Vermintide 2 is (Sometimes) a Delightful Mess

As often happens with my friends, one of us found a new multiplayer game and subsequently convinced the rest of us to buy it. My roommate watched some of the promotional videos for Vermintide 2 and decided that he was going to buy it. One evening of play later, he was telling my and our other roommate that we should get it, even going so far as to offer to loan our other roommate (who is slightly more broke than either of us) the money to buy it. Not convinced by his ringing endorsement (he has a tendency to get very excited about things at first, no matter what they are), I decided to sit down and watch him play through a few matches.

It seemed fun enough, while I watched him. Vermintide 2 is a sort of fantasy remake of Left 4 Dead with an extra character and advancement options for your characters as you leveled them up. The gameplay looked solid, the levels looked fun, and all of the people he got matched with online seemed to have a basic amount of decorum so that the voice chat wasn’t completely horrible. After a while, I decided to buy it. It was only $30 and I needed a multiplayer game other than Overwatch since I’ve been getting kind of burned out on it.

Once I bought it and started downloading, I ran into the first hurdle. Part of downloading the game on Steam is automatically downloading the Test Server version of the game. It is at least the same size as the full game but it doesn’t tell you while you’re picking your download location that you’re downloading two things. You just get notified that the download will take up approximately 65GB of space and that it will take X hours based on your internet. Once you make peace with giving up that much space for this game and pick a location, the download screen on steam lists two separate items. While it is relatively easy to stop the download of the test server client and prevent it from trying to install every time you open Steam (right-click it in your library and pick the uninstall option), it is still super annoying that it starts it by default. If you’re like my roommates, just starting the download and walking away, you won’t even know you’re wasting 30+ GB of space for a version of the game you’re never going to use.

After the download was done, I loaded up the game, started playing, and ran into the second hurdle, one which I continuously run into. At the end of a mission, my game has crashed all but two times. First it plays really terribly synth music as the mission-end stat screen displays itself and then it eventually just shuts down, notifying me that an error report has been sent to the developer. As of today, nothing I’ve tried to fix the problem (based on message board posts and comments from the developer on Steam) has worked. Almost every mission I play ends with the game crashing and me loading up the game again for the next mission.

Aside from that, the game really is a lot of fun. The characters are excellent, each with their own voice and general style of combat. Within the characters, the carious class options and abilities are different enough that each feels different and refreshing. All together, it allows you to create a party that can fit almost any mission type using the same four characters every time. The weapon varieties are fun and easy to understand, so you’re never left wondering what is the difference between two types of bow or two types of polearms. Probably the best part is that, even with the class variation and unlockable abilities, the individual skill of the player counts for a lot. Sure, being higher leveled is a huge advantage in terms of damage output and survivability, but no amount of gear of levels is going to save you on even the beginner missions if you’re terrible at the game.

The plot is rather forgettable (you gotta destroy some kind of hoard of vermin?) and the world is basically a giant crater you spend your time wandering through, but the strength of the game lies in your group’s ability to just murder hundreds of rat creatures as you make your way from point A to point B. All of the fun is in running through these relatively quick missions, killing tons of enemies, and seeing if you can get cool loot for picking up handicaps throughout the level (things that fill your health restoration slot or that lower your total HP significantly).

While that is tons of fun to do, I find myself struggling to enjoy spending time playing the game since I have to restart it every mission and wait for the horrible, screechy synth music to stop (I’m not joking when I call it music. It has a rhythm and a beat to it that I could really get into if it wasn’t make entirely of metallic screeches and feedback noise). If I can figure out what is wrong or the developers patch the game so it no longer crashes all the time, I could really get into it. Until then, I’m mostly going to save it for when I get frustrated with Overwatch or we want to play with my roommate who doesn’t really play Overwatch anymore.

Ultimately, I can’t really recommend buying it right now because of how often it crashes, but I’d put it on your wishlist and wait for the recent reviews to pick up before actually buying it.