An open letter to Fat Shark.
First of all I’m a big fan of a number of your products including Vermintide one and two. While I’m not as hardcore as many in the community or even among those who just frequent the forums, reddit or discord I am closing in on 200 hours in Vermintide two across the betas and release and I feel like I have some insights from the players perspective. I also want to say I feel I have gotten more than my money’s worth from the game thus far so my suggestions are to try and help the game be as good as it can be not to tailor the experience for what I personally would prefer.
I think the game has a few major problematic areas at the moment, with varying amounts of complexity associated to their adjustments. I would say the biggest places to examine would be:
1. The Tendency to Over nerf rather than to buff items, loadouts and talents.
2. The game seems to favor ranged not just with the tactical advantage of being ranged but also in the games mechanics.
3. Quality of life adjustments should be a higher priority which can help players have more time for the things they want to do rather than the things they are left waiting for.
Buffs not Nerfs
One of the big red flags to me about the direction the game has been going is the amount of nerfs to melee without seeing the same behavior with range. Many of the melees which dominate uses rates are nerfed to bring them back into line. To me the character who has suffered the most is Salt, I rarely can bring my self to use him because I loath so many of his melee options. His loadout doesn’t personally suit me but he isn’t the only character it seems like most players gravitate to very few loadouts because a few weapons vastly outshine the other options.
To me this is a much bigger problem than the normal issue of “There will always be a best” When something like the Halberd dominates all the other weapons available in basically every scenario which means it will likely always be used so while it could take some nerfs the reality is most of his other weapons are rather lackluster, and now with the executioners change intended or an unintended consequence of coding there seems to be no weapon which even do their thing better than the halberd. This seems to be common to a lesser degree with most characters weapons there is usually a weapon which is just better. So why don’t we just nerf them all till the use rate goes up?
Well we should buff weapons rather than nerf them for 2 reasons. The first is player fatigue, when nerfs role in players don’t feel like the weapons are now more equal they feel like they are even more restricted. This is because the power now either still falls on the same item which feels really bad, or on a new item that they weren’t even using before because it didn’t feel strong enough back then. The other reason is while the melees receive these nerfs range pulls even further ahead which we will address later.
By buffing more items rather than nerfing the strongest of them players feel like they have more options not less, if an Executioners sword Soldier or an axe dwarf can say to themselves “I’m marginally worse in these situations but I’m REALLY sweet in these” that’s a justification a player can and will make. But if an execution style “single target” weapon like the executioner’s sword cannot fulfill its primary function of one-shotting a special or stormvermin exactly why would you ever use one?
Melee not Ranged
It has become a bit of a joke in the community to say “It’s a melee focused game” while depicting some picture, gif or video of a ranged character decimating rats but it’s really only a half joke. Ranged has a lot of advantages over melee there is a reason it took over in warfare, its safer easier to be precise and helps you eliminate dangerous targets before they engage. These are just natural advantages to being ranged, as a player you have every incentive to be ranged from just a basic mechanics perspective, the limit on those abilities, the only thing holding them back from being the dominant strategy is ammo.
Now compared to Vermintide 1 there are a lot more ways to mitigate this disadvantage from weapon loadouts, to range specific characters who effectively have infinite ammo to career skills which remove ammo constraints. This is fine but what it means is the ranged forms of damage have even more weight tipped onto their scales. The exchange to me should be as a melee you have a higher potential at greater personal risk, while at range you have lower potential with lesser risk. The upside on melee should be no less than equal to range and in my opinion should be higher. The solution isn’t to nerf range (see section 1), but in my opinion would be to buff under utilized weapons until their usability is represented. If you can kill a stormvermin with a Ranged head shot you should be able to do so with basically any melee provided you tag the head. There might be exceptions made for very clearly horde related melee, or something specific to bosses say a niche for daggers going forward, but generally that should be the bar, otherwise why ever engage them in melee? If it takes 2 charged swings and you open your self up to guard breaks, damage from getting surrounded or messing up an attack and getting very punished when you can pull out a cross bow or a hand gun and blam dudes gone without ever being within reach.
Again, I don’t think the real answer is strict nerfs to range while that might play a part, powering up melee abilities and damage would be key to bringing back balance without alienating newer players to the Vermintide series who want to point their big gun at a baddies head and be rewarded with red mist.
Quality of life improvements, respecting the players time
It was about 3:30 AM some time ago when I finally unlocked 300 power items. I was so happy because now I could spend some time get some nearly perfect items for the character I was working on- Slayer, and could just focus on my mechanics with basically the type of gear I would be using for the foreseeable future. What lay before me was easily 45 minutes of clicking and holding, watching a furnace animation, scrolling my mouse back onto the item not seeing what I wanted clicking back on the item, clicking back on re-roll, holding, holding, watching the animation, and checking the item again. This was tedious, and not even that fruitful. I am sure many players have spent literal hours in those screens re-rolling items for the properties they want watching a furnace animate and dim. This is just not a great solution, its frustrating it disrespects players time and it really adds to player fatigue. If some item change comes out and they need to hit a new breakpoint they might be re-rolling for tens of minutes this isn’t fun or compelling game play.
To my mind there are 2 easy solutions one a dirty quick fix, one a bit more intensive but more rewarding fix.
The first fix would be to have the item hang out in that crafting screen just displaying the rolls, so you can quickly see if you got what you wanted and just clicking re-roll again if you did not. Along with this just add a settings option “Disable Click and hold crafting” so we can just click it, and the last would be to “Disable furnace animation” it was amusing the first couple of times with the sound effect after that it got tedious. This would go a long way to improving the quality of life for the most dedicated players who aim for specific values the people who are really the life blood of the community, the people who keep the games populated.
The better fix from a number of perspectives would be to include the click rather than click and hold, item properties, and animation cancel aspects just mentioned, but to also include another crafting page, Re-roll Values. This way once you see 2 properties you want you can simply move the item over and re-roll the values now instead of re-rolling through all the potential properties again and again once I find my say Stamina and power vs Chaos I'm just rolling a ¼ and a 1/5 or about 1 out of 20 crafts which is reasonable and across all the characters resource depleting but this vs. Rolling a – 1/15 a 1/14 and then rolling the 1 out of 20 for the perfect on each. This is what causes players who just want to have different loadouts to test different things to lose their minds. Red items carry enough value in their unique looks to make players seek them they don’t need to be literal time savers in the re-roll property screen.
Finally the failure screen I am in a group we are likely willing to just retry the map, if we fail pool the experience and let us try it again. Sometimes you get unlucky or make a mistake and wipe, going through a failure screen, an xp screen, a port back to town a queue for a map, and a load into a map chews a lot of time. A lot of time not spending murdering rats which is what we are here to do.
The way Vermintide will continue to have players and will continue to be fun for everyone is if every aspect of the game which we have available is pushed as far as they can go. Each character has 3 sub-classes and a dearth of weapons and talents, because almost no one makes use of most of them. If we could get it so each weapon feels powerful enough to warrant bringing to legend that is as good as we can do, we will never have true parity there will always be a top dog, the goal is to have the difference between the best and the worst be as close as possible and atm between characters, subclasses and even weapons within each subclass we could be doing a lot better, and for the future of the game from my point of view I hope we do.
Vermintide 1 had a lot of Quality of life adjustments which helped to breath more life and playability back into the game i have faith in FatSharks ability to stick with and improve their game, I just hope we can diversify gameplay sooner rather than later so we dont lose players than we need to over "the grind" allowing playstyles to be adaptable and diverse will only help retain players.
Thanks for your time,
-Lurking community member.
© Post "Open Letter about the State and direction of Vermintide 2" for game Warhammer: Vermintide.
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