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Warhammer Chaosbane – Review
The saying “there are no more original ideas” gets thrown around a lot. The same can be said for video games, as there really aren’t many ways to put a spin on game designs for certain genres. While not every game should try to redefine its genre, there’s certainly a need for games to add to it, lest it just feels derivative.
Enter Warhammer: Chaosbane. It’s an ARPG similar to Diablo and Path of Exile, right down to its hero classes and grim-dark atmosphere. Considering how much the great eye of video game development has been on looter games, how does this one stack up? Let’s find out.
Warhammer Chaosbane is set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. Through no fault of its own, its visual aesthetic can seem indistinct, but that’s just because of the sheer saturation of high fantasy in pop culture.That being said, the game itself feels authentically Warhammer- it’s dark, it’s gothic and it’s also taken extremely seriously.
It’s hard to assess this game without comparing it to Diablo, another gothic fantasy ARPG. That being said, for the PS4 version, this game’s UI is way more functional for split-screen. Multiple players can have their menus open at the same time, and players with their noses stuck in a menu will have their characters auto-follow a player who wants to move forward.
One complaint to be had with the game, however, would be its enemy diversity. Despite having different models, every one of the zones in the game based on the Gods of Chaos essentially have the same enemies- a running melee enemy, a priest and a standard-bearer. The big enemies are more or less identical across the maps too, along with the mid-boss enemies.
It’s a good looking game, and it runs fine, all in all. The Tzeentch area is probably the weakest looking area visually, but otherwise, it’s a completely inoffensive game.
Like other ARPGs, Chaosbane has you play a hero from 4 classes. They’re all standard fare if you like this genre, and cover some basic Warhammer Fantasy races like Humans, Elves and Dwarves.
It’s hard to really talk about gameplay because if you like ARPGs, chances are you’ll like the gameplay in Chaosbane. Each class has its skills that either consume energy or generate it, and you’re free to have as many of either assigned to the individual face buttons. There’s a separate skill tree called “God Skills” with a really obtuse UI that lets you have more cool skills like emitting an aura of damage over time or cast lightning at random, but once you invest in them the game does feel a lot more engaging.
Bossfights are probably on the better end of ARPG bossfights, as many bosses actually have mechanics to them, and they feel thematically appropriate to the Chaos God’s areas. For example, the boss for the Khorne area will consume blood to become invincible, and the player must destroy the blood fountains to stop him. Having to run through the arena and break these fountains does make the game much more enjoyable since I’m not just mashing buttons on the boss all day.
Content-wise, the game offers a lot of standard looter mechanics. There’s a misnamed “Boss Rush” mode, but all it does is let you re-fight the boss for the area you’re in. Good for if you want to farm a boss, I guess, but maybe calling it a “Boss Rush” was a tad misleading.
The loot in the game is honestly uninspired, though that probably has more to do with the game’s Warhammer Fantasy roots. Many of the armor pieces you get feel very canon-adherent, which while great for Warhammer, can sour its feel as an ARPG. I know my human soldier can’t canonically dress like a Stormcast Eternal, but when I’m casting rings of fire and charging into battle, it’d be great if I looked as powerful as I felt sometimes.
Personally, I would describe Warhammer Chaosbane as fun enough. At no point was I really feeling like I was at the height of my enjoyment, but the game didn’t feel like a total slog either. Figuring out menus like the God skills seemed annoyingly difficult, but busting through dungeons with your friends can be a fun use of an afternoon.
At the risk of starting a riot, I feel like Age of Sigmar may have been better suited for this type of game, though. With so many fantasy ARPGs, flashiness is the key to standing out. And Warhammer Fantasy just doesn’t really cut it in that sense, considering its grittier, boots-on-the-ground feel.
If you’re a huge Warhammer fan and need a nice casual game to jump into to kill some time, I highly recommend this game. It’s a great stepping stone into a world that knows only war. The sheer melodrama of fighting a plague demon called a Great Unclean One cannot be understated, and that’s certainly to the game’s benefit.
From a casual standpoint, I’d hold off on the game. The market isn’t exactly starving for Fantasy ARPGs, especially with Path of Exile being free and Diablo 3 being old enough to probably snag at a good price.
That being said if you do own the game, it’s an incredibly good time, especially with couch co-op. It has just enough quality of life going for it that I’d recommend giving it a go, if only to encourage more games to follow suit.
Reviewed on the PS4. Review code provided by the publisher.