Games Workshop and their Warhammer intellectual property have had some mixed success through the years with dozens of titles ranging from RTS games to MMOs, and now to the elation of many, Warhammer has firmly stepped into the ARPG realm with Warhammer: Chaosbane. Developed by Eko Software, and published by Bigben Interactive, Chaosbane emphatically pursues a high-quality experience that appeals to both beginners and seasoned ARPG veterans. Does Warhammer: Chaosbane have what it takes to become a champion in the hack and slash genre, or will it go down in history as nothing more than a decrepit nurgling? This is our Warhammer: Chaosbane review.
A Human, a Dwarf, a High-Elf and a Wood-Elf led by the nobleman Magnus, saved the world of men from the Chaos Horde. If that sounds to you like the ending to Warhammer: Chaosbane, take heed for it is only the beginning. The four heroes of Warhammer: Chaosbane, Vollen, Elessa, Bragi and Elontir are the main heroes that players will get to choose from before they set off on an adventure to quell the second chaos uprising. Each character has their own specific reasons to join the battle. Magnus, the leader of the Empire has been cursed and is vulnerable to any further attacks, setting in motion the need for our heroes to step up and do their duty.
If you haven’t noticed, this is a tremendous amount of backstory, which is the underlying driving factor in Warhammer: Chaosbane. From the get go, before you even select a character, though it carries through after you load into the world, one major feature that stood out was how much effort was put into the story aspects of Chaosbane. While each piece of the story eventually finds a shared narrative, all of the quests are voiced well, the cutscenes -- done impeccably in an appealing art style, all of which culminates into a dramatic presence of your ongoing actions as you make your way through the world.
Once your character is selected and the first few plot points are explained, players are then introduced to a very genre-defined combat style that any ARPG fan will be familiar with. When it comes to combat, simply clicking the enemy to attack, and firing off your special abilities where needed by utilizing the numeric keys really doesn’t do Chaosbane’s combat justice. For example, Bragi the Dwarf is a highly skilled melee combatant. When playing in the early levels on normal difficulty, there really isn’t much that slows him down. When cranked up to Very Hard, however, things quickly took a turn, with enemies doing much more damage in melee range. Each of Bragi’s skills do fairly good damage, but the skills that I found I used the most was an energy-free axe ability that worked like a grappling to get me in and out of combat situations. In this way, Eko software has created unique styles for each character to complete challenges regardless of the difficulty.
Most of a hero’s abilities will be unlocked through simply leveling up your character. Later, players will be able to select and unlock “god abilities” in an unlockable skill tree, that opens up after level 15. This lets players customize their character ever so slightly as they progress through the story. Despite these changes, and the refreshing frequency of how quickly you can unlock abilities, once you have a good ability set slotted, combat does get repetitive as many ARPG’s do. Enemies are largely similar across the different levels. Exploration does eventually get somewhat tedious as gear drops are somewhat rarer than other, similar ARPGs. Despite some repetitive trash mobs, higher level boss enemies prove to be difficult and fun to fight.
My greatest fear when I started Warhammer: Chaosbane, was that it would be scant of challenges. This proved to be the case initially, even when I was on Very Hard difficulty. It seems that early simplicity remains, primarily when wading through scores of enemies on your way to the real fun, the boss enemies. Luckily in just about every situation, enemies heavily telegraph their attacks, which only simplifies early combat more. This goes away somewhat as new enemies are introduced. Chaosbane also has the ability to play with both Keyboard and Mouse and a controller. I felt that the controller layout seemed more natural, as many of the abilities, and combat flow in general, felt more impactful when I wasn’t fiddle-clicking around to hit the enemy I desired. It also gave me superior kiting abilities with Elontir, as one of his abilities could be controlled by the right thumbstick, whereas it had to be cast and reposition using the mouse and the spacebar when I used the mouse and keyboard.
Warhammer: Chaosbane has several different modes and much higher difficulties that certainly give it an edge for replay-abilities sake. In addition to the main story mode, once completed they will gain access to Invasions, Boss-Rushes and Expeditions while also battling through 10 different difficulty levels. There is no question that Warhammer: Chaosbane has truly delivered on a high quality, full featured ARPG experience. For gamers looking for their next ARPG experience, you would be remiss if you passed this one by. Warhammer: Chaosbane is available June 4th on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
A PC key was provided for the purpose of review.