Warhammer: Chaosbane PC Review

Warhammer: Chaosbane is a bland, derivative ARPG that wastes the potential of the IP.

By Woozie, Posted 04 Jun 2019

Warhammer: Chaosbane picks up after Magnus the Pious claims victory over Chaos not-so-Everchosen Asavar Kul, placing you in the shoes of one of four heroes that remained in his retinue following the war. Whether you choose the Dwarven Slayer, Wood Elf Ranger, Empire Soldier or High Elven Mage, things suddenly take a turn for the worse, in a show of proof that Chaos never truly sleeps. Sadly, for all intents and purposes, Chaosbane fails to establish itself as anything other than a mediocre ARPG, starting with its straightforward story laden with bog-standard writing.

The gist of it is as expected. You take your hero, and up to three other companions if multiplayer is your thing, and thwart the plans of Chaos by applying the universal ARPG solution: smashing, breaking and making things explode into showers of giblets. Skills in Warhammer: Chaosbane are unlocked automatically at set points on your road to level 50. Each skill reserves a number of skill points out of your limited point pool and, as you level up, improved versions that come with extra benefits at a higher cost become available. Luckily, you also gain skill points as you advance through the games 12-hour story campaign. Builds, thus, are essentially a balancing act between choosing different skills and variants. These improved variants are sometimes closer to side-grades, theoretically playing into a specific build, like one that favors bleeding your foes, and can be freely switched in and out as long as they’re not on cooldown.

Warhammer: Chaosbane, PC, Review, Screenshot

Then there’s the God Skill tree which hosts a large number of passives and some more potent active skills. Unlocking God Skills requires a combination of colored fragments, which drop from foes, alongside favor points, equal to your level. Yet, while this makes it sound like there’s a vast amount of choice, build variety is actually quite limited and, at least as Slayer, switching skills around doesn’t make combat feel much different. Instead of having to think about fights differently, whether I focused on bleeding foes or dispatching them using a whirlwind attack that shot fire outwards, encounters nonetheless remained a hodge-podge of effects where rapid clicks melted foes. Damage over time dealt to enemies is poorly represented, just like there’s no way to tell which enemies use armor making it hard to figure out if their associated skills actually have a worthwhile application. Thus, Warhammer: Chaosbane fails in motivating you to experiment with its skills but also in making builds feel different.

Landing hits lacks any impact or oomph and abilities, like the whirlwind which turned my Slayer into a veritable death machine, aren’t all that satisfying to use. Holding the skill button down and turning many a Chaos follower into giblets lacked any sense of power or desired feedback during my time with Warhammer: Chaosbane. Everything revolves around mindlessly clicking and watching things melt. And while that’s certainly one of the core tenets of ARPGs, Chaosbane’s combat never really moves past these woes, feeling dull and repetitive.

Warhammer: Chaosbane, PC, Review

Loot, too, feels like an absolute afterthought. While it comes in vast quantities, there’s never really any incentive to look past things that grant you green text on the quick comparison tooltip. As cool a touch as having the Slayer literally change beards and hair when picking up new headgear, I never quite looked forward for the next legendary headgear dropping from the split skull of a daemon. Admittedly, the endgame does slightly open up the options you’ve with gear, but not enough to help differentiate between pieces.

Although it’s one of the few Warhammer video games to feature followers of all four Chaos Gods, its roster of opponents is widely unremarkable. With the exception of its four bosses and few annoying minibosses and their area attacks, all of them feel like generic cannon fodder. Jumping from one act to the next essentially pits you against re-skins of the same enemy that behave more or less identically. Whether cultists, sorcerers or daemons, none of them, apart from the bosses, has you rethinking even the smallest element in your playstyle. Not only that, but they’re often oblivious to where you are when they first encounter you, running past you before turning back to attack.

Warhammer: Chaosbane, PC, Review

Warhammer: Chaosbane also suffers from a distinct lack of any sense of place. Although you’re travelling from Nuln to Kislev and into a Realm of Chaos, levels feel like identical corridors you’re repeatedly tasked with navigating, as opposed to cities in different parts of the world. Aside from the otherworldly glows and towers of the fourth act, the different areas don’t do much to stand out, ultimately resulting in one of the blandest looking games I’ve played in a while. It’s also not hard to spot the rather small amount of assets used, given how identical detours or dead ends with loot chests are often placed mere steps away from each other. Needless to say, on top of how Warhammer: Chaosbane doesn’t quite impress on the visual side, it also comes with maps that feel repetitive and artificial.

As far as its endgame goes, Warhammer: Chaosbane has a set of activities in place, alongside higher difficulties that unlock once you’re done with the campaign. They’re, however, victims of the game’s uninspired take on the genre. Where Boss Rush mode throws you straight into a boss fight of your choosing, which plays out identically to its campaign counterpart, expeditions and relic hunts require you to clear areas of enemies. Occasionally you’ll bump into events which grant extra rewards for –you guessed it– killing even more enemies, albeit in a limited amount of time. You’ll undoubtedly get loot out of these activities and you can toy with the weapon blessing system, which upgrades or adds new modifiers to gear in a much too random fashion. Sadly, Chaosbane doesn’t quite manage to give you enough of a reason to do so.

Warhammer: Chaosbane, PC, Review, Screenshot

Through unimaginative gameplay, lackluster combat and boring loot, Warhammer: Chaosbane wastes the opportunity provided by its IP. When compared to the established names in the genre, it has little hope of holding a candle up to them. However, its problems go much further, as even taken on its own, it’s only a mediocre ARPG that doesn’t necessarily justify the time spent with it. Although functional, running smoothly and providing ample opportunity to just turn your brain off and hack and slash virtual foes to bits, Warhammer: Chaosbane ultimately remains a thoroughly underwhelming experience in just about every aspect.
 

Bogdan Robert, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Bigben Interactive
Developer(s): Eko Software
Genres: Action, RPG
Themes: Fantasy
Release Date: 2019-05-31

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