Fatshark's forthcoming Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide, which releases later this year for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, will continue this tradition, but focuses on more apocalyptic lore than previous games, with the world on the brink of falling apart at the hands of a mad necromancer named Nagash. Awoken from his slumber, he immediately calls upon an army of rats known as the Skaven to do his bidding against mankind. In control of a four-person army of soldiers, it's up to you to stop him.
Vermintide is a different game from other titles in the Warhammer saga, concentrating more on first person shooting as you work your way through the city, clearing out hordes of Skaven. You could easily go alone, but Fatshark built Vermintide with co-op in mind, similar to games like Valve's Left 4 Dead series. The goal is to work together as a team, staying alive for the next battles that lie ahead.
As with most games, there are various types of Skaven you'll face. Basic soldiers can be defeated with gunshots or melee attacks, but others – like crossbow-shooting rodents or the much bigger Rat Ogre (part of the Elite Skaven class) – require teamwork to bring down. Fortunately, as a four-man team, you can enter each battle with a tactical advantage, figuring out a strategy where two members launch a ground assault while the others find a relatively safe location to attack the larger rat from afar.
Each of the human characters in Vermintide brings something to the table. The Bright Wizard, for instance, uses fire attacks that deal massive damage to groups, although you'll need to use these moves sparingly since they take time to refill.
If you prefer gunplay, the Witch Hunter is your man. He carries a rapier for powerful melee attacks, as well as a pair of pistols that he can quickly reload, allowing him to plow through enemies.
Those who want to turn enemies into mush can call upon the Empire Soldier, who carries an enormous hammer that crushes anything in its path. He can convert this weapon into a Gatling gun within seconds, firing either a powerful blast or rapid-fire shots, depending on what firing mode you prefer.
Finally, the Waywatcher is a Wood Elf that utilizes a bow and a pair of swords to battle enemies. While the bow and arrows aren't as powerful as regular guns, they are far more accurate for headshots. Plus, the swords are useful when battling more than one enemy at a time.
Vermintide comes with a progression system that provides access to new weapons over the course of the game, although there are quicker ways to get these depending how you do things. Hunting a special Skaven, for instance, adds more to your progress than merely completing general story missions, allowing you to roll dice for extra items once you finish the stage. The more you complete, the more things you'll earn.
From what we've played so far, Vermintide has a lot of promise, even though the demo was quite short. No matter, fans of co-op-supported action should get their money's worth. Plus, the fresh perspective on the classic Warhammer lore should draw plenty of attention.
Now see the new Warhammer game in action, and if you are into first person shooters, read Prima’s free Wolfenstein: The Old Blood walkthrough.