I think we can all agree that, as far as gaming media is concerned, Warhammer is rapidly growing in popularity. Why wouldn’t it? Or more specifically, why shouldn’t it? The universe has been going for yonks, and comes with a vast amount of lore. Lore that’s interesting, unique, and quite frankly, ripe for the picking. Let’s not pretend that many of the several Warhammer games released this gen alone stand out. If anything, only a few seem to have garnered much favor, and with that in mind, where does Warhammer: Chaosbane fit in?
Surprisingly, and although far from perfect, Warhammer: Chaosbane is a decent ARPG. There’s some flaws and a few issues to overlook, but, whether you’re a fan of the source material, or, a fan of the gameplay concept, there’s much to like. Starting out, you’re free to select a difficulty of your choosing, ranging easy through to chaos; each bump dishing out more of a challenge, and in turn, better loot. There’s a total of four classes for you to select from, one being a human, one a wood elf scout, one a high elf mage, and one a dwarf.
Naturally, each character comes with unique skills and customization options, but we’ll touch up on that soon. The game’s story is instantly relayed to you through a rather bulky intro scene. In a nutshell; an evil chaos lord has built a gigantic army with a notion to invade and rule wherever he sees fit. However, one man steps up to the proverbial plate – Magnus. Magnus compels men to band together, form an army, and fight back, and in doing so, proves to be victorious through defeating the chaos lord. Trouble stirs some time later.
Magnus is attacked and put under a deadly spell by a powerful mage, and you, ladies and gents, who just so happened to be in the right place at the right time, are sent on a quest to find out what’s driving the current threat. The story, although somewhat predictable from beat to beat, does well at keeping player interest at a high. There’s a few choices that alter the story slightly, but nothing to truly shout from the rooftops about. Still, being able to drive the story even marginally is a neat way to throw in a blanket layer of replay value.
Going back to the character classes. Each of the four classes, as alluded to above, provide unique ways to enjoy the game. The characters offer up distinct skills and talents, and also come with an efficient power-move that needs to be charged (through killing enemies and earning blood orbs) per-use. Now, with any decent RPG loot-athon worth its weight, you would expect to see a diverse set of skills and attacks to unlock, but sadly, this is where Warhammer: Chaosbane falls relatively short of greatness; there’s no real deep variation.
Most of the attacks and new additions that you’ll add to your list of abilities tend to feel like enhanced versions of what you’re already capable of, rather than that of an entirely new move. This makes things quite stale in the long run, especially when compared to its rich contemporaries; Diablo III, for instance. It would have been nice to see more depth here, if for anything to uphold the game’s clear attempt at dishing out replayability. Instead, the whole ordeal, or at least as far as action and combat is concerned, comes across repetitive.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s some notable differences between some attacks, but nothing that comes across differential to the point of definition. Whatever, the game’s hack-and-slash gameplay across movement and combat remains simple and satisfying. The handling and feedback is precise, fluid, and responsive throughout, lending the experience a solid pace that blends stat juggling and action-packed carnage well. Though, as pointed out, it can get a little bit jarring when you’re later in the quests and it feels somewhat samey-samey.
Bear with it though, because even with that glaring drawback in mind, alongside some piss poor voice work, there’s a hell of a lot to like here. Progression is fairly linear. You’ll hit a set level and will unlock something that’s known as the Gift of the Gods. This, essentially, is an extra set of moves that you can unlock and upgrade per-player. Though, you’ll need to save up gold and crystals obtained through natural play as you travel across the game’s world. Popping back to the loot, you’ll find heaps of this throughout each and every mission within.
Mercifully, the game does a stellar job at labeling everything for you rather clearly, showing you at the drop of a hat whether it’s better or worse than what you’re currently holding. There’s no shortage of it. You’ll be swimming in loot for pretty much anything that you do. That being said, loot does become relatively useless relatively quickly, meaning you’ll constantly be trading out gear and wares on the fly, but, that’s the whole draw of games of this kind, right? If that appeals to you, Warhammer: Chaosbane will keep you satisfied.
You can indeed dispose of useless loot through a vendor, and once leveled up, you’ll be given currency and other incomes for your efforts. I’ll say this, because I fear I haven’t made it clear enough. Warhammer: Chaosbane is deep when it comes to its looting. So deep that you’ll constantly be spoiled for choice. It helps, of course, that there’s a great deal of variety present too, ensuring that you’ve always got a vast pool of varying resources to improve and stylize from. It’s not Diablo III deep, mind, but deep enough to get a big thumbs up.
I’ll say the same about the game’s enemy variation. The bestiary in Warhammer: Chaosbane is impressive. Considering that you’ll only be squaring off against the chaos, the game is remarkably deep in this regard; nurgles, plagues, and even the great unclean one makes an appearance here, and much more besides. Seriously, there’s a shed-load of nasties and bosses to tackle. My only gripe is that the game’s foes don’t really have much attack variety, but that’s fine for the most part, I just wish there was more distinction across the board.
The game’s multiplayer is drop-in/drop-out, allowing you and your buddies to ally up at the flick of a few buttons. Whilst fun enough in solo, playing with others is a true joy, especially when you’re all combining attacks and tactically using skills in unity with one another. I can only report a strong and healthy performance from the game when playing either solo or with others. Warhammer: Chaosbane, even when the screen is chock-full of action and effects, never buckles under the pressure. Rest assured, it’s a very silky smooth ARPG.
In regards to the game’s visual and audio presentation, Warhammer: Chaosbane gets a lot right. Despite the aforementioned shite voice work, the game is jam-packed with details and decent sound design. What helps is that the game makes a habit of constantly taking you to new locales, all of which vary greatly alongside one another, ultimately ensuring that visual repetition is kept at bay. The bottom line in all of this? If you’re even on the fence about picking this up, go ahead and dive on in. Issues aside, it’s well worth the investment.
The game is clearly built to last. The amount of content on offer certainly justifies the cost; offering a lengthy story mode, varying alternate modes such as expedition and boss rush, and more besides. That’s not to mention the promise of post-launch support and consistent, constant updates. Depending on your selected difficulty, the fields of play will vary on a run-by-run basis, but even on the lower settings, I found quite a challenging experience. Whilst not on-par with genre leads, the developer has a wonderful framework to build on.
Whilst not quite as deep, varied, or refined as its widely acclaimed contemporaries, Warhammer: Chaosbane still manages to serve up a solid ARPG that packs quite a punch. The game plays well, looks good, and sports heaps of replay value across the board. Despite the odd issue with its combat diversity and its poor voice work, fans of both the genre and the source material will no doubt thoroughly enjoy what’s on offer.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.