Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Developer: Fatshark
Release Date: March 8, 2018

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.

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PC Review - 'Warhammer: Vermintide 2'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on March 30, 2018 @ 3:00 a.m. PDT

In Warhammer: Vermintide 2 it's time for players to return to the first-person co-op experience with intense melee action.

Buy Warhammer: Vermintide 2

When the original Vermintide came out, it was a breath of fresh air for the genre that was previously popularized by Valve's Left 4 Dead series. It was a very fun game, though flawed in its limited and grindy gameplay loop. Warhammer: Vermintide 2 takes what worked, shaved off the parts that didn't, and adds new layers to keep the gameplay fresh. It serves as a good example of what to do with a sequel, and it manages to be a significant upgrade over the previous title.

The basic premise remains unchanged. You play as one of five heroes, each with their own play style, and attempt to fight your way to the end of a map. Alongside you are three other heroes, either chosen by players or AI, and standing in your way are waves of enemies. Much as it was in the previous game, the timing and composition of these waves are randomized to keep the party on its toes.


The rat-like Skaven are still a major foe, but they have created a Dark Pact with the forces of Chaos. These new enemies range from relatively weak human enemies to towering armored warriors that can shrug off large amounts of damage while dishing out the same. While the previous game only had Rat Ogres as mid-level bosses, Vermintide 2 has multiple new boss types, including the Stormfiend that spews noxious gas, the Bile Troll that vomits poisonous bile, and the Spawn of Chaos that wants to grab you and gnaw on your head.

To fend off these foes, the heroes have a few more tricks up their sleeve this time around. Each hero has three career specializations; they start with one, and you unlock the other two as you gain experience and level up the hero. Each career has a passive and an active ability, and careers further define how the hero can be played. For example, the fire-slinging Bright Wizard's passive ability lets her vent heat after a few seconds. In another career choice, any damage feeds her active ability to recharge. A hero shares his or her level across all careers, so you don't need to level them up individually, but they allow you to tweak things to give an old hero a new twist.

Also new to the game is the inclusion of talents, which unlock every five levels up to the level cap of 30. Each talent tier has three choices, and the choices can be changed while in the keep, which serves as the game's interactive lobby area. The talents are unique to each hero and let you further tweak how you want your character to handle boons, such as having more ammo, being able to attack faster in melee, among other options. Often, these can be changed to fill gaps where your hero is underperforming or to further boost an area where they are strong.


Gear remains an important part of the game, and it's gained through chests that have three randomized gear pieces. Different types are received when you level up or when completing maps on different difficulty levels. The greater the difficulty of the map, the greater the chest type that you may receive upon completion. Each hero has five gear slots: melee weapon, ranged weapon, and three slots for other items. The items can be swapped out among all heroes, but the weapons are specific to each hero — and possibly a specific career.

Gear has different rarity levels, and the rarer the piece, the better the gear. In addition to raising your hero's ability score and making them hit harder, gear can also add other stats, such as more health, health regeneration, movement speed, and a list of other potential boosts. Gear that is unneeded or unwanted can be salvaged into component parts, which can be used to boost the rarity level of other gear pieces or attempt to reroll their stats. This only becomes useful in later levels, when you aren't swapping out pieces on every other map, but it's yet another route where you can tailor your character to your liking.

Upon completing a map, there are a few factors that go into the gear roll to determine the quality of your loot chest. Tomes are items that can be found in specific places within a level, and they have no downside other than taking up a health item slot. Grimoires are also found in specific places, and while they take up the lesser-used potion slot, they cannot be dropped. They're also lost upon death and reduce the entire party's maximum health until the end of the map. Maps can also contain loot dice, which add additional boosts to the gear roll.


Collecting everything and reaching the end of the map can guarantee getting one of the best chests for that difficulty level, but doing so on higher difficulty levels can be a feat unto itself. It also lets you further tailor the difficulty level mid-game. Parties screaming through a Veteran run might opt to grab everything, whereas others who are slugging through may want to omit the second grimoire to give them better odds of making it out.

The gameplay within each map hasn't changed from the previous game, but it's one area of the game that didn't need much improvement. For the most part, combat is a careful mix of blocking, dodging, and swinging to stay mobile while cutting down hundreds of enemies. Headshots are important with either a blade or a bow, and some enemies require hitting either a specific place or the use of heavy attacks to break their defenses. Some of the heroes, such as the Dwarf Ranger or Mercenary, are meant to in the thick of the melee, while others, such as the Bright Wizard or Waywatcher, can often do much more damage when they're not the focus of the fight.

Still, the melee combat deserves a callout of its own. It's fundamentally no different than it was before, but it's still an absolute blast. It has moments where you need to carefully dodge boss attacks or determine when to block, dodge, or swing against others. Hits still stagger weaker enemies, allowing you more time to deal with their nearby friends before coming back to them. Do this correctly, and you're carefully managing blocks and dodges to deal death without taking a tick of damage. It's a beautiful dance, also complete with moments where you're mashing your weapon with reckless abandon at a group of foes.


While those two heroes stand apart from one another, the same can't be said for the three other classes. The Dwarf Ranger, Mercenary, and Witch Hunter Captain are all melee-oriented heroes with somewhat limited ranged options. They don't feel like they are truly different enough from one another's styles. It's not a terrible shortcoming, but I wish we had a little while longer.

The presentation of the game is no slouch. Dozens of enemies come rushing at you across detailed environments, in both wide-open areas and tight bottlenecks that make it easier to hunker down against waves of foes. There's a lot of fancy graphics on display, from the lush jungles of one map to the ragdoll bits of Skaven. However, the game suffers in its usage of SSAO; on High, it made everything have a gritty look in weird places, with other settings having less of an impact. It runs like a dream, so I suspect anyone with a machine thats less than five years old will be able to run the game with many of the options cranked up.

Playing with friends is also a seamless experience. People can invite you to their lobbies if they're not your friend, but you can also pop into a friend's game at will, assuming they have an open spot. The in-game voice chat works dutifully as well, though it is difficult to know which hero the voices are coming from. Even without voice, you can call out any special enemies or items with the T key to give them a blue outline. This means that even the more silent types among us can call things out, and in a way, that is also accompanied by their hero using a voice line to provide details about the callout.

The core gameplay of the original Vermintide was an incredibly strong formula that was wrapped in a package that didn't live up to the same level of quality. The sequel, Warhammer: Vermintide 2, has clearly taken what was learned from that game to heart and delivered an awfully gleeful gameplay loop. Hop into a match, lop off a few heads, gain experience and gear, and next time, lop off stouter heads while carrying a couple of grims. Vermintide 2 is exemplary of what the genre can become, and it's an especially great reason to grab some friends, sit down, and slay a few thousand foes.

Score: 9.0/10



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