Not every game created for PC makes a good console port and vice versa. Unfortunately, Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide is one of those that shouldn’t have been ported from PC. While I have no doubt that it excels on PC, and the glowing Steam reviews definitely suggest that, it does not translate well to the console. As a Warhammer fan, I’m always excited to play Warhammer games on console, since they are far and few between. I think the only Warhammer game that would be a bigger mess to port to console would be the Dawn of War series, which should firmly stay on PC. The next time Fatshark decides that they do want to port a co-op only game to the console, they need to consider an AI option and better voice chat.
Overrun With R.O.U.S.
It’s the end of the world in Vermintide, and the city of Ubersreik is teeming to the brim with Skaven—rodents of unusual size. The player’s job is to team up with three other heroes and clean out the region of this tide of vermin. Perhaps it does just delay the inevitable, since this is the End Times, but who wants to meet their end by giant rats? The next plague will surely be the more dignified way to go.
There are five different heroes to choose from: the Bright Wizard, the Witch Hunter, Empire Soldier, Dwarf Ranger, and Waywatcher. All have various abilities and equipment, and forming a balanced party of four from these characters is vital to successfully complete a mission. If you don’t have three friends to fight with you, the game will match you up with other players. I don’t know if the matchmaking successfully ensured that I was always with three different heroes or if it was a happy coincidence, but I never played with more than one type of hero.
No matter where you go, there is nothing but various Skaven running amok and devouring everything in their path. The only things that change are the scenery, the pathways, and the mission goal. Not every Skaven is the same, and there are various classes for various challenges. The real challenge comes in surviving the sudden waves of giant rats that will easily overwhelm a party. It’s all about survival and keeping your partymembers alive at the game’s core. It’s very Left 4 Dead-esque with a Warhammer twist, but at least in Left 4 Dead, you could play with bots if you didn’t want to play with strangers.
Communication Is Key
The only way to stay alive is to work with your team and work well. If you have three friends to play with, I have the utmost confidence that your team will have little problems working together to get through the campaign levels and/or the random dungeon generation. When it comes to playing with strangers, surviving is nearly impossible.
Communicating with everyone is the only way to effectively get through an area. The roads twist and wind, and none lead to the obvious path of where to go. If one person breaks off from the pack to see where a pathway goes, chances are that person will die alone. If the party can’t revive them in time, then the player will “respawn” in a room, lying on a floor and rocking back and forth waiting for someone to come back and revive them. If you’re with strangers, chances are high that you will not have party chat on or the rest of the party won’t have the chat turned on. Therefore, there’s no way to tell them to come find you and resurrect your sorry butt. You can either ghost cam your party, drop out of the game entirely, or watch your pathetic character flop around like a fish out of water. None of these options are that appealing.
I played one campaign level without my own chat turned on, and I didn’t make that mistake again. Sadly, the other times I did play, no one else had their chat turned on. There’s no other way to communicate other than using your character to try to wave at another (wave meaning flailing your weapons around or jumping) and hope they will look at you and understand what you are trying to say.
No one was using voice chat when I attempted the randomly generated dungeon runs either. I had hoped with the dungeon runs, since they are one-shot missions, perhaps things would get better if I turned down the difficulty all the way, but it really didn’t matter. Even on Easy, communication between teammates is crucial to successfully completing a short dungeon run.
Since I did not have a set team of friends, there is not a bot option to choose, and I had a horrendous time communicating with anyone, my time in Ubersreik was about as pleasant as a real-life Skaven invasion. [Ed. note: We did indeed learn soon after posting that there are bot teammates which are automatically assigned if not enough people can make a match. However, the game supposedly informs you this happens and asks if you want to continue. As this never once happened for me, I could not know that bots could be part of my team. That said, there isn’t a bot option to select if you don’t want to play with others.] This is why I never play the multiplayer portion of a game without at least a couple of friends comprising my team. Problem here is that there is only a multiplayer portion with no way to play solo, unless you count the tutorial, which I don’t. Although I did enjoy the tutorial immensely because I didn’t have to get the attention of teammates, and I learned a bit about my particular character’s back story (the Waywatcher) as well as what is going down in these End Times.
I understand that implementing bots in as teammates might be even more painful, as bot AI is often about as helpful as uncommunicative teammates. But if bots aren’t the answer, then perhaps changing up the respawn system is the better solution. It makes sense why there is no respawning at all in the random dungeon crawls, but the current respawn system in the campaign is beyond comprehension. I suppose the interim solution is to suck less and not die.
While there are plenty of co-op only titles on the console, most of these were built with consoles in mind and therefore had devices in place to make a mandatory teamwork experience a smooth one. It doesn’t take long to see that Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide for PS4 was certainly not constructed with consoles in the forethought; it’s quite the afterthought, and it painfully shows. Stick to the PC for this one.
Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.