How Vermintide 2 is specifically designed to punish Melee and reward Ranged combat

I am posting this from reddit after much positive feedback as well as a few points which I’ve added from other contributors. This is in regards to what I think is the core issue with this game that sucks the enjoyment out of it; that even if all the bugs were fixed it is still flawed at its core gameplay-wise

A meta revolves around what is most effective at dealing with a variety of situations using the least resources. The ranged meta everyone complains about is a natural response to bad game design or coding flaws.

The reason why the ranged meta is so prevalent is two-part: The first is that ammo regen traits are broken and allow certain classes to spam their ranged weapons with no consequence. This can be easily fixed by having Scrounger and Heat Sink NOT consume ammo/heat on Proc rather than returning ammo. Alternatively we can re-introduce Earthing Rune and other ammo regen traits as a melee-only traits while removing the ranged-regen traits. Burning Head for Pyro should also have a longer cooldown for balance.

The second is that the game is almost exclusively designed to punish a player for engaging in melee combat.

Let me list why:

• Enemies don’t have collision which leads to enemies stacking into each other and stabbing through one another, thus giving the player no way to anticipate their attacks and block. This is in stark contrast to V1 where pattern-recognition and reaction-time was key to not getting damaged. You could solo a whole horde on Cata and not receive any damage. This is near impossible to achieve in V2, and no matter how good you are you will still receive damage from an unexpected stab. On the other hand, stacked enemies advantage ranged players as a single shot or fireball can kill multiple enemies at once from a distance.

•Ice skating enemies.

•Running attacks proccing too often if the player takes one step back and with too far a range than should be possible.

• Chokepoints only give the enemies an advantage since Hyperdensity is still a thing and the slot system is either outright ignored by the AI or perverted by the above points. Get trapped in the wrong area and you will be assaulted by 10+ stabs that lock you in place, leaving you almost no way to fight back.

•Likewise, an entire chokepoint or superior positioning can be disrupted by a lone hookrat that can wade through dozens of rats and pull tanking players into a mass of sharp, pointy objects. Because after all this is a team based game, teammates will break position to save the player and will be punished by the above points. This has started a worrying trend I’ve seen on Legend pubs where teams will abandon a player who is hooked because it isn’t worth the trouble to get them back or even chastise them for fulfilling their classes role.

• Level geometry can screw you over. A one inch plank of wood sticking out of the ground will prevent you from dodging away from a dense horde or boss combo-attack, leading to you getting swarmed.

• Most specials can’t be approached in normal combat either due to distance or due to the dangers of getting disabled/fired at while trying to melee them. Thus it is easier and more efficient to comfortably take them out with a ranged weapon. The issue is that the ammo count was reduced from V1 and thus most classes only have 11-30 ammo to spare, which they run through quickly due to the increased special spam in higher difficulties. This means their effectiveness is cut in half once they run out of ammo, as otherwise it is difficult to reach and melee specials before they attack, especially when other enemies occupy you. Ranged-focused characters have both high ammo count and thus more chances to procc ammo regen, thus not being affected by this issue. Conversely if you ran out of ammo in V1, having the Scavenger trait on your melee weapon would restore a paltry but sufficient amount of ammo for dealing with specials after a horde, rewarding you for melee combat.

•Boss battles take longer and are riskier to fight if you dont have enough DPS classes, with only 2 of them being melee-based (Shade and a VERY talented Slayer).

• Blocking most boss attacks is useless as you still get damaged from them, the Ogre and Chaos Spawn have an unblockable 20-frame-long insta smash that may or may not be executed as they 180 towards an unsuspecting player. If the player is too close or cornered by these bosses they will execute that attack nonstop with no way to escape or recover in time in most situations. This is related in the next point.

•Multiple boss spawns in the game are placed in inconveniently cramped or otherwise hard to navigate areas. Some notorious examples are the dark area in Hunger in The Dark, the Ogre pens in Into the Nest, the narrow canyon area in Athel Yenlui, and the falling cliffs in Halescourge where the first grim is. This is only made worse if a horde spawns or an area-denying special such as a rattler, gas, fire rat, or blightstormer fires anywhere near that area, leading to end game situations where you cannot effectively kite and melee so many enemies at once.

•The Stormfiend is either the easiest boss ever or you can accidentally touch a flame and lose 70% of your health to insane DOT. This happens frequently during melee due to players getting caught on level geometry or being blocked by other enemies.

•Approaching or being near a CW too close during combat leads it to executing an insta punch that is near impossible to predict. They also have a fast shove which leaves you motionless for a second and allows another enemy to have a free chance to hit you. On the other hand they can be stunned by a well placed headshot and taken out more easily and quickly with ranged attacks/ULTs.

•Heavy attacks can be magnetically locked on to you. You dodge sideways from an overhead only for the enemy to spin into your direction near instantly and taking half your health. Dodging backwards will either lead to ice skating or you simply getting hit due to poor lag/hitbox detection.

• Patrols can be dealt with more efficiently with ranged spam while engaging in melee combat leads to all of the above.

•The Troll is the biggest offender of bad game design. If your team doesn’t have enough DPS, the battle can take up to 10 minutes which makes it more likely for hordes or specials to spawn during the boss battle. If you are down a member or two, or are the last player standing, you can’t even revive your teammates due to a mind numbingly stupid decision by the Devs to place an impenetrable wall that enemies can cross but you cant, all because of “muh speedrunners”.

The Troll’s running attack can deal damage regardless of blocking or dodging effectively. Attacking the troll’s rear can resulting in it spinning towards you and puking all over you, preventing you from reacting to whatever comes after for the next 5 seconds. Its bile’s DOT punishes you for walking anywhere near it during the puking animation since it spreads past its back most of the time. If the Troll pukes and then walks the opposite direction, chasing after it with a melee weapon results in you taking damage from the bile.

Now while Ranged focused teams aren’t immune to these points, they do otherwise avoid them and are thus rewarded with more stable and consistent runs as opposed to a melee-focused team. A lone melee-based class on a ranged dominated team would be lucky to have anything to kill and would otherwise uselessly tags along. On the other hand, a competent lone Ranged character is rewarded with the highest scores at the end of the game except for damage taken since they can comfortably deal insane damage, Crowd Control, Special and Boss elimination all at a safe distance and avoid most of the mentioned points.

Despite the Devs claiming that this is a melee-focused game the game design undermines such statements. Being a Pyro, Shade, BH, WS, or Huntsman on average puts you on easy street and increases your chance at completing a level on legend. Shade is only doing so well because of her ult. Ranger Vet is passable with crossbow or smart Grudgeraker play. Merc, Slayer (better than most), WHC, FK, IB, and Zealot all struggle with bosses and other unfavorable situations as they have to approach enemies rather than standing still and firing at whatever comes at them.

Considering all this, its no wonder most players choose to focus on ranged classes and thus the meta you see today.

The reason I took my time to write this isn’t because of saltiness or sour grapes with the game, although I’m sure everyone who has played the game as long as me secretly harbors such feelings. I want this game to do well, as do any others that supported it by purchasing it. But the main issue stands that the game is broken on a fundamental level. The Devs may call such feedback a “hatetrain”, but it is more akin to passionate and active customers expecting better especially when mistakes from the first product should have not been repeated.

And this is only focusing on the main meat of the gameplay. There are many baffling and head-scratching design decisions made by the devs which inconvenience players or outright downgrade the experience from V1, something that V2 as a sequel should have avoided. Instead we are now bleeding players and jaded review scores have panned the game critically on Steam.

TL;DR I propose Fatshark_Hedge and the rest of the dev team to sit down with the community ,not just with j_sat and the rest of the high level vets but the ENTIRE V2 community, and answer or explain the reasoning behind many of the game’s design decisions and what we can do to fix those which are glaringly inconvenient, broken, or just plain bad. Once legitimate solutions are proposed, create a flexible roadmap of fixes and patches as well as how soon can they be reasonably implemented so that the community is constantly updated and no longer needs to feel like their feedback doesn’t matter. I would also like to kindly ask the Dev team to accept my feedback regarding the way melee feels inferior in the current state of the game and rework Range’s dominance.

Thank you.

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An interesting read, thank you. Unlike the others, this one is far more nuanced.

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This is a melee focused game. Thanks for this compilation. While melee parties work fine, many design choices indeed are deliberately made to punish melee players.

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This is what I have been saying since the beginning. They manage to take the almost perfect melee system from V1 and ruin it to the point where melee is just an extra. So many cheap mechanics that punishes melee. Not because its challenging, but cheap/artificial ai tricks.

V1 was challenging, V2 is frustrating to melee. Losing in V1 is you just aint good enough but losing in V2 feels cheap. Similar to ai cheating somewhat. But this is al solved when you play ranged. Dont know how they can claim this game is melee focussed.

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It really is the most insulting against bosses and their currently broken aggro. Not only do you have way less time to actually hit a presenting weakspot, but you then also have to aim and angle your screen to even be able to hit said weakspot. And then, as you mentioned, bosses really love to do 180 slam attacks that you cant possibly see coming and dodge or even block.

As an unrelated thing, bosses keep on clobbering downed players, regardless of how much punishment they take from the rest. And they will even continue to attack when the downed player is killed, usually 2-3 attacks more than needed.

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Can’t say they’re not thorough.

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That would pretty much make the Traits worthless. The real problem comes from some careers and builds (in practice, mostly Pyro and BH) being able to abuse these with their high crit rates. The careers that can’t be built for dependable crits don’t have the same problem, although Kerillian’s Talents allow her to spam arrows a lot too. I find Kerillian to be less of a problem, though, because you either sacrifice a more flexible build or have to at least pace your shooting somewhat to achieve continuous ranged combat (and likely, some of both).

As much as I’d like this, it would be practically impossible to implement. What happens to the weapons with the old Traits? Should they be taken away? Automatically rerolled? Left as is? How would FS search each and every account for those weapons? In the end, this would create a huge amount of (otherwise useless) work and leave a huge amount of players at least annoyed, no matter how it was done. I agree that letting the characters replenish their ammo (or reset heat) by shooting more was a mistake, though. It’s just quite hard to fix.

While this is certainly annoying (and could be made better, likely by making stranglers a bit more noticeable), good positioning takes this into account, and decisions need to made whether to save the grabbed player now or in a moment. Sometimes sacrifices need to be made.

This would be a good place for improving Shields, but I don’t think it’s “most” attacks. Each Boss has one, maybe two such attacks (in addition to DoT effects).

Then again, in good spots, bosses approach trivial if the horde takes its time to arrive, and usually you can backtrack or push enough that you get to at least slightly better area to fight the Boss.

This is more a question of the dodge timing being somewhat strange. It’s hard to effectively learn it as there’s nearly always more going on, but the dodge needs to be timed quite well. Too early or too late, and the enemy can still track you, and especially the “too late” part is not completely intuitive. It’s learnable, though.

The wall is not just to prevent speedrunning. Any team can outrun the Troll or Stormfiend if they want. That the walls also effectively prevent respawning is troublesome, still, and could be fixed by tweaking the respawn points and/or wall locations.

Other than the points I commented on, I pretty much agree.

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But why would they want to? Running ahead of the boss is a bad idea, basically a recipe for having the boss ketchup to you at a really bad time .

I also don’t understand why everyone thinks the troll is slow because he has no problem catching me when I run from him.

It’s not just the troll, certain bosses start “sprinting” towards you, if you run away from them. I think the rat ogre lunges at you, if you’re too far away. Chaos spawn jumps towards you, and I don’t remember what troll and storm fiend do. But, I am going to assume that they have some kind of mechanic to accelerate towards you, once you’re far away from them.

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They can’t sprint. If you ever forced them to spawn when Skittergate was exploitable, for example, they took forever to reach you compared to Roger and spawn.

Interesting, I must admit it’s been a while since I last played the game, and may have misremembered some details.

Now that’s a viable wall of feedback, devs please, take a good look.

This undoubtedly comes from an experienced player, who knows how different careers play, the team interactions, and what the careers are capable of.

All points just nail it. I wanna outline especially, how pretty much all specials and bosses extremely punish melee approach or melee careers, and much more manageable with ranged careers.

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I think the biggest problem with ranged meta is that it has led people to think of the game as being intended to be easier than it is, with challenges you must work around in melee combat - that’s why they say it’s a “melee-focused game”, because the game IS designed around that.

Unfortunately, ammo sustain is too good, and since there aren’t numerous mechanics built around it, your last point about the Troll’s regen being a bit too strong for meaningful gameplay; there is no counter-play as there is for every single other enemy, other than “bring a high DPS class”.

The rest of the problems were in the first game. They are either unavoidable (enemy collision would be impossible with how many entities there are, which already strains the CPUs of most systems, thus they will stack. I would say it was a WORSE problem in VT1, because it would happen with ambients, meaning you think you see one rat and hit it, and then the other hits you for a big chunk of life because it’s not reduced by multiple enemies targeting you. Granted, Chaos were messed up for a long time, but they did fix that, and I no longer see Chaos enemies doing that except in situations like choke points (which is just unavoidable).

Ranged spam was an issue in the first game, it was just generally harder to keep up constant ammo - it could be done with very specific builds and weapons, but was still RNG-dependent and didn’t work for the most powerful weapons (like repeater handgun; remember how the meta for bosses and patrols was just give Kruber a Str pot and let him melt them?).

Frankly, if you solve the issue of ranged being so spammable . . . you solve almost all the “design” problems you list, because those aren’t problems so much as INTENTIONAL design decisions.

Ice skating enemies? Well, they do look wonky, but they are meant to track you so you can’t simply WALK away from an enemy who is winding up. The only “good” solution here would be giving them a proper move animation for tracking while winding up, but this is not only unnecessary, but detrimental as it will make it will create more complexity for the gamer’s eye to take in when trying to figure out what the enemy is doing.

Running attacks are supposed to proc from you moving back. Jousting is a viable tactic, but isn’t supposed to be completely safe, and you should also incorporate dodging. And again, yes, it looks like they hit from an impossible range, but that’s because otherwise you could just run away from them and avoid all attacks. The first game did this as well. It’s the philosophy of gameplay > real world logic, but seriously; after seeing it a few times, are you not then prepared for it?

Hookrats are supposed to disrupt your defensive positions. The only problem with them is that they are sometimes silent. Fix that, and there is very little excuse to ever get caught by one.

I agree level geometry can be a pain. But seeing as it was intentionally placed in building the levels, I am assuming it is intentional that these places are difficult.

Specials are supposed to be dangerous to approach. Yes, this means you should shoot them. That’s fine. It just shouldn’t be fine to be ABLE to shoot every single thing on the map.

While it was horrible the first few times a Chaos Spawn 180’d and overheaded me, it keeps the bosses a threat. You have to have an idea at all times of how much aggro you might have, and if he might turn on you. Focus on landing slower, big hits on him, then dodging back in case you draw his aggro. As wonky as it looks, doesn’t it HELP cement that they are dangerous monsters you should be worried about? If they had a long animation to warn you that you have aggro, they would literally be trivial.

On boss spawn points, though; I fully agree. Some of them are just so awful, I feel like they picked them just for maximum difficulty, but unfortunately they just get to be way too hard because you are deprived of nearly all tactical options.

Stormfiend is . . . weird, but I guess he’s just an “all or nothing” enemy. It’s certainly a different design from other enemies and he’s often too easy, but I guess they felt it at least made him unique.

You literally just say the scenario in which to expect a CW punch. Approach carefully, don’t hang out too close, and you won’t get punched. When you treat them as just punching bags is when you eat a punch.

Ping can make dodging difficult. Fortunately, you can still block heavy overheads from elites, and that’s optimal, since you won’t then accidentally kite it into an ally.

Patrols are much tougher this time around to deal with by ranged spam, but this comes back again to ammo regen.

I would love to hear a dev sit down, but I sadly think it would lead to nothing. There IS a hatetrain going on, and while some people are clearly frustrated and love the game but are reasonable (like yourself), it has become very trendy to just hate on the devs. I really think a “sit down” of any kind would be entirely derailed by the haters, nothing would get explained, and that would only fuel their “SEE I TOLD YOU IT WAS A CONSPIRACY” stuff.

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You’re wrong. We did manage to persuade Fatshark Hedge to consider doing a weekly dev diary. It would be possible to have a sit down with the devs, and communicate on the current state of the game. It’ll just take one step at a step. We also need to be able to create a non-hostile environment.

People seem to forget devs are people too, they can be reasoned, we just need to be able to safely moderate the discussion.

Like I said, one step at a time.

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Fair point. I think literally anyone would at least find interesting the theory behind decision making at Fatshark, whether they agree with those decisions or not.

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The question though, how do we manage to create an environment, where open dialogue on game design can be exchanged with the devs.

It was easy to have a dialogue with Hedge because he actually visits these forums, and observes the ongoing conversations within the threads. The devs not so much, they’re scattered on multiple channels. Fatshark Robin barely visits these forums, and instead mainly visits Reddit and occasionally Steam. I don’t know about the other devs, but, I’ve seen a few on Reddit.

They do have those twitch streams, but nothing interesting comes out of it.

It’s a conundrum.

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The troll has some strange “bug walk” he just speeds up his movement animation to a ridiculous speed resulting for him to be just as fast as players can run.

Poor stormfiend will be left behind.

I don’t like the wall as a game play element I would like to see the troll and stormfiend to have a sprint mode to catch up.

If they were interested, probably create a topic for questions from the forum where people can pick ones (tbh, might get a better result posted on Reddit, though), where a mod will then pick which questions to pass on. That way we will hopefully get better questions than they often answer on stream, but also weed out the ones that are just veiled accusations and vitriol.

i agree with the vast majority , a lot of us have said similar things though admitedly usually with less depth and eloquence.

But i dont think melee being the harder/worse option is the issue , i always thought ranged was meant to be a lot more powerful it was just also meant to be limited by ammo and friendly fire. both considerrations that have been all but removed in V2.

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Hmm, I might message Hedge later, and see if he is up for this kind of thing.

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