I’m not really a huge Warhammer person. I have all of the games in my Steam library, I had troubles with Space Marine on launch due to a BIOS-Processor issue and didn’t play it until last year. I don’t really know anything about the entire story line of any of the games or about any factions. I do have a few friends that are avid collectors of the figures and even play Warhammer in their spare time, so I figured they would recommend this game to me as, “You’d probably like it” and I would end up messing around with it for a bit. Instead, I asked my friend, “What is it like?” He responded, “Yes.”
He did follow it up with this description that I’ll share as a fairly accurate portrayal; If you take Left for Dead, sprinkle a tiny bit of RPG with loot drops, and paint over it with Warhammer, you get Vermintide. There are 5 characters to choose from in the game that vary slightly with how they play and what equipment they get. Their weapon selections are spread between Melee and Ranged, One Handers and Two Handers, Bows and Guns. The Bright Wizard gets staves for their ranged attacks as the only huge difference. As your account/save file levels up, you are given some extra gear for each character, and as you complete levels, you randomly roll some dice for loot. The better rolls you get, the higher quality the piece of gear is, ranging from White (Common) to Blue (Rare?) which have special bonuses on them that affect your weapons and how you can fight. Some weapons will even get passive stats like Armour Penetration or Head Shots, which help when defeating the special enemies in the game. As an extra bonus for loot drops throughout levels you can collect a few items to give extra rolls for chances are higher quality gear such as Tomes, Grimoires, and Loot Die, which are all hidden throughout the levels, or dropped from Pack Rats, which are essentially just Loot Rats. Beware with picking these items up though, as Tomes replace your consumable slot for potions and med kits, and Grimoires replace your consumable slot for Strength or Speed Elixirs as they reduce the max team health by roughly 30%. Grimoires have a high risk, but a high reward as they are a guaranteed roll at the end of the mission, as well as a higher experience bonus.
Every mission has a different objective and there is a, fairly thin, underlying story line to the game. Essentially the concept is infiltration and survival as a root concept, trying to weed out and remove all of the Skaven from each mission area and destroy their base camps in the region. While I haven’t felt strongly connected to the game based on it’s story, I can definitely speak to it’s challenge. I’ve consistently had a group of friends that love to play challenging games, and we barely got through most of the levels on normal difficulty. It scales through Easy, Normal, Hard, Nightmare, and Cataclysm. Experience gained goes up as you go up in difficulty, as well as the quality of the equipment given as rewards at the end of the stage, but Nightmare and Cataclysm enable Friendly Fire for added team challenge.
Enemies in the game are all typically just Skaven units but, as I previously mentioned, there are multiple types of Skaven units. There is the obvious basic grunt units that you slaughter by the dozens, as well as brief horde rushes that spawn around 50 to try to swarm and overwhelm you. You also come across the Left for Dead archetypes of special units, such as the Rat Ogre, Gutter Runner, Ratling Gunner, Poison Globbadier, and Packmaster. A few are obvious comparisons, like Rat Ogre to Tank, where some are less obvious, Gutter Runner to Witch. Packmasters will hook your teammates and drag them away, slowly killing them in the process as well. It requires some good co-ordination to prevent anyone from getting taken away or killed when special enemies spawn, especially Rat Ogres, as most of them can be random spawns, but some of them are triggered at certain times and points in each level.
While I have enjoyed the overall gameplay of Vermintide, there are a few things that could be worked on a little bit that makes it feel like the grind isn’t worth it in the long run. The loot is entirely based around a random number generator or, as my friends would all say, RNG. You finish a level and the game randomly chooses about 7 items that you can win with your rolls ranging from the lowest quality available in that difficulty to the highest. These items are not class specific to what you’re playing, and it’s very possible to not get a single item for your class for a long time, as I didn’t get a new item for my character until I got from level 1 to level 10, short of a duplicate item that I started with from just getting a level. There are also trinket slots for your characters in the game, but as trinkets are random loot as well, I have yet to get a single one. I’m pretty unlucky with rolls in this game, but out of all of my end mission rolls, I’ve only seen a trinket as a possibility to win one time.
The last thing I’ll touch on is the crafting system behind the game, it’s very simple, and seems like it can be very rewarding in the long run. There is fusing for putting five of the same quality item together and upgrading it to a green. You can match five whites of the same item type and get a green of the same item type, or five random white items to get a random green type of item. You can salvage items into materials based on the quality salvaged which is then used in the last feature of crafting, Upgrading. This simply allows you to unlock the special attribute of your green, or higher, quality of item after you get it.
In the end, I really enjoy the game, the crafting is very simple to understand but also rewarding, the gameplay is challenging even on lower difficulties but much more rewarding on higher difficulties, and it has a lot of replayability factor added in with the loot system. It may feel like a bit of a grind when you lose several missions in a row or just can’t seem to finish that one mission that you’re all working on for a couple hours on a higher difficulty, but in the long run the gear you do get will make everything easier and more enjoyable. I do suggest grabbing three or more friends that have the game so you always have a decent team of four to play higher difficulties with plus, as with every co-operative game, it’s more fun to play with people you know than people you don’t.