I recently began playing the video game Warhammer Vermintide, an RPG that takes place in the world of Game Workshop’s late tabletop game, Warhammer Fantasy Battles.
Though it isn’t necessary to know about the Warhammer world to enjoy or even play the game, I would recommend doing some light Wiki reading in order to better understand the content during game play.
Without going too far in depth into the Warhammer world, you’re basically playing in a human controlled realm known as “The Empire”, at the beginning of a time period known as “The End Times”. Basically you’re stereotypical doom and gloom apocalypse, but with different evil races from all over the Warhammer world pulling their final triggers at once. In this game, you get to defend The Empire from a race of humanoid rats known as “Skaven”. A race that lives underground in large swarming numbers and utilizes crude technological advancements powered by warp stones and gases.
Much like any other RPG, you’re given the opportunity to select a character or character class you’d like to play with. The options are a Witch-hunter, Fire Wizard, Wood Elf Waywatcher, Dwarf Ranger and an Empire Sergeant at Arms.
For this game I chose the Waywatcher highlighted in the above screenshot. This is contrary to my regular play style in most RPGs, as I typically play the tank role such as the Dwarf or Empire Sergeant. However, Wood Elves were one of my favoirite armies in Warhammer Fantasy, which is what motivated me to select the Waywatcher here.
The game begins at the base of operations for you and the party that you’re playing with, at Inn inside a city that is being overrun by Skaven and it is from here that you and your party returns after each mission. In the middle of the room is the main mission board, where missions can be selected and played. The chest on the left side of the room is for storing and exchanging equipment and weapons, as well as replenishing arrows or other ammunition.
At the bar there is a book that can be read through and has pages that can be unlocked when they’re found during missions. Each page reveals various bits of fluff, giving cultural, religious and military details of each Warhammer race. The bartender has little purpose, outside of shouting the same 2-3 programmed lines he has.
On the far side of the Inn there is a forge, a “shrine of solace” and a bounty board. The forge is where you can upgrade existing equipment and melt down extras for minerals. The bounty board is where side quests are posted. And the shrine is much like the forge and is used to place blessing (upgrades) unto your equipment. Nothing too crazy, pretty sub-par for an RPG.
On the missions map you can choose between adventure and last stand mode. The adventure mode follows the story of the game and opens up further mission options as you complete each mission that is shown. The last stand option is pretty self explanatory and throws countless waves against you and your party as you try to survive as many rounds as possible.
The game play is very clean and I never had any issues with lag for my character or bots glitching. The Skaven are pretty clean as well, though I did notice that once the Skaven would start to die, the game would begin to glitch with the persistent corpses until they’d gradually disappear.
I really like the feel of the Skaven overall. The game does a great job of making the Skaven feel like a swarm. As shown in the two screenshots above, you’ll see hordes of Skaven coming down walls, pillars and up from sewage drains or holes in the ground.
The environments are really well done as well and do a great job capturing the Warhammer Fantasy universe. I also enjoy the dialogue of the characters while playing, but for someone who isn’t familiar with the Warhammer world, I don’t think a lot of it would make sense.
If you’re playing alone, the bots aren’t terrible and do a pretty good job of following you around and watching your back or saving you when you’re downed or taken by a snatcher rat.
The fire in the game is really well done and is pleasing to look at. Not only does the texture and colors look great, but the developers put a lot of time in getting the glow around the flame right.
Similar to the fire, the game does a good job of capturing the Skaven warp stone aesthetic. As shown in the screenshots above, you’ll notice the green light glowing from the grand room and from the various light sources in the hole..
The snatching rat is a really cool element of the game. As you’re staving off the rat horde, you’ll suddenly be hooked to a long pole with a rat dragging you away from your allies and it hangs you in the air where other Skaven units then begin to attack you until you run out of health and die. Only your allies are able to release you, as your character hangs from the pole and slowly suffocates or is struck to death.
While you do encounter a handful of Skaven units, I think one of the biggest shortfalls of the game is lack of variety. Granted I haven’t played through the entire game yet, but from playing the tabletop game I know there is a large variety of units that the Skaven field and have been a little disappointed with the variation thus far.
Clan rats, stormvermin, gutter runners, globedier rats, gunner rats and rat ogres are thus far the only Skaven units I’ve encountered. There is also the snatching rats, but those were never an element of the tabletop game.
After each completed mission you can view the stats of the party and each Character is awarded a certain amount of points based on performance, which is then used for leveling up. Again, just a basic platform for most RPGs.
Another unique aspect to the game is the “Ranald’s Bones”. In addition to the after game stats, the party rolls these dice into a pan and depending on the result, you can get awarded bonus gear labeled into categories on the right side.
Overall Review Score: 6.4/10
I really enjoy playing the game and being able to interact in a world that has virtually been destroyed by Games Workshop (Yes, I am still salty). The game, is for the most part done really well and provides a fun platform for a group of friends or an individual to play. Yet, there’s really not a whole lot about the game the really “wows” me. Outside of some really nice visuals, character development in the game is pretty basic, the moves and abilities of each character are somewhat limited and can become boring and after a while using the same attack over and over again is somewhat exhausting.
Furthermore, while I have a basic understanding of the story line from previous sources, the game does a horrible job of establishing the story line and never explains why a wood elf, dwarf, witch-hunter, fire mage and an Empire sergeant are found stranded together in the middle of an Empire city or why they’d even immediately work together for a common interest.
I look forward to completing the game and moving onto Vermintide 2 to see if the second installment does anything to make up for the shortfalls of the first.
Have you played this game? What are your thoughts? What would you change or like to see?