‘Warhammer: Vermintide” is now in open beta for people who have pre-ordered the game, and I spent the last couple days checking it out. First thing’s first, the game is in Beta, so anything mentioned here is subject to change, although major mechanics and core concepts are likely final considering the release date of the 23rd. Secondly, I’ve only played the game for around 15 hours and generally on the normal difficulty, so my level of play is likely higher than most, although I wouldn’t call myself great at the game yet. Finally, this is not a review, as it is not a full release, I will have a full review for the game after I’ve checked the release build out to see what they’ve sorted out. With those in minds, let’s dive right in.
Firstly, I just want to emphasize how good this game looks. Just like their last major release that comes to mind, ‘War of the Roses’ the ambiance and graphics are very well done. The game uses shadows to great effect, really adding to the entire horde feeling of the game. The texture work is above average, and the design of the three playable missions is really well done. Each area of the city is unique, distinct and easily distinguishable. For fans of The Warhammer Franchise, it sticks aesthetically to the board game extremely well, it honestly looks like what you would expect it to look like and an Empire City swarmed with rats. Finally, the animations are brilliant. Swords and other slashing weapons can cut rats in half, leaving a stumbling stump behind, and heads fly when chopped off. The ballistic weapons, specifically the Witch Hunter’s pistols are a little lacking in animation, there’s no real visceral burst from them, but all the other projectile weapons are animated well. The Bright Wizard’s flames are very visually satisfying; simply put there’s little to complain of visually.
As for the gameplay, it’s very reminiscent of a ‘Left 4 Dead’, albeit much more melee focused. That being said, it executes just as well as ‘L4D’, and sometimes even better. Perhaps the thing it executes the best at, is the overwhelming nature of the enemy. Even when killing the Skaven, you can still see hordes of them scuttering about in rafters, pouring out of sewers and wandering in the streets. The missions showcased, which are part of Act I which is focused around regrouping and gathering supplies, really provide an air of desperation to a city devastated by a massive foe. The other thing it does best is the addition of a loot system, and with it risk/reward for better loot. Not only does loot add to the addictiveness of the game, but to earn a higher chance at better loot in a mission, you can add to the difficulty, keeping in mind that if you lose there will be no chance for loot. Overall, it took the ‘L4D’ formula, and improved it in several areas.
Finally, just to go over the final, minor points of the game thus far before wrapping up. Sound design is high quality, all the effects sound great, the voice acting is high quality, and overall the sound really adds to the game. The soundtrack itself is fairly good, certain songs are very good, but overall it grades out as above average. There are a few songs that really drive home the mood, but overall the rest are just average. The dialogue between characters, especially when the dialogue tells you whether something is dead or where there is ammo, is quite useful. There a few bugs, such as clipping issues and getting stuck, but nothing major. The only compliant bug-wise is when being attacked by the assassin it can launch you into the air nearly 10 feet, which is rather stupid. The crafting system is serviceable, and the hub point is fine. Overall , the finer details of the game are quite good, and for a beta, the game is well polished.
To conclude, I would highly recommend Vermintide in the state it’s in. While I do expect a few improvements, especially in loading times, before it releases, I’m amazingly impressed at how good this game is. It’s worth the 30 dollars, in my mind, and then some as it provides visceral, tense and enjoyable 1st person combat. This game honestly drew me in like ‘L4D’ couldn’t, and I think it’s a wonderful achievement in survival horde based games. This is highly recommended, and if the game were to release in the state it was when I played it, that recommendation would stand, albeit I would be disappointed that it wasn’t more fine-tuned. Go and pick it up on Steam if you have any interest in the genre, even if it’s just passing.