When it comes to tinkering with a game like Vermintide, it’s very easy to muddle what made the original work – the video game equivalent of messing with the thermostat rather than putting another jumper on. I remember feeling that way when Left 4 Dead 2 launched; I loved the first game, but there was something about the sequel that felt off. I had issues with the pacing, chiefly, but there was something else about the experience that didn’t quite work, like it had lost some essential part of what made it great along the way.
A lot of changes, additions and alterations have been ushered in for Vermintide 2 (the preposterously long name Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide has been sensibly shortened to Warhammer: Vermintide 2, for one thing) and they combine to make a game that’s considerably different in both scope and execution. Crucially, however, these changes do nothing to diminish the fun at Vermintide’s chaotic heart. Rather, they build on the legacy of the first game to create a sequel that’s simultaneously broader in scope and more streamlined than its predecessor.
For the uninitiated, Vermintide 2 plonks a team of four (out of five playable) characters at the start of a level, challenging them to see their mission through to the end without being torn to pieces along the way. Each of the five characters – Bright Wizard, Waywatcher, Witch Hunter, Dwarf Ranger and Empire Soldier – acts as a separate class rather than just a character skin, offering players roles to specialise in and squabble over. Tucked away in each level are three tomes and two grimoires. Tomes occupy the inventory slot reserved for healing tools, while grimoires take the place of potions. Both improve the quality of gear players receive as a reward for successfully completing a mission, although carrying them is not without risk – each grimoire reduces the players’ health pool by a third, significantly narrowing their chances of success.
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