Rats! We have a hit on our hands.
I recall the days of the 360, and one of my ultimate favorite games and experiences. It was Left 4 Dead. Zombies and co-op was just such a refined experience, and unlike anything I’d played prior. It wasn’t so much about the story or zombies in itself, but the team work that was required. Warhammer Vermintide is an experience that pretty much mirrors the core elements of that franchise, almost scarily so.
At first, I was a bit taken aback by this actually. Then on second thought, I reminded myself “How often do we get an experience like Left 4 Dead?” the answer is almost never. So it brings a huge smile to my face to say that Vermintide takes me back to those days, and with it a slightly new spin on that gameplay style.
Price I’d Pay: $39.99
Multiplayer: 1-4 co-op
How long to beat: 8+ hours
Rats are everywhere
The idea and story behind Vermintide isn’t what will push players to finish the game. It’s ultimately a story about a great plague of rats, coming to take over the world. Might sound a bit silly, but it works. There are little story elements before the levels start, which are broken into 3 acts of 4 levels apiece. It’s up to our band of characters to work together and stop the swarm of rats overcoming the city. The hub of the game takes place in an inn. This is used as a home base. This is where players can do searches for other games hosted, create private matches, use the forge, and equip new armor, weapons, and trinkets. While it’s possible to play Vermintide alone with AI bots, who actually do a decent job at helping, this is a game made for online friends and community. That said, it does require an online connection to play regardless of playing alone or not.
Once a mission is selected, players will traverse huge levels, defending themselves from swarms of rats. From small fodder, rats with swords and armor, or even giant mutated rats that are reminiscent of tanks from that other game. There will be a ton of enemies on screen at times too. I was impressed that the system performance seemed to keep up with the chaos on display.
In a nutshell, levels play out very similar in fashion to Left 4 Dead. Players work through the levels, sometimes needing to complete objectives like carrying explosives to a wall, or bringing sacks of food to a carriage. The huge focus on this title is with melee combat though. Yes, each character does have ranged weapons, but ammo is extremely limited, so melee is going to be the focus. In a way it reminds me of Left 4 Dead meets Diablo. The 5 character classes, from a dwarf to a mage, are the typical cast of characters to play as, and most come off feeling rather similar aside from a few minor differences.
Of course there are more reasons this feels like Valve’s prior zombie co-op game. Moving to far away from the group can lead to trouble, as one enemy type can pin players down. If a player goes down, reviving is required. Fail to do so and they end up tied up and needing rescue, usually in a nearby area. When away from characters and not in view, a green silhouette displays where they are, so special awareness of where teammates are is possible. Reading all this, if my comment about this being like Left 4 Dead hasn’t set in yet, it’s pretty damn clear at this point it was a huge inspiration.
An unexpected blast
This is a port of a PC game released about a year ago. Sadly, I’ve hardly heard any talk about this game prior to it releasing on consoles or even know when it released. Which is a real shame, as Vermitide is a great co-op experience. It’s fun alone and competent enough to play through, but with online folks or friends it’s even better, and where the experience truly shines. The dark fantasy Warhammer atmosphere comes through in the visual department. The AI can be hit and miss at times, but it’s better than I expected. I do think the enemy variety is a bit lacking, but I get it, it’s a theme for the game. Getting into games is quick and fast, even when doing random searches. The loot is a bit of a hit and miss as sometimes a run reveals very little, though I hear it’s being updated in the near future for better drops.
As is, and at the price of $39.99, this is an experience that fans of loot based, co-op, fantasy games need to check out. With 3 Acts, and all DLC levels included from the PC version, there is plenty to keep players busy; add in the loot and the online aspects and there is a game that has quite a high level of replayabilty.
Favorite moment: Various moments of chaos defending myself from the Rat horse. Gets the adrenaline going!
Worst moment: The AI of bots sometimes is lacking.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.