Review: Warhammer Chaosbane
Warhammer Chaosbane is the newest game in the Warhammer Fantasy franchise and it is also the very first ARPG (Action Role Playing Game) in the franchise. How does this new title compare to Diablo 3 or Grim Dawn, among others? We take a look.
A very niche franchise and a very niche genre game. There are already a number of great ARPGs on the market. Looking at Diablo and Grim Dawn, it's going to be a tough job to compete with. Fortunately, Chaosbane manages to do well in certain elements, but unfortunately this is not the case for most of the game.
The chaos track
Where the game let me down from the get-go was the story. A saving grace for the uninteresting posturing is the voice acting that has been arranged for almost the entire game. The voice acting isn't a cultural masterpiece, but it makes the tedious conversations between missions somewhat tolerable.
You play as one of four classes against the evil called 'Chaos'. You can take on the role of a soldier, mage, slayer or archer and these four classes are really the only real highlight of the entire game. It's not necessarily that the rest of the game bar is bad, but it's a case of can get through, or just not. In any case, it's up to you to reduce the chaos and restore order. You do this spread over four chapters where you have to deal with four different bosses. Again these bosses are a plus, but on the other hand they are not, because there are… four?
body count! I've lost count
Slaughtering hordes of enemies is something that feels really good at the beginning of the game. The combat in this game is really good. Each class feels very unique, each with its own playing style and special abilities. There is some kind of weight behind every attack and in general you are in control of how you handle a certain situation. Personally, I like the archer the most. She uses dodgerolls to avoid dangerous situations and poison to amplify her attacks and provide enemies with a slow death.
While choosing your abilities, you have the choice to upgrade them when you invest points. Unique to this ARPG is that you can switch invested points free of charge between other abilities, both passive and active. This gives you the opportunity to adjust your strategy on the fly or change your playing style. Being allowed to experiment and the freedom in this has been a bit of a lifesaver during the game because despite the classes playing very nicely it gets very long-winded after not too long.
Simple enemies are not dangerous until you get halfway through chapter 3 where you have to watch out. These also quickly get used to so you can easily waltz through everything until you get to the next boss fight. There are four boss fights in total and they are all made very cool. They are challenging, so challenging that I had to redo the first boss fight up to 15 times on the 'normal' difficulty setting. The bosses use three life bars after which you enter a new 'phase' after each bar with additional dangers. These are different per boss fight. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the standard monsters that you encounter on your path.
Am I running in circles?
Speaking of paths.. Level design in Warhammer Chaosbane is at such a level that shouldn't be allowed in 2019. You have such a really cool franchise to explore, but literally nothing is done with it. This is such a shame! Each level is very linear where you can't even take 10 steps in another direction until you reach a dead end. Sometimes you are rewarded with a box full of junk, but then again, nothing exciting. For the rest you can only walk in the direction that takes you towards the end of that level. Now and then there is a loop as a side path, which is not very exciting since the loop started about 10 meters away and you have in fact walked around.
There are no side quests or anything like that. Well, they are there, but not until you've played through the story, or completed a certain chapter. Then you can go back to do the boss fight again or replay any level. To top it off, all levels within one chapter are almost identical to each other. The map in one mission is an almost one-to-one copy of the previous one.
Fortunately, it all looks very slick. From animations, to special effects, to the world around you. It may be quite monotonous, but in terms of appearance there is not much to complain about. Only the map from the last chapter is on the lesser side with little to zero inspiration.
Warhammer Chaosbane isn't a bad game, but it could have been much better. The playable classes and the execution of these classes and the way combat works is what keeps this game interesting. Especially during the boss fights, because you actually play through the entire chapters, curious how the next boss fight would be. Because these were very good. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the rest. The story is uninteresting, the game is quite short. You play through the story with one character within 10 to 15 hours and after that you can start again with another class.
In addition, there is very little to do after you have played through the story. You can do boss rushes, redo random levels or so-called relic hunts, which are exactly the same as redoing a level but with a certain handicap. Even the loot that the whole game revolves around feels completely irrelevant. There are no important choices to make while equipping your character.
Warhammer Chaosbane isn't the ARPG we've been waiting for, but it's one that lays the foundation for a hopefully richer content-filled future. A mode in which you would go through different bosses would do this game very well. Then some bosses have to be added. Until then, you will have seen most of the game after the first 10 hours.
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