I have seen posts, both historically and recently, bemoaning the low player count of Vermintide 2 and comparing it to L4D/KF/etc. This seems like a false comparison to me, given the nature of VT's setting and gameplay compared to the others. Vermintide 2 might never be as popular as other co-op games because it is not trying to do the same thing.
There are many common elements to L4D/KF/That bank robbing game/Deep Rock Galactic/etc that are dissimilar to Vermintide.
- Melee-based vs Gun-based gameplay.
"Melee-focused game" jokes aside, you really do need to learn how to block and attack with good timing in Vermintide, or you will find yourself dead for long streches of gameplay. Most other co-op horde games rely on using ranged weaponry (often not even having a melee or block option) and tanking hits with your health to survive.
I would even venture that most gamers haven't played other melee-focused games before (
Bannerlord Mount & Blade, Dark Souls series, etc), and Vermintide is their first. I believe this is why you see so many Bounty Hunters, RVs, Pyros, and Drake Pistol IBs in QP lobbies; people are trying to play a "shooty" game in VT.
- Cultural relevance of the setting.
This can basically be summed up with one word: zombies. Zombies-attacking-today is an incredibly prevalent theme in recent media. Games that cash in on this theme are incredibly popular and numerous. If it is not zombies, it is alien-bug-creatures that the four must confront (again, a very well represented concept in media overall).
The Warhammer lore just does not have the same presence and pull that "zombies" or "aliens" do for large segments of the market. Sword and sorcery in general is not as popular as modern-gun shooters either.
- "Quick" or in-game rewards in other games.
In other co-op games you get rewarded for suviving each wave, or you get more cash to buy guns, or find rare items/cosmetics. Aside from loot dice, there is no in-game reward, only the chests at the end.
- Vermintide requires a lot of concentration compared to other games.
When I see these other co-op games being played, they look a lot more "relaxing" than VT. They don't have single enemies that spawn behind you to keep you on your toes, and generally enemies are less threatening, so you can take more hits (vs Legend of course).
TL;DR: VT has thematic and gameplay elements that are simply not as popular in the larger market vs other horde co-op games. We should not expect it to attract/retain the same amount of players. (Sorry for the long post, I was thinking about it over the weekend and perhaps overdid it?)
All that being said, I prefer VT2 to any other co-op game. I think zombies are fairly dumb conceptually, prefer melee-based close combat, and enjoy games that have a high skill ceiling.
Personal addendum: the person that bought me and my friend VT2 pretty much no longer plays; when he does, all he wants is to shoot Drake Pistols on the IB because he wants to pew-pew with no ammo constraints. This game doesn't do it for him long term and that's OK.
© Post "Thoughts On comparing Vermintide to other co-op games" for game Warhammer: Vermintide.
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