One of my fondest memories when playing games online was playing Diablo II with my friends. The exploration, the boss rushes, the fight to be the first to click on those dropped unique items are all fond memories that I had. Warhammer: Chaosbane reminds me of those times. Set in the Old World of the Warhammer lore, it is an online action-RPG, hack and slash game for 1 – 4 players at a time. I will admit, I played this game with Diablo II as the golden standard. That being said, I also tried to look at this game as a brand-new player to this genre.
Warhammer: Chaosbane is a hack and slash action-RPG game developed by Eko Software, a French company based in Paris. Players can choose between four different characters to play as: the Imperial human soldier tank, the High Elf mage, the dwarf slayer, and the Wood Elf archer. The story is set just after the end of the Chaos Wars. For the non-Warhammer elite fans, the simplest way to describe the Chaos Wars I found is the Forces of Chaos (demons and other evil beings) tried to take over the land in the name of their Chaos God and under the leadership of the Kurgan Chaos Champion, Asavar Kul. The world was saved after the Empire of Man triumphed due to the heroism of future first Emperor of Man, Magnus the Pious. The four characters were part of the campaign against Chaos and helped Magnus the Pious defeat Asavar Kul, bringing peace to the war-ravaged lands. But now, the Forces of Chaos are on the move again.
Starting off in a tower of a castle that is under attack by the Forces of Chaos, I right away noticed how crisp the graphic details are in the game. I can clearly see how dark and grim the world is and every stone in the floor and the wall. The artwork at the beginning of each act is beautifully drawn. The music is also quite powerful and foreboding as it sets the mood for the game. My character, the dwarf, has a great voice actor and I can definitely see the actor having a lot of fun putting life into the character. The voice actors in this game are all very good, even if some are more exaggerated than others. The Wood Elf for example, sounded way too chipper and happy for such a bleak world. This is not to say that being positive is a bad thing, but it almost sounded as though she is saying things like “We are all going to die, YAY!!!” or “I am low on stamina, hooray!” Obviously, she does not actually say that, but it certainly felt like she could. I played as the Wood Elf for about an hour before I found myself switching characters simply because of how annoying I found her to be. The narrator for Warhammer: Chaosbane is phenomenal. However, the prologue for each character felt like the narrator was trying to say 100 sentences in the span of 30 seconds. The captions themselves could hardly keep up. Sometimes, the captions do not match up with what is being said. My character will say one thing but what the caption wrote out is something else entirely.
On the PC, the move button is the left click button. Once I entered combat however, I noticed that the primary attack button and the move button are the same. This caused my character to sometimes start charging towards an enemy when I wanted him to run away. Not only that, on some maps, there are barrels that can be destroyed for potential loot which meant that my character, in the confusion of movement and attack, attacked the barrels instead of moving somewhere I wanted him to go to. I cannot stress how annoying this is. On the controller however, I did notice that the movement is a lot smoother. This is great news for console players but not so much for the PC players.
Another thing I noticed is that on the lower right of the screen, the menu or hot buttons for inventory, skills, etc. are available. However, highlighting my mouse over them does not tell me what each button is for. I had to based on the small picture to see what each button would open. There also is a lack of description outside of the control menu for what the hotkeys open the menus like my inventory. For the experienced players, it is a simple matter of using what is the “norm” for other hack and slash action-RPG games but for newcomers, this can be very confusing.
One of the main appeals of the action-RPG genre is to explore and hunt for better loot, or in the case of Warhammer: Chaosbane, artefacts. For that, Eko Software includes two end game modes: Boss Rush and Expedition Mode. Boss Rush is exactly as it sounds; killing bosses you have previously beaten as quickly as you can. In the future, Eko Software plans to include a leaderboard so players can compete to see who can beat which boss fastest.
Expedition Mode is a chance to explore each area in a randomly generated map. This is also a way for players to obtain new artefacts. My biggest gripe against this mode is that it is an end game mode or a mode that can only be unlocked AFTER you have beaten the act. Why is this such a big deal for me? Well, I like to grind my characters before I challenge the bosses. Unfortunately, I am unable to do that. Warhammer: Chaosbane forces players to complete the main quests before setting off to do anything else. Plus, I also notice a lack of side quests. In fact, I don’t think I encountered a single side quest in the game. I also noticed how the artefacts are defined by their rarity not in words, but in colors. Again, experienced players of the genre will quickly be able to discern that gray means common, blue is uncommon, gold is rare, etc. but for newer players, this is very confusing. In fact, the number of artefacts that I encounter as I played is very lacking. What I mean is that while I did encounter artefacts regularly, they did not really change the outlook of my character that much. I did play all four characters and none of them really change in their appearances when I put on a new gear. For example, the Wood Elf was indiscernible from her default gear when I put on new armor.
The monsters, or Forces of Chaos, in this game are awesome. They swarm you and depending on the difficulty, will make you run away a lot to heal. But even here I have complaints. Outside of seeing their health and the amount of damage I am dealing I do not know what the monster is officially called. Am I fighting a Chaos Cyclops or a Cultist? The game does not tell me. Plus, there are what I am calling “hero” monsters that are only discernible by a highlighted health bar. Usually in this genre, they have names to signify they are a stronger monster but not a boss.
Despite all my gripes about Warhammer: Chaosbane, I do have to say that this IS a fun game to play. I can see myself playing for hours on end hunting for more artefacts or competing to see if I can kill bosses faster. I can see myself playing with other players and working together on the harder difficulties. However, I would not get this at full price and instead wait for a discount. The game is fun, challenging at times, highly entertaining, but has too many problems for me to justify purchasing at full price.
Warhammer: Chaosbane is available on the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Warhammer: Chaosbane (Reviewed on Windows)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
Warhammer: Chaosbane is a very fun, addicting games but has a number of minor drawbacks that pile up.