The Shadows over Bogenhafen DLC doesn’t add much to Vermintide 2, but it does continue delivering the excellent level design and core experience the series is celebrated for, and fans now expect. For the price point, this DLC does just about enough to justify its purchase, just about enough.
If you haven’t had your fill of slaying the Skaven rodent hordes or the cultists, knights and abominations of Chaos, then Shadows over Bogenhafen helps satisfy your need to conquer evil. Two additional maps are added to the roster of 13, both of which offering a lengthy journey through the streets and sewer of the city of Bögenhafen. The story for these additional maps revolves around a legendary Chaos Runesword, the Blightreaper, and the cause of the plague wiping out the locals.
What’s immediately impressive upon beginning the first mission, The Pit, is the open design of the area. From the get go you have options about where you want to venture to reach the final destination. Ultimately, these branching paths all lead to the same place, and they lack visual uniqueness, with the city streets and harbour all sporting a brown/grey colour scheme, but it’s refreshing to encounter less linearity than with previous maps. However, this does distract from the task of efficient progress through a level, so to avoid needless and potentially deadly combat with hordes on the higher difficulties, something veteran players will find irksome.
The second mission, The Blightreaper, is more traditional in layout, however, an old trick is reused, one present in the original Vermintide’s first DLC, a dark location where one player must help guide the rest of the party with a torch. It feels a little bit like Déjà vu, but in a pleasant almost nostalgic way, bringing back memories of the struggles of this mechanic in the original game and recreating them here; compelling struggles of managing the party, trying not to get lost and facing enemies with one less fighter to help. It’s not new but it is engaging and fun.
And indeed that sums up the DLC rather splendidly: not new but engaging and fun. New quests and challenges helps provide some drive to keep returning to the maps, so too do the new cosmetic loot that can be gathered, but the only truly new thing is the hats you can unlock, a reward where your mileage will vary depending on your particular affinity for hats. It’s a fairly succinct DLC package.
However, while there’s nothing really new to enjoy here, the two long levels do facilitate that excellent emergent gameplay of random horde encounters and the desperate battles and ensue. Moreover, the maps are in rotation in Quick play, so everyone can play them regardless of whether they’ve bought the DLC, a smashing way to keep the community together.
For a while fans were content with more of the same, because Vermintide’s core experience is so entertaining and well-crafted, but that won’t fly anymore, and it’ll be very interesting to see how Fatshark overcomes this issues with future content or indeed a future game. For now, Shadows over Bogenhafen adds some new, enjoyable content to experience, but it’s not a ‘must have’ purchase.
Thanks to Fatshark and Xbox for supporting Thumbstix