Warhammer Verminitide 2 Review: A sequel worthy of the name
Vermintide 2 is one of those games that doesn’t need a review. Anything I could write about it, would just seem like hollow praise in the face of how good the game really is. Hopefully you played the first Vermintide game, it was no masterpiece, but it did bring a very fun Left for Dead type of game to the Warhammer Fantasy universe. Now Fat Shark has done with its sequel what so many companies find so difficult. Fat Shark successfully managed to produce a new game with new content, while keeping the core game aspects intact. What I am trying to convey here, is that Verminitide 2 still has all of the amazing rat fighting action of Verminitide, plus a healthy dose of new content, and new game mechanics. It’s a solid sequel and if you had any interest at all in the first game, this game is very much worth your 30$
Vermintide 2 starts off with a bang, you (playing as the human knight Kruber, captured at the end of Vermintide is being escorted to the skitter gate. Which is some kind of contraption for transport based on Chaos magics. Fortunately for you, the gate explodes, you are releases and after a short while of chopping up rats, and meeting up with old friends, you head back to the games new hub, the keep. The keep will be familiar to players of Verminitide, its got areas for crafting, practice dummies, areas for practicing with potions and bombs, and a variety of characters to populate it. This hub is much larger than the one from Vermintide 1, and has a full suite of rooms, and many passages and other cool spots to explore. It does have a little bit of destiny feel to it right now, by that I mean its mostly empty, but I hope Fat Shark are keeping some cards close the chest, and will fill it out later on. IT also doesn’t help that the keep’s functions can all be accessed via a simple press of of the “I” key. In Vermintide everything was done by walking up to someone, weapon upgrades, crafting etc. Now you can accomplish all of this by just hitting the I key. I like this quality of change as it means a lot less running around for no reason.
Each of the 5 classes from the first game makes a return to Vermintide 2. Your human knight, Kruber , your dwarf Bardin, your elf Kerillian, your with hunter Saltzpyre, and your wizard Sienna. Each character gets three sub classes, and can accommodate a variety of play styles. Also new to Vermintide 2 are class abilities. Each sub class gains one active and one passive ability. In some cases these are damage abilities, in others they are escapes, and still others boost team mates states, or passives. It’s a dizzying array of complexity for such small changes. Each class also gains a number of passive upgrades that you can select, that help boost their classes abilities. You unlock these as you level up and their boosts effectively allow for a sort of meta. For example if you want to build a super tank, you can use the human footknight, take all of the damage reduction passive upgrades, and have an ubertank. This was in fact one of my favorite ways to play the game.
I found myself mostly playing the tanky human mercenary footknight, who’s passive reduces incoming damage and boosts party memebers ability to take damage. Pairing that with a strong shield made me a tanking machine, able to block even the strongest blows from enemies. This classes active ability also compliments a tank, it’s a charge that results in any enemies it hits being knocked down and stunned for a brief duration. Pairing the footknight with the wayfinder is a powerfull one two combo of tanking and damage, and made up many of my best runs. Each of the sub classes can use any weapons that their class can use, so gone are the days where you get a weapon for a class that you don’t care about. Even with that change I mostly found myself crafting all of my best weapons.
Crafting wise Far Shark wont be winning any awards for this game. Each completed mission rewards with a loot box, those boxes contain three items of a varying rarity, based on how well you did on the mission. Yes, that loot scaling from Vermintide is still present here. But, its less difficult to understand. The mechanic of how you get loot is changed. In Verminitide you had to collect tomes, and at the end you rolled dice, more tomes meant more dice. Good loot was not based on good play, but instead on luck. Vermintide 2 does away with this system. There are still tomes to collect, and loot dice are now dropped by a special rat called a loot rat. There are also new additional collectibles called Grimaries. These harder to find items will reward with better loot, but carry a curse. Each one you pick up (max of 2 per level) will lower how much health your hero has, and unlike tomes which can be dropped and picked up Grim’s cant be discarded or dropped. To make this a bit easier they inhabit the potion slot of your hot bar, rather than the much more needed healing spot that tomes go in to. Collecting all three tomes, both Grim’s and two loot dice, while playing on quick play will get you the very best possible loot in a match. There is also a small luck element, perhaps in homage to the the first game, where an item called Ranald’s gift gives you a random amount of additional points towards loot. Thankfully the frustrating loot model from the first game has been completely re-worked since last game.
Loot in Vermintide 2 is a whole lot more fun than it was in the first game, but it still has issues. Despite those issues, it’s a massive step in the right direction. First, its important to note that failing a mission, where everyone dies, does not reward with loot. It does give a nominal amount of experience, but it does not reward with any loot. This is perhaps the games most frustrating and infurating feature. I can not tell you how many time I got in to a quick play game, with strangers, we got 99% of the way done with a level, and someone decided to leave, ending the game. Since the mission isn’t finished I got no loot, and only a small amount of experience.
Beyond that one flaw, the loot system is much improved. Each level rewards with a “loot box” and each mission finished rewards with a box, or chest of various rarities. Each box has three items in it, and depending on how well you did you can get rarer items. Harder difficulties reward with better boxes, and the boxes you get after leveling up level scale, so they are always useful. Items range in power from 1-300, and as you get up in levels you will find yourself quickly power capped. I found the best way to get the new weapons I wanted at higher powerlevels was just to craft them. Ill take more about crafting later, but for now just know that even low level loot has a purpose, because you can brake even lower level loot down in to sweet, sweet crafting materials to build the weapons you love, and oh this game has weapons.
Weapons are wildly diverse, from hammers and shileds to flame throwers. All of the classes have a diversity of options to chose from, and no play style has been left out. I started off preferring weapons like a halberd for their long reach, but as I leveled up switched to a more tanky build and mothballed my halberd for the more practical short sword and shield. I complimented this with a ranged rifle that I could use to take out high value targets from a distance with precision. The only true ranged class continues to be the elf, but both dwarf and demon hunter have strong ranged options. Even the footknight has accesss to a repeating pistol if your play style is more ranged. The Bright Wizard Sienna of course has her unlimited ammo spells to fire off, but has the same heat mechanic from last game to deal with. Combat is the same formula, waves of enemy attackers try to overwhelm you, you shoot, block and stab them, they die, and occasionally you fight a boss.
Despite the simplicity of combat, I still greatly enjoyed it. Combat is basically unchanged from Vermintide 1 with waves of enemies attacking en mass. Enemy diversity has been amped up, with the addition of the Chaos tainted Northmen, and several new bosses. I wont spoil all of the new enemies, but its nice to have the same 6 things trying to kill you all the time. Still present are the same set of basic enhanced enemies like the assassin gutter runner, and the pack master who hooks you and pulls you away. New to Vermintide are a chaos sorcerer, and a flame thrower rat. Combat is fun, with the basics being attack block, and dodge. That’s deceptively simple though, beucase a good team will combine their abilities, putting a tank in front with ranged behind, and flanks covered by faster characters in order to not be overwhelmed at higher difficulties. There are also some one time use items, like the bombs and healing potions and bandages, which function just like they did in the last game. You are going to need these if you push towards Vermintide 2’s end game.
The game offers 4 difficulty levels, from recruit where the is no friendly fire, and enemies are easier to kill, all the way to the top level brutal. Higher levels still use the same level structure, but enable friendly fire, and amp-up the amount of enemies and their power. Because of the amped up difficulty, the rewards for completing these challenges are much greater. There is also a newly added system, called Heroic Deeds, that gives out individual missions with special modifiers. Similar to what skulls would do in Halo. This system allows you to run individual missions with the modifiers, and get a large reward after. These heroic deeds are often extremely difficult and the couple we completed only offered one try before the deed was used up. End game will I suspect be mostly heroic deed farming in order to get to the final tier of loot.
Vermintide 2 is a great example of how to make a good sequel. It keeps most of the great content from the first game, while adding new systems and not losing the games core feeling. Im still chopping at hordes of enemies, and fighting the occasional boss in the amazing ambiance that is the Warhammer world, now im just doing it with more enemy types, more weapons, and different levels. Fat Shark has already announced plans for at least two DLC’s, to expand the games 13 levels, and if they follow a similar model to Vermintide 1 we will end up with over 20 levels of carnage to cut our way through. I can not recommened enough that you go out and play this game, for just 30$ you will get nearly endless hours of rat and chaos smashing fun. Fat Shark has done an amazing job truly showing its fans what a good sequel should look like. Becuase of that, I am proud to award this game a 9/10