This game has a long title, it is called Warhammer:Endtimes – Vermintide. Vermintide is a four player cooperative survival game, set in the Warhammer fantasy universe. People familiar with Valve’s Left4Dead series will be familiar with the play-style and challenges to be encountered in Vermintide.
The plot of the game resolves around the actions of the five playable heroes as they travel around the besieged city of Ubersreik. As this is a first person melee combat game all missions will revolve around you introducing the sharp end of your sword into the assorted Skaven rat beasts that serve as the enemies in Vermintide. Certainly, there is variation in theme, as there a missions where supplies are gathered or objectives are required to be destroyed, but make no mistake of where the focus lies in this game.
The focus of Vermintide is melee and the developer, FatShark, has done an excellent job of making rat smashing an exciting and challenging experience. Each character has a range of melee weapons that require different strategies adding a fair bit of depth to the game – for instance, choosing a two handed hammer versus a sword and shield combination will effect how the the player interacts with the levels.
The interaction with enemies is modelled very much on the Valve’s Left4Dead series with the Skaven hordes standing in for the zombie hordes that swarm the players. Being swarmed in game encourages the players to stick together and use the environment to their advantage to minimize the damage hordes can do. Facing down hordes would become stale quite quickly though, fortunately special classes of Skaven exist to only to wreck havoc and break apart tight knit groups of player characters.
- Skaven Gutter-Runners are agile, teleporting assassins that leap onto a player from medium distance. Assassins knock down their targets and require another player remove them.
- Skaven Globadiers or Gas-Rats throw area of effect poison clouds that break up the group.
- Skaven Ratling Gunners bring a mini-gun to the party and focus fire one of the members of the party.
- Skaven Packmasters bring are armed with a medieval man-catcher and will drag their victim away from the party.
- Skaven Rat Ogres – Huge, Durable, Uber-Rats that will punch or pound the players into submission.
The special Skaven force players to make quick tactical decisions as these specials are all high priority targets and always seem to show up with the party knee deep in regular Skaven.
Knee deep in regular Skaven and constant besieged by specials – this formula keeps the pressure high through most maps. The difficulty level in Vermintide is quite challenging. This is one of those games where skipping the ‘easy’ and ‘normal’ levels is not a good idea. Without a firm grasp of Vermintide’s blocking and dodging mechanics novice players quickly succumb to the ravages of the Skaven horde.
Vermintide can be a grind, as better weapons are awarded only at the end of a completed map. Wiping halfway through a map grants only a small pittance of raw materials, and this barrier to progression can be frustrating at times.
Optimization issues still plague Vermintide as this game will put a heavy load on your CPU and GPU. Scaling down the graphics helps, but much work still remains for Fatshark when it comes to streamlining their code.
I’ve had a great deal of fun with Vermintide and if you have a beefy CPU and some friends who like cooperative action I would heartily recommend this game.