Warhammer: End Times Vermintide – First Look

Yesterday, we got access to the beta for Warhammer: End Times Vermintide, the co-op action adventure by Fatshark centred around the beseiged city of Ubersreik.  Beta sign-ups are open on the official website, and the game itself is out on Steam on October 23rd, a mere month away!

Vermintide - The Red Moon Inn

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Valve Developing “Steam Box”?

A rumour is circulating that Valve may be developing their own console!

This console would play PC games, use Steam and perhaps even competing services.. and would use The Big Picture, which offers easy-to-read and simple navigation designed for the TV, controlled by either a gamepad or mouse and keyboard.  Game developers wouldn’t have to pay for a license to develop for the platform, unlike for other consoles.

In an interview with Penny Arcade earlier this month, Gabe Newell made mention of Valve building their own hardware to make use of their own innovations.. which may include biometric measurements and augmented reality games.

Is there room for another box under the telly?  We have a PS3, Xbox 360, Wii and a media PC already.  I think I could make room for something that brought interesting augmented reality games along.. games that react to how you are feeling, or allow players to see the state of other players in multiplayer, like in the special build of Left 4 Dead.  Though.. I think I’ll stop short of the skull implants 😉

Robbing Banks with PAYDAY: The Heist!

When I first spotted PAYDAY: The Heist, a first-person shooter with up to four co-op players, I thought this could be the next big game for our group of friends..

The game puts the players in the role of career criminals with different heists to complete, starting with a bank job.  I thought this game would be rather like Left 4 Dead with bank robbers instead of survivors.. so I was very pleased to find it was so much more than this!

Thanks to being busy with other games, I ended up missing this game at launch, last month.  However, a friend spotted the game in the Steam sale and gave me a reminder.. one four-pack later, our group had some downloading to do 🙂

The first mission is a heist on the First World Bank..

We didn’t get far in our first attempts, as we didn’t realise quite how much preparation was needed.. the next, slightly more successful attempts had us select nice starting positions so we could capture a few hostages and pick off the security guards before they dealt us too much damage.

Like in Left 4 Dead, taking too much damage results in incapacitation, but instead of bleeding out, players are eventually taken into custody.  You can be rescued by a team-mate.. but once in custody, you have to wait until you can be traded for a hostage.. any civilian you’ve previously tied up.  The length of time you have to wait increases for every civilian you’ve killed.. so despite your role of hardened career criminal, you should avoid killing the innocent!

You can also force cops to cuff themselves.. bonus hostages!  We possibly enjoyed this a bit too much 😀

I really liked the changing objectives in the mission which meant we had to stay on our toes.. watching the drill in case it jammed, heading off to wipe security footage, and waiting out waves of cops, before moving on to set thermite to burn through to the vault.  I also liked the fact the UI tells me my location as well as that of the team.. on a new map it can be difficult to explain where you are, especially when time is short!  Communication is essential in this game, and yet again I was glad of playing with friends who do talk 🙂

The game felt a lot harder too.. and with this additional challenge, it was much more satisfying when we did get through the level.  Later missions are more difficult, with no normal mode, never mind easy.. but as you play, the characters level up and gain access to better gear, so by the time you get to the hardest levels you should be ready for them!

The second mission, Heat Street, involved running through the streets chasing after your doublecrossing ex-accomplice.. a definite increase in difficulty from the previous mission as the map was so much more open.  Catching up with the traitor led to a surprisingly horrible section, as you have to smoke the guy out of the back of the van while he screams and curses at you the whole time!

After he eventually gives up and comes out of the van, you have to force him to come along for the rest of the map, as he’s chained himself to your briefcase of money!

We tried a few rounds with just two human players and AI filling in.. while the AI are decent shots and make great bodyguards, that was all they could do.  They also tend to run straight in to rescue any downed player, which means they tend to go down as well.  I’m still glad of them though, because otherwise we’d always have to find four people to play!

The third map was Panic Room, a drug-den where a large safe was our target.  I loved this map, although it was easy to get confused between floors and the number of routes through rooms.. seeing the safe carted away by chopper was great too!

The chopper made another appearance to take away our rescued Chinese prisoner in the first part of Green Bridge.. I couldn’t help but think of Lawnchair Larry here 🙂