Four years later, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 has emerged from Left 4 Dead’s shadow

Four years later, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 has emerged from Left 4 Dead’s shadow

In the world of cooperative action games, Left 4 Dead and its sequel are of great importance. Numerous games have followed the success of Valve’s zombie horde shooter, but most have stumbled, either by not capturing the spirit, or worse, by sticking too closely to the source material. Warhammer: Vermintidewhich was released in 2015, as well as the 2018 sequel, Vermintide 2, are two of the few examples of the genre that managed to thread the needle. They’re structurally reminiscent of the Left 4 Dead series, but they nonetheless set themselves apart in one key way…

War hammers. and axes, swords, maces, flails and halberds; a full melee suite at the player’s disposal. Yes Vermintide has a central distinguishing feature, it is the reorientation of the first person action away from Left 4 DeadThe long-range headshots and spray-and-pray tactics, and into thunderous, concussive blows and frenetic, up-close-and-personal strikes.

Nearly half a decade old, Vermintide 2 is itself a withered co-op classic. With thousands of players still matchmaking on Steam, and developer Fatshark about to release their first-person shooter. Warhammer 40,000: Dark Tide (waiting for more delays), I thought it was worth jumping back to Vermintide for one last fantasy game to reassess the game’s hits.

Image: Fatshark

One of VermintideThe strongest features of is its configuration. The impact here can’t be underestimated: As a world in continuous development since the early 1980s, Games Workshop’s “Warhammer Fantasy” setting does much of the heavy lifting: it sucks you in, from the get-go, in its slightly whimsical grim darkness. . universe. As I mentioned in my review of Chaos Gate – Demon Hunters, Built around little plastic figurines, Warhammer worldbuilding and lore have a history of doing a lot with relatively little. Warhammer has an uncanny ability to conjure up the delicious sense of something supernatural with a single word. In Demon hunters I became obsessed with terms like “astropathy” and “archeotechnology”; in Vermintide 2 it’s the “Skittergate” that instantly seizes the imagination.

As with the original game, Vermintide 2 focuses on the threat of the Skaven, a species of cruel and scheming wererats that slither through the underground world below the human kingdoms. It is the Skaven who create the evocative Skittergate, a warpstone-powered portal leading into the realms of Chaos and central to the plot of the main campaign. Through the portal come the bloodthirsty Norscans, who, along with the Skaven, make up the game’s numerous enemy hordes.

Y Vermintide 2 is very much a game of hordes, of mobs, floods and swarms that, like the original Left 4 Dead zombies, scamper through architecture and through doors to surround you and your team of heroes. Driving back the horde takes on an almost rhythmic quality as you furiously attack the oncoming traffic of rats and Chaos warriors. Swipe left, swipe right, make sure your enemies are in front, instead of behind; sometimes combat is a kind of spatial puzzle, more in common with Power Wash Simulator, in which you’re washing a lot of mess and sweeping up trash, than anything resembling a choreographed duel. Ranged combat isn’t completely absent; in some cases, it’s a more efficient tool for dispatching elite enemies; it’s simply more of a score for melee action.

Using dual pistols against a Norscan in Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Image: Fatshark

Almost every hero can be specialized: each of the five characters has four different “careers” (three, in Sienna’s case, since her final class hasn’t been released yet). Victor Saltzpyre, a Witch Hunter, who initially feels like a lightly armored, agile assassin who is excellent at targeting single enemies, can eventually become an armed Bounty Hunter, or even a heavily armored, hammer-wielding Priest warrior. . The game’s melee slant certainly makes experimenting with ranged weapons an appealing prospect. But the most important aspect here is the sheer amount of customization: weapons, career skills, and playstyles.

This flexibility is vitally important to the continued success of Vermintide 2. Although the game offers a plethora of cosmetic upgrades (sometimes paid for with real money), paintings to collect and hang on the walls of the core area, and of course loot, none of these seem to be the reason people keep coming back. continuously to play.

The cosmetics feel especially inconsequential, due to both the game’s visual age and its lackluster aesthetic. There is a real commitment to gloomy gothic in Vermintide 2 — It’s hard to quantify the number of gray-brown caves and underground warrens you’ll fight your way through over the course of a campaign. One level takes you from an underground madhouse to a sewer and finally to a catacomb. There are a few outdoor levels that offer more spectacular bucolic views, as well as the “Chaos Wastes” area that makes much better use of Warhammer’s vivid purples, pinks and reds. But these are anomalies in an otherwise serious landscape.

Sigmar's warrior-priest jumps into combat in Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Image: Fatshark

Loot is another aspect that doesn’t contribute as much to VermintideEnduring popularity as one might think. It’s a tempting carrot on a string, of course: tomes and grimoires are scattered throughout each level, and carrying them means sacrificing a health potion slot and/or a large amount of health (grimoires reduce your health by 30%). These books are a classic risk versus reward mechanic: take the penalty hit and complete the quest with them in your possession, and the treasure chest you receive at the end of each level will offer better loot. Like all multiplayer leveling marathons, looting creates a compulsive cycle, but the constant stream of weapons, trinkets, jewelry, and charms isn’t what I’d consider a game changer. A sword, orange or maybe purple in color, still works exactly as you’d expect; a crossbow at “Power Level” 300 behaves the same as at Level 5.

It doesn’t take much to unlock every career and try out most of the weapons on offer, and yet with continued support from Fatshark and a relatively healthy player base over the years, there’s clearly good reason to keep going. playing even after you. I have seen everything.

The biggest change of Vermintide 2 over the years has been the free The Chaos Wastes expansion. Billed as a new “roguelite” game mode, it builds on what many love about this type of co-op action game to begin with: variation.

The Chaos Wastes DLC in Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Image: Fatshark

While the original Vermintide 2 campaigns allowed much discrepancy, with their own version of Left 4 Deadis praised “AI Director” The Chaos Wastes add even more ingredients to the mix. Sort of a random mini-campaign, your Expedition through the Chaos Wastes is completely self-contained and non-permanent: you start out with nothing more than a basic set of gear, and as you and your team progress, you’ll collect coins that can then be handed out at points. altars to upgrade things like your weapons, or add new abilities and passive talents to your hero.

The Chaos Wastes It introduces a lot of randomness and unpredictability into its gameplay, changing such fundamental things as level construction, with certain paths being blocked, or start and end points being moved or even reversed. Loot also takes on a bigger role, as the game isn’t afraid to let you get overpowered, or even have a weird build, with weird combinations of boons. Everything is deleted after completion. That is Vermintide 2The end of the game, and its best facet. Forget all the cosmetics; forget your “Power Level”, specific team or race. Jump into the Chaos Wastes, with friends, and fight your way through the hordes, enjoying the fact that you have no idea what’s next. From the beginning, Vermintide 2 has had a solid core, capturing much of what makes these types of horde games so popular. But it has also been proven, over time, that it has something new to offer, with The Chaos Wastes adding some much-needed volatility to this endless procession of fantasy fights.

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