Platform: Xbox One, PC, PS4
Release: October 4th, 2016 (Consoles)
Warhammer: Vermintide – Console Edition Review (Xbox One)
Last year, our very own Sean Halliday got to sit down and review the PC version of Vermintide, which you can read here. Fast forward roughly a year later and I got the chance to sit down and play the console version of Vermintide. Let’s get down and dirty with the Skaven.
If you’ve ever played Left 4 Dead you’ll notice some familiarity upon jumping into Vermintide. The game is a co-op first person game where you take control of one of five heroes and must proceed from Point A to Point B all while completing a series of objectives and taking on hordes of humanoid rat creatures known as the Skaven. In the game you have your primary melee weapon, and your secondary weapon which can range from longbows, crossbows, rifles to even pistols and shotgun like weapons. Each character has their own set of weapon types and special weapons they can unlock via the loot system. Upon completing a mission in the game there is a small dice-rolling segment that determines what kind of loot you can score. Sometimes you’ll score some substantial loot in the form of weapons or hats for one of the five heroes, or you’ll score some loot that isn’t that great but thankfully you can do away with that later.
In between missions you’re thrust into a cool little “hub” area which is an Inn and upon leveling up you’ll unlock certain areas inside that can aid in your survival against the Skaven. Such areas like the Forge allow you to salvage your loot for materials that can be used to upgrade your equipment, or even fuse items together in the chances of creating a better weapon, trinket, or hat for your characters.
The equipment and loot system is definitely something that Left 4 Dead needed and it makes Vermintide have an extra layer of replay-ability because you always want to keep making your characters stronger and getting them that better loot to make playing on the harder difficulties much more manageable. Replayability is always possible due to the vast amount of different enemy types for the Skaven. Similar to Left 4 Dead there are special variants of the Skaven that will do their best to hinder your group’s progress through the mission. I noticed during my time spent with the game that there were two types of Skaven that seemed to be the most dangerous and those always seemed to be the Packmasters which is a Skaven that is similar to the Smoker from L4D, but instead of a massive tongue it snares players with an actual snare and will drag them away and slowly suffocate them. The other being a Gutter Runner which is a Skaven that is incredibly agile, fast and will drop smoke bombs to get away and hide before pouncing on an unsuspecting player.
Some of the other Skavens are more straightforward in dealing with, but these two always seem to cause the most trouble during my play time. And thankfully, due to the AI director the game is never the same twice while playing through. Enemy spawns will be different as well as item spawns so the next time you’re running down some narrow corridors trying to avoid a Rat Ogre (this game’s L4D Tank) there may not be that helpful health potion sitting in a chest. That said, sometimes the “item spawns” can be a bit ridiculous. I found more often than not that the chests we’d come across while playing were mostly empty which is a bit disheartening when you really need to heal yourself while playing on the Hard difficulty and above.
The higher difficulties are great for replaying the game as they can reward you with better loot for your characters which in turn makes your runs on the subsequent higher difficulties much more easier and less stressful, unless the AI director decides to be an unbalanced turd which then you’re gonna have a bad time. One of my other nitpicks about the game is that there seems to be a balancing issue in terms of enemy spawns and difficulty spikes. A full group of my friends and I were playing through some of the DLC mission (these were paid DLC on PC and were bundled for free with the game for console players) and we got to a point where we had to hold out against waves of Skaven while destroying portals. This was the Normal difficulty and everyone had good enough gear to cope with the situation, as well as we were communicating like a good team should in a game like this. However, the AI Director thought it’d be neat to throw continuous Rat Ogres at us which proved to be nearly impossible, but thankfully the developers have noticed the amount of issues involving impossible moments during gameplay and are working on fixing those.
There were also numerous moments where the Director would spawn in some enemies, but their pathfinding would end up being broken and they’d just remain stationary and harmless allowing for easy picking. This happened twice during my playthrough to Rat Ogres and countless times to standard enemies. There were also moments where I’d spawn in to a mission that was in progress and fall through the map to either my death, or get stuck and not be able to progress through the game. So, there’s a handful of bugs and technical issues inside Vermintide, but not enough to make the experience a bad one. The game is still a blast and one of the better games I’ve played this year and on this generation of consoles.
The console versions also get bundled with the Last Stand DLC which is a horde-mode style gametype where you just have to survive against endless waves of Skaven. If you’ve played similar game-types than you know what to expect here. My only gripe is that Last Stand feels a little too difficult at times, and I’ve yet to even get a Bronze rating on any of two maps for this mode. It’s still a fun, and exciting mode but the real meat and potatoes is in the core, Adventure mode.
The game is also exceptionally beautifully in a gothic sense. The game is full of dark and twisted environments, but they never get to the point where everything is hidden from view. You can really take in the amount of work the developers took to make this world and it shows. The player models are fantastic, the environments really stand out, and the Skaven designs are just so gnarly and seem to walk the line of humanoid and rat so closely that you could picture these things running amok and actually being a force to be reckoned with. The entire audio system is fantastic as well from audio cues, character dialogue brimming with comedy and the individual sounds for each enemy really brings everything together in one amazing package.
In the end, Vermintide is a solid addition to the console line-up and is a must have title for any person who loves these types of games. It is recommended that you have some friends to play with, but the community seems to be good enough in terms of helping people out and working together. The game has a ton of replay value in the terms of the higher difficulties, loot system and ever changing gameplay every time you boot up the game. The developers have also mentioned continued patch support as well as new DLC to continue in the future for all versions of the game.
Vermintide is well worth the price-point and I can see myself playing this for a long time to come.