Wot I Think: Warhammer End Times – Vermintide

Left 4 Dead with Skaven. That was surely the elevator pitch for Fatshark’s Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide [official site] and the game, now released, hews fairly close to that mash-up. Four players, each taking on the role of a specific character, must fight their way through swarms of Skaven, including special variants, to achieve objectives that vary from one level to the next.

At first glance it’s all very familiar. At second and third glance there’s little to change that initial judgement. I’ve been glancing for days though and can report that Vermintide does have its own identity. Here’s wot I think.

When I first started playing, I made some notes. The thrust of that initial critical appraisal was fairly damning; an investigation into all the ways that Vermintide reminded me of Left 4 Dead’s finer qualities. Mainly, I missed the wonderful audio cues that allow me to orient myself and prepare for whatever horror is approaching when playing Turtle Rock’s co-op masterpiece. For all the blood, gore and apparent chaos, Left 4 Dead’s world is always legible.

Indeed, one of the smarter aspects of a very smart game is the way in which character- and world-building go hand in hand with environmental awareness. Characters communicate personality traits even as they’re providing vital information about things that are happening around them.

Vermintide attempts something similar. Characters bicker, sing, boast, threaten and jest. They cry for help when pinned to the ground by a deadly foe and glory in their own victories when they rescue a teammate. When a character spots a health potions or other usable item, they make its presence known. There’s an attempt to provide the same awareness of enemy approaches and item locations as is evident in Left 4 Dead, but everything in Vermintide feels muddier and messier.

That sense of murkiness has persisted but I’ve learned to pick out the details. Perhaps its the increased reliance on melee combat, which combines hacking with blocking and shoving to good effect, but I often fail to scan the rooftops and treelines. I’m more concerned with separating nearby ratkin limbs from their owners than picking off truly dangerous enemies before they can launch their poisonous assaults. I’ve become more accustomed to detecting the assassin-rats that stalk in the shadows and attack from above, but I’m still something of a liability on higher difficulty levels.

Indeed, my first few attempts at the opening level of the campaign left me cursing my own ineptitude. The random online folks I played with seemed to know every beat of the game, treating the stage as a thing to be conquered in record time and with maximum efficiency rather than an experience to share. That ties into the biggest difference between Vermintide and Left 4 Dead – in this world of Warhammer, there is a loot system, persistent unlocks attached to your characters for all time, and playing well is the best way to increase your chances of receiving a good loot drop.

The loot system, already divisive on message boards and in-game, encourages multiple playthroughs of each area, as well as a gradual ascent through difficulty levels. You receive your loot – which generally either provides buffs or entirely new attack types – at the end of the level and precisely what you end up with depends on several factors. Every possible reward falls into a colour-coded tier and dice are rolled to tally up your winnings – the higher the difficulty, the greater the possible reward, but your actions within a level also determine the odds of a grand prize. Tomes and grimoires hidden (sometimes in plain sight, sometimes on a detour) on certain levels can be collected and, if carried to the end, provide extra rolls and better dice.

If all of this sounds like the kind of design that’s determined to press your nose to the grindstone, Vermintide’s long-game might not be for you. I’m in two minds about it. On the one paw, there’s enough variety in the levels that playing my favourites on a cycle doesn’t feel too repetitive, and I’m enjoying the core of the game enough to be happy with a little repetition. But then I dislike the mindset that the loot system breeds. Forget the rats shagging in the sewers and scurrying up your plugholes, Vermintide’s true horror is the ruthlessness of its playerbase. If you’re not contributing toward a superior haul of loot, you might as well be ratfood.

In that sense, it’s a very different experience to Left 4 Dead. For all the similarities – and several of the special skaven types are L4D’s zombies in fursuits – Vermintide’s addition of persistent character builds that grow across playthroughs really is a game-changer. Although occasionally frustrating, the loot system is an integral part of the game. I love the way it dishes out loot for characters other than the one I’m playing as, which has led me to switch from my favoured Witch Hunter, and even given me a grudging respect for the dwarf.

Of course, some people want to perfect their playstyle with a single character and consider the discovery of loot for anyone but their chosen to be a waste of time and effort. I can understand that, even if it’s not how I feel. The idea that playing through a level can be a waste of time if the wrong loot drops at the end does speak to a larger problem though – surely everyone should be playing to have a good time rather than to shake a slot machine in the hope that the jackpot will trigger?

It’s odd to play with people who treat the act of killing skaven, and the teamwork involved, as little more than a means to an end. I prefer to enjoy the near-misses and fuck-ups that naturally occur whenever four people play together, rather than striving for perfection at all times.

Thankfully, that’s possible. There’s enough variety across the thirteen levels to many a mini-story, from claustrophobic close quarters sewer-running to the organised scouring and cleansing of city blocks, and combat is meaty and weighty. From that initial sense of slightly disappointed deja vu, I’ve grown to admire Vermintide for its own qualities. Tactically, it’s more open to clever tricks (and exploits) than L4D ever was, and more inventive in its objectives. I enjoy finding a piece of loot that changes my feelings about a character and now that I’ve decided to avoid the too-competitive cooperation of the wider online community, I’m finding it easier to find a pace that suits my laidback approach. It should also be said that, for all its intentional ugliness, this is the most attractive rendition of the Warhammer Fantasy world I’ve ever seen.

Sadly, there are bugs as well as rats. Actually, I’m not sure that referring to the issues I’m having as ‘bugs’ is entirely accurate, they may just be connectivity issues. The game has dropped more than once just as I’ve finished a level, however, cutting me off from any loot I might have gathered, which is particularly galling when it occurs at the end of a run where you’ve managed to lug a grimoire through ratty hell. There have been several extended maintenance periods since launch and hopefully that’ll go some way toward fixing the problems. It’s also frustrating that while bots are available to fill empty squad slots, there’s no offline mode at all.

It’s a shame that the skaven act so much like zombies rather than having their own distinct traits. But if Vermintide can act as the catalyst for a trend whereby at least one in every three zombie games is now a Skaven game instead, it will have served a wondrous purpose. The ‘tide’ suffix is excuse enough to have hordes of ratbeasts running mindlessly through the streets and it could happily be attached to ‘Daemon’, ‘Corpse’ or ‘Green’. That said, ‘Greentide’ sounds like an off-brand toilet cleaner so perhaps that one would need a bit of a rethink.

Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide is out now.

97 Comments

  1. Thurgret says:

    Did you try playing with a coordinated group at all? There are seven people on my Steam friends list with the game, three of which were added because of the game.

    On that note, there’s VOIP in-game, but you have to enable it from the options menu, and I’ve never encountered anyone in a random group using it, and the people I play with all use Mumble.

  2. Premium User Badge

    DantronLesotho says:

    The logo on Steam for some reason made me think that the name of this game was “Vermintude”, and now it’s all I can see.

    “Rats got you down? Take ’em on with your vermintude!”

    • TonyB says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one continually getting the name wrong, “Vermintude” seems have got hardwired into my brain now and it takes serious effort to not say that when talking about the game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      I keep reading it as Vermintrude, a character from the grim and gritty Magic Roundabout reboot nobody wanted.

  3. mcnostril says:

    It should be mentioned that killing skaven feels incredibly satisfying. It’s got weight and sound, a far cry from L4D’s paper zombies. It feels like a Vlambeer game when you punch stuff (hell, just hitting walls in the inn has a satisfying thunk).

  4. Xzi says:

    A rather short article. I’m surprised there was no mention of the combat differences between characters and weapons. Timing, style, or otherwise. One of the best improvements over Left4Dead, IMO. Also worth mentioning that as your weapons improve in quality (IE from green to blue), they change in how they look and sound. Impressive attention to detail in that regard.

    • ShinySpoons says:

      I don’t even own this game but the WOT seemed to be “I’d rather be playing a single player and not a co-op game but I need to write something down for this”

      Would have been nice if someone on the team who wanted to play the game for the game’s sake vs it being Warhammer wrote the Wot.

  5. Carlos Danger says:

    Seems like a minimally viable review, with about 1-2 hours put into it.

    Game deserves better imo.

    • Y2Kafka says:

      I don’t want this to come off as harsh…

      Why don’t you tell us what you thought of the game? I think we can tell you like it but why? I haven’t played it, but you should throw in your two cents instead of ignoring other’s opinions and casting them off claiming they “didn’t play enough”.

      (No but seriously, a few ideas on why you think it’s good would be appreciated.)

      • vahnn says:

        All the things you just said should be directed at the writer of this review. He said in his comment what he thought the review lacked: any thoughts at all in the differences in play styles between the 5 characters, and how that is the biggest improvement over Left4Dead.

        I’m totally in agreement with OP. He touched on a few points of this game, but beyond “a someday disappointing reskin of of l4d,” he doesn’t talk in much detail at all about the biggest differences. Besides the loot system.

      • lobstilops says:

        Hey.

        I’ll mention a little bit of what I like if you don’t mind. I hope it may help your thoughts on the game. The review hits a lot of points I think people wanted to know about. But I’ll add my own two cents if you will.

        I like the loot system. I think it adds a bit more gravity to each level. It makes losing the level feel more disappointing (as opposed to L4D for example) because there’s a reward we’ve now gone and lost. But I’ve never had anyone be upset and begrudge other players if we do end up losing. I feel we all silently acknowledge that our asses were handed to by rats, and we may try again or move on to different parties. I have only played with random people (no friends bought it, lol).

        The combat feels really nice, as others have said. And the differences in heroes is a big bonus over L4D. I’ve started to appreciate each class for its strengths and weaknesses. I’ve played mostly the dwarf ranger and the bright wizard. I love the power of the bright wizard as long as you keep yourself in check. The meter you’re given for your staff will fill up quickly (you can press R to ‘cool off’ but will take damage if it is about 1/3 of the bar), so micromanaging your staff and fending off the skaven definitely takes some getting used to. The dwarf ranger has been really neat as well. I mainly use his axes and I use a high damage rifle that is perfect for picking off special rats that inhibit my teammates.

        I enjoy the ways the rats can attack you. The way the hordes come at you is extremely confusing at times. Even when we team up and try and protect all our sides, rats tend to come jumping down from ledges, climb up/down and out of small crevices. You really have to stay on your toes to avoid the hordes that come from all angles. This is a big key to the difficulty. Is players not paying attention (like said in the review) to rooftops or from behind them. But this awareness comes in time. You learn more and more to carefully monitor your surroundings and avoid damage. Also in the two higher difficulty settings (nightmare/cataclysm) friendly fire is enabled for ranged/explosives. So clumping together and spamming ranged attacks is a much less viable approach, and focus is mainly on melee combat.

        As other things not mentioned in the review, there is a forge. You can combine 5 items of a certain rarity and it will create a new one, bumping it up a rarity. Like the dice rolls, these items tend to be randomized, so you do get a lot of items not for your specific classes. But I’ve found many useful items for my dwarf ranger and bright wizard in my playtime (who I play the most). And a few for other classes.

        As far as a “loot grind” with people only playing certain maps, yeah I guess you could argue that. There seems to be more lobbies of certain maps (black powder, horn of magnus for example) but a lot of variety still. I find a lot of people going for the tomes and grimoires (tomes take up a healing item slot but can be dropped and re-picked up to heal, grimoires cut all players health by about 25% and cannot be dropped, 3 tomes per map, 2 grimoires per map) which I don’t mind. It makes the level more challenging (especially on hard or higher) but the risk is there for the reward. I have also found many parties who don’t want to pick up tomes/grimoires and would rather complete the level. I do not see this huge grind-fest that everyone is talking about. But that has been my experience so far.

        Anyway, if you have any other questions I’ll try to answer. I’m having a ton of fun with the game, it does feel like a spiritual successor to L4D. The gritty-ness of the combat reminds me of Chivalry. I think the game has combined many aspects to create a unique experience.

        I’ve only beaten about 3 missions on hard so far with random people. It has definitely been a challenge, I look forward to the higher difficulties. I have 18 hours logged so far if that matters, and I’m around level 16.

    • Bull0 says:

      Does feel a bit perfunctory.

    • MisterFurious says:

      “Seems like a minimally viable review, with about 1-2 hours put into it.

      Game deserves better imo.”

      WWWAAAHHHH!!!! Someone said something bad about a game I like!!! They’re just a stupid dummy poo poo head! WWWAAAHHH!!!

    • Syra says:

      The review does feel a little light. I’ve been playing since beta and I’ve reached the depths but I’ve also brought new players in. The game has me hooked as much as l4d ever did, which is to say it’s great but I’m not really hooked – it plays with the same feeling. Things that could have been mentioned:

      I agree with the reviewer in that it is murkier and the silhouettes of friendlies can be hard to make out sometimes, but the art style over all is great and for a warhammer fan it is an excellent and faithful adaptation.

      The combat feels great, it’s weighty and it’s always consistently predictable, you don’t feel like you’ve been screwed by the vermin but rather that your skill wasn’t up to it. There’s some depth to the dodge block and push mechanics with multiple attack modes and combo swings for most weapons.

      These tomes and grimoires mentioned in the review to increase loot chance are a trade off, times take the place of healing items in inventory and grimoires reduce maximum health for the entire party by a third. Two grimoires available. They should only be picked up by skilled teams!

      People are already farming on hard and above, that’s true, but the difficulty level of the game is set quite high, so new players really need to play normal for the whole campaign and maybe repeat a few maps before they even attempt harder modes. You learn a lot while playing, and it’s a happy go lucky game on normal, though a challenging one, so you shouldn’t encounter too much ‘lets get it perfect’ farming behaviour.

      The community is struggling right now because there’s a real an clear skill gap between new players and experienced ones, and people get very upset in higher difficulties if a level 0-10 joins and screws them over. This is an actual problem because farmers will get pissed at newbies. They need to restrict difficulties better imo.

      Wall of text over because I need to get back to work but happy to elaborate on any points!

      • Syra says:

        Oh and the audio cues for specials are very very very obvious as with when a horde of enemies is coming. Someone in a comment below ninjad this so go read that.

  6. Stevostin says:

    How’s the soundtrack?

    • SpoiledToast says:

      Soundtrack was done by Jesper Kyd, of Assassin’s Creed 2 fame, and it is really well done.

      • suibhne says:

        I would’ve said “of Hitman 2, Contracts, and Blood Money fame”. ;)

        • rustybroomhandle says:

          I would have said “of Amiga demo scene fame” :D

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            DelrueOfDetroit says:

            So basically what you people are saying is not famous at all.

          • suibhne says:

            Actually quite famous in game music circles. In fact, the Hitman 2 soundtrack even got mainstream press almost 15 years ago for being a fully symphonic affair that, to some media outlets, signaled that videogaming had “arrived”.

            At least off the top of my head, it’s hard to pinpoint a more prominent composer of game music. Soule might be more familiar to gamers, but Kyd has probably gotten more outside recognition.

            That said, his work on Vermintide has little in common with his well-known work on Hitman, AssCreed 2, etc., and is much more atmospheric/ambient.

    • mcnostril says:

      There is no music audio slider though, and the music is loud as all hell on headphones.
      Lovely as the actual tracks are, the lack of a separate volume slider is making me really despise it.

      • suibhne says:

        I play exclusively on headphones and haven’t had that loudness issue, so it’s not universal. That said, it’s frustrating that the music doesn’t have a separate volume slider.

      • Tyrmot says:

        If you look at the patch notes for today (28th):

        Patch 1.0.1.1
        Changelog:
        – Added Music Volume slider

  7. FlipMooMonkey says:

    There’s a fair bit I disagree with in this article but the main one that stands out was the lack of audio clues about what monstrosity was coming for you.

    The audio clues for the specials are very clear to me; the whining cranking of the rattling gunner spooling up, the heavy gas mask wheezing of the globadiers, the rattling clank of the packmaster lugging his stick around or the especially brilliant taunting sibilant whispers of the gutter runners “We strike when their backs are turned”, “Attack from shadows!” etc.

    On top of this you have the unholy roar of an incoming rat ogre to ruin your day, the chittering cry and skittering of a horde of skavenslaves or the marching chant of a stormvermin patrol warning you to stay back unless you’re packing a couple of bombs. It’s anything but unclear to myself.

    Overall the article itself does seem to focus on telling people what Vermintide isn’t or doesn’t do rather than how it actually plays.

    • Xzi says:

      Yeah I’ve never found the audio to be unclear. I missed or didn’t recognize some of the sounds on my first few runs, of course, but once I knew what to listen for I was murdering special rats before they could hurt the team at all.

      • Archonsod says:

        The issue might be the character audio cues. I noticed a few times when they’d helpfully announce they were being targeted by a ratling gunner who was on the other side of a wall, or that there was a globadier nearby several minutes after we’d killed him. Doesn’t help that there’s no real sound controls either, so it’s quite possible to miss the enemy audio cues because they’re drowned out by that bloody dwarf singing.

        • Xzi says:

          Specials are also highlighted when somebody in your party places their crosshairs on them/hits them with a ranged attack. Just gotta stay alert. Sometimes I feel like people want games to play themselves…

          • KDR_11k says:

            Pressing T will tag them immediately. Doesn’t seem to be rebindable in the options though.

        • Syra says:

          Those call outs aren’t for the one you killed it’s for a new one spawning. Character shouts announce them usually as soon as they are in a certain range as far as I can tell, which means they might be behind a building or whatever. sometimes you move past that area and they don’t catch up with you.

    • Thurgret says:

      Absolutely agreed that the audio cues are more than clear enough, whether it’s the noise of the Skaven themselves or even a character calling them out.

      Funnily enough, with the Stormvermin, we’ve found that it’s sometimes better to continue to advance, wait somewhere with a wide open space between you and where they appear to be coming from, and hit them with rifle/crossbow/ fire. We tend to kill most of them before they close in, and it saves us time and probably even health in the long-run, since if you hide too long, you’re risking attacks from other Skaven.

      • Thurgret says:

        The lack of edit function strikes again! I forgot that the comment system would parse out stuff if it decided it was XHTML, hence the blank space after that last /, which was meant to say insert ranged weapon here.

    • socrate says:

      while clear for some other have had sound issues and also sometime you end up missing these cue because the music is so loud or other sound cover it completely…not to mention if people are talking and communicating via voice chat or their VOIP

      Last night we went for cataclysm farm and the sound were constantly hidden by the horde music and us communicating which made it a pain to do

      • ShinySpoons says:

        I feel “we were talking over the audio cues” isn’t a fair complaint of the game…

  8. Greg Wild says:

    Waaarghtide.

  9. SMGreer says:

    A fair assessment overall but I must say I’m finding a heck of a lot to enjoy about this game.

    The variety of missions is definitely one of its strongest aspects, something I think it actually manages better than L4D where certain missions can blur together.

    I also think the Skaven are a lot less zombie-like than the review states, watching them cower or re-group brings them to life with a lot of character. And the way they climb over everything in droves is great at putting you on edge, as you watch dozens upon dozens of them dropping down all around you.

    Its a lot of fun, very replayable and brings a lot of its own strengths to the L4D co-op table. It’s certainly better played with friends, the higher difficulties are nigh-on impossible with uncoordinated strangers.

    • socrate says:

      The thing is the skaven just have different animation then the zombie but they still tend to use the same dumb ass AI and that doesn’t change on higher difficulty they will cower a bit but they won’t run away unless their special infected trying to go away just to get a better shot at you the normal one just cower and then jump you which is what zombie did in if you didn’t get too close or shine your flashlight on them…the special are pretty much slightly modified at best from the special infected in L4D1 also

      I think this game get waaayy too much praise for what it really is..ive played tons of it but i don’t see it as amazing…its ok..the price does help alots really…and even then i got tons of friend that got a refund…don’t expect much out of this other then alots of melee L4D…which is NOT for everyone

  10. Jenks says:

    It’s too bad this doesn’t take place in Lustria, with the Lizardmen fighting a losing war vs the Skaven. It could have ended with the Lizardmen retreating to their temples and then flying them into space.

    • KDR_11k says:

      What? We can’t have a game about non-human protagonists, who’s gonna identify with them?

      • LionsPhil says:

        You joke, but to take Guild Wars 2 for an example, over half the players are human or big-human (Norn). 70% if you count the Sylvari, who are at least a bit tree. Most people don’t want to be the little gretchiny things or the warcats.

        There’s a depressing reason why so much media injects a generic brown-haired white male as a central focus to anchor the world to.

        • ShinySpoons says:

          The issue with guild wars 2 non human characters were they went with “weird” vs “sexy” :P

  11. Walsh says:

    It isn’t obvious to me but uh how do you play in campaign mode? I go to the inn, look at the map and it gives me 5 places to pick from or to choose random map.

    • suibhne says:

      There is no “campaign mode”. There are several “Acts”, which give access to a new of missions, but there’s no predefined or canonical order in which most of those missions are played. There is, however, a difference between main story missions and side missions, and they’re represented by different icons on the map.

  12. suibhne says:

    I have mixed feelings about the game overall, but it’s an easy recommendation if you like L4D-style co-op. It nails that co-op gameplay, with vastly better combat. The loot meta-game can easily be disregarded if you play with friends, and the price is right (exactly half as much as a typical “AAA” game these days).

    This was an oddly perfunctory review for RPS. Other posters have pointed out key omissions, but another one is the absolutely execrable state of the bot AI. In their current state, they’re even worse than L4D2’s bots…which I never would’ve imagined possible. And Adam opines the lack of offline play without noting that you can easily play alone with bots, which makes the bot AI even more relevant. (And also makes the loot meta-game even more questionable, because it’s ostensibly the sole reason that this “single-player” approach has to be online.)

    • XxBrentos9xX says:

      I wish they would just put in some computer code that told the AI “Ally is in trouble, RESCUE NO MATTER WHAT”

      Quite frustrating getting murdered 5 feet away from a bot who is admiring the nearby wall

      • suibhne says:

        Yeah, the bots are absolutely rage-inducing. Fatshark actually made them dumber during the pre-release beta period, so I’m hoping they’re able to fix some of the worst idiocy pretty quickly. In the game’s current state, however, I strongly recommend against a purchase for anyone who doesn’t have a group of friends ready to join.

        • Archonsod says:

          It’s not just the bots – pathfinding as a whole seems borked. In the time I spent with it I saw numerous Skaven stuck on scenery (which often prompts the bots to simply stand there) and at least one rat ogre who spent it’s fairly short life running in a small circle. Then there’s ratling gunners targetting people behind walls, gutter runners getting stuck climbing up and down walls and at least one regiment of stormvermin who marched lemming-like over the edge of a roof. We ended up just going back to Payday2.
          It’s a shame really because there’s a nugget of a good game in there. I went for a refund in the end – I’m betting it’ll be available with a decent discount by the time they’ve managed to get it into a decent state.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Can’t even yell at them like in Payday.

      • derbefrier says:

        the AI is absolutely terrible. Even a bunch of fresh off the boat noobs are better than the AI.

    • socrate says:

      All good point..i would point out that also the special skaven are pretty much if not almost exactly the same as L4D which to me is kind of a bummer i would have loved to see more different one and new idea going into that.

      A big problem i have is no alternate route,you always end up in these corridor or lane…their not fun in L4D i could cut through a house or a field sometime or other place…in this it all feel extremely samey other then the few map that are about collecting resource and bringing them back…but these are essentialy big circle with tons of path all over the place and not really a well designed map.

      I would also say that people that says combat is elaborate are crazy…don’t think this is warband or dead island…the combat is extremely simplistic with small attack and charged attack and on melee you can block and push(kick basically)..i really don’t think this is a really great melee fps compared to what as been done its actually hard to target specific spot which really don’t matter in the end because other then head shot you don’t go for any specific spot like the L4D swat guys the biggest change in fighting style would be the bright wizard ranged weapon…other then that its either burst alt fire or aimed shot with other class.

      I do have to say i find the mission short and a bit samey…the objective are pretty much the same as L4D…there isn’t anything clever done which is a big bummer for me..i would have loved also to have different section of a mission instead of just doing it in one go…it somehow feels…not that great to accomplish what they ask you too.

      The loot i would have to say even with a premade is needed on cataclysm…orange are massively powerful compared to white and give you insane advantage not to mention relic which can be quite powerful or totally useless…but i still hate loot…i think it ruins tons of stuff about a L4D game…the accomplishment of doing a cataclysm map was really awesome only to end up rolling horrible RNG and getting a green is just not acceptable or even blue for that matter.

      Another problem with loot is that people do the same map over and over again since they are wayyyyy easier or faster…so you end up with a grind game instead of a game where people try to accomplish something hard for the pure pleasure of…well playing and accomplishement.

      Like someone said also the community(me included) can be a bit elitist and harsh which is not really a good thing but…i mean who wants to carry someone in bad gear…i tried and its…its just harder…quite harder…

      • KDR_11k says:

        That kinda makes it sound like a step down from Payday 2…

    • Kitsunin says:

      Yeah, as someone in Southeast Asia, I couldn’t matchmake into “near” games. I tried creating a game for myself and by god, that AI. If you can’t create an AI which is capable of playing as well as a human, the least you can do is make their #1 priority making things easy for the human player.

  13. XxBrentos9xX says:

    I have to disagree with the player base thoughts. I loved L4D and L4D2 on the PC and played it for probably around 150 hours. A year later I picked up a copy for my 360 since I had a friend living with me at the time, and thought it would be fun to play together. It was incredibly un-fun unless we just played campaign or something, since the player-base was absolutely dreadful. Everybody and their dog tries to vote kick someone for something, several times a match, as well as people leaving the game constantly. 80% of the time I found myself wanting to rush ahead and help my teammates (which would result in a kick even though I was waiting at the top of the stairs) or I would get pounced and be kicked because… because. I haven’t been that angry playing a game in a long while.

    • socrate says:

      it depends on the difficulty you’re playing if you rush on higher difficulty you get kicked at least in my book..harder difficulty end up being for people who want the best loot and run around with 4 bar of health and risk 30 min of waste of time…with no safehouse to restart near and an extremely linear path more so then L4D you end up with having to be extremely careful…if you or your friend rush then don’t play higher difficulty…loot in this game made this waaaay more serious then just a fun run in L4D…which is a good and bad thing really..i personally think its bad just because of the aweful RNG they use

  14. Blastaz says:

    Would be nice to see fat shark pull it off finally but they always make their games too grindy and have pretty bad connectivity issues.

    Doesn’t sound like that has changed. Still I wonder how they will deal with being steam popular…

  15. klops says:

    Grey and green – my favourite colours after grey and brown.

  16. Unclepauly says:

    Not fazed by the review. Game still looks fun to me.

  17. Duke of Chutney says:

    Good words Adam, I haven’t experienced the competence drive yet, whether this is because I am ok at it, or always join groups of people equally bad i don’t know.
    I agree that its not as clean a design as Left4Dead. Valve have an ability to really polish the refine the player experience so you always know what the game designer wants you to do. Though I actually like the greater frustration here, it feels a bit more immersive and bit less of a game. My main criticism is that perhaps they stayed a bit too close to the formula to l4d.

    • KDR_11k says:

      I find the extreme similarity to L4D really stands out after playing a bunch of Pay Day 2 which already seemed like heavily L4D based but still has many more differences. The specials in VT are paced like in L4D (only one rat ogre/tank per map!) and act very much like their L4D equivalents (PD2’s equivalents have more differences than that, e.g. tasers tend to come in pairs and give you a chance to fight them off before your team has to rescue you). The supplies are heavily based on L4D as well.

      • Duke of Chutney says:

        only the rat’lin gun really seems different. The player characters are quite different but the level design takes a lot of pages from l4d too, not all bad as l4d is a good game, but i hope they move away from the formula a bit for future releases.
        Not played payday.

      • FlipMooMonkey says:

        Just a quick point, you can definitely have more than one Rat Ogre per map.

        I believe single Rat Ogres appear on some of the smaller maps or if on easy difficulty but normal or above on the longer ones and it’s possible to get multiple.

  18. KDR_11k says:

    The big bugs I got were crashes when picking up loot dice.

    Maybe I haven’t figured it out but the melee system seems like it’s just “flail around, everything in front dies”. Unless it’s a hammer I guess, then it’s just “swing, kill one, get hit by the five others”. Yes, armored enemies require charged attacks or aiming for the head but they’re relatively rare compared to the masses that you just randomly swipe at and hope to kill before they punch you.

    I mean, ranged combat makes intuitive sense, you kill them before they reach you or they hurt you. But with melee I’m not seeing a real feedback to the crowd combat, you hit them all and sometimes one of them hits you. I’m not getting a sense of what makes the difference between taking a hit and not taking a hit.

    • Xzi says:

      Movement and blocking make the difference, of course. Pressing space while holding A, S, or D allow you to “dash” in one direction or another. Especially helpful while fighting armored rats or rat ogres. It’s all about timing. I’ve made it halfway through missions using only melee before without taking a single hit, so there’s definitely a high skill ceiling.

    • suibhne says:

      Like Xzi says, the skill isn’t in swinging your sword – it’s in combining that with constant dodging, blocking, and shoving. Unskilled players seem to occasionally dodge, rarely block, and never shove, and that’s all the difference right there. The LMB/RMB melee swings aren’t complex, but the entire system is rewarding when you put it together.

      • derbefrier says:

        everyone needs to pick the dwarf play the first level on easy and spend it shoving large groups of rats flying away as you friends chop them in half with power attacks. the shield bearers can also shove armored enemies opening them up for ownage, if your team focuses them down while you are effectively juggling them. playing with a shield is a lot of fun i think. tanking those large packs is fun as hell.

    • mcnostril says:

      Yeah, the harder difficulties aren’t so much about killing things as they are about avoiding hits and properly covering each other during hordes. After a while you realize that all the enemies telegraph their attacks very visibly, it’s just that there’s a lot of them at the same time.
      Dodging and doing combos like shove->hit->dodge to hit and run are essential (I enjoy the teamwork you get with shield bearers blocking and pushing foes while damage classes mop up everyone who is down – it also looks rather cool).
      Stormvermin in particular are brutal in harder difficulties, and if they aren’t brought down with headshots or bombs require some interesting melee dancing (you can sidestep their overhead attack, but not their swipe for example).
      I suppose even then it gets repetitive, but I find the feel of the melee satisfying enough that doing the dance over and over across a level and reacting to the different horde situations quite fun.

      • suibhne says:

        Sure, it’s not DMC or Revengeance – but with a coordinated team, Vermintide’s combat is vastly more sophisticated than L4D’s. It’s a big step up in that regard, even if it overly apes the formula in other ways.

  19. Melonfodder says:

    “I’m in two minds about it. On the one paw, there’s enough variety in the levels that playing”
    “But then I dislike the mindset that the loot system breeds. Forget the rats shagging in the sewers and scurrying up your plugholes”
    This review was clearly written by a Skaven. Or a furry?

    I’m finding the game incredibly enjoyable, and so does my friend who has well over a thousand hours in L4D2 PvP – and he thinks it’s got a lot of touches that make Vermintides a whole lot superior to L4D2’s PvE. I think I actually prefer it a little bit to the L4D just because it’s not so razorfocus tested – It feels a bit rawer and genuine as a game.

    They need to sort out some performance issues and other polishing though.

  20. epeternally says:

    Performance in this (in terms of CPU optimization, at least) is obscenely bad, it runs worse than Arkham Knight at launch on my setup. Basically if you have an AMD CPU, don’t bother picking it up. I not only meet but exceed the minimum system requirements and it’s still totally unplayable. Unfortunately since I bought it outside of Steam, I can’t pursue a refund.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      Strange. Haven’t had any problems on my AMD chip.

      • Xzi says:

        Possibly an untested/unsupported hardware config? Could just be a GPU driver issue, too.

    • KDR_11k says:

      When I started it (Nvidia card though) it defaulted to minimum quality and I haven’t changed that, runs fine so far. What’s your detail level set to?

      • KDR_11k says:

        Wow, I just checked the system reqs, a GTX 460? That’s some REALLY old stuff, I thought my 650 was old.

        • Xzi says:

          Impressive at the high end of graphics settings, too. I’m happy to see Fatshark with a hit on their hands. I liked Krater, although I understood why people might have their gripes about it.

    • Ergonomic Cat says:

      I have an AMD CPU and haven’t seen any issues at all.

    • Medallish says:

      Have tested this on two systems, one with a 4790k and an FX-9590 haven’t noticed any CPU bottleneck, from what I’ve seen this utilized expecially FX CPU’s quite well, between 75-80%(Meaning it uses up to 6 cores)

  21. LionsPhil says:

    there is a loot system, persistent unlocks attached to your characters for all time

    Dropped.

    Shame, could stand to be more L4D-likes.

    • suibhne says:

      The loot system is 100% ignorable if you buy this for co-op with friends. You can easily complete every map on Hard difficulty with stock equipment. (Nightmare/Cataclysm difficulties might be out of reach with the default gear. But hey, even “Hard” is comparable to L4D2 “Hard”, meaning that it can be quite challenging.)

      • Hell-Nico says:

        And that’s the thing that most of the people criticizing the loot system don’t get : It’s totally dispensable, the gain of power is REALLY marginal and you can do all the constant with basic stuff.

        If your white sword kill the skavens in two blow, the legendary one will still kill them in two blow.

        • suibhne says:

          I don’t doubt there’s some of that. But on both the Steam and Fatshark forums, I’ve seen exactly the opposite – people consistently expressing frustration that Orange loot is necessary for the highest difficulty, but is so hard to achieve due to the randomness of the rolls and inadequate weighting for the currently-played class (which Fatshark claims is 40%, but I couldn’t replicate anywhere close to that with n=about 20). Another repeated complaint (especially by newer or more casual players) is that failure at the end of a long level results in nothing at all, while other people can join a successful run with 30 seconds left and get a full reward.

          The only thing that’s different from L4D in all of this is the fact that L4D has no persistent reward system.

  22. naetharu says:

    Having just finished my first play-session of this I felt compelled to comment on the fur! No idea what they have done but bloomin’ ek it looks amazing.

    My first encounter with a were-rat, him bearing down upon me with the full moon in the background just stunned me with one of the most beautiful bits of visual design in a game I have ever seen. Almost forgot to hit the blighter!

    Anyone else finding the fur somehow more realistic than anything akin to it in other games?

  23. Foosnark says:

    You’ve convinced me to drop it from my Steam wishlist. I don’t play L4D that often and I usually prefer to do it solo anyway over random pickup groups. This sounds a bit too much like doing Warcraft dungeons with random and/or loot-driven people. Meh.

  24. SirDeimos says:

    Well, I’m personally not closing the door on Vermintide just because it has a loot system, but I totally agree that there could stand to be more loot-less games like Left 4 Dead.

    @suibhne, thanks for the info that it can still be ignored on harder difficulties.

  25. gingerbill says:

    I think the game would have been better without loot , within 2 days of playing it had become a loot grind with nobody interested in anything but loot . I hate it when games become like that and it took this game 2 days. It attracts the type of player who thinks loot in a game becomes there life , when nobody seems to be having any fun just collecting stuff.

    Other people have disagreed with the reviewer about sound and visual clue’s but I completely agree with him , compared to L4D they just aren’t as good.

    I think the game itself is decent and good value for money if you enjoy it but I just feel when playing this isn’t as good as L4D and because they are so similar that’s a problem.

    • suibhne says:

      I’m still undecided about the loot meta-game. The RNG is pretty punishing if you don’t play a lot, but the whole shebang can be pretty easily ignored if you’re playing in co-op with buddies (or playing solo with bots, but that’s punishing due to the atrocious bot AI). On the other hand, the pub/pug game has ended up being more frustrating the L4D’s, due partly to the overriding focus on extrinsic reward (the loot rolls) rather than the gameplay experience.

      • Ergonomic Cat says:

        In several console games (Halo in particular comes to mind) you could set preferences for joining games – things like whether you were talkative or quiet, objective focused or kill focused, etc.

        Perhaps a couple prefs like “Loot focused” or “Murdering poor Skaven who ain’t done nuffin’ to you focused.”

        • suibhne says:

          At the very least, I’d like Fatshark to enable a game setting of “default gear only”, with rewards limited to XP only.

  26. Darth Gangrel says:

    “there’s no offline mode at all” That’s one of the things that put me off from playing Diablo 3 (and the initial bugs, Error 47) while I loved Diablo 2. Even more of a dealbreaker, though, is that it all seems so not-singleplayer-focused. Can you play this all by yourself or will your enjoyment be dependent on other people’s “good” moods?

  27. Zergpussy says:

    Hi, i have read different reviews before buying it, and i must say the mere obvious similarities have finally made buy this game. Too much good memories of all the f*** ups with friends we had to laugh about. I go completely with your review considering the community, the challenging loot runs, the need to find players that enjoy it the way you play. Now let me say two things i disagree with you: One is that you can actually use the Forge inside your lobby to fuse items of your desire together, let’s say you get 5 different items of the same quality for a character you don’t want to play. You can fuse them together to get a random of the next higher tear. You only get the a specific type of weapon of the next higher tier, when you fuse five identical weapon types of the same rarity. So it is at least possible to make e.g. Witchhunter gear out of Wizard gear (but that is chained to randomness). Second thing is that the rats DO behave very differently compared to zombies. Sometimes they run away when the are alone, come back when they are joined by more rats, or they try to surround you – or just go for one teammate. There you can jump in and intercept so many. Ok let me say one last thing. If you master dodge, block and push, it’s so rewarding to overwhelm a group of rats without taking any damage, makes you feel like a waco out of Sparta! Best, Zerg. PS: L4D was not fun with strangers at all. Same here. Play with friends!

  28. Hell-Nico says:

    Well that article seem strangly short and without the most basic objectivity.

    It can be pretty much be resumed by :”This is a ripoff L4D and it’s a bad one”, which is false only because you didn’t like the random player you where matched with.

    It’s pretty obvious that you didn’t given the game his chance since you didn’t even talked about the way more satisfying combat compared to L4D.

  29. vegeta1998 says:

    What a lazy review, did you actually play the game? I haven’t and feel no better informed if I should or not.

  30. john_silence says:

    Talk of “objectivity”, the accusation of a “lazy review”, with either incomprehensible syntax or an absurd rhetorical question… I’m sure you boys can do better.