Warhammer: Vermintide Has Promise, But Hasn't Yet Capitalized On It

By Published March 22, 2015 at 9:00 am

Having played Fatshark Games’ Warhammer: End of Times - Vermintide, I’m left conflicted. I played the miniatures game for years -- spending untold fortunes on it -- and the idea of a game set in an Imperial (the largest Human faction) city falling victim to a mass uprising of the rat-like Skaven sounds fun and exciting. Even more interesting is the idea of a game following the events that occur simultaneously in the miniatures game, as is the case with Vermintide.

The game follows the fate of one unfortunate city, attempting to endure the Warhammer universe’s “End of Times” event. Even the details seem to line-up right: a group of four brave souls -- picked from the game’s five classes -- must gather together to defend the city and its remaining inhabitants. Thrilling stuff, really.

But, ultimately, these details and the game’s sharp graphics aren’t enough to cover facts: The game -- in its current, pre-release state -- is more or less Left 4 Dead with fewer features. I did enjoy my time with Vermintide; but the core mechanics of the game, particularly the large hordes of procedurally-generated fodder, really don’t allow one to wander from the L4D comparison: The game allocates an assortment of special and unique baddies in the procedural horde, all trying to stop players from traversing to point B; players are downed and revived in a familiar fashion when overwhelmed; pacing of the game feels almost identical to the L4D level progression.

A few differences stood out, but most were not overly noteworthy. Weapons, for instance, are found and equipped slightly differently than in L4D; they are given out when players survive a mission and can be equipped only in-between levels. The role a character plays in the group is determined by the armament chosen, unlike L4D. Missions themselves are also meant to be more story-focused, with different characters delivering exposition dialogue while they travel.

The game at this time doesn’t give the option for a multiplayer experience like the one that the L4D franchise has given us, so players won’t be able to take control of the mobbish Skaven to taken down other human players. That single detail is the one that makes Vermintide difficult to recommend -- although we often complain about the eagerness with which developers build non-cooperative multiplayer, it really does make sense for Vermintide. The setting is detailed and impressive and everything looks and smells like the warhammer world -- usually limited to plastic and metal figurines -- but we’ll have to watch as development concludes by 2H15.

Currently, the game feels like it should either fully commit to basing itself upon L4D or should diverge paths further; I’m not sure that this middle-ground is going to work.

- Keegan "HornetSting" Gallick.

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