Vermintide Basics Guide: Hints and Tips to Turn Rat-Fodder Into Rat-Slayers

Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide has been out for moderately more time than it takes to read the game’s lengthy full name, and I’ve spent a fair amount of my weekend wading through the entrails of disemboweled Skaven. Having also dabbled a bit in the beta, it’s clear that compiling a few Vermintide basics that the game kind of skims over could improve life for everyone.

Here, then, are some top tips for becoming a competent Ubersreik rat-slayer. This won’t teach you how to do flawless Nightmare runs on the “Wheat and Chaff” map or anything, but it will help you die a fair bit less and maybe enlighten you about a semi-hidden mechanic or two.

Vermintide Rule Number One – Operation Buddy System.

Much like Left 4 Dead, the primary, number one, golden rule is stick together. As soon as anybody separates too far from the group, the Skaven Horned Rat God smiles and sends some of his most trusted servants to grab them, stab them or shoot them.

Don’t be the person who’s running way ahead of the team like a loon and then blaming the others when he gets into trouble. Keeping moving in Vermintide is good and smart, but doing it at the expense of group cohesion is bad. Likewise, don’t be the lone straggler at the back who keeps going down every single alleyway and corridor. Unless everybody is combing the level quite slowly, in which case you may as well join in too.

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I neglected to take many ‘real’ screenshots during play, so you’ll have to make do with bot-shots. Anyway, don’t let this be you.

If you get dropped into a random team where half the people want to go slowly and the other half want to race ahead then … uh, hope for the best. Or stick with the larger group.

The Motion of the Potions.

As you pass through the level, you will come across healing items and special potions. Distributing the healing may test the diplomatic and organisational powers of your group to the full. Anybody who’s bleeding out (the grey health bar that ticks down) should get immediate priority, followed by anybody else who’s in the red, and so on.

Medkits should go to those in most need (as they heal more the weaker you are), while the healing potions can be quaffed by anybody with 50% health or more (as they heal up a flat 25%).

If you’re feeling like an altruistic soul and want to heal someone other than yourself with a medical kit, stand near them and hold the right mouse button. Not the left. That will just heal you instead and make you look like a jerk. “Ooh, look how much I’m enjoying this medical kit in front of this dying person!”

You can only heal others with the medkits, not the healing potions. And there’s currently no way to share the healing bottles with your Vermintide pals (unless there’s still a medkit laying around on the floor to switch it with), so keep that in mind before grabbing one.

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Everyone has full health here, so for once this medkit is a bit useless.

Other handy potions that you’ll come across in your travels are Strength and Speed offerings. It’s worth knowing that the Strength one also affects your ranged attack (yes, even if it’s a pistol … somehow). That includes bombs, too. They also appear to give all your attacks armour-piercing properties. Speed potions are especially useful for characters with slower, heavy damage attacks (or if you need a boost to complete a ‘carry this thing over here’ type objective’).

Strength/Speed potions are pretty numerous, so don’t feel you need to save them for the absolute perfect moment. Any kind of massed rat attack is generally going to be a good time. You’ll quickly get a feel for how often potions show up in maps.

There’s a Rat In My Kitc … STAB IT.

Effective fighting technique in Vermintide is down to two things. Awareness of your surroundings, and familiarity with the melee system.

Rats can come from pretty much anywhere during a swarm (denoted by a horn blast) or ambush. There could be one beside you right now. I’m pretty sure they just spawn out of thin air sometimes. Get used to scanning around and checking behind you. Widening the FOV (a slider in the options menu) can help a bit too, although bumping it beyond about 80 gives you a weird fish-eye effect that I couldn’t really put up with.

Your melee weapon has various capabilities. A left click will do a basic swing/swipe, holding left will do a special charged attack. Right mouse blocks incoming attacks, and while the right mouse is held, pressing the left will do a push/knockback move. You have limited stamina for blocking and pushing, denoted by the eroding shields in the middle of the screen.

Doing the knockback/push on rats will draw their aggression. This is useful for everybody to know, but especially for shield-users who have high stamina.

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Bugger off, rats.

As well as all this, you also have a dodge. This can be toggled in the controls from being bound to pushing a direction and jump, or (as I prefer) bound to a separate key. You can do side-step dodges, and backwards hops.

Get to know these moves, and to know the properties of your preferred weapon. Does it have a large sweep that takes out a bunch of rats at once? Does it do extra damage on headshots? (You can learn this in the inventory screen). Does it have armour-piercing properties on certain attacks? Learning these aspects can help you settle into a natural role in the team: horde clearer, disposer-of-specials, and so on.

Most of the weapons have armour-piercing qualities on their charged attack (there are exceptions though, so do check). You need to use this attack type against the armoured enemies: Stormvermin and Ratling Gunners.

There’s an unbound key (or it’s set to ‘extra mouse’ or something) for ‘Special Attack’ in the controls list. As far as I’ve found so far this only affects the Witch Hunter’s rapier, and pressing it enables him to pop off a pistol shot (which is why his rapier has 16 ‘ammo’).

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That’s difficult to screenshot, so just imagine I’m about to fire the pistol here.

The Specials – A Message To You, Ratty.

Always remember that you have a key (T by default) that can highlight things for your team-mates. If you spy a lurking assassin or similar sneaky special rat, try to highlight it. It also helps to become familiar with their calling-card audio if you can.

Here are the unique vermin you’ll come across in Vermintide, along with what their deal is:

Gutter Runner/Ratssassin.

This stealthy fellow enjoys leaping on unsuspecting heroes and stabbing them up with a pair of green-tinged blades. Killing him before he’s able to do this is the ideal, but if he’s busy jamming his knives into one of your friends, knock him off with a melee swipe or ranged attack. You’ll get a small window in which to kill him before he puts off a disappearing act with a smoke bomb, so try to do that with powerful attacks or headshots. If he peaces out in the smoke, he’s not gone for good – he’ll be back again. Sinister whisper sounds denote his arrival.

Globadier/Gas-Rat.

A jerk who likes to lob poisonous orbs at your group. Standing in the green cloud will drain your health and make your disoriented, so try to avoid that. Any regular Skaven in the cloud will also suffer these effects, so if you’re able to lure them into (or through) it, it can do make the best of a bad situation and do some of your work for you. Globadiers like to keep their distance, so a ranged headshot from one of your team’s shooting experts tends to be the best solution.

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That big green cloud is a bit of a giveaway.

Packmaster/Grabby-Pole Rat.

These irritating fellows like to chuck a spiky collar on the end of a stick around your neck and drag you off through (usually) a horde of rats eager for some free hits. They’re cunning enough to use the player as a sort of human shield while dragging them away, so killing them at range while they have someone trapped can be awkward unless you get a decent angle. Fortunately, they’re the weakest of the special rats so they die if you can inflict basically any damage. His audio cue is a kind of clanking effect.

Ratling Gunner/Mr. Rat-a-tat-tat.

The Ratling Gunner picks a character to target and then attempts to unload huge amounts of bullets into their delicate features. Whomever is the target should try to get some cover between themselves and the gunner. Others should shoot back, or run up and stab him (from the side, you don’t want to greet some bullets). He’s armoured, so whatever method you choose should have armour-piercing qualities. His gunfire is indiscriminate, so he’ll sometimes quite happily mow down some fellow Skaven. He’s capable of switching targets, so watch out for that too. The audio cue for this guy is a sort of ‘gun whirring up to speed’ effect.

Stormvermin and Stormvermin Patrols (Fancy Hat Rats).

Armoured rats who’ll mess up your day if you don’t know how to do armour-piercing attacks (usually your charged swing), or avoid being hit. For individuals, watch out for their attacks (the side-dodge is pretty good for avoiding these, the backwards dodge isn’t), and get your armour-piercing strikes in when you can.

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This situation is less than ideal.

Patrols are a whole lot more dangerous and, if possible, you should just avoid them. You’ll tend to hear the tell-tale sound of marching, jingling armour, tramping rat-feet in the distance before you see them. If you absolutely must fight them, a couple of bombs tossed into their midst (especially in combination with a potion of Strength) will work wonders. But really, don’t fight them.

Rat Ogre/Uh … Ra-tank?

The biggest of the big lads. Pray that you encounter him in an open space, because it makes juggling his attentions and avoiding his giant paw-slams a whole lot easier. Despite his massive size, I don’t think he counts as ‘armoured’.

His ‘fuck you’ attacks are a right-hand punch (which can be blocked, though it’ll cost all your stamina and still send you flying), and a double-hand overhead smash (which can’t be blocked, so try to dodge backwards or just not be near it). The best tactic is probably for one player to keep his attention with blocks and aggro-pushes, while as many others as possible mash the rat ogre’s backside to ribbons (or shoot him, if you have the ammo for it). When the ogre switches focus, the team switches roles.

Vermintide often complicates this by having rat ogres show up in the middle of swarms, or accompanied by other specials. In those cases some of the team need to be dealing with these problems, while also trying to maintain the number one rule of sticking close to one another. Rat ogre attacks are a real test of co-ordination and delegation of duty.

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She says, as the soldier flies through the air.

Things like bombs or potions of Strength and Speed can also help quite a bit.

Loot Rat/Sack Rat.

If you see a rat scuttling about with a bag over his shoulder, try to kill him. Chances are he’ll drop goodies. Maybe even a Loot Die. Which sounds like a good opportunity to cover a few things regarding …

Loot, and Why Greed Will Probably Destroy Your Team.

The successful completion of a Vermintide level will reward you with a roll of the Loot Dice and (may) result in you getting the weapon of your dreams. Or some random garbage. Or a weapon of your dreams for a character you don’t intend to play.

“Completion” is the key word there. You only get a chance at loot if you finish the map. Certain items on that map can reward you with a higher chance of better loot, but will also reduce your chances of making it to the end (either through direct stat effects, or simply by making you dick around looking for it).

Here are the items in question.

Loot Die.

Found in chests or with sack rats. I believe there are two per map. Give you extra dice at the post-map loot roll.

Tomes.

Not found in the same qualities (or at all) in all maps, but these books take up the room in your healing item slot. So that’s the obvious trade-off there. You can pop them down and pick up medical supplies when they’re available though – then grab the tome again before you set off.

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Here’s one now.

Grimoires.

A bit like tomes, except these take up your potion slot and give you even better loot odds at the end. Don’t left-click while you have them in your character’s hands, otherwise they will be dropped and cannot (at the moment, anyway) be picked back up. If a character carrying a grimoire dies, they will also be lost. Each grimoire carried by the group reduces everybody’s health by (I think) around a quarter. It’s a major risk-reward thing.

The ‘best’ possible loot run you can possibly do is with a pair of loot dice, three tomes and two grimoires. However, not all maps will have this number of items. The shorter, ‘side quest’ type ones have fewer opportunities for stacking the loot-odds.

Geordi The Forge.

Once you have some sweet, sweet loot, you’ll be wanting to make the most of The Forge. It has three functions.

Fuse.

Drop five items of the same colour into the pot, and get a random item of higher rarity out. You can somewhat dictate what you get out by what you put in. Use five items from the same character, and you’ll get something back for that same character. Drop in four swords of the same type and one other thing, and there’s a good chance you’ll get a sword back. I don’t know the exact percentages here, but it works in that manner.

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Any kind of health recovery enchantment is always nice.

Salvage.

Pretty straightforward. Drop a blue item in, get a blue rock out. Drop a green item in, get a green rock back. And so on.

Upgrade.

Here’s where you actually use those coloured rocks. For weapons that have unlockable enchantments, you need materials of an appropriate colour – the one below the weapon you’re trying to upgrade (so whites for green weapons, greens for blue, etc). If a weapon has multiple enchantments to unlock, you can choose the one you want first by clicking on it. Each subsequent enchantment will cost you more.

All of that lot should, hopefully, give you a better idea of how most of Vermintide works. If you have more hot tips or corrections to share, leave them below and I’ll try to keep an eye on this page and incorporate the best ones into the article (with appropriate credit, of course).