I have been playing Vermintide 1 + 2 for a very long time. My total hours nearing somewhere in the 2,250 mark. I have been an avid gamer for as long as I could hold a controller in my hands, or have a PC available to me. I love the universe and the characters you’ve created, which is why I’m going to tell you exactly how I feel about the current state of the game, and the soon to come expansion.
The majority of criticism you’re about to receive has been building up ever since I was able to critically dissect what works in the game and what needs fixing or alteration. While this post is not the culmination of EVERYTHING I want to say about the game, it is substantial, and will point out a good chunk of problems or issues that have been plaguing this game for a long time. I post this here, and not on the mysterious beta forums, because I have not been granted access to it, even after directly asking for access from Hedge. Know that, all my criticism stems from a desire to make this game better, which means, both, for the player, and for Fatshark as a company, and while I may come across as crass or angry, it’s probably because I am angry or upset that the developers are not placing enough resources into areas that can turn this GOOD game, into a GREAT one. I hope that some of my comments shine a light on your process and the frustrations of many players whom I’ve discussed these issues at length with. These players that have stuck with your game as long, if not longer than myself, and are the ones that I would consider to the the truly dedicated and who care about your product.
I’ve taken the Beta survey from the launcher and essentially the flow of topics is directly from the questions asked by the survey. I’m writing this here, because the survey deemed my responses “too long” and would not allow me to submit my full report on the beta, and the current live version of the game. So, let’s begin:
Did you find Weaves engaging and fun?
Please explain why.
My answer was: Not at all.
I already spent time optimizing my gear for every character. Now, you reskinned a bunch of maps and
weapons and essentially attached a meaningless task for the player to perform, so that they can grind … more loot? No thank you. Your loot system is already sh!t enough without me wanting to do 2 sets of grinding, just so that I can play extra DLC missions.
Secondly, your re-use of game assets is incredibly painful. I get that a game will do this from time to time, but you’re just taking old levels, putting in some root, crystal, or magma rock models and calling it an extra mode? This is painfully cheap, even for you guys. If you want a good example of DLC done right, look at The Witcher 3 dlcs, and try and live up to that standard, because the weave is not fun, it’s not challenging, and it’s not really balanced (though this is still BETA so, you can kinda get away with that for now).
Please explain why you did/did not enjoy these winds?
These modes do not really provide anything more to the story of Vermintide, or at least there isn’t any connection to the story so far in the beta. Secondly, the missions resets all your gear. Why? Why split up the weapons sets for different modes? This is at best annoying, and at worst a terrible idea. I have about 1500 hours in your game and you can rest in the solace that YOU DO NOT NEED TO MAKE THIS GAME ANY MORE GRINDY. You’d have thought that you would have learned your lesson form V1, but you actually took it further in V2, and now this? This is a terrible, AWFUL way extend your games longevity and the sooner you remove it, the better.
Was there a particular Weave you found extra challenging? What made it stand out?
The gimmicks of the levels, at least as far as I had gotten, were not very memorable. “Take this, carry it there.” “King of the hill” “Take and give extra fire dmg” “Incremental grimoire stacks that can be reversed by wasting time standing next to golden pyramids” “Don’t stand in the circle”. Listen, to some people, maybe these might be interesting, but to the seasoned gamers that still have faith in this game, and that have played numerous other games, these are extremely uninspired and feel extremely tacked on for no apparent reason.
Even if they hold to some aspect of the lore, they’re still more of an inconvenience than a fun mechanic, especially since you have to regrind all your equipment, instead of enjoying the mode. Furthermore, the people that might have found these gimmicks interesting, aren’t going to be the players that stick around or sing praises about your game. They’re going to pick it up for a week or two, then completely forget about it and move on, and you’ll be left with the hardcore fans of your game being upset at you not giving them any meaningful content. Catering to the casual audience is the death of a good video game. Don’t do it.
Let us know any thoughts you have regarding Weaves.
I will bring up the point that you guys did actually stumble on a good system for gear crafting. The way gear is currently being handled is fücking awful (as is the loot system, but I’ll get into that later). Re-rolling a piece of gear over and over again, in hopes to try a new build or modify a current one is the worst system I’ve dealt with since Diablo 3. It’s tedious, and unnecessary.
However, the method you have for adjusting the gears stats in the Weave menu, feels much more intuitive, is visually superior (since you can see which stats can go on which items), and is not RNG based which saves the player a ton of time and frustration. You could balance the costs out to move individual stats around and have a final total to be paid in dust at the end to switch them up. I can’t speak for others, but I would gladly pay 10 orange dust, to move around all the stats I might want to try, instead of gambling for 10, 20, 40, 70 times in order to finally get the combination I had in mind. I recommend you implement this system, or one similar to it, for the crafting menu of the main content of the game.
Let us know your thoughts on what we should do to improve the customization screen (Temper screen)
Pick one or the other. There is 0 good reasons why there needs to be 2 sets of weapons load-outs in this game. As I mentioned before, I’ve worked really hard to acquire some of the items that I have, and I don’t want to grind for another specialty item when I’ve already put in the time. Implement the new Temper screen as the crafting menu and allow extra bonuses to be added to current equipment, instead of there being 2 different sets. Or completely rework the mode, because this is simply awful.
If you played on Cataclysm how did you find it?
I feel like it might be a bit over tuned atm. Overall, I like the idea, but there are certain aspects of it currently that don’t work very well. First of all, while playing on CATA, there’s obviously a learning curve, especially when I played with the players that were allowed into the beta. Secondly, no body knows the optimal talents for every build so, I am taking that into account. Given these two considerations, the games I did play with people I would consider appropriate for the difficulty level felt pretty good, until there was a horde.
What I got out of this, was, everything just has WAY too much health. This is a basic problem every game designer runs into when tuning for difficulty, how do I introduce more challenges into my game but still make it fair. Often times, an inexperienced designer will make the mistake of simply turning everything into a meat shield, or bullet sponge. Adding more health to an enemy IS NOT a creative or interesting way to up the difficulty on anything.
With that said, most of what you’ve done is already working fine with the difficulty level:
- There’s more specials, and they spawn more frequently
- There’s now berserkers and plague monks mixed in with the horde waves.
These things work GREAT to add more depth to the combat by adding layers of complexity to it, instead of simply making things absorb more dmg. Then, you need to give players choices, either via talents, or weapons and move sets, to deal with those complex situations that might arise. Currently - and again, this might be just the lack of play-time that was available to me - there is simply not enough tools to deal with all the threats that are possed to the group of players with the enemies having such a large amount of health, but I’ll get into that in a later discussion about enemies and possible adjustments to their gameplay.
With that said, the over-tuning part is the sheer amount of health each enemy has. Not a single character, with the possible exception of Ironbreaker, or Merc Kruber with the Executioner sword, and both with proper talents can hold their ground when a horde comes (note: I haven’t tried it with Zealot or Foot Knight yet, but the point still stands). For the majority of the games I played, the loss condition was the first horde, and the group being overwhelmed by sheer numbers of enemies. This is boring, and it doesn’t allow unique or interesting builds from the new talent trees, because with a majority of the characters I played, I found only one optimal build that was absolutely necessary in order to win a Cata game. Those builds all consisted of “kill the enemy as fast as possible” and “become as tanky as possible”, these decisions automatically throw out roughly 2/3s of all other possible talent combinations, that might otherwise be interesting or fun to play as.
Lastly, the new race of beastmen, is the most un-fun group of enemies to fight thus far. Granted it’s still the beta, so I’ll cut you some slack, but I will describe in detail how almost every single enemy fails at being engaging when I talk specifically about the dlc enemies a little bit further down.
To sum it up, in order to make Cata more enjoyable, challenging and less frustrating, consider the following:
Add more complexity, not more health
Consider adding elites into hordes such as storm vermin, or the chaos equivalents
Do not turn the enemies into meat shields or bullet sponges
If you do end up tuning the health of enemies, you’re gonna have to do it EXTREMELY carefully, because your end-game matters more than all your other modes combined, and I’m assuming that Cata is going to end up being the new end game mode. If you fück it up, you’re just going to end up alienating your hardcore audience, and they’re going to steer any potential business away from your game.
Consider having 2 bosses spawn instead of one, but with ABSOLUTELY NO HORDES. Specials are still ok, but not too many.
Consider removing full hordes from fights with bosses. This is like MMO rule #1, a boss fight is NOT fun if you have to deal with adds. You can have something like a mini-horde, where it’s only like 1 part of the usual 3 part horde wave, but not all 3. This usually wipes most normal pick-up groups on Legendary difficulty and is incredibly unfun to deal with. On Cata, I can already forsee being an insta-loss condition for most groups that attempt it.
If you fought the Beastmen, how was your experience?
Extemely poor. So far, every beastman enemy has been extremely unfun to fight against.
-The charging elites: Whoever thought it would be a great idea to add an around-the-corner charging, unblockable enemy deserve the prize for making one of the least fun mechanics in a game I’ve seen in a long time. The dmg through block on this enemy ABSOLUTELY needs to be removed. The new mode is hard enough without a enemy that feels cheap added to it, and the stagger and stamina dmg is more than enough to make him a formidable enemy. Furthermore, if Kruber can’t make a 90 degree turn while charging, why can this enemy? Thirdly, what happens if your party is in a corridor or tunnel or there’s two of them charging you at staggered times but you only have one dodge? It’s just free dmg for the enemy and it’s completely unfair and unfun to deal with, unless you’re a class that can gen super good temp health. So to sum up:
Remove the dmg component of it’s charge
Rework how his charging mechanic works
Consider giving shields the ability to block their charge without being staggered (but still with stam dmg)
The banner bearers: This guy, might be even more annoying than the charging elite. Again, the prize for terribly unfun gameplay goes to whoever though that an AoE (area of effect) knockback on placement and destruction of the banner was a good idea. This is without a doubt the most annoyingly disorienting and büllsh!t ability of any of the specials so far. The only way to take these banners out is by melee-ing them down, but after placement you have to chew through a group of regenerating (not sure about regen, but it sure feels like they do) tank mobs in order to get to the banner. You can’t shoot it with arrows, or AoE it down w/ a fireball. So, the only way to get to it, is for certain classes like Handmaiden, Shade, Footknight, Slayer, or maybe even Battle Wizard to use their charge ability to charge into the fray and destroy the banner or kill the banner bearer before he places it. Over the course of the time I’ve played Cata with these enemies, very seldom did I see either of these tactics work well. Usually, the person would charge in, not be able to break the banner because of the mob density, and die. Even when they were able to break the banner, they would immediately be cut-off from the rest of the group, and then die. The person trying to snipe the special often times was, simply, unable to do so, or was stabbed int he back if the special came during a horde and was downed, complicating the matter. So, you can’t shoot it, you can’t reliably single hero charge it. The only reliable way to beat it, is to use overwhelming force. Once again, this means, Mass AoE spells like Flamestorm staff, fireball staff, and ults used in unison to counter-act the mass regeneration and meat shieldiness of the banner. Doing this, once again, pigeon-holds the character to use a very specific builds with no alternatives.
The knockback also seems to have the radius of the entire planet for some unknown reason. Not only is being interrupted the LEAST fun thing in this game, because it breaks your momentum and sometimes glitches your moveset. It also has the potential to knock you off a bridge or ledge, causing an insta wipe from a single special. This is unfair, and not fun. The radius of that knockback needs to be SEVERELY reduced, it’s ability to go through walls removed, and the knockback from destroying it needs to be completely removed, or at least, only affect the enemy, since this can give the charging class hero time to escape from the main horde.
If you’re fighting these guys in a horde, god help you, because they turn an entire area into a meatshield, which makes dealing with hordes nearly impossible on higher difficulties. If you’ve already lost a player or two, most often, this is an insta-wipe for the remaining players. Needless to say, this is NOT FUN.
Ideally, reworking this special completely would be the way to go, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
The archers: There’s not much to say about these guys, they’re just annoying and unfun. You can sort of dodge the arrows, but if you don’t, you just take dmg unless you have a shield, and if you have a shield, you can’t do anything against them because you’re probably locked in melee. Only ranged or dashing classes can really sort of deal with them, but at least they don’t have a lot of health. Still, every time I got shot by one of them, I never felt like it was my fault for getting hit. It always felt like a cheapshot or some artificial way to shave off some of my hp; it never felt like I made a mistake other than not seeing them sooner. But even if I had, unless I was the correct ranged class and was in a position to do anything about it, they’d just get free shots. I honestly don’t know how to fix these enemies, they’re just not fun to deal with at all. Maybe making their arrows easier to dodge. I’d have to think about it more.
Regular enemies: These guys are … okay. Their attack animations are a little clunky atm, and there seem to be some hitbox problems, but for the most part the regular enemies are acceptable. I’m gonna assume that the animations will be polished up on final release, and I like that there’s less of them and that each one you fight is a little bit more of a mini-battle, rather than massacring swathes of ratmen.
In conclusion, the beastmen need some SERIOUS rework to even begin feeling remotely fun to play against. Currently, they are the least fun part of Vermintide 2, in my opinion.
Any suggestions when it comes to the matchmaking experience?
The matchmaking system mostly reflects your playerbase. Your playerbase, reflects the quality of your game. If you’ve made a good game, your playerbase, with the right tools, will create a positive matchmaking experience. I.E. there will be a bigger pool of players to play your game. If the game is fair and fun, it will prompt people to band together to complete the goal.
Your two biggest issues currently with matchmaking are:
The lack of moderation tools: This means, kicking and banning people. First off, I have to admit that the community of people that play this game, are generally pretty good, compared to other games. I believe that this is due to this game mostly being a COOPERATIVE game, instead of versus. But now and again, there’s always a player that comes into a game being uncooperative, being toxic, or just generally being too inexperienced for the mode. The host of the game needs to have tools to be able to deal with these players, and deal with them QUICKLY, because your run can end in a matter of 5 seconds during certain parts of the game if you’re unfocused and trying to votekick someone. Furthermore, they can instantly reconnect after they’ve been kicked. I won’t harp on EVERYTHING, since I’ve heard that you guys are working on a system of moderation, I just hope that you really sit down and think it through, because you’re about to release a VS. mode which will undoubtedly bring higher levels of toxicity to your game.
There really needs to be some way to filter for the type of players you’re looking for in your games. There are times when I’m ok with carrying some noob in a Legendary match because I’m feeling generous and sometimes it can be its own type of challenge to carrying the run. However, there are times when I want to play a support role, like Battle Wizard and stun-lock elites for my team, or sit back and snipe specials as the elf, or be something OTHER than a hyper carry that’s forced to do everything. This presents a lot of problems because, currently, there are no ways to differentiate skill level past getting level 30 or achievement borders. Even then, achievement borders aren’t always an indication of skill as I’ve met some people with extremely difficult to attain character borders that sucked worse that noobs without any.
The point I’m trying to get across is that there needs to be a way to filter the type of people you want in your current game. The best way I can think of doing that would be to create a filter for “amount of time played” and “achievements unlocked”. I’ve played many games for many thousands of hours, and while hours spent is not the end-all-be-all way of testing true skill, it’s the BEST metric I have seen available for such determinations (and not just in Vermintide). Much like in real life, the more of your time you dedicate to something, generally, the better you are at it. So, I believe having the ability to set a “hours played” sliding filter, which would be capped based on your own time spent in the game, would go a long way to improving the matchmaking system. While, again, these are not the best metrics for the determination of skill, combined with the hosts ability to kick/ban anyone, I feel that this would create a more stead system for growth and development of lower tier players, and give enough control over the matchmaking system so that everyone would be happy.
P.S. There’s obviously ways to grief using the host kick/ban feature, so I thought I’d address it by saying the implementation of a merit system, such as the one (as much as I hate to admit it) Overwatch, where people upvote their team-mates for good behavior / performance would go a LONG way to curb such abuse, and provide incentives towards a more cooperative playstyle. Combined with some sort of reward for having good standing behavior, and perhaps means to report abuse, each individual would be able to check how trustworthy a certain host is, and whether it’s worth their time to play with them.
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