Some games seem to get it right. They find that perfect balance be it with mechanics and level design or art and storytelling, there just seems to be something that makes some games work. When it happens, at least from the perspective of a gamer, it becomes a classic. Games like Doom, Marathon, Warcraft 2, Diablo 2, Halo CE and Left 4 Dead all seemed to have the one thing in common, they were classics. So after spending the last few weeks with Fatshark’s latest Warhammer entry, it needs to be understood when I say that this game has the potential to become a classic, it’s being compared to some pretty heavy hitters.
However Warhammer: Vermintide 2 succeeds in carrying over everything that was great about the first game while managing to push the genre forward in a fresh way. After spending several late nights hacking and slashing my way through hordes of ratmen and other evils I can honestly say that it's the most fun I’ve had in a co-op shooter in a long time. So grab that coffee, kick back and enjoy our review of Warhammer: Vermintide 2.
Storytelling and Combat
Set right after the events of Vermintide 1, this sequel sees your character have to fight his way out of a rat infested mine after being captured for a dastardly ritual. Along the way through this well designed tutorial you will be introduced to and free the other main playable characters in the game. The whole thing plays out like a well choreographed scene from a movie and you quickly fall into step with how the game is played. For players with no prior experience to the franchise don’t fret, the games introduction cutscene does a great job of summarizing the events of the first game without feeling drawn out.
In regards to storytelling, Fatshark has done an excellent job of presenting story without ever sacrificing gameplay pacing. Any developer that designs a game that has a heavy focus on combat and action can struggle with finding creative ways to tell their story without making it feel awkward. Yet the developer has managed to present a well crafted story in creative ways throughout the game. Making use of all the playable characters along with a few guiding NPC’s story is delivered mostly through dialog taking place during combat or while loading into areas. In fact on the note of dialog, I have to give the writers over at Fatshark props, its some of the funniest dialog I’ve listened to in a long time and I’ve found myself more than once cracking up while bashing in the heads of endless hordes of baddies.
Aside from story tell, Warhammer Vermintide 2 has refined its combat experience. With a host of new weapons to choose from in this second entry, combat feels fresh and interesting no matter which weapon you decide to use. Every weapon has a unique playstyle that is easy to pick up but requires a bit of finesse to really utilize to its full potential. This coupled with the new subclass system really allows for some serious customization in regards to combat.
Class and Crafting Systems
The class system has seen a huge overhaul since the first game, most significantly with the introduction of sub(advanced) classes for each of the primary characters in the game. A couple of features that really make this new system stand out include that hot swappable subclass switching between missions, allowing you to switch to another of the advanced classes as well as any talents without penalty. Throw in a shared XP system so that all three subclasses level together and it creates a rewarding system where every mission feels impactful to your progression.
Crafting has also seen a huge overhaul becoming much more streamlined and by extension fun to take part in. Arguably crafting is paramount in Vermintide 2, and forgoing it will most likely leave you lacking in the necessary power to move forward. At first I have to confess that I was a little turned off by the system. This being because I straight up hate crafting in most games. However, once again, Fatshark has worked hard to create a system that isn’t tedious or frustrating to use. The system even saw a last minute clean up and update at launch that helped further simplify and refine it.
Where Vermintide 2 really excels though is in it’s drop in, drop out co-op play. It follows in the footsteps of other great co-op shooters before it, namely games like Left 4 Dead. Joining up with friends mid game is exceptionally easy and the game does a great job at divvying out rewards based on your contribution. With a full bot support system in place people can come and go without a player really noticing as the AI does a great job at simply taking over for the player when they leave. Likewise you’ll never have to wait for players before starting a mission as the AI will simply step in until another player jumps into the action. It's a great system that works really well and allows for the pacing of the game to remain swift and meaningful.
In regards to the bot AI, it’s actually pretty solid. In my several hours of play time I’ve only had a handful of wtf moments where the AI would fall off a ledge unexpectedly or in a hurry to save a fallen comrade choose a less than strategic approach generally resulting in a mission restart. However these experiences have been limited and for the most part I’ve had no issues with the AI running along side me in a co-op game.
That being said, this game is played best with friends. Communication is key and although the game does a great job with offering hotkeys for highlighting items and enemies of importance nothing beats VOIP comms in the middle of a horde rush. Vermintide 2 does come with in-game VOIP which does seem to work pretty well. As long as you have a mic that’s turned on getting set up for comms in game is pretty easy, much like the rest of the co-op experience.
Is Warhammer: vermintide 2 the perfect game? No, but it's a really fun game. Sure I ran into a couple of visual bugs that left me looking at some oddly shaped ratman, and more than once the enemy AI couldn’t figure out which way to run. Sometimes my bot teammates would stand in fire or poison trying to revive fallen comrades or forget to heal themselves when on the brink of death. However when weighed against all that the team at Fatshark got right and the copious amounts of fun this co-op game really is it's hard to get to hung up on minor bugs that will be patched out sooner or later.
Warhammer: Vermintide 2 presents an excellent co-op shooter with strong RPG and crafting mechanics that leaves the player with an impactful experience every mission. Is it going to be everyone’s cup of tea? Probably not, but if your looking for a great shooter that leans heavily into its co-op roots than Vermintide 2 is not only going to scratch that itch but will have you kicking back telling stories with your buddies about your grand adventures for many nights to come.
- Excellent co-op mechanics
- New Subclass system is a great addition
- Excellent synergy between the various game mechanics (e.g. crafting, weapons, leveling)
- Minor visual bugs
- Bots don’t always get it right
The review was accomplished through a key provided by the publisher.