Vermintide 2 Review: Bigger, Better, Bloodier

The day is upon us, loyal denizens of the Empire. The day has come and the Northmen have allied with the vile Skaven. Dark followers of the Chaos Gods, plague-ridden cultists of the most foul Nurgle are working hand in paw with the hordes from beneath.

Vermintide 2 is here.

Vermintide 2 Review

I have said long before when reviewing the original Vermintide that it was one of, if not the, best games ever made in the Warhammer universe. Vermintide 2 takes everything that was in the original and adds to it.

There are some truly excellent Warhammer games. There is Mordheim from Rogue Factor, a faithful recreation of the tabletop skirmish game. They’re also working on the upcoming Necromunda Underhive Wars which I expect to be equally excellent. Focus Home Interactive, publishers of Mordheim also have a feather in their cap with BattleFleet Gothic, itself also a gorgeous and wonderful game experience. Plenty of others know of the Total War: Warhammer games, and to those 4X players waging the campaign, my hat is off to you.

In Fatshark though, Games Workshop has a studio who have poured heart and soul into the most fun I ever had in the Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 universes. Vermintide was a beautiful depiction of a city under siege by the Skaven and had all the fun and action of the spiritually similar Left 4 Dead series.

Where Left 4 Dead changed the cast in the sequel, that isn’t the case here. If you loved the snark and friendly ribbing of the original, it’s here in force as Sienna, Markus, Saltzpyre (I am not getting familiar with the Witch hunters name), Bardin and Kerillian are all back and in top form.

Let’s touch on the game in a few ways here.

I’m a New Player

If you have never played the Left 4 Dead series or the original Vermintide, Vermintide 2 is a four player co-op game that puts you in the shoes of one of the five heroes against hordes of human marauders from the forces of Chaos and vicious rat men known as Skaven.

Each hero has a different role to play but as we’ll discuss later on, there are ways and means of changing what that role is. In your starting experience though, you are getting a game where you pick one of the five.

Kerillian the Wood Elf is everything you might expect from an Elf. Her starting role has increased ammunition, letting her let fly with many many arrows which will help with the hordes that want to take you down. Later on you can get more specialized bows before you unlock her other roles. Start with her if you want to hang back a little and pick off your enemies.

Markus Kruber is the Human Soldier. He’s there to take damage and dish it back out. Starting with Markus will put you in a hero who should be at the forefront of the action, cleaving heads off of shoulders and putting musket balls in anyone who looks at him funny.

Victor Saltzpyre is the Human Witch Hunter. His pistols can be used to quickly thin out a horde or burst a lot of damage on a larger foe. Victor’s rapier and pistol starting weapons are good to use for standing off against the special enemy types you come across as he seeks to open their throats and put them down for good.

Sienna Fuegonasus is a Bright Wizard, which means she specializes in flame magic. She’s handy with a blade but really comes into her own when you need to burn down groups or special foes. As a new player, be very wary of the heat meter that shows up in the middle of your screen. Overheat and you will explode, needing assistance from your team. Play with that meter and you can be a whirlwind of destruction.

Bardin Goreksson is a Dwarven Ranger who in his starting role is good at sniping the heads off of foes, though less so than Kerillian, and cleaving into tough armored enemies. Given that I am a fan of Warhammer Dwarves, Bardin is clearly the best.

I’m a Vermintide Player

Seriously, no hesitation, buy this game. If you enjoyed the original, Vermintide 2 is an improvement on it in every possible way.

Every time you level up you will unlock a basic version of one of the weapons used by your hero. Gone are the days of hoping that the loot will look favorably on you for that part at least. You’ll be able to try out multiple weapons before you unlock the other career paths letting you find a nice comfy niche for your favorite hero.

At level 5 and every five thereafter until level 25 you will unlock a talent point. These talent points again add depth to the characters letting them lean into a particular playstyle that works for you more. Enjoying Bardins ammunition drops? Why not have one in four be a healing potion? Think that Kerillian needs to be faster at dispatching foes? That’s in there. The points also carry over into the other career paths so you don’t have to grind them out again.

If you like Bardin but you want him tankier? Go for Ironbreaker by getting him to level 7. If you thought that Victor wasn’t crazy enough and want to take him into melee like a lunatic, aim a bit higher and unlock the literal Zealot class. Each career comes with a different active and passive ability. Add those to the different talent and weapon loadouts and you can have a hero who plays significantly different to anyone’s starting experience with them. Explore these abilities and don’t be shy to mash that F key in the middle of things as the abilities come back often, some faster than others.

Crafting, improving and rerolling upgrades on your weapons are all now far better laid out than in the original though still great DLCs for Vermintide. Visiting the armory here puts it all at your fingertips.

Gameplay

If you’re still on the fence, there’s not much I can say to you. Vermintide 2 really comes in two flavors.

Flavor one is when you grab a hero, hit quick play and take your chances with a pick up group. For that you are getting a tough game that knows when to throw more forces at you to keep it exciting. You are getting a gorgeously rendered version of the old Warhammer world with all the touches you’d expect from lands under siege and from people who clearly love their work. You are getting a fun game, though some people will take it way too seriously, and can look forward to taking your blade and burying it in heretics and vermin.

Flavor two is where all the systems mentioned earlier come in. If you get a group, if you make some friends who are into Warhammer or into Vermintide and get them all together, you are in for a treat. Even before we deal with the higher difficulty levels, the added ability to customize your experience will result in you getting the thing portrayed on your screen. A tight-knit group of heroes who know their role, know their abilities and will go down swinging. As excited as I am about the ability to tailor my hero to my playstyle, the chance to tailor it to a group dynamic and work with people in the same way is even better.

Recommendation

Buy it. Hands down. If you enjoyed Left 4 Dead or Vermintide, this is a no-brainer. If you enjoy the Warhammer Fantasy world, this is as close as we currently have to being in it (though who wants that exactly?).

If you’re on the fence and curious, the original game is on Steam for 75% at the time of writing and will serve as a fantastic introduction to the End Times.

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About Jonathan Doyle

Once long ago Westwood made a space game. Earth And Beyond was the start of the journey. From there, through Paragon City and to the fields of Altdorf, there were battles. Westwood brought me to MMOs. City of Heroes refined my love for them. Warhammer brought me to writing about them. He loves all things space, sci fi, Warhammer or heroic.