There are two main subgenres of apocalyptic horde games, in terms of action games and shooters. The first involves holding your own against a wave of the monsters, with steadily increasing firepower and defenses. Killing Floor and Call of Duty’s Zombies mode are prime examples of this first camp. The second camp, which Vermintide belongs to, has a simple concept: get from point A to point Z while murdering, avoiding, or looting the other 24 letters in between. If this sounds like Left 4 Dead, you already know what to expect.
Vermintide tasks the player with trying to save the Empire city of Ubersreik from the Skaven – a race of blood thirsty rat men. You must purge the town of vermin as a party of four heroes from a current pool of five to choose from, each handling satisfyingly and differently. Each character has a backstory that is hinted at through dialog and loading screen text, and has a personality well lent from their voice actors. The Dwarf’s gleeful laughter after slaughtering many Skaven is honestly infectious, and there definitely isn’t a shortage of Skaven to purge.
There are 13 missions, divided into either long missions with loot chance enhancers, or short missions. Each mission looks beautiful, detailed, and gloomy, and is supported by an excellent soundtrack. The light of the hauntingly green moon casts a subtle eerie feeling to the world. The world and all that make up the game, like enemies, player characters, and even props, are very detailed, and supported well by Warhammer’s lore. Sometimes this creates the weirdest eye candy. Never has a victorian-esque sewer looked so good.
Though the game is visually stunning, these details can be a double edged sword. Wordplay aside, it could be said that the game is more than fairly unoptimized. For example, if I looked in the direction of the Witch Hunter’s Pistols while they fired rapidly, I dropped from about 80 frames per second to roughly 20. I was fighting near this character frequently and against large numbers of enemies. Sometimes in wide spaces with a large viewing distance. The world may be detailed, but if it’s not optimized well enough, the game will only run at speeds I haven’t seen since dial-up internet days. That is unacceptable.
There are a host of other issues and bugs as well, and they are not uncommon. I started a list after I couldn’t go 3 missions without something happening. Starting out with the Assassin rat floating away from his pounced victim, and conversely sometimes your ally floats away from the Assassin, confusing you on where he actually is being attacked. That along with Rat Ogres phasing through some walls, some missions not ending when everyone is inside the escape carriage, and random sudden deaths are critical bugs that need to be fixed. Additionally, while it may not be a bug, the AI bots need to be improved, badly.
This honestly hurts because I really do like this game a lot, and I find it fun to play, but I need to be honest about its faults too. Annoyances are not uncommon in this game, and they can definitely turn off someone who’s not in the mood to deal with them. If perhaps they fixed everything I mentioned, I would add a point back to the score, but I can understand the frustration a player might get from dealing with these annoyances. I once backed away from a Rat Ogre for safety and unintentionally walked through a bugged wall and fell out of the world. There is no polite way to summarize my anger at that moment.
★★★☆☆ “Decent – Like my car Ol’ Yeller, your mileage may vary.”