I’ve always thought Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide did a lot for the Skaven’s image. What were once an unconvincing race of miniature rat folk, are now as horrifying as an entire horde of zombies.
Vermintide is a Left 4 Dead style game with a fantasy coat of paint. You and a band of merry adventurers are trying to stave off a vermin invasion as the city of Ubersreik desperately tries to survive. All the while, special types of enemies will occasionally spawn to hamper your progress, including the ripped colossus that is the Rat Ogre. It certainly fills a niche that Turtle Rock Studios and Valve left behind.
As awesome as it all sounds, it took me an embarrassing amount of time to get into. I’d never been into classic tabletop Warhammer. The bleak sci-fi of Warhammer 40k struck more of a chord with me (though that’s probably because Games Workshop were going through a phase of introducing the Tau and Necrons the year I played it). Vermintide, from the outside, just looked like what happens when Warhammer has a bit of a rat problem. Out of all the races that would be causing the end times, why are we focusing on the rats? But it managed something striking with those rodents: it made Skaven terrifying.
Through their sheer numbers, the more dangerous agents of the Skaven race can hide in plain sight. Gutter Runners leaping onto stragglers from the shadows, Packmasters hoisting a friend away from the rest of the party with his extendable litter-picker, the Globadier firing off toxic blobs to limit where you can go. And then there’s the roar of the Rat Ogre as it bounds towards you. In miniature figures, Skaven look a bit silly, but there’s nothing silly about a seven-foot rat punching you in the face.