Warhammer: Vermintide 2
First person, Hack and Slash, Co-op
PC – PS4 – Xbox One
Gather three of your friends and murder your way through an unbelievable number of ratmen. In the style of Left 4 Dead’s co-op first person horde killing gameplay, this game allows you to take a jaunt through the Warhammer setting, although it eschews the competitive aspect. Only co-op here. The setting is a fantasy reflection of the Baroque period, so melee weapons tend to be far more varied than its zombie outbreak counterpart. Most of the action falls into “swashbuckling” territory, with the swordplay resembling Errol Flynn rather anything like choreography in film.
Other features outside of the core mechanics of a co-op hack and slash include a simple character progression system, a funky difficulty system, and attack combos. Each of the five characters has three further subclasses with their own talent trees. Throughout each level, you are given the opportunity to pick up books that make progressing further harder, but also increase the rewards at the end of each level.
Vermintide 2 was made with fairly high difficulty spikes, following the success of the Dark Souls franchise. These events are largely an accumulation of randomised enemies being brought into the game by the AI director, rather than any particular mission or boss (except that one boss). Blocking and attacking can line up combinations for maximum effect, though these are comparatively simple if you have a history with fighting games, four moves deep at most. The game is designed with replaying each mission in mind (as playing each once won’t max out your character’s level), and with that in mind, the game offers between 15 and a few hundred hours of gameplay.
The characters have a fairly large amount of banter, following the ensemble high adventure narrative. This ranges from some pretty clever exchanges to ones that make your characters seem like sadists. The overarching plot and backstory to each character is revealed in these little exchanges, though obviously some is covered in the previous game. The narrative is largely unconnected to the players’ progression through the game, and fairly uncritical of the setting it takes place in, so it’s largely a comfortable backdrop to the rat roast.
Vermintide 2 has had some teething issues with bugs. While the game was stable on release, a lot of mechanics either had unpredictable interactions or simply didn’t work. These have partly been fixed, and the game still doesn’t crash out a huge amount, but there’s still a fair amount of patchwork necessary. The developer, Fatshark, has a history of supporting their games well and adding content after release. They also maintain a semi-active presence on their forums and subreddit, which is nice. The game itself seems to be a platform for at least a few DLC, the first is being released later in April.
This is a game I’d heartily recommend to anyone who enjoys co-op games, or the Warhammer setting.