So I must admit my noobness up front. Like many others my only experience with the Warhammer franchise is 40K Space Marine, the Gears of War clone. This does not mean I am totally unaware of the lore and the other forms it comes in like tabletop games. By all accounts the world of Warhammer can be considered top fantasy fiction and Warhammer: Chaosbane certainly revels in it. Even if the story is pretty simple and straightforward. Don’t get me wrong as Eko Software created quite a fun title, but it’s essentially a poor man’s Diablo. Which isn’t in itself bad except for some of the repetition problems.
Warhammer: Chaosbane takes place after the war with Magnus the Pious and the Empire facing off against the Kurgan warlord, Asavar Kul, and the Chaos forces, but before Magnus’ coronation as emperor. After the victory against the hordes, Magnus and our heroes returned to Nuln to eventually unify most of the land. However, a mysterious and magical entity known as the Harbinger snuck into the city and placed Magnus under a seemingly fatal curse. Before our chosen hero can dispatch of the foe, she disappears and leaves the city devastated at their legend’s current fate. Luckily, a familiar sorcerer and some Witch Hunters have a way to track this foul creature with a not too complicated mission. Exterminate the Harbinger so Magnus may live. The player is then thrust into four different locations with their own problems and other, equally as powerful demons. The power vacuum left by Asavar Kul’s defeat has not gone unnoticed.
While this sounds like an amazing fantasy adventure with in-depth structure it’s sadly not. The tale is told completely through a few voiced textboxes at a time and a loosely animated cutscene at the beginning and end of the title. Naturally, some plot points are wrapped up quite nicely or answers are just known for the sake of progression. There’s really nothing for the player to do outside of main quests to discover more about the world. Unless of course you count reading some item descriptions.
Those not here for a masterclass story will find some gameplay goodness like isometric dungeon crawling and loot based pickups. You can choose from one of four pretty typical heroes each with a different class. They can be easily summed up into archer, mage, duel wielding dwarf, and sword with shield knight. Although class techniques don’t really change the way you approach combat. Every character has a playstyle with certain equipment only they can use alongside unique abilities tailored to said playstyle. For the record I went with Konrad Vollen and his tried and true sword and shield. Can’t go wrong with the classics.
Gameplay is as basic as I’ve already made it sound. Each quest involves the player entering an area and exploring it for mission objectives and treasure. Remnants of Chaos forces will meet on the battlefields quite often and in waves to stop you in this goal. While there are some small changes and one or two new creatures for each of the four levels, most enemies act and operate the same. They’ll either rush you or stay just out of your range to pelt you with projectiles. Even stronger, mini-boss like opponents only have three or four forms. Fortunately, the sheer amount of them throughout any given mission really ramps up the fun factor. Especially with my main who has abilities that make him stronger the more he’s surrounded.
Equipment is also simple and straightforward. There’s a few tiers of rarity and a handful of different type equipment sets. They do have distinct physical appearances, but the higher the item the more it just becomes about stats. Variety pretty much disappears at the endgame. It’s incredibly easy to navigate all of this in your inventory and place these items from your headwear to your boots. The HUD and in-game menus are navigation friendly. Equally as important to your character are skills and abilities. In classic fashion the more you level up, the more skills you unlock. These consist of attacks, techniques, buffs, etc and can also be easily viewed to equip them on your chosen hero. Just keep in mind that there is a malleable skill point cap on how much you can wield at any given time. Abilities are more tied to the inner workings of your character: health, block resistance, attack power, etc. These can be attained by “purchasing” them from the God Skill Tree in the menus. Using gold and fragments collected along the journey will yield ever-increasing attributes. This is also where special abilities are unlocked which turn out to be the most powerful. Lastly, there is something called Bloodlust which allows you to Hulk out and grow even stronger for a handful of seconds. This is controlled by how many orbs you attain throughout a level.
Overall content wise Warhammer: Chaosbane does feel short-changed for an RPG, regardless of how fun the dungeon crawling is. One playthrough will take around fifteen hours, with a few involving grinding, and not much post-game content at the time of this writing. Once you complete a section’s story you’ll unlock Expeditions and Boss Rush modes. The former throws the player onto a randomly generated map to cause as much slaughter and loot finding as possible. Periodically events will pop up that act as side activities, but there’s only a few distinctions to these too. Boss Rush acts like it sounds with the heroes facing off against that area’s boss as fast as possible. Just like in the campaign they will have three phases with slightly different attacks and difficulty can be adjusted. Unless you count trading in weaker equipment and fragments to the Collector’s Guild, the last bit of side content also acts as Warhammer Chaosbane’s post-game content. Here you can buy a map for gold and be placed in a random map with a difficulty of your choosing. Only this time the fragment and loot drops are for real. You’ll be finding yourself having all the best equipment and unlocking all of your abilities in no time.
As much as I feel like my Konrad is a god right now, there are still some persistent problems that I noticed all the way back in the first few hours. While atmospheres may change in any given level, map design doesn’t all that much even in the randomly generated dungeons. I noticed many similar pathways and rooms literally every other minute. This does not help Warhammer Chaosbane’s get in, get out gameplay repetition loop. On top of that the swarming enemies might be great fun, but too often did hordes of A.I. get stuck in place, behind chests, or just run into a wall. It made the easy pickings even more easy if you can believe it. For what it’s worth though the graphics of near everything were superb.
Per usual I was unable to find some other good buddy journalists to play with, but Warhammer Chaosbane does local and online co-op for up to four players. And I can tell you right now that the score below would most likely go up if I had teammates by my side for my first journey. There’s no problem playing solo though as it’s actually easy to over-level yourself. Three or four hours of grinding when I needed to got me at max level lickity split. On normal difficulty anyway. Plus, it appears that this title will have decent post-launch content drops so I more than plan on taking advantage of some new multiplayer goodness then.
Warhammer Chaosbane PS4 Review
Warhammer Chaosbane is a fun and enjoyable loot based, dungeon crawling, RPG. It’s just not very distinct within its genre and has far too many simple qualities. Like map design and gameplay variety for example. Equipment and ability mechanics are what any veteran of the genre can expect and a story that any fantasy fan can see coming miles away. Still the title has a pull I can’t resist and I look forward to seeing what becomes on this slice of Warhammer.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using a PS4 Pro.