by Sean Martin
previewed on PC
JUST BEAST IT
The time grows ever closer, the false moon Morrsleib hangs in the sky, and the Beastmen bray, emerging from their forests ready to destroy the realms of men. Exciting times! This of course means, The Winds of Magic is on the way, a new expansion for Vermintide 2 which will introduce multiple new elements to the game These will include the new weave mechanic, allowing players to play through a series of ever more difficult levels with special conditions, a new set of weapons for each of the Ubersreik five, and of course, the Beastmen as new enemies.
I was lucky enough to get access to the Winds of Magic’s week long beta, which ran earlier this month, and despite a few technical difficulties, I had a great time. The new weave mechanic is kind of wonderful, and each wind of magic adds a special condition/difficulty element to the level. These feel quite reminiscent of Warhammer special table top rules, things like, lightning that strikes down from the sky randomly, or when you kill an enemy, they release a spirit which will home towards you and explode. On top of this, the weaves increase in difficulty, your weapons becoming weaker, so getting to the end of them is no easy feat. You are not without help however, as you complete a wave, you’ll receive ‘essence’ which you can use to upgrade your weapons and stats within the weave, making each onslaught a little easier to weather.
The new weapons also provide a fair amount of versatility. Saltzpyre’s billhook grants him a special attack where he stun-locks enemies and pulls them towards him, a great tool for crowd control, and dealing with the new charging enemy Bestigors. As a Dwarf player, my favourite was the throwing axes, incredibly powerful short range weapons that make you feel like Gimli from Lord of the Rings. They also have a homing return mechanic, where you hold your hand up and they will fly back to you. The best thing about them however is that they grant a ranged weapon to the previously un-ranged Slayer class, giving him a lot more versatility. On top of this, Kruber gets a spear, Sienna gets a flail, and Kerillian gets a spear and shield.
The new enemies are a lot of fun, and it’s nice to see the existing maps now filled with Beastmen too. While their chaff enemies are much the same in a lot of ways, their specials add a lot more tactical play. They have Ungor archers, who while weak, will snipe you from afar. They have Bestigors, armoured chargers who seem to come out of absolute nowhere to knock you down. They have standard bearers, armored Gors who place a banner which increases the stats of all units who surround them, meaning you’ll have to prioritize taking them down, or hordes will get very deadly. The only unit we didn’t see which I was super hopeful for was the Minotaur, the Beastman’s boss special, whose likeness adorns the cover of the new expansion. Knowing Minotaurs, I’m expecting a boss faster and more aggressive than all the ones we’ve seen so far. Very exciting!
I’m really excited for Winds of Magic, as I really appreciate what Fatshark are focusing on from a design perspective. New levels are always fun, but they can grow old quickly, so it’s good they are adding mechanics like the weave, which will increase re-playability, and the Beastmen, who will add a new dynamic to every existing level in the game. I am still hopeful we’ll eventually get a new hero, or even a new region of the Old World to explore, but for now I am hopeful that this will turn out as a really positive step for re-playability and depth during the meantime.