With this pair of spiritual Left 4 Dead successors launching almost hand-in-hand on Xbox One, fans of frenetic co-op will no doubt be left pondering where to turn for their latest fix. Whether you’re more immediately drawn to the high fantasy of Vermintide II or the grounded sci-fi of Earthfall, we’ll be assessing how they compare in a few key areas in order to decide which emerges with its hand held high.
Both games are ostensibly similar, though their contexts and wider systems set them apart on all but the surface level.
Vermintide II has no such equivalent, but a much deeper well of customisation options helps to offset the absence, boasting more consistently engaging core combat not necessarily in need of the differentiation. This leads to a more consistent pacing, which can be both a good and a bad thing; all of Vermintide II’s missions are equally exciting, but do less to propel you onwards when you’re sure of what’s to come.
As well as having more tools at your instant disposal - with close-range thwackers outshining their slightly-less-whelming ranged counterparts in this instance - there are also more baddies against which to put them to practice. Combat, which is really at the core of both experiences, is stronger in Vermintide II due to this all round variety and a generally more bloody and impactful implementation.
Value & Longevity
Neither game lasts particularly long in terms of a one-and-done playthrough, so it’s a good job that they’re both designed to be played and replayed ad infinitum. High levels of challenge and moderate randomisation across enemy and item spawns help to ensure repeat ventures remain varied and engaging, though tangible rewards beyond just achievements do give Vermintide II the edge.
The latest in the Warhammer staple also features a greater number of missions, whilst at the same time costing slightly less (if anything at all, should you be an active Xbox Game Pass subscriber), surely awarding it a second straight category? For now, perhaps, but with Earthfall set to receive free campaign DLC in the future it’s quite possible that the tables could turn.
In terms of premium DLC, the pair do offer up optional cosmetics, though, thankfully, you can directly pick your poison instead of gambling on paid loot boxes. While you don’t get much opportunity to appreciate outfits from a first-person perspective, you will enjoy envious looks from online co-op partners, as you’ll want to avoid playing offline with merely adequate bots in either title whenever possible.
Each game weaves a threadbare narrative, acting as all the unintrusive motivation you need to keep busting heads as and when you see fit. In both instances stories are told through character dialogue snippets during gameplay, but to much greater effect in Vermintide, owing to its vibrant cast; while this injects an extra dose of personality, it leaves the survivors of Earthfall free to do the invaluable job of calling out enemy spawns more consistently.
Recognisable ambient and soundtrack cues serve a similar role in both games, in time negating much of the dialogue disparity as you learn to distinguish portions of audio, the dynamic soundscapes ramping up alongside escalating danger as more and more enemies are piped in.
Handling hordes of on-screen models is always a technical challenge, leading both titles to encounter very occasional frame drops, but nothing significant enough to really impact either experience. That’s especially impressive when Vermintide II runs at native 4K resolution on Xbox One X, whereas Earthfall isn’t enhanced at all, creating a clear visual gap for owners of Microsoft’s most powerful console.
Warhammer: Vermintide II
With almost a clean sweep, Vermintide II is clearly the more complete product and the game we’d recommend if you really must chose. If you’re any kind of starved Left 4 Dead fanatic, however, you should definitely consider snapping up both.