Warhammer Chaosbane is an action role-playing game set in the Warhammer universe. Players can take on one of four characters, each with unique abilities, and play through the story of a world at war with the Chaos hordes.
You can take on the campaign alone or you can also play with up to three others in local or online co-op mode. This hack 'n slash dungeon crawler will give you a dose of the Warhammer universe, served up with a side of déjà vu.
The main game is comprised of a story mode, split up into chapters. Set in the Warhammer Fantasy Universe, the narrative takes place just after The Great War against chaos. While Magnus the Pious stands in victory over the Chaos leader known only as the Everchosen, the forces of Chaos are beginning to reform. Your task is to stop them before they come after Magnus.
Each chapter focuses on a different Chaos God, which you must journey to find and defeat.
Completing the first chapter also unlocks two new modes of play, Boss Rush and Expedition. Boss Rush allows you to fight any previously defeated bosses again, for a chance at better loot while Expedition allows you to explore randomly generated levels in order to farm crafting items and gold.
Later in the game you can unlock an extra mode called Relic Hunt, which allows you to configure elements and create a dungeon tailored for the type of loot you need.
A Diablo Clone?
The first thing you will likely notice is that this game feels very much like Diablo. From the control system to the level design, any fans of Blizzard’s dungeon crawler will definitely feel an overwhelming sense of déjà vu.
The biggest plus for Chaosbane is that it benefits hugely from is its setting, which brings with it some formidable enemies to fight and intriguing artifacts to collect. Your choice of characters is also well thought out, with each one feeling very unique to play. It also offers offline play for all single player modes, something which is sure to please haters of the always online model.
I started out playing as Elessa, a Wood Elf Waywatcher. She has a range of single target attacks and AOE damage abilities, all of which deal damage at a distance. Her signature move is a roll, which allows her to very quickly escape melee combat. I found the character incredibly engaging to play with, and even after trying out the others I came back to her.
With regards to the other characters, the High Elf Mage Elontir was also enjoyable, albeit more of a challenge to master. He has a range of magical attacks, which you can gain full control of through his signature ability.
If you prefer melee combat then there's Bragi Axebiter, a dwarf slayer with an axe and a love for swinging it. He excels in melee combat, and he has tremendous mobility.
Finally, Konrad Vollen is an Empire Soldier and probably the least engaging of the heroes. His style has more of a focus on defense as well as melee combat, with a shield blocking signature move and more limited mobility.
Overall the gameplay felt quite balanced, at least for the stage I ran through with all four characters. Each character has their own unique abilities, which bring individual advantages and challenges. As you progress through the game and unlock new abilities as well as the God skill tree you can further customize your character to fit your play style.
Dungeons, Demons and Déjà Vu
While the characters felt unique and interesting, the levels were unfortunately much less so. The first chapter takes you through a series of sewer-based dungeons and many of them felt like exactly the same layout, just in a different order. The maps all looked familiar and the sewers themselves had no variation in style or design.
While I understand some overlap, it was mostly the lack of map variation which stood out. I am known for my terrible sense of direction in real life as well as in games, yet I was often able to easily navigate the almost identical looking sewers, simply because I felt like I’d just been there. I’ve not played through the entire storyline at the time of writing, so I am unsure if this is an ongoing issue, but it’s certainly prevalent in the early to mid game.
The levels felt very cramped, even those which took place outside.
One particularly memorable dungeon, for all the wrong reasons, was simply a series of small rooms, with loading screens between each one. Another was a town, which forced you down narrow streets.
I hope that the dingy hallways will give way to more open world exploration, especially in the upcoming season pass story.
Anyone who is new to the Warhammer universe will probably not get much out of the narrative, which tends to assume you know your lore. However, there is a clear story arc running through the chapters.
It's flimsy in places, although the enemies and the character development add a little to the tale. I hope to see the story explored in more depth as I continue the main game and eventually dive into the season pass content.
Overall Warhammer Chaosbane succeeds more than it fails but it’s a close call.
Despite the sense of déjà vu, the game offers a reasonable foundation to build upon. The different heroes feel unique, the customization of skills is well thought out and the interface is intuitive. The storyline could use some polish but all the basics are present and correct, if they can just get rid of the repetitiveness and cramped feel.
It's also fun to play multiplayer. It's a nice mindless hack 'n slash with a few quirky mechanics to keep you on your toes and interesting characters to master and customize.
I’m hoping that the future of the game will bring more open world environments to explore and more depth to the storyline. As it stands, Warhammer Chaosbane is a reasonable, albeit repetitive, grounding to build upon.
3.75 out of 5 stars
Warhammer Chaosbane is available for PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One on June 4 for standard edition. Digital deluxe and Magnus editions are out now. TheGamer reviewed the PC Magnus Edition. The code was provided by the publishers for review.