31st May2019

‘Warhammer: Chaosbane’ Review (PS4)

by Britt Roberts

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In February, myself and a couple of friends played Diablo 3 from start to finish on a hard difficulty setting in a challenge for the awesome charity Special Effect (check them out, they do amazing work) and so I really got my fill of the isometric hack and slash genre for a while. Warhammer: Chaosbane was not a game that I was aware of, until receiving it for review and so I had no real preconceptions of it.

Warhammer: Chaosbane is a good game but the issue (or perhaps the most positive aspect) is that it really feels similar to Diablo 3 in quite a few ways and, depending on your existing love for Blizzard’s franchise, your enjoyment of (the playing style at least of) this game will pretty much be in direct proportion.

As I’m not overly familiar with the Warhammer universe, I’ve included the blurb from the press kit below to set the scene:

In Warhammer: Chaosbane, the player will be plunged into the middle of Old World history as they embody a human, a high elf, a wood elf, or a dwarf and discover several iconic locations such as the cursed city of Praag, or Nuln, the old capital of the Empire. This adaptation of the franchise will be the first Action-RPG to take place in the Warhammer Fantasy world. The game takes place in the Old World, a dark and bloody continent devastated by wars against Chaos.

Developed by EKO Software, whom I’m aware of through their How to Survive games (which are also fun in co-op), it’s clear to see that they have refined their craft here. Whilst not up to the solid 60 fps managed by Diablo 3, Warhammer: Chaosbane runs at a very sturdy 30 fps with four-player local play available, something that’s right up my strasse. I chose a furious-looking a dual axe-wielding dwarf and my companion went (typically) with a wizard so that we had both melee and ranged combat covered. The game world looks great with looming towers and sprawling dungeons laid out before us, and of course, an astonishing amount of loot.

The game does have a really tasty and ingenious ‘auto-follow’ whereby, if one character is hips deep in the menus, swapping out equipment or re-arranging powers etc. After a few seconds, the CPU will take over their character and they will follow the player still in-game. It’s a small addition but really removes a lot of the ‘hanging around’ factor that can creep in during loot-based games where each skirmish ends up with a load of trousers and rings on the ground, ripe for picking and popping on (I especially enjoyed how my dwarf got more powerful by having an increasing bushier and more luxurious beard, good!).

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As mentioned above the main game play is quite standard but effective, I actually preferred this to Diablo 3 as it felt less ‘grindy’ with a snappier approach to missions and the more rugged setting suiting my personal tastes. There were a few niggles for me, the biggest being that the in-combat voice work is overly loud and gets repetitive quickly, my dwarf, for example would say “I need to fight” to build up his rage (essentially ‘mana’) in order to use special attacks, so it became a relatively constant stream of the same lines, a little tedious and something I think would have been better replaced by maybe a small sound effect which relays to the player that they are out of mana as opposed to lines of dialogue (the same issue occurred with the wizard).

The other thing I noticed was that the abilities you unlock (relatively quickly, it has to be said) often replace each other. As examples of this, my first ‘R1’ attack unlocked was a double-handed chop that ignored enemy armour (and didn’t drain my mana), this pretty much instantly meant my weaker ‘X’ attacks were rendered obsolete. The same was the case with my friend’s wizard, at the same time, his original ‘X’ attack of fireballs were bettered by chain-lightning that homed in on not just enemies but also barrels (which, naturally contain money and loot as well) meaning that he could just stand away from the main combat and hold ‘R1’ to his heart’s content, electrocuting all and sundry. This may be off-putting to some but for me, this genre is best played in local co-op with a few drinks in a brisk way, hacking and slashing through the quests as opposed to ramping up the difficulty and grinding through everything.

I can see the appeal of that style of play to those that love getting 100 hours plus out of their RPG titles or perhaps are more ensconced in the Warhammer lore than myself but I found the game a fun breeze to play with satisfying combat and nifty in-game menus that made customising your avatar a quick and surprisingly addictive experience. All in all a worthy, if not mould-breaking addition to the genre.

Developed by Eko Software and published by Bigben, Warhammer: Chaosbane comes to PC, PS4 and Xbox One on 4th June.

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