I played Vermintide for a couple of years without mods and liked it plenty, but when I finally installed a few (via this modpack) they immediately became essential. With better bots and the ability to drop the HUD at the press of a button, I can turn it Vermintide into a game about photographing the Old World. A squad of competent AIs protects me while I wander around setting up perfect angles on Tudor houses and twin moons, something no human players would ever put up with.
At the other end of the spectrum are mods like the Stormvermin Mutation, which upgrades enemies so that what would have been slaverats become clanrats, clanrats become armored stormvermin, and every special is replaced by a rat ogre. The first time I tried that I wound up facing two ogres and a pack of stormvermin simultaneously on a narrow bridge. It didn't last long.
And there are plenty of other mods available for the original game, many in the same collection. There's another difficulty increase called Onslaught, sound replacers, UI tweaks, cosmetic changes, and even a separate mod that adds a playable chess set. Because why not?
Official mod support was planned for the original Vermintide but is yet to appear—it's still there, grayed-out and "Coming Soon!" on the launcher's menu. Fatshark's technical director Robin Hagblom tells me it's still coming, "but Vermintide 2 is top priority at the moment. Hopefully we'll open both workshops simultaneously, but no promises."
The initial lack of official support didn't dissuade modders, of course. According to Grimalackt, who maintains the Quality of Life modpack, it began with cheats. "Modding in vermintide 1 started as a DLL injection," he says. "Its first uses were very clear-cut cheats. 'Win game' buttons. Adding all the items to your inventory, god mode, etc."
As he explains, they were designed to mess with the code in the middle of a game. "The possibilities given by that are obviously beyond game-breaking, especially since a lot of the game was at first coded with the assumption that the other clients were running exactly the same code as you were." He gives examples of potential malicious uses like kicking hosts out of their own games, impersonating other players in chat, or crashing someone else's game without even being in the same lobby as them.
The mods that became popular weren't the ones that let you cheat or troll other players, however. "I think the biggest reception was to the various sound replacers I made," says modder Aussiemon. "This was one of the types of mods made possible with Fatshark's assistance, as nothing like it had ever been done before. I wrote a script to play the 'headshot' sound from Unreal Tournament 2k whenever a special skaven was shot in the head." People started sending him requests for things like the MLG airhorn playing when gutter runners attack and soon he became the go-to guy for all your audio mod requests. "It ended with John Cena's theme music playing when an ogre showed up, and that silly balloon hammer mod."
Nowadays the most popular mod is Grimalackt's Quality of Life collection, with its toggleable options like third-person camera, the Stormvermin Mutation, and those bot improvements I l like so much. Some of these things were made possible by Fatshark giving modders access to their SDK tools, creating a Steam community for them, and answering questions directly. "We'd post about an issue we were having, or access to an uncompiled file for reference, and Robin would reply within the day with a suggestion or reference file. These discussions led to the first custom models, textures, and sounds in Vermintide 1, and we definitely would never have gotten that far without Fatshark's insight.
"It wasn't just their advice though," Aussiemon continues. "Fatshark gathered our suggestions and thoughts on mod support to form a plan for Vermintide 2. I think a not-so-insignificant part of the official mod design will be the result of a collaborative effort between Fatshark and the modding community."
Fatshark is aiming to add Steam Workshop support to Vermintide 2 in late April. "Though even past this it will still be an ongoing project," Hagblom says, "improving the tools, adding more functionality and adding access to more parts of the game so it won't be a fire-and-forget release."
They've made a Discord channel to connect modders and share information, working with them to map out how to best implement it. "It's really paid off for us too even without the actual mods," says Hagblom, "because they've in turn helped us finding repro cases for bugs and reported when they've found things that haven't exactly been working as intended."
Bringing everyone together before mod support goes live means that when the Steam Workshop goes live there will be plenty ready to fill it. "The first priority will obviously be to transfer everything from Vermintide 1 that is still usable in Vermintide 2's context," says Grimalackt. "Since Vermintide 2 still shares a lot of code from the first game, the task is usually not too difficult, with some mods sometimes working after a simple copy/paste with little to no adjustments. Third-person for example falls in that bag. It was already made functional in Vermintide 2 within days of one of its betas, although obviously can't be shared yet until official support comes around."
As well as third-person mode he says visible damage numbers and health bars, chat blocking, bot improvements and crosshair customizations mods will all make the leap to Vermintide 2. Aussiemon is already working to bring over Fashion Patrol, which turns stormvermin white, as well as his mods for skipping cutscenes, freeing up hat cosmetics so anyone can wear them, scaling the UI for 4k, and adding more mission stats.
Following the transfer of old mods, Grimalackt predicts UI improvements will be the focus. "Any of the complaints about any of the UI screens that Fatshark doesn't fix themselves, and that are within modding powers are going to get fixed by mods."
Aussiemon agrees. "Some people want detailed weapon stats. Some people want faster endgame screens. Some people want us to port over the UI from Vermintide 1. Working with the UI code isn't easy, but this will probably be what people will focus on first anyway. UnShame is already working on a 'weapon stats' tab at the equipment screen, in fact. I'm sure Fatshark will eventually implement some of the common suggestions themselves, but there'll always be ideas for modders."
And then, of course, the stranger ideas will flow in. Aussiemon says that after texture, model, and sound replacers, "eventually the Vermintide 2 tools will let us make new items, animations, cutscenes, and even levels." In the first game he managed to turn the Pub Brawl, a limited-time event that let players biff each other up in the Red Moon Inn, into something players could enjoy whenever they wanted. Now he's working on a follow-up.
"I've written a mod that allows friendly fire in Taal's Horn Keep," he says, going on to explain that without access to bespoke animations like those the first game had for Pub Brawl, like fists and Lohner pouring flagons of Bugman's ale, it won't be exactly the same—unless Fatshark does something like Pub Brawl for Vermintide 2. "Pub Brawl was a fan favorite though, so I bet we'll see it make a comeback. When it does, I'll have a mod."
A barricade against cheats and trolls
Modding Vermintide 2 won't be a complete free-for-all, of course. Some players will want to hog-wild while others would rather stick with the vanilla game. "To cater to both these things we will be splitting the game into two realms," Hagblom says, "the official realm and the modded realm. So if a player is playing in the official realm, they will be able to know that everybody else playing are playing legitimately. Though, since we've had a lot of mods for Vermintide 1 with QoL improvements, more advanced UIs and the like we still want this to remain without forcing these players to play in the wild west of the modded realm. To solve this we will allow mod creators to apply to get their mods vetted for 'sanctioned' status. We will then go through the mod, make sure it doesn't contain any cheats or unfair advantages and if everything checks out, clear it to be played even in the official realm."
As Grimalackt says, "Those who want to create absolutely ridiculous mods will now also be able to share them more openly, since there will be an 'untrusted' realm with separate matchmaking where everything is permitted, at the cost of loot not carrying over to the trusted realm."
Something we probably won't see is rebalancing to make the game easier, much as I'd like it if mid-level bosses like Bile Trolls and Chaos Spawn had about half as many hit points on Recruit difficulty. Grimalack calls it "very unlikely" that custom difficulty rebalancing will make it through the new system. "The bot improvements will likely still make a comeback, however," he says. "The only complaint the devs ever really had about them was their sometimes ridiculously accurate aim, so that part might have to be left unimproved, but their handling of tomes and grimoires will almost assuredly be changed just like in the first game."
As for making the game harder, "Vermintide 2 is already significantly harder than the first game. Some of the heroic deeds are also heavily inspired by the first game's difficulty mods. The 'Vanguard' modifier, is effectively what Stormvermin Mutation was, as it directly turns clan rats into stormvermins, and slave rats into clan rats (and does the same to Chaos equivalents), just like the Stormvermin Mutation once did. It doesn't turn all specials into bosses, however, so I guess I still have something to do.
Lines will be drawn at mods that infringe on intellectual property. "So for instance no Lord of the Rings mods," Hagblom says. "When the Mod SDK is released it will have a EULA specifying the exact dos and don'ts."
Grimalackt is looking forward to the fact he won't need to maintain the equivalent of his Quality of Life modpack for Vermintide 2. "Every modder will be responsible for uploading and maintaining their own mods, and won't have to go through me to have me include their work in my package. I'll be able to dedicate more time to creating my own mods instead. Fear not though, the QoL modpack will eventually still live on as a Steam Workshop list of recommended good starter mods, sometime down the line."
He already has ideas for what he'll do with the free time he'll have. "One thing I also definitely have to do sometimes soon is turn everything into plague monks. You don't see enough of those guys around. I can already imagine the screeching from a horde of monks…"