Preview: Vermintide takes pest control to a whole other level

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Warhammer's End Times lore mashes up with four player co-op in Vermintide.
Warhammer’s End Times lore combines with four player co-op in Vermintide.

Combine Left 4 Dead mechanics with witches, elves and dwarven warriors. The result? A fantasy themed four-player co-op game dubbed Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide.

The PC title was put into a limited beta this week to show off its unique spin on gameplay that’s often paired with zombie-ridden backdrops. Vermintide delves into the rich Warhammer lore and plants you into the old city of Ubersreik. Players must work together to fight off and end the nefarious plans of the Skaven army, comprised of a race of humanoid rat creatures, and protect the city’s inhabitants.

Vermintide offers up five different characters to choose from. A dual pistol wielding Witch Hunter named Victor Saltzpyre, an axe-bearing Dwarf Ranger by the name of Bardin Goreksson, a flame-chucking Bright Wizard named Sienna Fuegonasus, a traditional rapier touting Empire Soldier named Markus Kruber, or a dual-dagger elven Waywatcher called Kerillian. Each character has their own pair of weapons that particularly suits them for different ranges of combat.

The fire wielding Bright Wizard is one of the handful of characters you can use to battle Skaven.
The fire wielding Bright Wizard is one of the handful of characters you can use to battle Skaven.

The game is played through singular co-op missions very similar to Left 4 Dead. The beta showed off a few missions in which the heroes had to accomplish main objectives such as ringing a warning bell for the city or attack a Skaven camp in the woods,  all while fighting off hordes of rat soldiers and their various incarnations. Where the game sets itself apart, is the unique fantasy backdrop and game devices.

The city of Ubersreik definitely carries an ominous vibe.
The city of Ubersreik definitely carries an ominous vibe.

From the intimidating Magnus Tower to the eerily quiet forests, Vermintide offers a variety of environments that felt expansive despite them being featured in linear missions. Ubersreik looks like a town on the verge of an impending plague (from rats, no less), and is comprised of small, grim details such as the rain-soaked cobblestone paths, darkened shops, and a ghostly quiet harbor. Players lobby up in a quaint communal inn, which features small details about the characters in their respective room decorations as well.

The weapon limitations, while seemingly a detriment, actually make for an interesting challenge. Each character has only two weapon slots they can utilize for a given mission, and cannot trade with other players or otherwise change them out until the level is finished. There are extra slots for potions, bombs, or medical supplies you pick up along the way, but the two main weapon spaces remain the same throughout. When ammo is low, having nothing more than a short sword to defend yourself against a horde of Skaven makes for a thrilling time.

A Witch Hunter's pistols work well to drop large groups of Skaven soldiers.
A Witch Hunter’s pistols work well to drop large groups of Skaven soldiers.

Additionally, the way enemies react to onslaughts is also enjoyable. Skaven don’t simply absorb damage, but rather react to every slash, arrow, or bullet they take. Depending on how you aim your blow, enemies can be staggered with the impact of a shield bash, drop like a rock from a head slash, or go flying with the blast of a blunderbuss. Skaven soldiers can parry and dodge your blows, making some fights a little more tricky than your usual scuffle. Characters also trade quips with each other based off their attacks, further adding to the overall atmosphere of this Warhammer based game.

Vermintide looks to be an incredibly atmospheric four-player co-op game that properly dives into End Times lore blade first. It is currently available for pre-order on Steam and slated for release on October 23rd.

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About the author

Christen Bejar

Christen Bejar is a freelance gaming writer who started the local blog The Pause Button while studying at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. For Nerdvana, Bejar reviews video games and also previews, recaps and photographs many local events from a gamer's perspective.