Wednesday, 26 October 2016

A.J Waters' Spoiler-Free Review: Vermintide

Before we start, I’d just like to begin by saying that I am a huge Warhammer fan and have been for more than 20 years. So when I heard that there was this game where you could battle hordes of Skaven (or rat people, to the newbies and heathens), I wanted in! What’s great about this game is that it’s enjoyable whether you’re a fan of Warhammer or not! However, like all games, it is not without its faults. Let’s get the shit stuff out of the way first and end on a high!

Now, as you may have heard, this game’s mechanics is very similar to those of the killer zombie franchise Left 4 Dead, where you and a group of friends are thrown into the thick of it and are asked to clear the way of baddies and work as a team to complete the objective. Vermintide is exactly that, straight up - Balls deep into the action with plenty of firepower to make an 80s action movie. With that being said, here are the negatives.

Now, as a multiplayer game, you really do need to be careful about who you have on your team. Ideally, you're going to want a group of friends (or reliable gamers in your online friends list who actually have the game), so that there can be an open line of communication, utilising the “team” element as much as possible. If not, you will run the risk of being thrown into a game via the matchmaking process in which you may well be paired with idiots.

This, of course, isn’t the game’s fault by any means, it’s most likely a result of poor parenting. However, it’s pretty much the same outcome if you don’t have any friends to play with or if the matchmaking system doesn’t pair you up with anybody, because they will, instead, just give you a team of AI bots, which – in all fairness to the developers – fucking suck. I mean, seriously. Don’t get me wrong, they know how to swing a sword, but when it comes to reviving/saving you, they just stand and stare like twisted voyeurs who seem to get off on your suffering.

However, that being said, at least when a loot rat turns up, and you spend the best part of three minutes trying to kill the fucker only to then get a strangle rat lassoing you, the AI won’t steal your hard-earned loot before attempting to revive you. On that, another point altogether. Loot isn’t shared. This is a bit of a piss-take. Potions and bombs and shit seem to be in good supply for everyone, but when it comes to loot dice (a mechanic that gives you a greater chance of scoring better prizes in the post-mission screen), it’s first come first served, no matter who opened the chest, killed the boss, killed the loot rat etc. So if you’re down, everyone can just steal the shit before letting you up, which is fucking bullshit.

Also, now I may be alone in this, but as far as I can tell, each character seems to be pretty much the same thing, only with a different skin. Don’t get me wrong - they're great characters and a lot of fun to play, but from what I can make out, none is particularly different to the other as far as damage, range, accuracy, strength et cetera, which is weird because you’d image the mage would take less damage than your “tank” character and what have you (I know, I’m being racist).

So far, though, that doesn’t seem to be the case. I mean, even the blunderbuss (with its wide crosshairs, indicating inaccuracy) seems to hit stuff pretty well at a distance. I dunno, maybe it’s just me. So really, it doesn’t matter which character you get left with in a multiplayer game, chances are there isn’t anything it can do that others can’t or vice versa. All in all, everybody wins.

Another thing this game needs is a pin-down failsafe. We get it, that when an assassin jumps on you or if a strangle rat lassos you, you want to have the other players come and save you before you can do anything as you’re left helpless or “pinned down”. That being said, after a suitable amount of time, you should be able to free yourself (with a health penalty or something, to keep it fair) because as mentioned before, AI players or certain real players (read: dicks) will not come and save you. Instead they'll leave you to bleed out, die, forcing you to start over again (which is apparently your fault, even though it’s their job to come and save you. Funny that, innit?).

Now, to the good points!

The story is simple. You’re the Empire, Skaven are in your town and you want them to fuck off. No messing around. It's kill, kill, kill! I love it! I mean, don’t get me wrong, they do seem to throw in the odd conversation between the characters to try and give these mundane heroes a backstory that no one could give two fucks about. We can’t blame them for trying. The baddies are great in this game, too. They haven’t strayed away from the original monsters which I love! You have your normal foot soldiers and gutter-runners, assassins (the pricks who can pin you down), slave masters (that can lasso you, the pricks), ogres (which are rat monsters on steroids and act as their tanks, the pricks), and plenty of others that I will leave for you to find out for yourselves (the pricks).

Your characters, as much as they don’t particularly differ as far as abilities go, have a great array of weapons too! Each character has a melee weapon as well as a long-range ouch-maker for good measure, plus the opportunity to find/forge better weapons and armour. That combined with the levelling system give this game a great sense of accomplishment and goal making to keep you interested.

You get the choice of doing story mode, so you can do levels in order and such, or there’s just the quick game option so that you can get thrown in anywhere at whatever difficulty level you want with your mates and ting. Despite its issues, I also like the post-game looting system where you get to roll dice to find out how good your reward is. Plus, the forging mechanic is good fun and keeps you invested as far as farming goes.

All in all, this is a great game to be had if you and some friends just wanna unwind, have a laugh and spill some blood. It’s definitely more of a social game than one to be binged and the buttons are so easy (and the storyline unmemorable, in a good way) that you can literally leave the game for ages and come back to it without getting enraged and confused. The only thing I would add, is that there is no map or objective marker system, so prepare yourself to walk around in circles in the sewers for a bit.

Definitely worth the price tag (a first for Games Workshop, amirite?). Just make sure you have a reliable team to really get the most out of this game, otherwise it will just leave a sour taste in your mouth.

Aaron's Spoiler-Free Review - 7/10 – Good, but don’t go it alone.


AJ Waters is a pulp fiction writer from Kent in England, who specialises in horror and flash fiction. With a novella in the works, AJ Waters is an up & comer in the British pulp scene.

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