Warhammer: Vermintide II – Hands-on with the Beta
With just a day left until launch, Fatshark’s sequel, Warhammer: Vermintide II, has many players chomping at the bit for more Skaven slaying action. Several hours were spent taking in all that the beta had to offer. While limited in scope, it gave a good overview of what someone can expect in this chapter of the series.
The Skaven are back in their innumerable glory, and this time, they brought allies. The legions of Chaos join the fray in this installment adding new mechanics, new enemies, and even more of the bleak struggle the heroes face. Hordes of enemies still swarm with Chaos Marauders adding to the ranks of the rat men. Fans of the original will see the return of the Packmaster, the Gutter Runner, and the Globadier. Adding to the Skaven ranks are the Warpfire Thrower – similar to the ratling gunner but with a warpfire flamethrower, and the Stormfiend – An armored Rat Ogre armed with the same, insidious weapon.
Chaos is a new addition this time around and for those familiar with the lore, the presence of the Chaos God Nurgle is no surprise. What was shocking, at least the first time I encountered one, was how imposing a Chaos Warrior is. Towering over the player, these brutes can take a beating and are surprisingly quick for their size. The presence of these and the Chaos Sorcerer force even more coordination between players, even on easier difficulties. Chaos seems to, at least from my limited time with it, use a different strategy than the Skaven. This seems to break the game tempo and force changes in strategy.
A welcome change in Warhammer: Vermintide II is the Spawn Director system. This system seems to be randomly generated within set parameters to change every playthrough and make each one challenging and unique. While the map may remain the same, the enemy spawns and formations will vary greatly. On my third run through the Temple of Sigmar, I was caught off guard when I went to the location where a cannon is used to open the path to the next section of the level, only to be greeted by the shrieks of a Chaos Spawn. Suffice to say we did not get much further. Even in that defeat, it was engaging because there are no memorizing patterns for a mission. This combined with the mix of enemy types and varied terrain will likely make for some entertaining, and possibly frustrating playthroughs.
Returning to the Skittergate, are Victor Saltzpyre, Kerrilian, Markus Kruber, Sienna Fuegonasus, and Bardin Goreksson. The same characters who you love or love to hate, are back but this time with some added surprises. The new career paths and talent systems add more variety of play. The broader spectrum of weapons allows for more customization. Though limited in beta, the crafting system seemed to be reminiscent of the original while being streamlined. The ability to change appearances of items adds to this level of customization and while purely speculative, I expect to see some cosmetic options for the characters. Mod Support is listed on the official site so odds are there will be an active community working with it.
The one question I always have about these style games is “how does the content remain fresh and interesting?” The Heroic Deeds system answers that question with relative ease. Special scenarios and unique trials accessed through a consumable quest system. From limitations on abilities and weapons to odd mission objectives, you never know what you may face. The enemy types and numbers will be widely varied and even less predictable than in standard missions. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. These challenges are for those who feel they have mastered all that Vermintide 2 has to offer.
First impressions are always subjective, but this left me wanting more. In a good way. It was challenging without feeling unbalanced. The unforgiving nature of these types of games lends to playing with friends, so if that is an option, I recommend it. In game voice chat is included in the game. So is an option to mute it if you prefer to use a different communication type. Overall, Vermintide 2 is beautifully done and I look forward to seeing what post-launch brings.
Warhammer: Vermintide II is scheduled for release on March 8, 2018, and is available on Steam, XBox One, and PlayStation 4.