I’ve spent the majority of my weekend slicing and dicing my way through hordes of Skaven and Northmen.
I’ve solo-qued, I’ve played with friends and yes, I’ve played with bots. I’ve unlocked a few classes and tried some more weapon combinations.
Ten hours into Vermintide 2 and I find myself asking, what’s the bloody point?
But what is it?
Before I get into my rant about how disappointed I am, let me run through what Vermintide actually is.
At it’s core, it’s a co-op first person hack n slash in the Left 4 Dead vein of survival horror.
Players run through one of 13 levels set in the Empire city of Ubersreik, fighting their way through swarming hoards of Skaven and Chaos Warriors.
Gameplay is murdering your way through enemies so you can push a button, survive an allotted amount of time against the ensuing horde and then murder your way on to the next objective, eventually reaching an end portal.
In the Beginning
When I started out with Vermintide 2 I was bright eyed and bushy tailed, excited to throw myself into a gore filled world of murder and mayhem.
The idea of 15 genuinely unique and different classes filled with apprehension but also enthusiasm to try each of them out with the medley of weapons available.
I found the combat tight, challenging and immensely satisfying, the process of lopping off body parts and sniping specials was delightful.
Boss fights were moments of tension, with fever points where all bar one member of the team was downed and had this gigantic, imposing figure bearing down on them.
The set design blew me away, I was astounded by the way Fat Shark had perfectly captured the essence of the Empire, Skaven and Dwarves in their architecture.
I was a kid at Christmas, wide eyed and gawping at the scale of it all, at the all the possibilities, everything that might possibly await me.
Now, ten hours later, I play Vermintide 2 in windowed mode while watching Stargate SG-1 (great show by the way).
Nothing has actually changed in terms of the gameplay and, really, that’s the core of the issue. There’s no real difference in the experience between when I first started and where I am now.
It’s an effort to compel myself to keep grinding my way through the game to try and reach that fabled level 30 and 600 power rating because I’m told that’s where the fun is.
I look at the 15 classes and just sigh, all I can see are minor variations on play style that, while different, aren’t different enough to actually excite me.
Vermintide 2’s characters are akin to those of Borderlands, each has three trees (or in this case careers) with specific skills but they don’t make for radical change between each other.
The combat’s still tight, still challenging but it doesn’t do anything for me. I’m not getting excited and I’m certainly not feeling tense because I’ve seen it all before.
I’m just hacking my way through rats and men alike, so I can what? Get to the end of the level to go back and do it all again?
I dread boss fights, especially if I’m running a primarily ranged character, I’ll watch my ammo count rapidly deplete as tiny chucks of health drop off the boss’s gigantic bar and think ‘Woo boy, bullet sponges sure are fun.’
The set design still manages to impress me, it’s the one thing I find myself still enjoying. The sweeping vistas are brilliant and a genuine credit to Fat Shark.
I’m a grumpy, cynical old man who’s sitting at his computer waiting for Vermintide to flick the ‘fun’ switch back on.
Others tell me I have to preserver, I just must get to a point where I can play champion difficulty because apparently that’s where this ever-elusive fun is, but I ask again, what’s the point?
If I’m not enjoying a game 10 hours in why should I have to invest another 10 hours to reach the point where it’s supposedly the perfect marriage of skill and difficulty?
Why should I force myself through the same damn levels repeatedly, repeating similar objectives of ‘go here, do the thing that summons horde, fight your way through, repeat until you reach the end.’
*Spoiler alert* I shouldn’t.
Warhammer Vermintide 2 isn’t anything special, it’s frankly mediocre in every aspect aside form set/level design.
The classes make for minor differences that, at the end of the day, really don’t change the overall experience. You’re going to hack, slice and shoot your way through things regardless.
Try to look past the bright lights and joyful decapitation and consider the fact that what you see at face value is absolutely what you get:
- 15 slightly different classes.
- 13 incredibly similar missions with the same repetitive wave/objective based dangers.
- Maybe a solid six or so hours of fun before the repetition wears you down.
The reason I’m so hard on Vermintide 2 is because it could have been so much more.
Fat Shark hit the nail on the head with the class system but played it that bit too safe and left them feeling bland and samey.
With a little work the boss fights could go from slogs to pitched battles requiring genuine co-ordination between a team.
Introduction of some puzzles to objectives, even simple ones, would give them so much more variety rather than go here and push this.
Fat Shark have gold at their fingertips but instead they’ve elected to go down the save path of the co-op hack and slash.
Keep an eye on Vermintide 2 if you ask me, if Fat Shark can bring some genuine changes to the table this could be one of the best games of 2018, or just another hack n slash in a world full of them.