Throughout video game history, there have always been three objectives that drive players to dive into a game, over and over. Loot, competitive play and fun. If a game possesses those three qualities (let’s call them the holy trinity), then you’re almost assured to have a good time. That’s exactly what you’ll find here with Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Game Name: Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Platform(s): PC (reviewed, coming to PS4/Xbox later in 2018)
Publisher(s): Fatshark
Developer(s): Fatshark
Genre: Action, First-Person Shooter

Release Date: March 8, 2018 
Price: $29.99
Time Played: 30+ hours
Ultrawide Monitor Support: Yes
PC Used For Review: Ryzen 1700, GTX 1080, Windows 10

While this is a follow-up to the first game, not much has changed. You still go off on missions, trying to right the wrong. Only this time you’re trying to safeguard the fortress city of Helmgart. Fans will also be happy to know that the main concerns with the first title have been addressed. Mainly the lack of loot, and fine-tuning the combat. The build I had access to included four missions, while the full game will consist of thirteen missions. The game is played in a locked first-person perspective. 

Not a fan of the Warhammer universe or don’t follow the lore? Not to worry, as you don’t need to know any of it. Sure, it helps if you do but it isn’t a requirement. Just as long as you can pick up a weapon or a magic spell and use it, you’ll be in good hands. For those who do know the lore, the Chaos and Skaven are working together, which spells big trouble for everyone.  Those merry band of adventurers from the first game also make their return. Better than ever and ready to get knee deep in trouble.

Upon playing Vermintide 2, I immediately got vibes of other coop-based that were very similar. Mainly the Left 4 Dead series and Killing Floor, with a pinch of Skyrim when it comes to the aesthetics. Here players will need to play as a team to survive and progress. Especially since there are so many ways you can be either incapacitated or killed off. Stray too far from your ground and an assassin could come out of nowhere and end you. Or a leech could CC you and steal your life away, nevermind that strangler that will drag you off to who knows where and more.  So as you can see, there are quite a few ways to die if you wander off too far. 

This is where playing as a team goes hand in hand. Sadly, during my gameplay sessions, I’d run into players who simply didn’t understand that concept. Which unfortunately turned several runs into complete disasters. I remember one session in particular where we were pretty much done, but one player decided they wanted to go exploring. At the very last objective and ended up getting captured. One of us ran over to assist while leaving two of us to fend for ourselves. It got ugly really fast. Mind you, this was also on the easiest difficulty.

Players are able to pick one of five different characters, all of which have a different playstyle. If that wasn’t enough, each character also has three different sub-classes to choose from and a talent tree that grants you new abilities. That is once you reach the required level to choose them. Yep, you’ll level up via XP which is handed out when completing missions, finding hidden items and keep your team alive (there’s that team stuff again) to the end of a mission. You’ll still get XP if you fail a mission, just not as much. You’ll also want to try to level as many characters as you can,  just to try out the different playstyles. In addition, if you play in a session where someone else has already picked your highest and most geared character, you’ll be forced to choose another. So try them all out.

The combat in this game can be summed up in one word; visceral. Every swing, every magic spell that lands upon your enemy turn them into mush feels so good. It’s like the perfect stress reliever after a hard day at work. But don’t think the enemy is going to be a pushover, as the AI is merciless, even on the lowest level. The higher levels, and you’ll be praying that the pain ends quickly. Honestly, I felt like the difficulty was the perfect blend, as it easies down at times. Only to spike it up to “Oh Shit!” levels, as the game tries to end your life. But it’s so much fun when it does. Even on the easiest difficulty, the game is no pushover. Speaking of which, there are 

Ah, the loot. There’s so much loot being tossed out now, some may question if all of this loot is needed. But I assure you, it is. As you gain complete levels, you’ll acquire more gear in the form of upgrades, new weapons, and accessories. Do well you’ll get chests that range from ordinary to rare items. Find the hidden tomes and grimoires in each level to gain access to even better loot. There’s even a crafting system that lets you salvage unwanted items, and turn them into something more desirable. Nothing fancy, but completely functional.

However, at the same time, I do have an issue with how Fatshark handles equipping said loot. While you have access to an inventory system that lets you mix/match your gear. It’s pretty basic. It doesn’t do a good job of helping you determine how those pieces of gear will benefit you. You can’t even see you how stamina or health you get when equipping items that include those as bonus stats. Only the percentages which can be anything depending on your current pool of stats. Sure, some may like that it doesn’t spell it all out for you. Yet for others who are used to this, this can add a layer of frustration.  Since changing your gear to help out your team makeup is important, an option to save gear sets would be welcomed. Hopefully, Fatshark adds this to the game. 

Lastly, where there are loot boxes in the game. They’re earned via finding the tomes and grimoires out in the levels. No microtransactions and I hope it stays like this. 

Warhammer-Vermintide-2-glamourshot-04

The sound production is also top-notch. Everything from the grunts and screams of the characters and enemies, to the clashing of weapons or a massive spell being unleashed. The sound definitely helps push the immersion factor and you have to play the game to really experience. For example, while questing you’ll randomly hear a battle horn, which is your cue for preparing for an ambush of epic proportions. Or while you’re playing, you’ll hear an assassin speaking to himself, which assists you in trying to locate him based on the sound alone. Even the banter between the characters is well done, even if they talk a bit too much at times. The music simply must be heard. That’s all I’ll say about that.

As for jumping into a game or starting one, it’s fairly easy. Just decide on if you want to do a quick play, where the computer choices the mission. A custom game where you pick the mission, difficult and matchmaking options. Or the Heroic Deeds mode, which are missions that you can only partake if you have a premade team. These are the hardest modes available and they expire once you select them. They also add certain challenges to your game via modifiers like less health, more damage done or received and so forth. Regardless if you manage to complete them or not. Finally, there’s even a lobby browser, which lets you filter currently available games. If you’re looking for single-player action, you’ll have to go to the custom game mode and select the private game option. You’ll be placed in a game with bots as your companions. 

Surprisingly, there’s a huge amount of customization in this title. Every from the graphics, resolution (all the way up to 4K), keybindings, and more. Seriously, the amount of stuff you can tweak is amazing. Post processing, lighting, particles, textures, it’s all customizable. You want granular, you got it. You can even toggle off the opening cinematic, which is great when you’re just looking to jump into a game and go to town. Ah, and before anyone asks, yes, it does support ultrawide screen monitors. You can’t see it, but I’m grinning ear to ear thanks to this.

Performance-wise, I was able to main a constant 60+ FPS during the beta and pre-order builds. On the retail build, I noticed that my framerate did drop a bit, but only after I installed an updated Nvidia driver. Dropping down to the previous version, I was able to hit 60+ FPS again, at times staying above 80-90 FPS running at 1080p and 1440p using the high graphics setting. Moving up to the extreme setting which enables everything at 1440p, I did drop to under 59 FPS at times, especially with lots of particle effects going off. Obviously, your experience may vary, but Fatshark should be applauded for how well the optimization is. 

Update: So, it has been bothering me that at certain segments while playing, my screen would get dark. Darker than it should, and it did hurt my gameplay. At first, I thought it might be some sort of HDR, but I wasn’t testing the game on an HDR monitor. It also occurred while moving my mouse in certain locations. I can’t exactly narrow it down, but it seems to be some sort of tracking issue. I’ve reached out to Fatshark and will provide them with footage of this in action. A hinderance but it doesn’t detract from the intial score I gave the game. I’ll update this once I get a reply.

If you’re worried about longevity, don’t be. While the game currently contains 13 missions, that are split into three different acts, there’s plenty here. And since the game is meant to be played online, your experiences will change with every game. There’s also the Twitch mode, which at the moment isn’t working. But when it does, it will let you link to your Twitch account. From there whenever you stream, the viewers can interact with your game. They can give you specific items, spawn creatures, bosses, all of which will dramatically change your gaming sessions. I kind of wish that this open was available for all the streaming platforms, but I can’t wait to try this out when it gets patched in. Lastly, there are four DLC’s planned for the game and should be released this year. 

Honestly, Vermintide 2 is the complete package. It’s lots of fun, perhaps one of the better coop/party games and it runs well. My only gripe with the game is the multiplayer aspect. Now, hear me out. When it comes to finding a game and jumping into one, or starting your own, there’s no issue. That all works well. My complaint comes into play when you’re out in the world and kicking butt. Should the person who started the game drop, there’s a huge delay as the game attempts to find a new host. Yep, this game is P2P or Peer to Peer. There are no dedicated servers, and P2P doesn’t always work in games such as this. Thankfully during my 30+ hours with the game, I’ve only experienced a drop out twice. Thankfully, after playing at least 20 sessions after the official release, I’m happy to report that P2P is holding up just fine.

Outside of that, Vermintide 2 is exactly what the doctor ordered for those looking for a fun multiplayer/co-op game. We may not see another Left 4 Dead title but with this release, you may not even care anymore. And that’s all that matters, Darlings.

 

Review Disclosure Statement: This review of Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is based on the pre-release code and the full retail release. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.

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Summary

Everything that made the first Warhammer: Vermintide so good, while tuning and fixing the loot concerns. Vermintide 2 is an amazing and fun time for those who love the Warhammer universe and those who aren't familiar with it. Chaotic, fast-paced, full of character and with more than enough gameplay to keep you coming back. 

Pros:

  • A blast to play with three other players
  • Lots of loot to collect and gear to craft
  • Amazing sound production
  • FUN!

Cons:

  • Not a fan of peer to peer
  • The game can be repetitive at times
  • Having to rely on teammates can cause you to pull out your hair
4.5

About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. He's 40+ now, that old guy that he is.