Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide

Meet the Skaven up close and personal in Vermintide VR

We visited the Fatshark offices to try the upcoming VR mode of their popular co-op game.

Subscribe to our newsletter here!

* Required field

Fatshark has enjoyed a fair amount of success with their melee action co-op game Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide over the last year since it launched on Steam. Vermintide was recently released on consoles as well (October 4 on PS4 and Xbox One), and today (December 15) it is getting a new expansion, Karaz Azgaraz, which adds three new levels with a Dwarfen theme.

Alongside the new levels there's a somewhat more surprising addition, namely Vermintide VR, a HTC Vive-powered VR experience that will launch on December 19. It spans the inn and three levels, and is free for anyone who owns the main game (there's also a free demo version containing the inn and the Hall of the Poison Feast level that anyone with a Vive can sample). Thus we stopped by the Fatshark offices for a demo and a chat.

"We wanted to dive deeper into meeting the Skaven and experiencing the Warhammer world more first-hand," says producer Mårten Stormdal when asked about the motivation to create Vermintide VR.

This is an ad:

The Red Moon Inn serves as a hub if you will, and you can sample the four weapons here to get a feel for them. There is a bow and as evident in other VR games this works incredibly well with the SteamVR controllers. The vibration in the controllers make for an incredibly satisfying sound as you pull back the arrow even if there's no resistance and you can shoot arrows faster than Legolas, it somehow just feels right. The pistol is perhaps the easiest weapon to use for beginners, particularly if you dual wield. You can also use a rapier for close combat and combine it with a pistol. Finally there's a fire staff that, much like the bow, is used with two hands (you can equip a pistol and wield the staff as a club, but you need both hands to throw fireballs). Basically you hold the staff with one hand and grab the skull on top of it with the other in order to get a fireball you can then hurl towards the Skaven. This is a bit trickier than it sounds, and it's definitely the weapon that takes the most getting used to. Let's just say we won't be pitching in the majors any time soon.

"We wanted to partly use normal ranged weapons, and then since we want to have the Skaven really close up we wanted to have a melee system so we added the fencing sword or Rapier," says Stormdal. "And also you can smack the Skaven with the magic staff, which you can throw fireballs with and hit them as well if they come to close."

Overall, the experience comes across as solid and we can only imagine that when played with a friend it makes for an even more engaging VR experience. Two of the levels (Hall of the Poison Feast and Reikwald) are static scenarios with a tower defence like set up where you'll need to stop Skaven from breaking down doors from a couple of positions you can teleport between. The third level (Ungdrin Rail) is more of an on-rails experience where you progress through the level on a cart that stops in certain places, and you need to take out Skaven who try to overwhelm you.

It's a pretty basic concept, but it works, and it's highly immersive. One or two jump scares and the prospect of having a hairy Skaven come up from behind was enough to get us riled up.

This is an ad:
Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide

As you'd may have been able to tell Vermintide VR is not really an adaptation of the co-operative action game, but rather a very different experience set inside the same gameworld.

"We had to sort of start over," explains Stormdal. "And look at what VR is good at and what can we do with what we have basically, and then we started from there and just... What works in VR and what can we sort of build?"

Part of the motivation to develop Vermintide VR was to build experience and know-how at the studio. Using assets form the main game to build something is a way to minimise the risk, and Vermintide VR isn't a full standalone experience. It's more of a special mode that offers something extra to those who own the full game as well as the HTC Vive.

There are two ways of looking at these smaller VR experiences that we're currently getting that are based off larger games or licenses. While the VR scene craves a big and bold killer app, this is perhaps what's reasonable without large sums of venture capital involved. From Fatshark's perspective it's a nice and reasonably sized endeavour that lets them build experience in the VR field; a way of future proofing the studio for what may lie ahead. The other way of looking at it is, of course, from the perspective of someone who picked up an expensive headset who may want to see larger experiences right away to justify their purchase.

Currently there are no firm plans to bring it over to other VR devices like the Oculus Rift (and its Touch controllers) or the PSVR, but Fatshark are open to it if it proves successful. In more ways than one they're testing the waters and building experience with Vermintide VR, and for those who own the game (or not, there's still the demo) and the HTC Vive, it's a nice piece of bonus content.

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide

Related texts

Loading next content