So I started playing Deep Rock Galactic (DRG) about two weeks ago with a group of my friends. We’re all local buddies but have enjoyed playing FPS Co-ops of all sorts over the years. We've all slowly drifted away from Vermintide 2 for a host of reasons, which I'll get into. But with COVID-19 striking we were looking for something new.
Enter Deep Rock Galactic.
Quite honestly, DRG is doing so much good stuff throughout the whole design of the game that it makes me frustrated even more with how much VT2 fails to reach its potential.
Before jumping into specifics, let me say that the core gameplay of VT2 – the visceral moment to moment combat – is phenomenal. Everything else about VT2 is a big fat swing and a miss, especially in comparison to DRG.
Let's talk about specifics.
First of all, In DRG gameplay and power progression is not tied to hideous RNG from what I've seen. The hunt for Reds in VT2 is a pointless grind and far too contingent on the RNG gods (yes, I'm aware they aren't essential – but they make life so much easier when trying to spec into a build). Progression in DRG is far more enjoyable, with RNG elements mostly coming down to skins for gear, which are cosmetic only. The entire gear and crafting system in VT2 is just garbage. Heck, the weaves crafting is much better and should just replace the default system at this point.
Speaking of cosmetics, VT2, even with the new shop, is contingent on a wasteland of grinding. That dailys only grant 5 shillings is just lame (and it sucks not getting emperor chests anymore). Not to mention that the diversity in the cosmetics is pretty lackluster as well. Most are simple re-colors or variations that are pretty subtle. DRG on the other hand has base character cosmetics that unlock as you rank up your account, providing variations for hats, armor skins, beards, sideburns, other facial features, etc. In VT2 the characters are more static – but there could easily be ways to customize your outfit that go beyond the two options of body outfit and hat. Lots of missed potential in VT2 and an overall dearth of interesting cosmetics in the first place.
Third, the player home base (the spaceship) in DRG is just so much more entertaining as a lobby space than VT2’s keep. The amount of joy derived from perusing the beer menu, checking on daily specials, firing up some tunes on the jukebox and shaking a leg on the dance floor while you knock one back is just pure unfettered fun. Obviously there is a silly streak in DRG compared to VT2’s grim dark – but then again look at how much fun people have with the Quiet Drink. If I was returning home to my keep after battling plague sorcerers all afternoon you better believe I'd be slamming back some drinks. Another missed opportunity.
These may appear to be minor things. But in VT2 nearly everything outside of the combat itself – crafting, loot progression, gear and inventory management, daily/weekly quests, deeds, etc. – is just clunkily implemented and half-baked. They are too reliant on tedium and RNG and don't make for an interesting overall gameplay loop. People get bored and discouraged by the mindless grind and RNG – and I think that's why VT2 has shed so many players, instead of actually growing its player base overtime (which it is totally capable of). The awesome combat gameplay only goes so far, unfortunately.
My last point, which does relate to the actual missions in VT2, is that there just isn't much diversity in the mission experience. 95% of the time it's just repeating and refining the same combat moves and routines. The boss fights provide some variety – but even VT ONE felt like the missions were more diverse, often incorporating the need to perform various tasks (haul around sacks of grain or barrels,wait for weird machines to overheat, defend the well, etc). There are some of these in VT2 but they feel more like one off set pieces rather than something woven into the fabric of the missions themselves. The missions just need more for the players to juggle and cooperate around than pure combat.
There are some structural issues with missions and how they tie into the rewards that are at odds with the gameplay. Tomes and Grimes come to mind where they get to be super important for achieving the best chance to obtain loot, and so builds and item properties get geared around supporting full book runs. It's tiresome and not a very well conceived reward system given how RNG the whole this is anyway. Why hasn't this been revamped already?
I've had a lot of fun with VT2 – and perhaps if my friends were more enthused about playing it we still would be. But I understand why they grew tired of it. I have too. Playing Deep Rock Galactic is a breath of fresh air and a case study in how to do things right. I'd love so see VT2 take it to heart.
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