The following game was reviewed on Xbox One; the reviewer of this critique purchased it.
I’ve never really done Warhammer. Growing up, my strictly religious parents would never let us have anything to do with Dungeons & Dragons. By the time I was of an age where I could do whatever I wanted, people had moved onto Warhammer, but it never really appealed to me. I felt kind of bad about this when I first tried out Vermintide at a gaming event last year. The developer was so enthusiastic about the brand and showing off how his game fitted in with the series, yet I couldn’t make any of the connections he was making. Yet, when I got my hands on the game, I was greeted with a gorgeous looking hack and slash that caught my interest but was hampered by being teamed with other attendees who didn’t know how to play the game either. Now that the game is finally here, I find myself in a similar sort of situation but much more impressed with it.
‘Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide’ may have a decidedly awkward title but it is a very slick game. Despite not knowing the lore behind the game, I got totally sucked into the world that it presented. The locations and maps feel so incredibly authentic and lived in. These beautifully designed towns, castles, graveyards, dungeons, and mountainous countryside seem ripped straight from the pages of Tolkien or other fantasy classics. Alongside this beauty though there is an almost palpable sense of dread or threat to all of these locales even when there aren’t weapon-toting rat-people coming at you. It may partly be because the only people in these maps are your heroes and the Skaven (the monsters derived from rodents), but most of the credit for this has to go to the design team who have really knocked it out of the park.
The game plays like a fantastical version of ‘Left 4 Dead’. It is an online co-operative game, where you use melee and ranged weapons to take down enemies. No two games are ever exactly the same, as like Valve’s zombie epic, the enemies come in random waves with different special enemies. These unique foes have their own strengths & weaknesses and as such require different tactics to finish them off. There are ‘Gutter Runners’ and ‘Packmasters’ where if they get their hands on you, only your teammates will be able to free you. There are the ‘Poison Wind Globadier’ (who throws gas grenades) and the ‘Ratling Gunner’ (who has a sort of Gatling gun) where you need to flank them to avoid taking serious damage. There are the ‘Stormvermin’ who look like centurions and are surprisingly resilient to attacks due to their armour. Finally there’s the ‘Rat Ogre’ that is like a cross between King Kong and a rat. These are particularly dangerous and can easily wipe out your entire team if you don’t work together.
The plot revolves around you striking back against the Skaven and trying to rid the world of them. To be honest, you really don’t need to know the story to play the game. Like Left 4 Dead, the plot is just a way of justifying the action. It’s split into 4 sections, Acts I-III and an epilogue, with multiple levels for each. These levels will take you anywhere between 15 minutes and well over an hour. There’s quite a nice amount of variety involved with certain fetch missions, others where you have to destroy certain objects, and more where you just have to make your way through the level. There is also a survival mode (akin to Horde mode in ‘Gears of War’) though it only has a couple of playable maps.
I have to say that I really enjoyed ‘Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide’ despite having no history with the franchise at all. The game looks brilliant and plays superbly. Admittedly, your experience with the game depends a lot on the people you play it with. If you do keep getting paired with people who don’t play as a team, you can always use bots who do a pretty good job of helping you through each level without making yourself redundant. With each level playing slightly differently, the game certainly has longevity, and there are difficulty options that will challenge even the most talented of gamers. If you enjoy fantasy or online co-op games you really should try this game, as Fatshark have created a really great game that deserves a wider audience.