Warhammer: Vermintide 2 - Winds of Magic - PC Review

Taking me a bit by surprise, the latest of Fatshark’s expansions to Vermintide 2 is here. Boasting a whole new mode instead of a series of levels, you and three actual other players will be diving into the weave with new weapons and systems to upgrade them. The only catch? Unlike the rest of their work, every player that wants to go weave diving has to pay for it as this one is not free for anyone to jump into as long as the host owns it.

At first I was a bit surprised that the newest content couldn’t be accessed by everyone as long as they joined up to a host that had it. Fatshark has been rather proud about its stance to allow anyone to play as long as one person picked it up but it doesn’t take long to actually understand why. Up until now, most of Fatshark’s work has built upon the base game constantly adding in new stages and challenges to be completed. Adding new levels, and fight against the Skaven and the forces of Chaos just expanded outward allowing you to go further and further when pubbing. That was until the weave which is a whole new mode with its own hub and features separate from the rest.

The easiest way to describe the new mode would be to say that it’s rather akin to Blizzard’s Diablo 3’s Rifts / Great Rifts. You start off at Stage 1 and then keep going through the weaves as things become more and more powerful requiring you to really work with your allies because in this mode? There are no bots. Human players only so if you only go in as two players, then you’re only going about it as two players until someone else jumps into your run. So far on the leaderboard the highest that I’ve seen is Weave 74 (now 120 after editing and I’m sure probably higher by now) which I think is insane because my brother and I got stumped on Weave 11 for a while.

So what exactly is the weave? The weave in this case is another reality that our heroes are diving into in order to collect essences for the resident witch. In this realm, any and all previous gear is useless meaning that super powerful weapon that you’ve been swinging around? Yeah, it’s now useless. To be useful in the weave, you’re going to need to craft new weapons with the essence that you’re picking up for the witch. While at least the first one is on her, it would have been nice to allow you to select which one you wanted instead of having to spend a thousand essense at the start to get what you want. Two thousand essence later, I had the weapon types that I wanted and then I got to upgrading.

Starting off essence is a bit more scarce as you’re getting one to two hundred per completion. Getting into the double digits for stages though and the amounts being dropped are in the thousands so it becomes easier to unlock what you want and to upgrade what you have but it does take a bit to get there so having to drop thousands on the gear types you want can hurt the proverbial wallet just a little. What’s really awesome for this mode though is that you get to customize your gear without having to trial and error craft.

When leveling your gear, not only do the base properties increase, but you both get mastery points for the weapon and slots open up for stat bonuses like +4% Critical Hit Damage. Costing a certain amount of mastery points to be slotted in, the more powerful modifiers will take more mastery points but none of these are permanent. Don’t like your loadout? Reset it. Need more than just extra damage on a critical hit and want to do more damage to skaven in particular? Load those stat bonuses in. The best example that I can give is that my sword for my Inquisitor is loaded so that my blocking takes less stamina, my gun is stacked for critical hit damage that I am guaranteed every 6-10 seconds depending on my traits, and my amulet allows me to resurrect people at least 20% faster.

Poking and prodding at your loadouts is going to take time to get right, especially as you level each item up and have more possibilities to try out. But that’s not why you’re really here. How’s the new mode? Fun. Hard. Fun. Frustrating. Fun. It’s loads of fun but I’ll be damned if it isn’t hard at times and not always because of the cool funky elements that have been added in, but more because you take so much damage from certain enemies that it felt a tad broken in certain stages.

The weaves stages themselves are going to be a bit familiar, but play out quite differently than you would be used to. Taking pieces of previous stages, the weave isn’t over until you’ve collected enough essence to move onto the boss of the stage. Unlike Diablo, the boss doesn't show up once you’ve gotten or collected enough essence. What instead happens is that the final part of the stage will become unlocked and it’s up to the party to make their way over to that portal in order to face off against the boss or the bosslike encounter that you must complete in order to finish the stage.

This change in the stage formula doesn’t sound like much at first, but it’s a lot more than just a re-hashing of previous stage elements. Each “sub-section” of the weave has its own quirks from thorns growing where you’ve killed an enemy which will slow you down and hurt you, to magic circles that will follow you and launch lightning five seconds after they’ve stopped. The dropping of lightning hurts, but if you get a crowd of enemies into them, we’ll their seriously toast especially if you overlay a few of the circles close enough to one another.

What took a little while to find out, as we just weren’t doing them, what that you can also get essence from completing normal stages which takes a bit of pressure off if you can’t seem to complete a weave. We, my brother and his two friends that I’ve played both Vermintide and Vermintide 2 on and off with, found this out while running them through the introductory stage and subsequent travels to the older stages as the boys hadn’t been yet played from the previous expansions. Re-completing a weave gives chump-change. Re-completing any stage, especially if you bring the difficulty up, gives you loads of essence making it a bit more “reasonable” to charge a thousand per weapon unlock and have to upgrade them from level 1.

Between the new gear formula and the stage compositions, Winds of Magic adds a whole new level to FatShark’s Vermintide 2 which really raises the challenge bar and the lifespan of the title. Would I want to see more in the original vein of the game with another storyline? Yes. Am I happy with the Winds of Change and would I like to see more in this vein as well? That is also a yes and I’m looking forward to what comes next.

Game Information

First Person Shooter
Single Player
Multiplayer Coop
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Article by Pierre-Yves (WrathOf314) and played with Marc L. (Frosty)


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