There is a creeping, crawling impression forming in my mind. The idea is that only the best of Warhammer can come with the death of Warhammer. I am not calling for an end to Games Workshop or anything so insane or over the top, more of a loosening of constraints. Consider, for example, the old fantasy world, shared universes and the state of Warhammer today. Warhammer: Vermintide 2 - Shadows Over Bögenhafen is a great example of this.
For those who don’t know, Warhammer Fantasy Battles are no more. The game has moved into a new edition called Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. We won’t weigh the pros and cons of Stormcast Eternals or Aelfs or anything like that. With the closing of the Warhammer Fantasy world that was, we saw an upsurge in games based on the Warhammer licenses. Mordheim, Total Warhammer, Vermintide. All of these fall in the old Fantasy Battles era but came about with the death of the old fantasy battle world. Vermintide itself is subtitled “The End Times” for a reason.
Why is this important? Because Vermintide was a magnificent game. Vermintide 2 built on that and gave us even more greatness. Now with Shadows Over Bögenhafen on release for a paltry €7.99/$9.99, we can see what being freed of constraints does for the right developer. If the adventures of Bardin, Victor Saltzpyre, Kerillian, Sienna and Markus had to fit an existing narrative or be jammed in somewhere in the all mighty continuity latter, they would suffer. With the world in shambles and everything coming to an end, we are freed. Unchained even, though that leads to an awful lot of burning with Sienna so do be careful.
For new players, this is something to know. You should revel in everything Vermintide 2 Shadows Over Bögenhafen has to offer because it a masterpiece of environmental, sound and visual work.
“The Dark Gods reach out for Bögenhafen. We shall see that they are thwarted.”
For your money's worth on the DLC, you are getting two new maps: The Pit and The Blightreaper. You are also getting your hands on new cosmetics including hats, skins, portrait frames, and illusions. Hats, of course, are very important in Warhammer because who doesn’t want to go into battle in their best bling of smiting? Finally, there are also new quests and challenges. If you want to have a test of the maps, you can do this with no money down, so long as you have an understanding friend who has already bought the DLC or if the random number God shines upon you in Quick Play. Fatshark is understandably pleased with their work and I love what they have put on display.
Personally, I consider the money well worth the DLC despite being able to play in the maps for free as and when Quick Play deems it to be so. Games purchased fund development and every little bit more we can squeeze out of Vermintide and it’s take on the End Times is a good investment as far as I am concerned.
So yes, the Shadows Over Bögenhafen levels are free-to-play in Quick Play if you want to see. However, when you purchase the DLC you will be able to create custom games and get access to the new quests, challenges, and cosmetics.
What Are They Like?
The beauty of what Fatshark has created sings to me as a Warhammer fan. The streets in Bögenhafen are cramped and narrow. The riverside, where we start The Pit, is fetid and mucky with the forces of Chaos and Skaven lurking about. Traveling through the map you can really get a sense of the work and care put in lavishing life on the world. Ultimately I ended up enjoying The Pit more than The Blightreaper due to the confrontation near the end of the level.
You must break into a warehouse where the food is stocked to keep the invasion going and set it alight. After that… well, you have to hold that warehouse against the hordes coming your way all while they try to break through the barricades and the building burns down around you. It’s visceral and beautiful and confusing. There are foes everywhere and the moment more than sells itself to me.
The Blightreaper has your intrepid band facing off against a cursed sword, which is driving the action in the Shadows Over Bögenhafen DLC. You need to work your way down deep and dark sewers, one or more of your band carrying the flaming torch necessary to bring light to place. Of course, it being Warhammer you can still get stuck in jabbing the torch into peoples faces rather than dropping it for your weapons. There are braziers scattered around that can help bring more light to the scene, but where the previous level was a glory of claustrophobic alleys and markets, this is more about the creeping dark and the dangers within. Winning through brings you to the temple where the sword lays… and where you must keep your wits about you. Breaking the sword out will have a far more disastrous effect on your character's health than carrying grimoires ever could.
I enjoy everything in the DLC personally and I do recommend it to any Warhammer fan who wants to add a little more spice to their Vermintide 2 play. If there are fans out there who haven’t yet picked up Vermintide 2 itself, you definitely should. Nowhere will you find a more beautiful, loving rendition of the old world… even as it burns down around you while you try to hold back the endless hordes.