The first Vermintide was a surprise success, mixing Left4Dead style co-op, but adding in the Warhammer world and making the game more melee focused. Can this sequel build upon what made the original great?
Vermintide was never very strong on the story front, and the second game has made little attempt to move things forwards. There’s a cool opening cinematic, and a brief tutorial level before matchmaking is opened up to you (although you can skip it). Here, it’s explained that after you foiled the Skaven plot at the end of the first game, the devious little ratmen have now teamed up with some Chaos Warriors in their attempt to overthrown this part of the Empire. It’s an excuse for some more enemy types over the first game, pure and simple. The levels load quickly, and the scrolling text that explains the context for each subsequent mission is therefore normally skipped.
Vermintide 2 doesn’t alter the actual gameplay in too many ways. You still pick from one of five characters (who have all returned from the first game), and play in a rag-tag group of four warriors. You’ll still mostly be fighting in melee as ranged weapons have limited ammo. You’ll still spend a majority of your time bashing Skaven, but there are 3 key changes: new enemies, increased difficulty, and a new levelling system.
There’s a number of new elite enemies, including some heavily armoured Chaos Warriors, which require you to attack them in weak points, away from their heavy armour, in order to damage them. There’s also plenty of new boss creatures, puzzles and unique enemies to take out on every level. What you will find, though, is that these fights are tough. Really tough.
When you first start the game, you’ll find that your weapons and armour are so poor, even completing the first level is a struggle. You do quickly start to gain experience and equipment (this is particularly important for ranged weapons, which normally also come with more ammo, as well as being more deadly), but sometimes it feels like an impossible cliff at the outset. I certainly failed the first level with my team a couple of times, and you don’t gain any XP at all for failing a level.
The levelling system now mimics Destiny’s light system, except the sum total of your equipped inventory is referred to as your ‘power’ level. Whilst there’s not a huge visual variety to the weapons (and no armour to allow for further customisation of your look), the actual in-game effect can certainly be felt. There’s also a robust crafting system for once you’re done with old gear.
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