Vermintide is the co-op Left 4 Dead-alike from Fatshark studios, and us frugaleers were lucky enough to get a couple of codes for the recent beta. Straight off the bat it’s worth mentioning that we encountered some bugs. Obviously this isn’t the finished article but I’ve played dozens of betas this close to release that was much more representative of the final product. I encountered a few crashes at the end of rounds preventing me from collecting XP and levelling up – in fact I didn’t even realise there was a levelling system until the game finally stabilised. I also encountered a few lag spikes and a couple of clipping and ragdoll glitches.
Despite the expected beta hiccups, when Vermintide works it’s great fun. Gameplay is near identical to Left 4 Dead so if you’re a fan of those games you’re in good hands. At times, Vermintide is in danger of borrowing too much from the L4D template: ambushes are random, save for the odd scripted set piece. There are even equivalent enemy types: the Packmaster grabs players and drags them away, the Poison Wind Globadier flings gas bombs and explodes when killed, and then there’s the Rat Ogre, a huge hulking monster that takes all four players to bring down. There are a few differences, however Vermintide gives you a choice of five heroes to exact pest control throughout Übersreik, each has a melee and ranged attack, with class specific weapons that are unlocked as you progress through the levelling system. This being a beta, there wasn’t much time to unlock weapons, or experiment with the crafting system, but it’s clear that the developers are attempting to remain faithful to the source material by offering a handful traditional RPG mechanics.
With that in mind it’s rather disappointing that this isn’t a traditional RPG; the environments that you hack your way through are rather gorgeous, Fatshark have clearly gone to a lot of effort to bring the Warhammer world to life and it’s a small shame that the frantic nature of the gameplay means you don’t have much time to soak in the atmosphere before another relentless wave of axe-wielding subterranean rat-people emerge from the sewers. The heroes all look great and I would happily play through an entire single player campaign as a dwarf ranger with a Yorkshire accent and a bad attitude. The dialogue throughout the game hints at entertaining personalities and on the odd occasion, the banter between the heroes is perfectly pitched for this kind of fiction. Even the in-game lobby, a dingy inn in Übersreik is an environment that would look great filled with NPCs.
I enjoyed my time with Vermintide, as a game specifically designed to be infinitely replayable it certainly won me over with repeat plays and if you get a good crew together cooperative play can be very rewarding. The environments, characters and voice acting are all superb, but Vermintide’s similarity to gameplay established by Left 4 Dead and the Warhammer setting shouldn’t put people off, Vermintide stands on its own as a great cooperative hack and slasher.
Available Via Steam 23rd October. Full review to follow on release.