaning nothing is ever a waste. I must also commend the RnG system the game uses, the game uses dice to decide the gear you unlock and throughout your mission, you’ll have the chance to carry tomes and look for more dice to help your chances of getting gear. However these take up inventory space and so you’ll need to weigh up whether or not you’ll need that heath potion or if you’ll want the extra die at the end.
The gear you unlock is also really unique with a lot of high detailed models, each with different stats and perks. In fact the whole game is really detailed, with excellent map design and an awesome aesthetic. The game does sometimes run in to the problem of being a little too dark but I’ve had no problem maintaining a solid 60fps running it on ultra at 1080p. The actual city is incredible with lots of unique areas and variety, the streets, docks and sewers all play and feel different. This helps to make the game much more repayable with lots of memorable areas.
The Warhammer lore also makes for a very engrossing game with lots of story and history to read in to if you feel like getting more involved in the game. Of course this isn’t necessary but I’d like the game to explore this a bit more and offer a bit more of a richer experience in terms of story. Animations are also of high quality and seem to be very accurate with good hit detection.
This hit detection really is crucial in a game which relies so heavily on melee combat and gives the player a degree of accuracy needed. It plays more like Chivalry and Dark Souls than the melee combat in Left for Dead, again adding to the challenge of the higher difficulties.
Sounds and voice acting are both very good. Melee acts hit with a punch and limbs are dismembered satisfyingly. The narrator and the characters are all handled with care and speak in a way that keeps with the aesthetic. Shaven screams are excellent and the game really shines in a fast-paced battle with great soundscape. Music is also excellent with a truly fantastic soundtrack, more than enjoyable for your first few hours of the game.
The main problem with the game has been the AI. Whatever you do, don’t bother playing with the computer controlled team. They play so poorly and unrealistically that it really does hinder the enjoyment of the game. Enemies sometimes behave oddly too with seemingly random pathing and weird field of visions.
Vermintide is well worth a spot on every PC gamers hard-drive. It’s made with care and an excellent attention-to-detail. The AI may be a bit rough in places, but for the most part, this isn’t a game lacking polish. Feel safe jumping in feet-first with a few friends on this one.
This game was reviewed on the PC (Steam) with the most recent patch as of writing. The developer supplied review code and one crash was experienced. I experienced one bug which has since been fixed.