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

The launcher suggested I use Lowest settings, but it seemed to have missed the fact I have Crossfire, as many games do.  Tim and I had a fiddle and finally settled on Medium, though with a few effects turned down or off.  We also found that vsync has to be on to reduce tearing, and I had to remove Motion Blur too, as I really didn’t like it 😮

In Vermintide, you play as one of five heroes: the Witch Hunter, the Bright Wizard, Dwarf Ranger, Waywatcher and Empire Soldier, each coming from a different race in the Warhammer universe, and all with rather cool models and backstories.  I’ve never really gotten into the lore of Warhammer, though the gritty, dark style does appeal.. so I chose my first hero based on fire!

Vermintide - Bright Wizard is on Fire

The Bright Wizard is billed as the prisoner of the Witch Hunter, but with the invasion of the Skavan, the rivals are forced to work alongside each other.  In melee, the Bright Wizard starts off with a Wizard Sword, and for ranged, a Staff.

A powerful fireball could seem overpowered, but using the Staff too much causes the Bright Wizard to burn herself.  There’s a meter that displays just under the centre of the screen, and this fills to indicate heat.. it’s also displayed by the weapon on the right of the screen.

Vermintide Bright Wizard Heat Meter

I found I could fire off a few fireballs or two good heavy attacks before needing to press ‘R’ to vent heat.  I loved the heavy attacks and felt the limitation was fair, making me switch to the blades and do something other than set the world on fire!

This stage of the beta provides access to the first three levels of the game.  The Horn of Magnus is the first level, with players instructed to alert the Town Watch.. of course, they’re dead and the Skaven are everywhere!  The pacing was good, and after the initial settling in period, I enjoyed the combat, both melee and ranged.

While playing, Jason and I discussed the similarity of Vermintide to Valve’s Left 4 Dead series.. four player co-op, with players able to heal and revive their teammates when they go down, large waves of enemies that appear in particular around objectives, ‘special’ Skaven, and then there’s an end-level “safe room” in the form of Olesya’s Wagon.

The Rat Ogre was a real beast..

Vermintide - Rat Ogre

When a player dies.. somebody jumped into the river!.. there’s a short time before they reappear, requiring assistance to get on their feet and get moving again.

Vermintide - Set Ally Free

I liked the variation between missions too.  To destroy the Screaming Bell, we had to take out four anchors around it.. with a fair few Skaven pouring in to try and stop us!

Vermintide Screaming Bell Anchor Point

This level felt harder and longer than the previous missions.  Definitely need to get more playtime in here.. I fell more than I’d like to admit!

The loot system is designed to reward teamwork above all else, and provides each player with seven dice in an end of mission loot game called Ranald’s Bones.  When you roll the dice, they’ll turn up a success or fail, and the number combined will determine the type of loot you receive, whether hat, trinket, ranged or melee weapon, with a higher tier item for a larger number of successes.

Vermintide Loot System Ranalds Bones

My first loot item was a longbow.. little use to my Bright Wizard, but an encouragement to trying out another hero!

We unlocked the Forge too, but this feature only becomes useful once the player has amassed a number of lower tier weapons to salvage or fuse into a new item, or gathered components to allow an upgrade of a weapon.

As it’s beta, there’s an expectation of bugs.  I only had one real problem, in that my sound glitched and distorted in the final level of the third area.  Jason had already turned his game sound off because of the same issue.  I’ll be checking whether this happens again on the next run through the area, in order to report it.

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