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Vermintide II Developer Q&A

Vermintide II was heavily present at the 2018 PC Gamer Weekender held at the Olympia here in London, and we sent Olly and Alex to go chase someone for an interview. They got the chance to sit down with Mats Andersson, developer at Fatshark for a chat about all things rat.

Firstly though we got a little hands on time with the game and absolutely bloody loved it, so we were full of questions for Mats when we got to sit down with him.

Is the game still set in the End Times, or has it moved on to Age of Sigmar?

Still a continuation of the same story, still set in the End Times. We just dropped it from the name because Warhammer: End Times: Vermintide is a long name, and Warhammer is already the important part.

Do you play Warhammer back in the office, or is this just a licence?

The guys back at the office are all into the tabletop, they’re really into Age of Sigmar. But I’m an Ork player and I just love painting stuff, waiting for the codex though. We love going down to the local Games Workshop, wearing the t-shirts, and hoping we’ll become famous. Maybe one day if we do well enough, Games Workshop will let us do something 40k.

Here Olly talks about his Ork army for a bit and his Eldar codex which is in his bag

Vermintide was you vs the Skaven and now you’ve put Chaos into the mix, did you have to redesign everything for Vermintide II?

We wanted more variation and we wanted to add in Chaos, which was quite a big challenge. When I joined for Vermintide I brought on to do this first person melee game and I was asked what my reference for first person melee was, and there is none, because no-one’s really made first person melee good. And the rest of the team was like, that’s your job. You have to make it good.

Then we started Vermintide II, and we wanted to add Chaos, and bigger enemies, and different enemies, which are all very different to Skaven. But we wanted to keep the exact same feeling of combat from Vermintide, but with an entirely different set of enemies. How the hell do we do that, with the same weapon, the same dude, but it has to react differently to different enemies.

We played the demo you have here on the show floor, and you could really feel the difference in weapons - I was using the hammer and it almost felt like you were hitting something big and fat. It was banging off it, and it felt really cool.

A lot of work went into aesthetics and communicating that - not explicitly communicating it, but through hit interactions, camera movement, sound design, and we had to rework things between the first game and this. And a lot of people didn’t notice that we’d done it, just that it felt better. There’s a tonne of work that goes into that, making that feedback feel good.

If you go back to games like Left 4 Dead, everyone’s equal and the differences are the players and the gear you find. In Vermintide II every class plays differently, how difficult was it to balance the game?

While we do have specialisations for each class, it was important to us that every class can do a bit of everything. Everyone can push, everyone can hulk, everyone can do damage. We didn’t want to get into the situation where one player was just told ‘you sit around and do nothing until the boss shows up’. So even though some classes perform better in some situations, they’re all equally capable of handling anything that shows up.

Also if we get the balance right, it gives us the opportunity to change things up. So you might be thinking ‘I just need to push a little bit, I need to buy us 1.5 more seconds of time’ and you can do that even though you’re playing a character that isn’t specialised in that area.

The tavern was such a big part of what made Vermintide special, giving you that personal space to express your personality through your character in a space before you even started playing. How are you looking to preserve or improve on that kind of interaction in Vermintide II?

It’s incredibly important to have this kind of interaction in the game. It’s 50/50 psychology, we don’t want to have to force people to have a mic - even though it’s good - we want to have ways for players to express themselves without having to talk directly to each other. We want to have ways for your brain to saute in the concept of ‘who am I playing’, and when you have these interactions in places like this, people start projecting onto their characters.

Letting people to play together like this and express yourself in places like this lets you play at a level you like, you can get really into the lore and the character and project onto it, or you can just hang out with some people and get horrible mutilated by Chaos beasts.

How did you decide what to keep, what to discard, what to double down on when moving from Vermintide to Vermintide II?

The two main things we wanted to improve on was we wanted to add another faction, we had that discussion straight away about whether or not we just expand the Skaven, or if we add in something new. In the end we decided that something new was what the game really needed, and with that comes a lot of reworks and expansions on a lot of the systems

The other thing was, to make the game more responsive, more able to respond to the player. So even small things like adding a weapon led to a huge amount of work in terms of feedback, of making it feel good, making it balanced. And that even led to the loot system where we redesigned it. The first one had almost a separate loot system that was pretty basic, and we wanted to expand on that and create a much smoother progression, one that let you play around with builds and let you take all those trinkets and spread it around. That’s why we added in talent trees, so you can be like, spear, but you want healing, and other things. It lets you customise your experience and how you design your build, and gives you much more freedom.

New faction, better loot system, make shit not be bad.

Thank you very much!

Thank you.