Games which leave a good first impression tend to be satisfying throughout as the quality of any title’s introduction is usually maintained throughout – see Max Payne 3. And this also applies to titles which start off on the wrong foot, as games which begin poorly tend to come to a conclusion on a low note. However, it rarely ever happens that a title which starts in one way ends in one which is polar opposite. And while such titles are few and far between, they do in fact exist, and coincidentally enough, the recently released Warhammer: Vermintide 2 happens to be exactly one of such games.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2, just like its direct predecessor, Warhammer: Vermintide¸ is a first person action game with RPG elements, which heavily resembles the now cult classic, Valve published, Left 4 Dead series. But where the latter relied on ranged weaponry and used melee combat to spice things up, then Warhammer: Vermintide 2 mainly relies on hand to hand combat, while using firearms as second choice weapons – in most instances. And while bows, rifles, and fireballs are usually the second choice for most players, then they are all just as viable as swords, halberds, lances, and sabers. As most guns can one shot all the low-level grunts and deal some serious damage to more formidable foes. And the only real downside to all ranged weaponry is related to their very limited ammo capacity, which renders them in many instances obsolete.

As mentioned earlier, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 features RPG elements, and while they are not as robust and profound as those of The Witcher 3, or Kingdom Come: Deliverance, they are still significant enough to have some sort of impact on the gameplay. But unfortunately, due to the title’s chaotic nature, the said impact is not always as expansive as one would like it to be, and unfortunately some character skills and abilities are not as impressive as you, or even the developer behind the game, would like them to be. And this also applies to the in-game loot system and crafting, as regardless of which character you play as, you will spend the vast majority of the time looking at and using the same three weapons hours on end.

In-game, you’ll find five unique characters, which themselves possesses three seemingly distinct subclasses. But unfortunately just like the in-game skills and weapons, the character subclasses are just as insignificant. And seemingly the only big variable which they all introduce is the change of character’s cosmetic appearance, as each and every subclass features a greatly different looks, which also comes with a brand new pool of visual items. And it’s just a shame that gameplay wise, the change in character subclass is borderline non-existent.

Overall, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is a game of smoke and mirrors as it features an abundance of seemingly complex and impactful feature-sets and mechanics, but all those in 99% of cases turn out to be nothing more than red herrings, and the character sub-classes are the best example of that. And this is where the title’s biggest issues lies, as it gives you a great first impression, an impression that you are playing a sprawling, detailed, and complex action-RPG adventure, only for you to later find out that you are playing a re-skinned and less fluid Left 4 Dead.

As an action game, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 clearly lacks the pace and fluidity of the aforementioned Left 4 Dead, but it compensates for it with a heavy and impactful gameplay which makes each and every swipe with a sword and swing of a mace feel meaty and incredibly satisfying. And in the long run, this is what carries the title, as otherwise it would be a rather forgettable and largely insignificant experience. And what makes it even better, is the fact that Warhammer: Vermintide 2 features a great amount of gore, meaning that each and every strike is also accompanied by rivers of blood, and crushed, mutilated, & exploding heads. And the sheer thrill which this symphony of destruction creates is second to none, especially in this day and age where most developers go out of their way to limit the gore to the minimum.

Besides the immense feeling of satisfaction, about which you had a chance to read above, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 has also other strong points. And one of the rather few positives, is the fact that for a multiplatform indie, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is fairly good looking. And sure, it has its low points where it can look like an early PlayStation 3 title, but for the most part it is rather impressive, as all the in-game environments are greatly detailed, and feature a level of quality and sharpness which is often missing from 3D Indies. However, visual excellence can only go so far, especially when chaotic level design is involved.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 sure looks great, but its looks do not always go in pair with exceptional level design, as the large number of in-game levels feature some rather questionable object placement and routing. And the vast majority of the levels, especially of the urban kind, are littered with illogical dead ends, such as corridors leading to absolutely nowhere, or castle ramparts which zig zag only to end with an abrupt drop. And this is not a big issue when you are playing with a group of friends or AI, as in those games you will mostly barrel straight to the level’s finale (which in most instances is immensely satisfying). But if you are playing with a group of randoms online, then you have to be prepared for a seemingly never-ending exploration of dead-ends, as most people online like to follow each and every route – except for the one which is right.

Sure, no one should blame a game for the way others play it, but one can easily justify doing so when the title at hand clearly encourages such behaviours. As in-game, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 has you look for loot dice, codex pages, and tomes, which all alter your reward at the end of the level. And on top of that, the game at hand also features a plethora of daily, weekly, and seasonal challenges, which often, but not always, require you to slay X number of loot dice carrying monsters, collect X number of pages, and last but not least, find and hold X number of tomes. And because of all this, what should be a fast paced, gory action game turns into an Easter egg hunt which is neither enjoyable, nor rewarding. As ultimately, no matter how many items you’ll find during a level the final reward will never be worth the grind.

I realise that this review may sound a little negative, as the majority of its paragraphs are loaded with complaints. However, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is genuinely a good game – at its core. It is just being held back by an abundance of bells and whistles, which didn’t really need to be there. And sure, with time the studio behind the title may issue some balancing patches which will improve the balance between action and exploration in multiplayer matches, but at the current time Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is best played either alone with AI bots, or with a group of friends, because online co-op is a beast of its own, a beast which even Colt Peacemaker would struggle to tame.

To conclude, all that really has to be said about Warhammer: Vermintide 2, is that it is a great AA game, which simply has tried way too hard to surpass its AAA counterparts. And if it stuck to its core gameplay and refined its mainline features, then it could have been regarded as one of the greatest co-op games out there. But unfortunately, the developer has decided to pursue so many auxiliary features, that it has spread the title at hand so thinly, that it is borderline see-through. But if you don’t mind depressingly meticulous teammates, or playing with bots, then you will get dozens, if not hundreds of hours of playtime out of Warhammer: Vermintide 2, as the title at hand has so much content that it could last you for weeks, if not months to come.



Author

Kamil

My name is Kamil, and I'm the 'Feature Man'. I write news, and reviews just like everybody else, however, feature articles are my true forte. And this is not because I'm another self-centered, pseudo-intellectual games journalist, but because there are many discussion worthy matters which go unnoticed in the flurry of other video-game related articles. If you want to read more of my #HotTakes and #Opinions, or if you simply want to fight me over the internet, you can follow me on Twitter @Kama_Kamilia.