The Warhammer licence has spawned countless games over the years – from surprisingly decent shooters to god-awful tactical offerings, and everything in between – but it’s when developers attempt to emulate the tabletop gaming that things can get really interesting. The original 1995 version of Warhammer Quest was recreated in digital form way back in 2013, but while it captured the look and feel of that war-torn fantasy world, it lost some of the magic that comes with grabbing some friends and battling through dungeons with real pieces in-person.
Its sequel – Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times – has already been knocking about on iOS and Android for a couple of years, but now it’s making the jump to consoles the hope it’ll learn from previous errors and deliver the virtual tabletop experience we’ve all been waiting for. And with new enemies, larger dungeons to explore and some other welcome changes, this long-awaited port looks to take the apocalyptic setting of the End Times (where the forces of Chaos have plunged the Warhammer world into a cataclysmic state) and squeeze it for all its worth.
Much like the Vermintide games, this new terror forces old enemies to put aside their differences and team up in the name of collective survival. It’s a convenient setup that sees your party of four gradually grow with multiple different races and class types. You’ll start off with a captain of the Empire (your classic ‘all-rounder’) and a Dark Elf sorceress, but as the game progresses you’ll unlock a total of 12 different hero classes. With more options to choose this time around – including over 200 weapons, items and armour pieces to collect – there’s actually a lot more agency when it comes to building up your squad. However, it does take a little while to unlock each class, so expect to grind a little first.
Battles are top-down in view and turn-based in action. Movement, attacks, spells and other actions are governed by the amount of AP each character possesses, but things start to get a little more complicated after that. Drawing direct inspiration from the tabletop incarnation, Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times assigns each character their own set of stats (speed, dexterity, strength, etc) and defines attacks and offensive spells by three separate types (piercing, crushing and slashing). After a couple of battles through its slew of randomised and pre-determined dungeons, it soon becomes clear that knowing which unit works best against a certain type of foe is the key to strategically clearing each new underground battlefield.
Most battles boil down to the same tactic – make your way through a dungeon, kill everything you find and loot its corpses for new stuff – but with a far larger selection of enemies to contend with than the first game in the series, these encounters do require plenty of tactical thinking. From sneaky Skaven assassins with high evasion stats (perfect for flanking and griefing your squad) to the armoured tanks that are Chaos Warriors, there’s a lot of factors to consider (including which kind of resistance each enemy type possesses) as you level up your team and customise them with new gear you pick up in dungeons and purchase from merchants in between excursions.
It should be said that the version of Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times that’s arrived on Nintendo Switch is not the one that first popped up on mobile marketplaces. Developer Perchang has spent a few years tweaking stats, improving performance and adding new content (such as the multiple heroes you can choose from) and it’s helped turn the sequel into a much-improved follow-up. The inclusion of a dynamic camera – which enables you to zoom and pan the camera to see the detailed character models and their positions – really makes a difference. However, these changes haven’t managed to properly address the game’s biggest issue: repetition.
For all its variety in character design and stats, once you realise almost every dungeon can be rinsed and repeated (main missions can be replayed for extra XP, while side missions are randomised each time you complete them), Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times loses some of its lustre. Kills are the fastest way to level up your heroes, so baiting enemies to enter a doorway or opening while you lay waste to the conga line of death that passes through does start to become a little boring. You can employ other tactics, but once you discover how easy this approach works, the game no longer feels quite as compelling as it once did.
Despite being late to the war-torn party, the Nintendo Switch version of Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times is still a robust and enjoyable turn-based dungeon crawler that benefits from having its roots in mobile gaming. Years of updates mean new players have access to a lot of content, but tactically it becomes a little stale once you learn to exploit its easily-manipulated levelling system. Still, if you're a fan of the Warhammer universe then this game does manage to tickle an itch that only dungeon-based loot drops can scratch.