Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is, undoubtedly one of the, if not the best co-op title released this year. Like its predecessor, Vermintide 2 requires a steady supply of post-launch content to sustain the playerbase. Developer Fatshark has been under fire quite a few times when it came to post-launch content or DLC before the much-delayed release of Shadows Over Bogenhafen, the first DLC for Vermintide 2. Though it had a lukewarm reception, a little over three months in and we are greeted with the second DLC titled Back to Ubersreik. Back to Ubersreik promises to deliver exactly what a large portion of the community has been asking for; porting over some of the original Vermintide maps to the sequel. Without further ado, let’s get the Ubersreik Five together and venture forth into a ruined yet familiar world to see how good it actually is.
Back to Ubersreik is the second DLC for Warhammer: Vermintide 2 and was released on December 10 for the PC through Steam with the Xbox One and PS4 version will be releasing on the 18th of December. The DLC is priced at US$ 9.99/INR₹ 349.
BACK TO UBERSREIK
Story & Narrative
Anyone familiar with the Vermintide series knows that Ubersreik, the town where the majority of 2015’s Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide took place is nothing but ruins now thanks to the menacing Skaven hordes. Fast forward to Vermintide 2 and the resident spymaster and grey wizard Olesya has located what seems to be a Dwarfen lodestone. The key to unlocking the resting place of the trinket are three runes, scattered across Ubersreik. Since they can’t very well go back to the destroyed town, Olesya has crafted an illusion of Ubersreik as it was just as things started to go downhill. So our five (or four?) heroes are sent forth to Ubersreik via the illusion with the objective of finding the hidden runes scattered across three familiar locations.
The story definitely feels sewn-together just to sell the DLC but it’s as good as any. I mean in what other ways can you justify reverting the changes done by the events of the first game without retconning the lore? It’s not like one has the time to think critically about the story while getting hunted by vermin assassins and a hookrat during all the commotion. Ultimately what matters here is the content and its quality.
Gameplay & Mechanics
What Back to Ubersreik does is remaster three of the best levels from the original Vermintide and ports them over to the sequel. The remastered levels are Horn of Magnus, Gardens of Morr and Engines of War. In addition, there is also a secret level (more like an arena) called Fortunes of War which serves as a wave-based horde mode if you manage to unlock it in the first place. Aside from the three remastered maps, the secret level and the challenges that come with it, each of the five characters also gets a new weapon type and challenges associated with them.
I’ve always prefered the maps from the original game as opposed to the ones in Vermintide 2 from a purely aesthetic point of view. So it was a pleasure to jump back in the desolated townscape of Magnus, the eerie cemetery and crypts of Gardens of Morr and the deadly forest in Engines of War- all supposedly graphically updated to bring them on par with the quality of Vermintide 2. That being said, I did not notice a huge difference in graphical quality in the remastered maps when comparing to the original. Sure the lighting looks a lot better and so does the textures. But there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on.
If you set aside my nitpicking, the remastered maps do look good and blend in with the rest of the Vermintide 2 maps very well. The level design is, as always- excellent. The objectives of each map remain the same and only the location of tomes and grimoires have changed. Each map also has an extra hidden objective in order to unlock the Fortunes of War level. I had a great time thoroughly searching the nook and cranny of each map to find the secrets, especially the ones to unlock Fortunes of War (before evidently giving up to guides online).
While some parts of the maps do feel a bit empty due to changed enemy placements, others are filled with the same tension and exhilaration as Vermintide 2, due to the presence of both Skaven and Chaos hordes. For example, the finale of Horns of Magnus, where you have to hold the ground against incoming hordes of enemies is now a lot more intense thanks to the increased spawn of hordes. The same goes for Engines of War. Fatshark also seems to have increased the spawn rate of special enemies in the higher difficulties which is a welcome/unwelcome addition depending on the situation you are in. Newcomers to the series will definitely have a great time with the maps and even if you’re a veteran V1 player who’s tired of the old maps, the excruciating Fortunes of War is bound to give you a run for your money. Plus, the newly added Okri’s challenges ensures that you play the maps multiple times to get closer to that 100% completion.
Like I mentioned earlier, Back to Ubersreik introduces one weapon type to each of the five playable characters. Marcus Kruber gets a dual wielding sword and mace, Bardin Goreksson receives the dual hammers, Victor Saltzpyre now has the axe and falchion combo, Kerillian gets a one-handed axe and finally for Sienna Fuegonasus- the crowbill. Each of these has their uses; some more than others. While the new weapons for Kruber and Keriliian might need a few buffs to be on par with the rest of their arsenal, the dual hammers, axe/falchion and the crowbill feel great to use.
The crowbill is a bit overpowered and makes a satisfying, slurping sound every time Sienna caves an enemy’s head in. The dual hammers are great for staggering foes and the axe-falchion is my current go-to weapon for the Witch Hunter Captain. It’s also pretty cool that you have to complete the three DLC levels using each character to unlock their respective weapons and there are even weapon specific challenges to unlock Veteran and Red skins for each of them.
The DLC Business Model
With Back to Ubersreik, Fatshark has ditched the DLC model they introduced in Shadows Over Bogenhafen and has went back to the ones found in the original Vermintide. You were able to play Shadows Over Bogenhafen maps in Quickplay rotations without buying them and only was left out of hosting custom matches and accessing the extra content. In Back to Ubersreik, unless players don’t buy the DLC themselves or don’t have anyone in the party who owns the DLC, they won’t be able to play the new maps. I feel like this is fair play, especially for the people that buy the DLCs. Even if you don’t buy the DLC personally, you can still play the new maps if you let someone who has the DLC host the game. Do note that those who don’t own the DLC won’t get access to the rest of the content like challenges and weapon types that come with it, even when playing in a hosted game.
Performance & Stability
All the maps are pretty well optimised and on par with the rest in terms of optimisation. That doesn’t mean there is a lack of bugs and glitches. There are several points in some of the maps where the player character can get stuck, especially in Gardens of Morr. There are also the usual Vermintide 2 bugs such as random disconnections, backend errors, crashes etc. I did note an increase in the number of backend errors plaguing the game since the release of the DLC. The in-map mic functionality also seems to bug out randomly. Your mileage may vary.
Back to Ubersreik is a step-up from the first DLC in terms of content. Newcomers to the Vermintide series will find the three remastered maps a joy to play through. Veteran players itching to see their favorite maps make a return will also be left satisfied. That being said, the hope of seeing new enemy types still remains a dream and there will still be a few players dissatisfied with the content present here. It’s obviously not possible to please everyone. The question of discounting the DLC for people who own the original game is valid and logical. But, for $ 9.99 or ₹ 349, Back to Ubersreik is definitely worth the asking price.