Games set in the Warhammer universe seem to be the in-thing lately and if Chaosbane is a result of this particular popularity wave then I am in no way complaining. This new ARPG has been developed by BIGBEN Games and Eko Software in partnership with Games Workshop. Can it satisfy the need for a new hack n slash looter for the majority of players though? Well, it’s time to take on the hordes of chaos and find out. This is our Warhammer: Chaosbane review.
Chaosbane opens with the main characters who have returned from a great battle where the champion of chaos was defeated. Voice acting quality during the prologue is hit or miss depending on which character you choose to play but is acceptable. On a positive note, it does improve the further you progress in the storyline.
In Chaosbane you get to pick from 4 characters: Human Empire Soldier, High-Elf Mage, Dwarven Slayer, and Wood Elf Scout. Each character has their own unique abilities and playstyles. They also each have a unique skill that adds something extra special to that character. For example, if you hold down the spacebar with the High-Elf Mage the movement of certain spells with a lasting effect can be controlled. (I had a lot of fun chasing nurglings with a tornado) The Wood Elf Scout in comparison can roll out of danger by positioning the mouse cursor and hitting the spacebar.
Visually, the environments look amazing. Even though you are mainly stuck drudging your way through the sewers in chapter I, the corruption of Nurgle (a god of chaos) is everywhere you look. The corruption effects add a lot of colorful textures to what would otherwise be a drab environment. Just about at the point where you have had your fill of sewers the environment thankfully changes up in chapter II. The development team has also done an amazing job of visually recreating various Warhammer fantasy enemies. Equipment has a good variety in appearance. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for some of the character models. The characters in certain instances just don’t seem to be up to the same texture quality level as the creatures, which is a shame. I would’ve also liked to see a bit more blood/gore from taking down enemies to better fit the Warhammer setting feel. More destructible objects on the maps would’ve also made the world feel more visually engaging.
Audio for the game is of good quality and combat sound effects are just about right. The music can get repetitive but is a good fit for the environments you are exploring. There were a couple of areas in the game where the audio would jump in volume a bit to reflect walking into a large area where the sound would be louder. Enemy sounds are, again, the best part of the audio. The noises they make moving in to attack and the sound effects used during a boss fight for the special attacks are all done very well.
The menus and UI are well constructed and easy to navigate. It is nice having the option to skip the introduction by holding down the mouse button. I did notice there were very few options for changing the graphics settings and there is no full-screen windowed mode. As with other ARPGs, you can also hold down your ALT key to see what loot has dropped but there is no option to just toggle it on. From a technical standpoint, I had only one real issue with the game. When I alt-tabbed out at one point my mouse would not work on the bottom half of my monitor. After a quick restart of the program, everything went back to normal. Other than that, I did not experience a single crash during my playtime.
Initially, I did not find the gameplay to be very engaging. Combat felt slow with not much of a visceral impact to it unless you were playing the Dwarven Slayer, then it feels like a solid experience right out of the gate. If you don’t like the feel of combat with one character, make sure to switch it up with a new one. Progression is a bit slower, compared to a game like Diablo 3, but not by much. Enemies can take a few more hits to kill and bosses are challenging until you learn how to avoid their special attacks. When you die you do have the option of trying again, which costs one type of currency, either gold or fragments used to improve your stats. You also have the option to give up, in which case the map resets and you will have to start from the beginning.
As your character levels, you will accumulate skill points and unlock the various ranks for each ability. When you slot active and passive abilities into your hotkeys they take up so many skill points. I found this an interesting mechanic to manage to balance out your character’s build. Once the cult of Nurgle is defeated the God Skill Tree opens and you can start spending resources to improve various combat stats. This really starts to ramp up the speed of character progression. I found that the game became much more enjoyable between the new character progression options and my encounter with the chapter I boss.
While I have indicated a number of things that I found slow or missing -make no mistake- the game is a lot of fun. Most of the issues I mentioned previously are small and can be easily fixed/adjusted over time. On a personal note, I would have preferred if the character’s choices weren’t limited to only one gender. Chaosbane has a good foundation and I am looking forward to future improvements and further post-launch content. Now, back to killing more nurglings.
COMPARE TO: Path of Exile and Diablo 3