Warhammer: Vermintide 2 2022 review: Leaving Left 4 Dead’s shadow

In the world of cooperative action games, Left 4 Dead and his sequel looks great. Many games have chased after the success of Valve’s zombie horde shooter, but the majority have stumbled, either failing to capture the spirit, or worse, hewing too closely to the source material. Warhammer: Vermintidereleased 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. Structurally they are reminiscent of the Left 4 Dead series, but they still differ in one key way…

Warhammers. And axes, swords, machetes, flails and halberds. an entire melee suite at the player’s disposal. If Vermintide has a central, distinguishing feature, is the reorientation of first-person action away from Left 4 DeadHis long-range headshots and spray-and-pray tactics, and to his thunderous, concussive strikes and frenzied, up-close-and-personal hits.

At almost half a decade old, Vermintide 2 is itself a classic co-op. With thousands of players still matching on Steam and developer Fatshark releasing their first person shooter Warhammer 40,000: Darktide (pending further delays), I thought it was worth re-entering Vermintide for a final fantasy adventure to reassess the achievements of the game.

A forest and a village in Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Image: Fatshark

One of VermintideIts strongest features are its setting. The impact here can’t be understated – as a world that’s been constantly evolving since the early 80s, Games Workshop’s “Warhammer Fantasy” setting does a lot of heavy lifting: It immerses you, from the first moment, in the universe’s slightly whimsical darkness . As I mentioned in my review of Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters, the world building and lore of Warhammer, having been built around small plastic figurines, has a history of doing a lot with relatively little. Warhammer has an uncanny ability to conjure up the delicious feeling of another world with a single word. In Daemonhunters I became obsessed with terms like “astropathy” and “archaeotechnology.” in Vermintide 2 It is “Skittergate” that immediately captures the imagination.

As with the original game, Vermintide 2 focuses on the threat of the Skaven – a species of cruel, aggressive rats that roam the underworld beneath the human realms. It is the Skaven who create the evocatively named Skittergate — a Warpstone-based portal that leads to the realms of Chaos, and which is central to the plot of the main campaign. Through the portal arrive the bloodthirsty Norscans, who, along with the Skaven, make up the game’s many hostile hordes.

And Vermintide 2 is very much a game of hordes — mobs, floods, and swarms that, like those original Left 4 Dead zombies, climb the architecture and pour through the doors to surround you and your team of heroes. Overturning the horde takes on an almost rhythmic quality as you furiously hack away at the impending traffic of rats and Chaos warriors. Swipe left, swipe right, make sure your enemies are in front and not behind — sometimes combat is a kind of spatial puzzle, more in common with PowerWash Simulator, in which you wash off a mass of dirt and sweep up trash, rather than anything resembling a choreographed duel. Ranged combat isn’t completely absent – in some cases, it’s a more effective tool for dispatching elite enemies – it’s just a punctuation to the melee action.

Dual wielding against a Norscan in Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Image: Fatshark

Almost every hero can specialize — the five characters each have four different “careers” (three, in Sienna’s case, as her final class hasn’t been released yet). Witch Hunter Victor Saltzpyre, who initially feels like a nimble, lightly armored assassin who excels at targeting individual enemies, can eventually become a weapon-wielding bounty hunter or even a heavily armored, hammer-wielding Warrior Priest. The game’s melee bent certainly makes experimenting with ranged weapons an enticing prospect. But the most important aspect here is the sheer amount of customization: weapons, career abilities, and playstyle.

This flexibility is vital to its continued success Vermintide 2. While the game offers tons of cosmetic upgrades (sometimes paid for with real money), paintings you can collect and hang on the walls of your hub area, and of course loot, none of it feels like the reason people keep coming back for it. to play.

The cosmetics feel particularly inconsequential, both due to the game’s visual age and its muted aesthetic. There is a real commitment to dark Gothicism Vermintide 2 — it’s hard to quantify the number of caves and gray-brown underground vessels you’ll traverse during a campaign. One level takes you from an underground asylum to a sewer and finally a catacomb. There are some exterior levels that offer more dramatic, bucolic vistas, as well as the ‘Chaos Wastes’ area which makes much better use of Warhammer’s vibrant purples, pinks and reds. But these are anomalies in an otherwise dull landscape.

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

Image: Fatshark

Loot is another aspect that doesn’t contribute as much VermintideIts enduring 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 chunk of life (Grimoires reduce your health by 30%). These books are a classic risk versus reward mechanic — hit the penalty and complete the mission in possession, and the chest you get at the end of each level will offer better loot. Like all multiplayer level games, the looting creates a compulsive loop, but the constant flow of weapons, trinkets, gems, and charms isn’t what I’d consider game-changing. A sword — orange or maybe purple — still works exactly as you’d expect. a crossbow at “Power Level” 300 behaves exactly like at Level 5.

It doesn’t take much to unlock every career and try out most of the weapons on offer — and yet, with Fatshark’s continued support and a relatively healthy player base despite the passing years, there are clearly good reasons to keep playing even after I’ve see everything

The biggest change in Vermintide 2 over the years it was the free The Waste of Chaos extension. Billed as a new, “roguelite” game mode, it builds on what many love so much about these types of co-op action games to begin with – variation.

The Chaos Wastes DLC in Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Image: Fatshark

While the original Vermintide 2 the campaigns allowed many deviations, with their own version Left 4 Deadpraised the “AI Director”, The Waste of Chaos it adds even more ingredients to the mix. A sort of randomized mini-campaign, your Foray through the Wastes of Chaos is entirely closed and non-permanent — you start with just a basic set of gear, and as you and your party progress, you’ll collect coins that can then be delivered to altars for improve things like your weapons or add new abilities and passive talents to your hero.

The Waste of Chaos it introduces a mass of randomness and unpredictability into your playthrough, changing things as fundamental as level construction, with certain paths blocked or start and end points moved or even reversed. Loot also plays a more important role, as the game isn’t afraid to let you get overpowered, or even weirdly built, with odd combinations of perks. All are removed after completion. This is Vermintide 2the end game — and the best view of it. Forget all cosmetics. forget about your ‘Power Level’, specific gear or career. Jump into the Chaos Wastes, with friends, and smash your way through the hordes, enjoying the fact that you have no idea what’s coming next. From beginning, Vermintide 2 it had a solid core, capturing much of what makes these types of horde games so enduringly popular. But it is also proven, over time, that it has something new to offer, with The Waste of Chaos adding some much-needed volatility to this never-ending procession of fictional brawls.

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