Vermintide II comes in with not just the promise of rat killing, but the hordes of Chaos as well. Both are here in massive numbers, waiting for blade, bow and gun. Not only do they keep that promise, but they’re more levels, more to the characters than before and most importantly, plenty of tools for you to use in thinning the hordes.
Combat is the heart and soul of this game. Not only in how the characters and their subclasses, but in the weapons available for each of the characters. Every single weapon choice has value, all of them have traits. Some are better at dealing with the hordes, with wide sweeps or fast attacks. Others are heavy, slower, good for piercing the armour or breaking the shields of heavier opponents. Again, others have bonuses that you can combine with class abilities, charges with heavy two-handed weapons, swords, glaives, spears, can be lethal. Even to the special and elite foes you will face.
There’s a big roster of foes you will face too. While some return from the first, the additions outnumber them. Learning to recognise these foes quickly is not only easy, but important too. Warpfire throwers, Ratling Gunners, Stormvermin all can cause no end of trouble, yet focusing them down from the start can be the difference between burning through your healing supplies and one easy boss encounter. The same is true of the shield carrying Chaos warriors or the fully armoured Chaos knight, often carrying a heavy axe.
This leads into the other side of the combat mechanic, stamina and blocking. Blocking takes stamina and that is defined by the weapon you’re carrying. Some of the heavier weapons, shields make it hard for the enemy to hit you when you’re defending. Shields have the widest block range I’ve seen, allowing your companions to fight off the horde. Others like the two-handed sword or sword and dagger, for Kerillian, are far more limited. Both in the amount you can block, but the angle you can block from. These require you to focus on the foes you wish to block. To the degree that evading is a far better choice.
By far the feature of Vermintide II I enjoyed the most was the addition of the subclasses to each and every character present. While I’ve not unlocked anywhere near all of them, I do have a few options open to me. The Handmaiden and Waystalker on Kerillian have both been fun to play. While I was not a fan of the Ranger, the Iron Breaker for Bardin I’m definitely looking forward to unlocking. Down the line, the Foot Knight for Markus is another I will enjoy trying out. The Pyromancer has been a life saver in other runs for me, so having that unlocked could be fun when Kerillian isn’t available in the current match, game.
Audio and Visuals
Getting lost in a world is something I can find quite rare. Some of the time it’s in the reflections in the water, showing a world I will never see. Other times it’s in the depth of the world, a feeling of realism, simulation, where the forests were alive with life. Here I have to say I felt the same. Not so much in the main castle, home base. That feels bare, but bare with good reason. The world outside this castle though more than makes up for it. The Skaven and Chaos hordes infest these places, the devastation shown is truly world ending.
However, that’s only added to by the sound design here. Combat is faced paced, frenetic. There’s a lot going on, finding out where the next wave is coming from you can do by sound as much from sight. The lack of sound, the desolation that you can experience in some zones really adds to the tension. Something which I have to really appreciate, it helps pull me along from each encounter to the next.
The characters here feel more rounded, more complete and as ever, have a clear and distinct voice. Kerillian is a favourite of mine, especially with the various comments and cries involving the word, scunners. There’s plenty to be said for each of the characters though, Markus, Bardin, Victor and Sienna. Each one of them has a decent roster of comments, complements and insults. Especially insults.
Multiplayer is the core of the game and perhaps its best feature. While this genre isn’t for everyone, it’s so much better with friends. Working together, timing your abilities, luring out the larger, tougher creatures so someone else can take them down. Not only that having a mix of weapons, so that while you might good at hordes, your friend has the impact, armour penetrating weapons. I’d also recommend at least two of you need to be on chat, so you can communicate quickly.
Never being a fan of Left for Dead, when I saw the first I was sucked in only by the nature of the Steam sale. This time though it’s a big improvement. More levels, more character options, better design weapons and a meatier set of encounters, foes all add up for a very enjoyable experience. Not only that, even on Recruit it can be a challenge, if your team is not aware of what they could be facing a good run can be ruined in an instant. Most importantly, this has the best and greatest quality of any Warhammer game, you feel like you’ve been hit over the head by a war hammer after playing it.
Having played this on both the Xbox One and the PC, I can only say have it on the platform which you have the friends playing it. It’s just as smooth, neat and functional on both.