Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is the sequel to the awkwardly named Warhammer End Times: Vermintide. It improved upon its predecessor in pretty much every way as you cut through the Skaven and newly introduced Rotblood hordes.
There’s not a lot to talk about within the story. You do some things for someone to stop something from happening and that’s about it. I’m not too bothered about the light story since the real meat of the game is cutting through waves of enemies, but a cinematic scene or two wouldn’t have hurt.
The campaign is split up into 3 acts you can do in any order, each having 4 maps taking around 30-40 minutes each. Doing all 3 unlocks the final chapter. For the most part the maps are very well designed with various hallways and alternative paths you can take. There’s a great deal of variety in the locations. For example, you infiltrate enemy strongholds deep with in a forest and later stop a horde of vermin from taking control over a castle fort.
Visually, Vermintide 2 is stunning at times and features great lighting. There’s a good amount of detailed environments that help make the world feel a bit more real. I have noticed a few visual hiccups though and in extreme cases lighting bugging out, but nothing to detract from the experience for too long. On my build (AMD R9 290, i5 6600k, 8GB RAM) I managed to nearly lock 60fps without sacrificing too much, only really dropping during large hordes.
Combat for the most part is primarily melee focused. You’ve got your basic light attacks, heavy attacks, blocking, and the ability to dodge in any direction. Timing your block perfectly will initiate a parry that will leave the enemies open to attack. This is particularly helpful against some of the elite enemies. Most of the weapons feel great and have nice impact. Blunt weapons such as the hammer satisfyingly crush enemies, where as the bladed weapons will make body parts fly. There’s also some ranged weapons which are just as fun to use, especially the bow.
Much like in Left 4 Dead, you will be pushing through the maps dealing with a large amount of enemies. Randomly the game’s “director” will send either a huge wave of regular enemies, elites, or a boss at you. Sometimes all three. It does a good job of making every play through of a level feel a bit different than the last. Vermintide 2 is at it’s best when the chaos ramps up and your squad is scrambling to a safe spot.
At the end of each act (and the final chapter) you will encounter a unique boss fight, that is horrible. On top of being simply boring to fight, the bosses absorb and deal an insane amount of damage. There’s very little reason to replay these stages as well since no additional rewards are given for suffering through these fights.
There are 5 characters to chose from, each having 3 different career paths to chose from. The career paths have their own passive and ultimate abilities as well as different talent trees. So there is plenty of room for players to create their perfect builds. All the characters feel very different in how they handle their weapons.
Progression takes inspiration from games such as Destiny and The Division, as you open lootboxes you get new weapons and items that will increase your power rating. The problem is the loot isn’t really interesting, often getting weapons with a slightly higher power rating. Thankfully lootboxes are completely earned in game and there is no sign of microtransactions.
Once you gain enough character power rating you can start increasing the difficulty and this is where it really ramps up. As you go up the difficulty ranks, resource drops become more rare so every health kit and ammo drop has to last. Communicating with your team to take down elite enemies such as the Gunrat or Stalker can really make your time easier. Split up for too long and a level can be over quickly and with no checkpoints it’s a harsh but fair punishment.
Throughout the maps there are Tomes and Grimoire hidden away. Collecting them will take up your healing slot and lower your maximum HP respectively. Finishing the levels with these equipped will give you more experience and also upgrade your completion commendation box giving you better equipment. It’s a great risk/reward mechanic that rewards teamwork and communication.
Sound design is also pretty solid throughout. The characters will banter throughout the levels and it feels like a natural addition though I do wish the frequency of it was toned down just a touch. Soundtrack is decent enough, whilst not memorable it does at least add to the experience.
There’s a good deal of content to digest in Vermintide 2. Beyond the 13 maps and leveling up each of the heroes, you can grind them out to level up your gear and take on higher difficulties. Even though you can play with AI, you do have to be connected online to play due to how the progression works. The AI itself is serviceable, usually sticking by your side and pointing out things you may have missed.
Even though the combat is simple and the loot isn’t very interesting, Vermintide 2 is an absolute blast to play when cutting through wave after wave of enemies, especially with a group.
At times Vermintide 2 can look stunning with great lighting and detail, though visual bugs do hold it back.
There’s not a lot of depth to the gameplay but it is a ton of fun and can be surprisingly challenging.
The banter between the characters is great, if a little too much at times.
Cutting through wave after wave of vermin is a blast, and will probably be still be a blast many hours later.
Final Verdict: 8.5
Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is available now on PC
A copy of Warhammer: Vermintide 2 was provided by the publisher.