Alrighty! Time to put my take into the pool of feedback, especially now that the beta’s wrapped up.
When I first jumped into the beta last Tuesday, it felt pretty overwhelming with the sheer number of changes that were made. Having about 80% of the talents redone with tweaks to the combat, new weapons, and a new game mode was a massive weight to try and tackle all at once. But it's been worth while trying to sift through all of it. I mainly played as Sienna, as I often do, but I attempted to touch on every character for at least some of my playtime.
My first impressions of the game were that it felt sluggish and frustrating. The way characters handled and even attacked felt slow and sort of clunky. Fighting enemies had a new weight to it, but I don't think it was a good weight. It was harrowing and something of a struggle.
I think the most jarring aspect were the changes to combat. The shifts in the way dodges were handled and tracked was a huge hurdle and it felt like it threw a lot of people off. I remember running multiple Legend runs to try and get into the flow of things, and out of the roughly dozen runs with different groups, I don't think I saw a single one make it even halfway through a match. It felt like the party was constantly getting swarmed by a near endless horde that took exponentially longer to try and hack through and was nearly impossible to reposition from. I believe this was addressed in patch #4 where tweaks were made to the way dodges were handled. And after that point, things felt closer to what I was used to. I saw so many more successful runs, and it seemed like people had a better grasp on the game.
The stagger mechanics and centering damage around stagger still feels a bit off. Combat feels slower overall, even with the new level 30 talents. Some of that fast-paced action seems to have dissipated a bit into something more methodical and time consuming, which is a shame. One of the biggest strengths Vermintide’s had has been the speed and fluidity of combat, and I feel like some of that has been lost with these changes. Furthermore, it seems the enemy stagger has been upped. And I’ve had several instances of being stunlocked due to stagger, which feels frustrating and claustrophobic.
Speaking of the new talents, nearly every class got a huge reworking. It’s an interesting shift for the talents to take, with a lot of new and unique options opening up. The switch to temp HP talents going to level 5 should make higher levels more accessible to newer players, which is beneficial. Even with the inclusion of auto-stagger talents from level 30, generating temp HP on stagger still seemed a bit lack luster. Even trying them on characters who utilize shields, they didn’t always feel like a stable choice. The level 30 talents didn’t feel like they had much, if any, impact on the game. Using them didn’t feel as if it granted extra strength, damage, or power, and I honestly felt like they didn’t make a difference being there.
I’ll mostly focus on Sienna’s talents since I played her the most. The Battle Wizard talents actually felt pretty good all around. There was a lot of neat utility around the way she casts spells, and having several talents focus on burning enemies feels good. I feel like people struggle a lot with Battle Wizard (myself included to an extent) and don’t often know what to do with her. The new talents felt like they opened up some unique opportunities. Especially some of the changes to her ult. I rarely rely on the line of fire, so having things like an increased explosion radius and damage felt really good. I think the only things I really missed were the passive talent reducing spell charge time, and perhaps the one giving extra block when Tranquility is active – in part because it could produce the silly build of 100% block reduction, and it’s fun to have the ridiculous stuff in there like that on occasion. Pyromancer had some interesting shifts. I was very pleased to see that her attack speed talents remained, as those are what I tend to gravitate towards. But overall a lot of her talents felt too niche or weirdly specific. Having an increased crit chance while above 80% health feels very narrow (especially since I’ve seen it listed as 1% and as 10%, and if it’s 1%, that’s far from worth it), or having overcharge not generate on killing a special, which feels like it’s not super necessary. I was disappointed to see Bonded Flame get cut. Always felt like a nice ace in the hole. Especially when it’s replaced with another niche talent that potentially allows you to not burn your ult’s charge if you land both a crit and a headshot. It’s neat, but feels a little too specific to draw me. Unchained was an interesting mix. Talents like adding a burn on push attacks and an auto-vent to overcharge are certainly interesting, and I like seeing the variety of them. I was glad to see Dissipate stick around, since I got used to that back when it was a passive. The old level 5 talents were useful, but a little lackluster, so the new variety feels nice. I liked having Feuerbach’s Fury, so lacking that was a bit of a miss, as was Tick, Tick, Tick… since having a safety button when necessary was important. Some of the new ult talents were neat though. Being able to explode and still have a bump in power feels like a good tool, and having the option to heal allies is super interesting and feels like it could come in handy quite a bit. I didn’t feel like the added attack speed at full overcharge was noticeable. Maybe this needs a higher number to feel like it’s making a difference? I also noted that it took longer to get full stacks, for better or for worse. Burning enemies dealing less damage was definitely a cool talent to have too though.
As for other talents all around, it’s an interesting, mixed bag. Losing things like Curl Up/Suffer No Heresy/Ashen Form/Hands Off! Doesn’t feel like a loss, since they were usually too specific to see a ton of use (especially on higher play). Not having things like Molten Skin/Defiance is likewise a bit specific, but can be nice in clutch moments. Maybe they could be made into passives for those classes to give them a little safety net? I liked a lot of the ideas for things like Ironbreaker getting cooldown reduction on kills when at full stamina, and it could be neat to see that spread to other classes, such as Unchained. Having shouts that add to attack power or damage reduction also feels very good. Waystalker losing some of her ammo regen from Amaranthe was a bummer, and the focus on pushing her alt feels weird. Zealot and slayer both losing their big damage reduction is a strange approach, and I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.
As for the weapons, I wasn’t blown away by any of them. I was never a huge fan of the flail initially for Saltzpyre, but the flaming mace has a nice initial charge attack. An overhead with a flaming burst feels good. The new spears didn’t feel like they grabbed my attention. Similar with the billhook, though the ability to drag enemies closer does shake up combat, and is a welcome addition. The throwing axes feel like a fitting weapon for Bardin. The unlimited ammo capacity seems a bit questionable, but I didn’t try them enough to get a proper feel for whether that felt too powerful or not.
Oh, and the new sounds for the crowbill are excellent. I was a big fan of the original sound: very meaty and punchy, it felt heavy and had a lovely impact. The replacement sound was a little too light. Sounded like pecking at a typewriter. But this new sound? It’s good.
The beastmen felt like a good addition. The enemies were a welcome change, with chargers that shook up the fight regularly and archers that made you reposition without taking too much to take down, which was a fantastic way to handle their inclusion. The banners were a trickier bit. Especially when they’d spawn frequently one after another, creating a near constant hold to the progression of the level. The knockback especially made this tricky, even more so when you’d get knockback not only from the banner landing – which was often incredibly powerful – but when you destroyed them as well.
Cataclysm felt good. It was challenging in all the right ways, promoted sticking together, and felt like a fine addition. I’m anxious to see what sort of rewards come from playing such a difficulty regularly.
The weaves were a mixed bag. I greatly disliked having to level every weapon and item individually. It felt like it promoted replaying the same static levels for every character, and overall felt like a huge grind. Less like a new experience that people would want to explore and cycle between, and more just a time sink, which isn’t a great feeling. The weaves themselves weren’t bad. I liked the aesthetic of a lot of the weaves, but I was hopeful to see newer levels or bigger alterations (which I know can be a huge undertaking). It also felt like the challenges weren’t relevant; you could just kill your way to the goal, making them kind of moot. The time limit was also detrimental, and stopped a few of the matches, making it feel like you just had to rush through the game instead of being able to tackle it at the group’s pace. I’m also not big into competitive games, so having a leaderboard feels unnecessary to me, but I can also just not look at it.
I like that things are being played around with. I appreciate seeing new takes on talents and trying to push the envelope. But I’ve even had other friends make the statement that I have to agree with: it feels cumbersome to step away from Vermintide for a few months and feel like everything you had in your build isn’t viable and you have to relearn the game, and it puts a lot of people off. I appreciate the desire to continue to make the game challenging and provide new content, but I also don’t want to see the solid game that already exists be broken down and lost.
TL;DR: Overall, I was a bit lukewarm on the beta. There were some interesting ideas thrown around, but nothing that felt so great that I’m in love with it far over the current live game.
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