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Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide

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By WskOsc15-10-2015
Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide

The Defence

Developer:
Fatshark
Publisher:
Fatshark
Genre:
Action
Release Date:
23-10-2015

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core i7 4.0 GHz
AMD FX 4.7 GHz
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770
AMD Radeon R9 290
RAM:
8 GB
HDD:
30 GB
DirectX:
11

Vermintide unashamedly holds its inspiration on the surface, the Left 4 Dead influence is strong but not unwelcome. The recipe is basic enough, swap zombies with Skaven and US cities with the Warhammer fantasy city of Ubersreik. You've still got hordes of enemies, an objective somewhere on the map and a group of allies ready to die horribly by your side.

As with Left 4 Dead the characters you can play are one of the most interesting parts of the experience, unlike Left 4 Dead the characters in Vermintide's party are actually unique in more than just personality. Everyone has their basic role – front line fighter, ranged fighter, support, but can be customized through items (more on those later) to change the way they place, sometimes rather drastically.

My initial experience with Vermintide was back at EGX when I got to play the Dwarf ranger, with his axe and shield combo and secondary crossbow that felt remarkably like the stake gun from Painkiller – enemies were thrown back with each successful hit while the axe took off limbs and heads with each swing. Somewhat similar to the Dwarf is the Human soldier who wields large two handed weapons and carries a blunderbuss by default, between them they act as the front-line fighters of the group.

Giggity, or ouch depending on your tastes.

Giggity, or ouch depending on your tastes.

The Witch Hunter acts as a fast all-rounder armed with a rapier-like sword and pair of pistols. He's also got the unique advantage of being able to fire one pistol while wielding his sword. The speed at which he can stab or snap off an accurate shot combined with the game's short dodge mechanic allows him to zip around enemies, picking at their weak points and side-stepping retaliation.

Making up the ranged support pair is the Elf, who dual wields a variety of combinations of swords and daggers and has a fast firing but also super accurate bow. She's fairly straight forward but fills an important role. More risk/reward is the wizard – she can throw fire around like confetti but if she heats up too much she'll explode. Sacrificing a small amount of health will allow you to cool her down, making it a constant balancing act of damage versus preserving health versus not getting your arse handed to you for holding back too much.

Those play styles can be changed up more thanks to the item drops you're rewarded with at the end of each run. For example, swapping out the wizard's default weapon for a flaming sword allows you to dish out melee range fire without fear of overheating, allowing you to play a more aggressive wizard. Items are dished out via a die-roll at the end of a match – the dice come in different qualities with different amounts of faces having a symbol, the more face-up symbols the better quality the item you'll get.

And my axe!

And my axe!

Item quality isn't everything – a common quality item might be better for your personal play style than a legendary with better stats. It all adds up to make a game where anyone can play with anyone else without feeling like they're underpowered or not contributing as much as others.

Unlike Left 4 Dead, communication feels more important in Vermintide, with parties who sat in silence often wiping while those who called out when they were in trouble, sharing resources and suggesting routes or strategies were the parties who survived and prospered, often finishing with quality die granting tomes.

Every item is useful thanks to a crafting system that lets you upgrade your favourite equipment via combining several items to upgrade the quality or melting down items to get materials to add more enchantments to existing gear. The system lets you either stick with your favourite gear or experiment as much as you'd like without the rewards feeling pointless.

There's a rat in ma kitchen, what am I gonna do?

There's a rat in ma kitchen, what am I gonna do?

As you'd expect from a grimdark world like Warhammer, Ubersreik is full of darkness, torrential rain and fog that makes the worst pea-souper look like a clear day. As the campaign moves around the city you encounter more than rain and blood drenched streets – there's forests, Skaven infested caves, forest ruins and a large open swamp bordering a major Skaven camp where encounters vary wildly between small groups of scouts and huge reactionary hordes that can bring progress to a complete standstill while you frantically scramble for your lives against overwhelming odds.

The minute to minute satisfaction of hacking limbs off Skaven coupled with the anticipation of the next mystery item reward keeps the frustration low and enjoyment high. Improving your gear, exploring minor alternate routes and searching out the hiding spots for the tomes was enough to keep us coming back again and again until suddenly, we'd realise the entire evening was gone and all we had to show for it was a pile of discombobulated virtual rats but that was enough.

Comments (3)
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Posts: 1317

What? Mordheim is a PvP-only turn-based tactical game.

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Posts: 3290

I'm a little "eh" about this, but it does look really good. It's just being overshadowed by Mordheim for me

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Posts: 1317

Can't wait! Just a week left now.