While the rest of the world starts their hunt in Monster Hunter: World today and I try my best to find a secondhand PS4, I can at least find solace in the fact that Vermintide 2 is right around the corner. Sigmar bless me.
The first Vermintide came out in 2015 and yours truly didn’t find what a great ride it was until fall of 2017. I quickly conned some friends into it during a Steam sale and we just went to town on some rats. The game has 5 characters who each have different flavor in the form of their weapon options, but there are a lot of similarities between the characters depending on what you use. Hardcore fans will let you know that statement’s ignorant and canceling attack strings with blocks on Kerillian provides a vastly different experience than swinging away on Saltzpyre, but I’m just trying to level with you.
In the original Vermintide each character had a melee weapon and a ranged weapon to deal with hordes of rat enemies (most often compared to Left for Dead gameplay in their variety) as 4 of the 5 characters work their way through crumbling towns, poisoned cemeteries, towering cathedrals, or trap-ridden castles. It was best experienced with friends but doable in solo with the AI, who, depending on the difficulty, were either immortal champions or fragile children.
There were largely only a handful of mission objectives, mixed and matched with each other throughout different levels. Gameplay was mostly defined by 1) making your way to a location, 2) carrying explosives or attacking ropes/chains to destroy something, 3) defending against hordes of enemies, 4) repeat. The enemy, level, and situational variety of the first title was enough to keep me coming back time after time, but those 3 things coupled with possibly the worst loot system in any game that I’ve enjoyed were enough to turn away everyone I played with to the point where I was just hitting random lobbies with the other 20 people still playing this game by the end.
Vermintide 2, however, aims to fix all of these issues. There are significantly more enemies than in the first title and enemy spawns will be different from playthrough to playthrough. I haven’t seen any distinctly new objective mini-games different from the first title, but the additional enemy variety alone (going from ~10 to reportedly 5x that) is enough to already make this a must-buy for me. In Verminitide you face the Warhammer race of Skaven, the rat men. Vermintide 2 has them allying with the Chaos Warriors, barbarians who surrender themselves to elder-god-like horrors.
The parallel gameplay of Witch Hunter/Waywatcher and Ranger/Soldier from the first has been replaced by a class system, where each of the returning characters has three different career paths, each with their own active ability (think Borderlands) and passive ability along with a leveling system with other traits. We’ve got most of the classes revealed at this point, and it looks like each has a ranged focused/melee focused/hybrid path available so there will still be some overlap, but the different weapons available to the difference classes should create sufficient variety to where you feel distinction between Kruber and Bardin.
The only thing I’m still uneasy about is the previously horrible loot system. In Vermintide you would get a chance to roll for loot at the end of the level (a single item, not even definitively for the character you were playing) based on the difficulty at which you completed the level (challenges gave better odds for higher level loot). This was pure crap, as you’d frequently spend several runs not getting any upgrades. They changed things at some point to allow you to break gear down for materials that would guarantee upgrades over time, but it was still a deeply flawed and very unsatisfying system. Vermintide 2 promises a better loot system but there haven’t been many concrete details other than “loot will be level and character dependent,” so hopefully it’ll be enough to keep my friends from getting pissed at garbage rolls after doing a full Grimoire run through.
Either way, I can’t wait to get a crew back into the Warhammer universe to go toe-to-toe with a giant marauding flame-throwing rat flanking for a Viking bursting with tentacles and teeth as a pissed off priest. But more importantly, someone spot me a PS4 so I can do some Monster Hunter this weekend. I’ll get you back on my taxes.