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Warhammer End Times: Vermintide Review

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The Skaven have heard the cries of the screaming bell and have risen from the depths to take the city of Ubersriek. It’s up to you and your compatriots to push back the Vermintide. Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide is a cooperative multiplayer first person melee, based on mechanics made famous in the Left 4 Dead series (Valve, 2008/2009). I covered the beta of this game a while ago. It’s still available here on Gamers-Haven, if you’d like to check it out. However the game is finally out, and it’s feeling a whole lot better than it did before. This is saying something, since the beta was excellent.

The design of the game is quite clever. It’s been far too long since we’ve gotten a Left 4 Dead-style game, and Vermintide scratches that itch. But it’s different enough that it really doesn’t deserve to be called a clone. The 4 player co-op works perfectly in the Warhammer universe. It’s much more fun to survive the waves of Skaven with some friends and allies. 2015-11-08_00004Each class has its own unique way of handling oncoming hordes. On the other hand, each class can be outfitted with different weapon loadouts to truly fill some interesting game play niches. Want to be the super fast guy with a giant brutal sword? Done. Want to wield the power of a Gatling Gun and then quickly switch to a war hammer? Also done. The levels are laid out in interesting ways. Each one includes environmental obstacles, as well as wave upon wave of Skaven. One level in particular has you traversing a wizard’s tower. Inside there are crazy illusions and rooms straight from the mind of M.C. Escher. Navigating the levels alone can be fun and rewarding, especially if you try to find the hidden paths for secret treasures.

The concept of this game is one I’ve been wanting for years: an in-depth focus on the Warhammer world, and in particular the Skaven. Skaven have always been my favorite Warhammer race. When I first got into Games Workshop titles, I played Skaven. I’ve read so much about Skaven lore over the years that they’ve really become near and dear to my heart (and to the heart of the game designers). This game understands the Skaven. There is obviously a ton of love and attention paid to getting them to feel just right. In other Warhammer games the Skaven have been included, but as a very minor enemy without much thought put into them. Vermintide does the complete opposite. They really get into the minds of the Rat-men. Unlike the mindless zombies in Left 4 Dead the Skaven don’t just run straight forward at you. They are clever and cunning. They like to ambush you when you least expect it. They run screaming at you in big hordes, but when caught alone they’ll try to run and hide…only to pounce on you later. The enemy is extremely dynamic. Fighting them is fun and interesting. You get a real sense of personality and who the Skaven are. They leave you paranoid, constantly checking your back for the ever-prowling rats.

The graphics are suited really well for the game. They look gorgeous and do a wonderful job at portraying the dark grittiness; the almost silly levels of grittiness that the Warhammer world is known for. They aren’t too realistic. There’s just a touch of cartooniness to them that really makes them come alive (especially in the Skaven). The graphics overall could be optimized a bit better. I feel I have to run them a little lower than I should, given the specs of my PC. This definitely applies when I have multiple things running on my computer. This is definitely a game where it’s important to know the graphical capabilities of your machine. If you have a mid-range PC like me, you might need to play at a lower graphics levels than you’re used to.

2015-11-08_00003This game is hard. It’s really hard. You will die a lot. But that’s half the fun. Levels are short enough with a good amount of action to really carry you through time and again. You will be replaying a lot of levels until you’ve mastered them. The game is even harder if you are playing with bots. The companion AI is not great. They will do the basics: attack and die, but if you want much more out of them then you are out of luck. One thing I wish they’d do more is heal me. They usually all carry around any sort of health they can get their grubby little fingers on, and then not use them until they are almost dead. They very rarely use those healing items on me…the one who normally needs them. They other thing they don’t do is pick up objective items. The levels tend to have a part where you need to carry an item from one place to another. Sometimes it’s fine just to have them fend off rats while you do this, but other times it’s almost impossible to complete a task when you are the only one doing the carrying. I highly recommend playing with other humans whenever you have the chance.

The replay value for this game is great. Like I said previously, you’ll be playing the levels over and over. But they are fun to do. Relying on bots is again not the best for this. The game is definitely at its best when you and a group of friends are playing together, having a nice chat over the Internet. This game is great to have a laugh over, or to all get stressed and paranoid together. This game needs player commentary to be truly amazing. If that’s something you can easily do, then I highly recommend playing the game that way. If you play it without that, then you can definitely tell there is something lacking.

The game doesn’t do the best job of explaining everything you can do. It more or less throws you into a situation and lets you figure it out, which can be really cool at times. It’s awesome when you are figuring out the controls and unleashing a special attack you didn’t know you had. The basics are fairly straightforward, but really mastering your class will take a decent bit of time, not to mention deaths.

The audio is much like the graphics. It fits really well with the atmosphere of the game. The quips exchanged between the heroes are all a joy to listen to, and they each bring an interesting personality to the table. The Witch Hunter (my preferred character) is slimy and smarmy. The Skaven will hiss and curse at you when they get near. Their voices are harsh and raspy. This, on top of a beautiful and haunting soundtrack really makes the game come alive. This mixture of conversation, combat and music make Vermintide an absolute pleasure to experience.2015-11-08_00001

The game is totally suitable for everyone, assuming they enjoy murdering thousands of rats. The violence can get a little over-the-top at times when you decapitate rats or light them on fire with a bomb. But other than that, there really isn’t much in the game to be wary of. Vermintide is incredibly enjoyable despite some graphical problems and minor glitches. The combat is smooth and elegant. You feel like you are slowly taking down a mighty horde of rats; a literal “vermin tide”. The process is slow and stressful. But when you finally make it safely through the carriage to the end of a level, you feel like you’ve really accomplished something. You take a sigh of relief and roll for your new shiny loot. You hold your breath as you dive right back into the rat-infested streets of Ubersriek.

I could play this game again and again without getting tired of it. I love everything about Vermintide. It’s exactly what I wanted in a Warhammer Fantasy game, and it uses one of the lesser known enemies from the universe, on top of everything else. They could have easily gone with more Orcs, or some Chaos. But here they decided to bring one of my favorite races to life, and the end result was incredible. I’m sure with patches and updates this game will only get better.

 

Disclaimer: We received this game because we wanted to review it, and as such all views in this article our are own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

-Jordan Kamm-

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