Every couple of months, a new Warhammer game drops on Steam. It seems there are no less than seventeen Games Workshop-branded titles in development at any one time. Most of them come and go, undoubtedly leaving fans of the classic fantasy franchise wishing for more. If you happen to be a fan of both Warhammer and Diablo-like action RPGs, then I sure have good news for you: Warhammer: Chaosbane is one of the good ones.
A satisfyingly crunchy hack-and-slash, Chaosbane begins its tall tale of high fantasy and epic kingdoms with a brief character introduction for whichever of the four classes you landed on. Dripping in fantasy cliche yet still charming enough, oddballs like the colorfully-named Bragi Axebiter - a very angry Dwarf wielding two axes - are particular standouts for the dumb yet fun roster. The four characters each play pretty differently, so there’s ample reason for replayability.
Once introductions are out of the way, things kick off pretty quickly. Magnus - the beloved hero of the empire - succumbs to a particularly nasty cult's curse. Naturally, it’s your job to slaughter them and save the day. As someone with zero knowledge of Warhammer lore - I don’t know who the Kislevites are, what on Earth Asavar Kul is, or why this bad stereotype of a Russian dude is yelling at me - I still had a good enough time following the plight of this gritty fantasy world. It’s hardly a groundbreaking story, but it’s sufficient to keep you engaged with the characters.
Slaying Cultists in Warhammer: Chaosbane
Warhammer: Chaosbane’s minute-to-minute action will be wholly familiar if you’ve ever dabbled in the likes of Diablo or Titan Quest. You’ll hack-and-slash your way through sprawling environments, slaying obscene volumes of enemies and hovering up precious loot and goodies along the way. With the wide range of difficulty options available, each incrementally tweaking enemy strength and loot quality, the action can be as brutal or breezy as you want.
Despite its apparent simplicity, there’s a fair bit to keep track of. On top of the endless flood of loot, you’ll also be unlocking new abilities and their stronger variations at a steady pace. There’s plenty of skills to choose from and each feels different enough to be worth experimenting with. Not all of these skills are active. You’ll get more than your fair share of passive bonuses, and everything adheres to the same skill point system.
Your pool of skills points starts off limited but gradually grows larger as you progress. Equipping an ability will consume these points (the more powerful the ability, the more expensive they become), allowing you to mix and match your own potent combination of active and passive potential. It’s a neat system that encourages experimentation and variety. Finding the right balance between costly high-level skills and their cheaper, less potent counterparts is a fun challenge in its own right.
Meanwhile, you’ll be gathering gem fragments to spend on a considerably-sized skill tree. This currency can be quite hard to come by. You’ll primarily earn it through Bloodlust - a kind of limited time ultimate that causes enemies to shed gems - or eventually trading them for other fragments. This makes the choices you make in this tree quite important. Misplaced points, as I learned early on, can be a major setback.
Warhammer: Chaosbane's Lack of Variety And Longevity
While the combat is teeming with variety and possibilities, the rest of Warhammer: Chaosbane is somewhat lacking. Although the game does look nice, with its shiny effects and detailed environments, those areas quickly begin to repeat. Each Act of the story consists of two or three areas that you’ll be revisiting again and again. There are segments of Chaosbane that have you fighting through the exact same location several times in a row. They may look sharp, but they appear very cut-and-paste and sorely lack variety.
Consequently, many of your quest objectives involve a significant amount of back-and-forth. Run through an area, complete your objectives, return home, rinse and repeat. It can get a little tiresome, particularly when you’re fighting through the exact same environments. Parts of the campaign, particularly in the backend, feel padded out. There are far too many instances of five or six-part objectives working towards a single goal. Your objectives also rarely deviate from "go here and pick this up", or "run there and kill this guy." It gets old quick.
There’s a solid amount of content here, but there could be more. Alongside the 12 hour story, you can run back through areas for extra loot or tackle boss fights again. However, there’s no reason to keep playing once you hit max level unless you're willing to make another character. Jumping into Warhammer: Chaosbane with a partner can breathe some longevity into the game, but you’ll eventually hit the barrier of lack of stuff to do after rolling credits.
Warhammer: Chaosbane Review | Final Thoughts
Overall, Chaosbane can be a little unstable. I had it hard crash on me a couple of times and experienced persistent issues with the dialog and subtitles. Sometimes the subtitles wouldn’t line up with what someone is saying, or they’d be a line ahead or behind. It’s also not uncommon for the dialog audio to simply not play. Barring that, a totally random generic line could play instead.
Ultimately, Warhammer: Chaosbane is a solid substitute for some light Diablo-like action. It's hardly groundbreaking, and it's certainly got issues of longevity, but grab a friend to slice through hordes of cultists and monsters anyway. It can be quite a lot of fun.
TechRaptor reviewed Warhammer: Chaosbane on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Warhammer: Chaosbane is a fun and satisfying hack-and-slash with enough combat variety and hokey charm to make this casual Diablo-like worth a look.
- Pulpy, Satisfying Combat
- Rewarding Progression
- Fun, Silly Characters
- Environments Lack Variety
- Not Enough To Do Post-Game
- Frequent Audio Glitches