STAFF REVIEW of Warhammer: Vermintide 2 (Xbox One)

Saturday, August 11, 2018.
by Brent Roberts

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 Box art Team based games such as Left 4 Dead have been popular due to the simplicity of their goals. Developer Fatshark has been hard at work on the follow up to Vermintide, which is aptly named Vermintide 2. This team-based game attempts to focus on creating massive battles that require you to survive and conquer the levels with a group of characters in an online party. So, does Fatshark have a smash hit with Vermintide 2, or is the game more anemic with a feeble core? Choose your character and let’s begin.

The plot, for those who have never played Vermintide, it is about a land called Ubersreik, where your band of characters fought back the forces of Skaven, who ushered in a new era of peace and prosperity that many thought would last for generations. They were wrong. The heroes (your group of characters) end up being captured (somehow), and as you are navigating towards your doom, you realize that the Skaven armies have a new alliance with a powerful force, The Northmen of Chaos. These armored men bring with them their own unique abilities and challenges to the ones already found in the Skaven forces and have teamed together to bring destruction to Ubersreik.

This open-ended premise is the foundation for the numerous levels found within Vermintide 2 and act as a canvas by which the game’s four acts unfold. Each act contains within it numerous levels (over 10 each) which can be individually played and unlocked through the game’s various modes. This trend of packing in as much content as possible is a common thread you’ll find permeating every facet of Vermintide 2, and it couldn’t be better. In fact, I’ll call it now, that Vermintide 2 has some of the most content packed into a game and when you talk budget prices, easily taking the crown hands down, for every character has different equipment that can be dismantled into resources and forged into head splitting weaponry, body incinerating spells and so much more. It’s these characteristics that you’ll not only improve, but adapt as you level up your individual heroes, but that’s pending you have an internet connection.

Vermintide 2 does require an online connection to play online, however, you can play offline, but none of your accrued stats, levels, and character development will NOT transfer over. You can take your online character information into the offline mode to play with AI characters, but any progress you make will not transfer over to the online game mode. I can’t think of any reason what so ever that this mode would be good to use, except for if you have no internet connection of any sort (which means that you would also have to have a physical copy of the disc because you’d have to have an internet connection if you wished to download it in the first place.) Aside from the AI teammates to assist you, you’ll also be unable to unlock any of the bonuses you get when you level up. Again, this mode is the stripped down, diluted version of what Vermintide 2 is supposed to be and, if I’m honest, feels quite pointless.

Anyways, back to the game. So, you have your character that you chose, and if you bring up the menu you will see just how incredibly deep Vermintide 2 actually is. I thought that the preview was good, but this final product absolutely blew my mind. For starters, there are multiple versions of every character, and every character comes with certain bonuses as well as preferred weaponry. While melee weapons are your primary choice, you’ll have to pay attention to your ammo for your projectile weaponry, otherwise you could be finding yourself up a creek when the **** hits the fan, and what a moment that is.

The overall design of the levels is fairly linear, so you won’t be allowed so much exploration that you find yourself looking around like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. You’ll navigate down a predetermined stretch of environment and then you’ll come to a combat sequence where you’ll have to fight numerous enemies. These range from regular grunts that provide little to no challenge for your melee weapon, to heavily armored demon knights that wield gigantic battle axes and take a long fight to bring down. Then you have your ranged enemies that can lob poisonous fields from afar that cause tremendous area damage, magical enemies that can summon and raise the dead, to those that even are armed with what could easily be considered a flame chain gun that ignites a green pillar of fire in rapid succession that will melt your very core. After fighting these enemies you’ll head through another section of the map and fight some more. You’ll do this all the way to the end when you fight the boss of the level, and when that happens you’ll be glad you have your team at your side, as they are tremendous beasts that take a VERY LONG time to whittle down their health.

Upon completion of a level you’ll gain a loot box (not to worry), and depending on how you do and what secrets you find within the level will determine what type of loot box you get and obviously, the quality of loot that you receive also depends on the type of loot box you earn at the end. These can be items that you can equip or to destroy for resources so you can forge other gear, etc. Then when you’re done, your lobby heads back to the central loading area where you or any member in your group can select what level to do next and vote on it in democratic fashion of course. This whole rinse and repeat action will be your methodology for Vermintide 2, so be prepared for a lot of repetition in your life. To combat this, Fatshark includes challenges that you can play that range in varying degree of difficulty and pay out the rewards that correspond to the difficulty of the challenges.

All of this gory beauty comes wrapped in a presentation that is smooth as silk to run in 4K. From the dynamic changes that each character receives through their leveling system, the character models themselves, to the unique environments, everything is done with a painstaking level of quality that is rarely found within AAA titles today that cost twice as much. Then you have the sound which lends itself to sweeping, epic musical scores that highlight the drama and confrontational points including the bosses. But the real gem of the audio relies on the banter and discussions that the characters have with each other within the levels. Each personality is unique, and if you played the original, then you’ll be happy to know that the characters stay true to their core.

Right now, Vermintide 2 is on the Xbox marketplace and will cost you $29.99, and based off everything I've played, it’s worth every penny. If you love games that you play as a team to overcome levels and slay seemingly endless amounts of enemies while grinding for loot and experience, then Vermintide 2 is an absolute must purchase. Vermintide 2 provides quality work on all fronts, and the best thing is that you can really tell that Fatshark has done a great amount of work developing this game throughout its various stages to its final release.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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