Even though I haven’t been playing my trademark single player RPG’s as much this year, I’ve still found time for a little gaming. I don’t play quite like I used to, but the games I have indulged in recently have been co-op titles. My tastes haven’t changed, it’s just that I’ve been too busy to pour my time into something as vast and complex as Elder Scrolls or The Witcher. It also has a lot to do with the fact that there have been few single player games coming out of late that I’ve been really interested in.
What’s been so great about co-op gaming is that it gives me something fun to do with Aaron, my best friend who lives in the USA. And since Wolfenstein: The New Colossus came out, I’ve only really been using my Playstation 4 as a Roommate Communication Device. I’ve had some great fun down the years playing co-op experiences like Black Ops’ Zombie mode and Overwatch with my American roommate, and I was super-excited for us to play these two games while we are separated by the Atlantic.
Vermintide was a Christmas present from Aaron and his fiancée Anne-Marie. It’s a Left 4 Dead style game where you battle your way through a horde of rat-men in the Warhammer universe. Even though it is high fantasy, it’s got this apocalyptic tone to it. The Skaven represent the end of civilization for the surface world. They are like a literal plague crawling out of the sewers. I found them quite interesting as antagonists go; there’s a sense of futility in trying to hold out against an enemy that just keeps coming. It made me feel like this rag-tag team of bandits Aaron and I were playing as really were the last people on Earth. It’s the same reason I loved Mass Effect 3 so much- the fight against the Skaven, like the Reapers, feels hopeless.
As far as gameplay goes, it’s solid and smooth. I wouldn’t say I love the combat- I wanted a little more for it to feel like a hack-n-slash- but it’s adequate enough to still be enjoyable. I just don’t get the same bloodthirsty sense of satisfaction I get when mowing down Zombies on Tranzit. I wanted the Skaven to feel more squishy, as gross as that sounds. I just didn’t feel all that heroic when I was fighting them. The visuals are good, and the atmosphere in particular is excellent. If you can find a moment to catch your breath in between getting molested by those cunting Gutter Runners, then do check out the lovely vistas the city has on offer.
I had plenty of moments of fun playing with Aaron, but I felt like most of them came from our own banter- such as the panic that would ensue when one of us is getting dragged away by a Packmaster and we’d cry “Help! I’m being dragged to the rape dungeon!”. There’s something creepy about the image of an 8-foot rat pulling along a hopelessly flailing wood-elf that makes me think of the unmarked white vans that park outside elementary schools. I do wish the game featured more situations that really encouraged true cooperation. For the most part, we were just fighting enemies alongside each other, which was still fun, but not in a tactical, interdependent kind of way. We guarded each other when one of us was carrying explosive kegs and we revived each other when we’d be truncheoned one too many times by a shaggy muroid cock.
Overall I enjoyed the game, and I’d recommend it as a chill piece of co-op fun for a couple of buddies. I liked what was there- I just wanted more of it.