Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is not a pretty game. Sure, it’s got nice graphics, runs with a solid physics engine and good lighting effects, features a plethora of movement and action at all times, and is complete with some stunning character animations, but it’s a game about a bunch of dark and gross medieval warriors wading their way through disease-ridden middle ages environments and chopping up hundreds of genetically mutated Rat-Men on their way.
And no matter how shiny the polygons look, I can’t quite bring myself to call that “pretty”.
But where the game’s subject matter seems cruel and brutal, its business practices are quite worthy of praise. For example, the game features a loot box system to administer rewards, but this system is balanced around earning a steady stream of loot through gameplay, and cannot be sped up by purchasing micro-transactions. It’s a rare example of a loot box system that is not implemented with the intent of pulling in more income for a developer or publisher, and shows that the system in itself can be quite rewarding and interesting if done correctly.
Even more interesting, however, is the way the game handles mods and modded content. Being an online title with tracked character progression, the game cannot simply allow any modder to create any piece of content for the game, as the mod in question might prove to make a player overpowered and ruin the challenge – and fun – of the experience.
But the game doesn’t outright ban mods – instead, it allows them, but only in the game’s Modded Realm, a separate section of online matchmaking reserved for those who want to see what mods can bring to the experience.
What’s more is that the developers have been watching the mod scene for some time. They’ve been looking at everything the community has made, and searching for the best and most balanced additions that modders have brought to the table. Today, they’ve released the game’s first batch of “Sanctioned Mods”: 11 mods that they’ve deemed balanced enough to be placed into even the game’s normal online matches. These mods won’t be enabled by default, and it will be up to the players to choose which ways they want to change their experiences, but these new options will certainly mix up the action.
For some examples on what developer Fatshark looks like when selecting a Sanctioned Mod, let’s take a look at a few of these selected mods below.
BESTIARY adds a new in-game interface that lets players take a look at all the baddies they’ve encountered in-game…Without risking getting their faces bitten off. It’s a cool way to check out the details on these monsters from safety, and the screen also provides information on the monsters’ tactics and vulnerabilities. This is information that’s already available in other places, like the game’s online Wiki, but putting it in easier access of the average player helps everyone out.
LOCKEDANDLOADED is a simple improvement that lets you see whether or not your equipped ranged weapon is loaded before you pull the trigger. Never again will you be caught with an empty barrel in the clutches of danger.
NEEDii is a mod that encourages teamwork and sharing. During missions that task the survivors with traveling from point A to point B while under attack by the Man-Rat swarms, the game will spawn a couple healing items off the beaten path to aid those who are wounded. Obviously, you’ll want to give them to the person on your team who needs them most, but sometimes it’s not easy to tell who’s the worst off in the thick of battle. This fixes that. Whenever you look at a certain health or ammo pickup, you’ll instantly see who could use it most.
As you’ll see, these aren’t mods that change up the gameplay or balance, but rather that add additional information to make the game a little easier on random teams. And this kind of “pat on the back” from a developer to a modder can be a big deal to the community.
Mod content offers a huge amount of replayability and value to any game popular enough to attract the attention. Developer Fatshark’s willingness to engage with the mod community is a trend that other developers should look to emulate in the future. After all, these modders are making this stuff for free. And that’s an effort of passion that deserves to be recognized.
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