Warhammer, Not Just a 'Poor Man's' LOTR!

Left4Dead Meets Camelot?

Stace and I are big survival horror fans - whether that be the classic Left4Dead, or Back4Blood or Zombie Army 2 - we like a good hoard based co-op shooter. The only thing is, getting reliant on one - albeit exciting and enjoyable - game mechanic, like hoard survival, can get a little tedious after a while. Having played through and completed both Left4Dead and Back4Blood Stace and I were ready for something a little different.

Above: Left4Dead established a format which inspired a host
of wannabe games based on the 4 team-member co-op hoard
survival mechanic. It's getting a little clichéd now though.

Party of 4 - Warhammer Vermintide II
Above: Vermintide 2's party of four!

Rebellion's Zombie Army 4 did give us a new and interesting theme pitting us in a WW2 scenario against Nazi zombies, but it was still kinda a modern shooter with conventional and familiar automatic weapons.

A bit of a change was 2K's 2022 'Tiny Tina's Wonderland', which was a co-op game within the Borderlands universe BUT one that added a 'sword and sorcery' theme to the usual mechanic with a greater emphasis on fantasy melee and magic weapons. Still, it was only a cosmetic change to the usual gun-heavy borderlands fair, and a great many of the 'fantasy weapons' were little more than the same old Borderlands guns in disguised.

Dad & Daughter Game Night - Tiny Tina's Wonderlands (PC)
Above: Tiny Tina's Wonderland was touted as a 'Sword & Sorcery' take on the Borderlands
IP, but while there were swords - big ones - there were also a lot of guns (again)!

So when it came for us to pick our next game for Dad'n'Daughter Game Nights we were curious to see what a more full-on 'sword & sorcery' based hoard survival would feel like and so we picked up 'Warhammer Vermintide 2' from the STEAM store.

The Warhammer Universe - The Pepsi to LOTR's Coka-Cola

Game's Workshop's Warhammer (formerly Warhammer Fantasy Battle or just Warhammer Fantasy) is a tabletop miniature wargame with a medieval fantasy theme. In many ways it sought to mimic a Tolkien type universe but add a little more fun to the different factions in order to support GW's miniature designs.

Above: 'Age of Sigmar', the latest incarnation of GW's 'Old World' Warhammer Fantasy.

Though, while Tolkien's LOTR universe can be said to have been heavily influenced by his interest in Dark Ages and Anglo-Saxon myth and legend, Warhammer has a more late-medieval flavour to it, to the point where it does incorporate technological advances like gunpowder. (So, yes, you do get guns!)

The races and entities depicted in the Warhammer 'Old World' (to differentiate it from the later incarnation of the game - Warhammer 40,000) are recognisably Tolkienesque, with Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Wizards and Dragons. But GW also added some more unique races like Choas, Skaven, Lizardmane and Vampires, for example. Anyway, you can read more about Warhammer Fantasy here: Wikipedia - Warhammer.

Above: Skaven - or 'Ratmen' - are the primary footsoldiers you
come up against in Vermintide. Makes a change from Orks! LOL

Now, I give you this potted backstory because - there is no doubt about it - when you start playing Vermintide 2 you will get very heavy LOTR vibes! Despite the fact that Game Workshop would vociferously argue that theirs is a distinctly different fantasy world and that they - in this game -  cunningly swapped out the main villains of the piece from Orks (which exist in both these fantasy universes) to Skaven (giant rats). 😏

Warhammer Vermintide II (PC) - That is No Ork Horn!
Above: You'll get more than a few 'LOTR' flashback references when 
you play Warhammer Vermintide 2, as we found out!

OK, But Is the Game Any Good?

Phew, that was quite a preamble to get to the point. Is Warhammer Vermantide 2 any good (despite suspicions of it being a tad derivative)?

Well, yes. It is actually a lot of fun. I am a big Tolkien fan myself but love Warhammer's take on the fantasy genre. The tone - as I mentioned - is slightly more 'late medieval' as you can see from my character that I chose in the game - The Mercenary...

Warhammer Vermintide 2 - Mercenary Character

He is clearly a version of a Landsknecht  - German Mercenary Pikemen & 16th Century Warfare, Medieval or 'The Middle Ages' spanning a wide period of European history from about a.d. 500 to about 1500. So, stylistically, it can take in a lot of 'knightly looks' from the post-Roman 'Arthurian' to the start of the gunpowder age.

My character - in particular - allows access to early gunnery items, from handheld cannonettes to early flintlock contraptions. There are other characters that you can play which use guns if you feel you aren't quite ready to go 'full hack & slash'! (It's a good - if somewhat cheaty feeling way to make this game more accessible to those more use to the modern shooter games like L4D).

That said, I really got into the edged weapon skirmishes, and particularly liked maces and axes...

Vermintide 2 (PC) - Dad's New Chopper!
Above: Dad's got a new chopper!

The one thing I would say about weapons in Vermintide 2 is that they tend to fall foul of the same problems weapons did in the Borderlands series. The game has gone for quantity over customisation.

You no sooner find a weapon that you really like, than - due to the game progression - it peaks in it's effectiveness as better enemies come along and so you constantly have to be upgrading to a more effective weapon, even if the newer type isn't quite to your liking. My daughter - Stace - notes this issue in the above video, where her new magic staff maybe stronger than her old one but isn't as useful in the context of her preferred play style.

I'm afraid - in Vermintide 2 - you just have to suck it up and make do with whatever weapon you end up upgrading to, whether it feels as fun or as useful as the less-powerful one you had previously. Hard cheese!

(I'd have much preferred it if there were fewer weapon types, but that you could earn or win weapon upgrades for those types. So, for example, if you are a mace fan - like me - you could be constantly improving the strength and ability of the mace you have, rather than having to exchange it for - say -m a long sword which is more powerful, but has a different melee style (longer range, but not so fast up close).

What About Bad Guys? The Enemies in Vermintide 2

Vermintide 2 follows the time-honoured method of enemies improving in strength and type with each new level you progress to. As well as topping off each 'Act' or chapter in a campaign with a 'boss level' baddy!

There are also random appearances of specialist enemy - like Gas Rats or Assassin Rats or Chaos Warriors - to keep the action spicy. And these have a habit of turning up at just the wrong time, so you have to be ready to focus the attention of the team on them when they appear.

And some of the 'big' sub-bosses are BIG... 😬

Dad.n.Daughter Game Night - Vermintide 2 Session

So you have plenty of challenges ahead of you, and as usual in co-op survival games you need to work together as a team to over come the end of level bosses, these can be very powerful and challenging.


It came as quite a surprise - particularly to Stace, who I think thought this would be a sort of role playing fantasy game - just how enjoyable Vermintide 2 is. The change in theme from the usual zombie/post-apocalyptic world to a fantasy setting has really revitalised this style of game for us.

Of particular note is the wonderful job that the developers have made of the game world which has a variety of different environments. From dank mines, to misty forests, to dilapidated medieval towns the environments have been excellent eye candy as well as being constantly varied and refreshing mazes which you fight through.

Even the character 'lobby' - a ramshackle castle where you equip your character, meet your teammates and chose your missions - is intriguing and it grows larger as your character progresses...

Warhammer Vermintide 2 - Castle Walk Around

All in all, we have been very pleased with what we thought was just going to be a 'filler' game until we found the next big release. We are finding it very engaging, to the point where an evening's session is flying by!

I'm looking forward to seeing how the game unfolds and where the campaign's story is taking us, and what creatures we are going to face next!

And most of all, a kudos to the developers for bringing the Yorkshire term 'wazzock' back into our vocabulary! (Used by the Dwarven character frequently! Much to our amusement!) 😆

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