Tag Archives: Skaven

Interview: Martin Wahlund of Fatshark about Vermintide

We here at TiX Towers are big fans of Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide, Scoring it a whopping 9/10 in our review. Our Senior Editor, Greg Giddens, is a fan of not only the game but also the Warhammer table top games that inspired it, and he was fortunate enough to interview developer Fatshark’s CEO, Martin Wahlund, about their Skaven slaying multiplayer title. The interview took place on January 15th 2017.

Vermintide interview

This is Xbox: Can you tell us a little about Fatshark and its development background?

Martin Wahlund: Fatshark was founded back in 2007 and started as a consultant firm where we helped other studios that needed help finishing a project. Then in 2010, we released our first own IP called Lead and Gold, which is a third person multiplayer shooter in a wild west setting. After that, we released other co-op titles like War of the Roses, Krater, and War of the Vikings. Then, in 2015, we released our biggest success to date, Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide.

This is Xbox: Why do you makes games – what inspires you?

Martin Wahlund: Fatshark is all about creating great cooperative games, where people come together to have fun and solve problems. We love the dynamic behind co-op games, and enjoy giving players the freedom to succeed or fail trying as a group.

This is Xbox: How did you come up with the concept of Vermintide?

Martin Wahlund: Being passionate fans of the Warhammer Fantasy IP, we’ve always wanted to create a Warhammer game that both stayed true to the beautifully dark atmosphere of the world and showed it off from a perspective we had not seen in previous games – first person. To be able to walk along the gothic streets of a city in the Empire or to slash into the enemy with one’s axe were things we ourselves were craving from a Warhammer video game.

This is Xbox: How involved were Games Workshop?

Martin Wahlund: We worked closely with Games Workshop throughout the development of Vermintide. Whenever we had new concepts, in-game renders, marketing assets and so on, we would send them to our contacts at Games Workshop for approval and feedback. Additionally, with the help of two of Games Workshop’s veteran writers, we were able to create our own lore for Vermintide while weaving it into the End Times’ official stories. We were even told that Vermintide would become a part of the canon.

This is Xbox: Have you played or collected any Games Workshop tabletop games before?

Martin Wahlund: Oh, most definitely. In fact several of the key people on the Vermintide team having been playing the tabletop games since the 1980s. Being such huge fans of Warhammer for many years, Vermintide is therefore a dream come true for a lot of us at Fatshark. Our office is filled with miniatures, both in the making and finished, and if you were to open a few of the cupboards lining the walls, you would find terrain pieces for Warhammer Fantasy Battle painted and ready.

This is Xbox: Were there any unique challenges to developing Vermintide?

Martin Wahlund: This is the first time we have been able to publish our own game with a budget that felt fitting for the size and scope of our plans. Having the freedom that comes with self-publishing was both liberating and terrifying. While we were considerably more in control of our schedule and had more creative freedom, we were also haunted by the prospect that if the end result wasn’t well received, it would be entirely our fault.

Our biggest take away was therefore that a little extra time can do a great deal for the quality, but give a project too much time and you risk working on it forever.

This is Xbox: What went better than you thought it would during Vermintide’s development?

Martin Wahlund: Looking back at the development of Vermintide, especially being our first self-published project, the fact that we were able to remain faithful to our original vision is something we are very proud of. By keeping the same core team throughout the project, we were able to avoid compromising the quality and could pay attention to details, both large and small. By keeping a constant eye on the ball and the core pillars of the game, we made sure we never lost the essence of what we wanted Vermintide to be.

This is Xbox: There’s a lot going on on-screen at any one time in Vermintide. Was it challenging optimising the game for Xbox One?

Martin Wahlund: Thanks to our experience with bringing previous titles to the consoles, we were prepared for the challenges we would face with Vermintide. That is why we made sure to give ourselves the time needed to optimize the experience and make sure our console players would have as much fun with the game as our PC players did.

This is Xbox: We know Karak Azgaraz is coming to Xbox One in the near future, but are there any other DLCs or features that will be coming to the Xbox Ones version that you can talk about?

Martin Wahlund: Karak Azgaraz will be coming to consoles on the 28th of February. At the same time, we will also be bringing Quests & Contracts to our console players, so they will now have a new means of acquiring loot for their heroes. As for future DLCs, the Skaven army is cunning and secretive, so who knows what they might be plotting?

This is Xbox: Is the Vermintide concept something you’d like to revisit with different enemy races, or perhaps with the Warhammer 40,000 universe?

Martin Wahlund: We adore the Warhammer Fantasy world with its rich and diverse factions, so who knows what enemy races might appear in the future. As for the Warhammer 40k world, it might definitely be something for us in the future, since both the gameplay style and the atmosphere would work great with the sci-fi settling as well. But it is not something we are looking into at the moment.

This is Xbox: Are there any plans to bring new playable characters to Vermintide?

Martin Wahlund: Vermintide was designed to be a 4 player co-op game with five heroes to choose from, to ensure that even if you were the last one to enter a team you still had two heroes to select between. Since these heroes can be tweaked to better suit the players unique play style through their choice of weapon and have personalities that play off each other, we currently don’t feel the need to expand the crew of heroes. But it might be something we pursue in the future.

This is Xbox: Was it intentional to skew perception and give the Elf a Scottish voice as opposed to the running stereotype that the Dwarf must have a Scottish dialect?

Martin Wahlund: At Fatshark we like to diversify our characters and go against established stereotypes. This is reflected in characters like our Bright Wizard, a crazy elderly lady with pyromaniacal tendencies, or in the fact that our elf Kerillian is the one with the Scottish dialect.

This is Xbox: What’s next for Fatshark – is there anything on the horizon or an idea you’re eager to work on next?

Martin Wahlund: We will continue to work with Vermintide, evolving and exploring the Warhammer Fantasy world we’ve established. As for other projects, mums the word.

Greg Giddens: I entered the competition you held to voice a character in Vermintide. Why wasn’t I picked? I would have been perfect  (Can only blame the jury. Have to have a better one for future events).

Martin Wahlund: Definitely the jury’s fault. We will make sure to cast them to the Skaven the next time we see them.

Vermintide’s Karak Azgaraz DLC dated for Xbox One

Fatshark’s Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide – which we adored in our review and end of year awards – will be receiving three new maps when the new DLC Karak Azgaraz release on Xbox One on February 28th.

Karak Azgaraz Screenshot 1

Set among the snowy peaks of the Grey Mountains, our heroes are once again tasked with foiling the Skaven’s devious plot. This time, players must fight through snow, ice and ancient Dwarfen halls to stop them before they get to the Dwarfs.

We are very happy to bring Karak Azgaraz to all console players

says Martin Wahlund, CEO Fatshark.

We double down on excitement, and also release the free Quest and Contracts DLC the same day

Karak Azgaraz Screenshot 9

The Karak Azgaraz DLC will feature three new maps: Khazid Kro, set in the outlying settlement of the same name; as well The Cursed Rune and Chain of Fire, both set in the snow-covered Grey Mountains. There’ll also be two new weapons: the Warpick for the Dwarf Ranger and the Falchion for the Witch Hunter. And we’ll have three new achievements to earn.

The free Quest and Contracts content will feature long term quests offering rare loot, and short term contracts offering temporary hero buffs in the form of boons.

We’re certainly excited for more Skaven killing action. We’ll see you amongst the Dwarfen ruins, fellow adventurers.

Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide review

Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide immerses you in the Warhammer fantasy universe, arms you with melee and ranged weaponry, and unleashes the human sized rat force known as the Skaven on you and your party of adventurers. And with dozens of the vermin swarming you whilst blades, magic, arrows, grenades and bullets fill the air alongside the screams of battle and the cries of death, you’ll be forgiven for thinking this is Left 4 Dead with a different skin. It is, in fact, a great deal more than that.

Well, not a huge amount more than that. Vermintide shares more than a passing resemblance to Valve’s zombies slaying action titles. The core gameplay-loop is the same: you and up to three others venture off into a relatively linear level towards an objective whilst a variety of different Skaven foes flood your screen and try to murder you. The Skaven even have special units that neatly compare to the likes of Left 4 Dead’s, such as the hulking Rat Ogre that can absorb and dish out huge damage, the Poison Wind Globadier who chucks poison grenades your way, and the Gutter Runner who pounces on you and slashes away at your torso, plus several more.

Players also respawn further within a level if they are felled, and items can be picked up to help heal or buff you and your party, as well as offensive options such as bombs and grenades. Furthermore, an omnipresent AI director oversees the summoning of the Skaven horde in order to make your playthrough more dynamic and scalable. Indeed, it’s very much plays like Left 4 Dead. However, this is certainly not a bad thing.

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Vermintide is fast paced and intense, with dozens of enemies filling the screen forcing you and your party to wildly swing, bash and shoot to try and clear a path forwards. Meanwhile, teamwork is crucial in dealing with the number of foes and the aforementioned special units that mean to separate you from your friends and pick you off whilst you’re vulnerable. Vermintide is the best parts of Left 4 Dead, all packed up in a faithful, intriguing and beautiful Warhammer package.

Stunning visuals brings the city streets, sewers, forests and harbours to life, with character models for your adventurers and the Skaven looking tremendously detailed. Moreover, this visual fidelity doesn’t compromises the fast pace, regardless of the action unfolding around you. You’re party of four, swinging melee weapons or firing off projectiles against dozens of humanoid rats remarkable remains smooth and fast throughout.

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The rest of the presentation is also superb, with a fantastically thematic score accompanying your dance of slaughter, not at all listenable outside of the game but wonderfully fitting for the action and world whilst you’re immersed within it. Furthermore, the clash of steal, the swish of arrows, the roar of fire, and the boom of firearms all sound excellent amongst the equally terrific Skaven and party member voices. Vocal cues from the Skaven and your party aid you in preparing for upcoming battles, or point you in the right direction if you get lost, but are used sparingly enough not to grate or become superfluous. Additionally, the little elements of lore you glean from short snippets of dialogue between your party point to the larger world of the Warhammer universe subtlety but rewardingly for fans.

You can embark on a large selection of missions across multiple different locations either alone and supported by AI teammates, or via online coop with up to three other players. You choose a hero from a selection of five: a Dwarf Ranger with axe and crossbow; an Elven Waywatcher with dual daggers and bow; a Witch Hunter with rapier and pistols; a Bright Wizard with flaming mace and fire magic; and an Empire Soldier with great sword and pistol. You then gather within an inn, consult a map to choose your mission and are then briefed by the barman. It’s terrifically atmospheric. Moreover, the starting weapons can be swapped out for several more to modify your characters significantly.

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Securing new weapons requires an element of skill and equally luck. Once you complete a level, depending on how well you do, you’ll be given dice to throw. The more dice that land showing a face, the rarer your weapon loot will be. However, the weapons available during this dice game are random, sometimes not providing new weapons for the characters you prefer and potentially lumbering you with junk. Fortunately, you can combine unwanted weapons to form new ones or upgrade favourites at the forge, helping to alleviate the frustration of tackling a level and not receiving anything useful.

This random loot system certainly can compromise your fun. The levels are hugely challenging and conquering one only to receive junk can be disheartening. Furthermore, if you fail a level you receive nothing. The friendly AI is often responsible for such failures, unfortunately. Occasionally they’ll get stuck on scenery or fail to figure out the terrain to progress forward. Meanwhile, at times they’ll completely ignore that fact you’ve been downed and require medical assistance and you’ll die surrounded by the dumbfounded AI. Bringing friends along for the fight certainly helps, but the challenge remains stiff whether you’re backed up with AI or human comrades.

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Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide is great fun to play, with its hugely satisfying combat and its excellent feedback as enemies are knocked around and sliced apart, to the visually stunning environments, as well as the character and enemy models, which truly bring the Warhammer world to life. It’s difficult, and the loot system’s random element can get a little frustrating, but the gameplay-loop is easily compelling enough to keep you coming back for more Skaven blood.

Thanks to Xbox and Fatshark for supporting TiX