by Sean Martin
reviewed on PC
HACK N’ SLASH
Horde killers have become a popular game choice for the Warhammer IP in recent years — I suppose something about a universe filled with uncountable hostile monstrosities must cater to the genre well? We had the hugely successful (and awesome) Vermintide and Vermintide 2, what I would personally describe as the perfect End-Times game. We had Space Hulk: Deathwing, basically the 40k equivalent of Vermintide, and of course, Inquisitor Martyr, a game which is in many ways, is the Warhammer: Chaosbane equivalent in 40k, channelling classic dungeon-crawling and Diablo 3 influence.
As mentioned, Warhammer: Chaosbane is a dungeon-crawling hack n’ slash, allowing you to take the role of four heroes fighting against a Chaos incursion in the Empire. Chaosbane, wisely not set during the End-Times (they have been somewhat overused in recent years) is set during the Great War Against Chaos, a period about 200 years earlier, during which the fourth Everchosen, Asavar Kul, invaded Kislev. At the time, the Empire was undergoing a civil war, but Magnus the Pious, rallied the elector counts and rode to aid beleaguered Kislev. He killed Asavar Kul, wasted Chaos, helped Teclis to found the colleges of magic, was crowned emperor, and lived happily ever after (as happily as you can live in Warhammer). Chaosbane, however, supposes that after the battle with Chaos, Magnus was imprisoned by a Chaos sorcerer. Four heroes, a Dwarf, a man, a Wood Elf and a High Elf, set off to find this sorcerer, fighting the remnants of Chaos and saving the man who would unite the Empire once more.
In terms of gameplay, Chaosbane fits very closely with its spiritual successor, Diablo 3, as you hack your way through hordes, using abilities tactically to get through the enemies. There are a fair variety of enemies, but they fulfill the typical roles of basic fodder, elites, spell-casters, heavies and boss enemies. It’s fairly enjoyable, and if you like dungeon crawlers you’ll feel right at home, but for my personal taste, after awhile it started to feel like a bit of a slog. The game takes place across four separate cities, each themed to a different Chaos god, so while the enemies mostly fulfill the same roles, they are all parts of different visual aesthetics.
The upgrade system is also fairly standard, allowing you to gradually increase your stats. Each level also becomes a bit of a loot fest, as you are constantly picking up new items better than your old items. You can however, donate these items in order to receive benefits, similar to how engrams work in Destiny. So overall, play is fun and necessitates tactical thinking, but for the most part, it doesn’t add anything especially new to the formula. Chaosbane does allow you to play online with your buddies though, and it also allows local co-op, a novelty almost worth buying the game for on its own.
There’s quite a lot to appreciate about Chaosbane — its choice not to be set in the End-Times, its beautifully rendered, dark-gothic Warhammer scenery, and its lore and dialogue, which manages to not be that bad/cheesy most of the time. But Chaosbane fails to innovate where it matters. It’s an alright dungeon crawler, but it’s nothing new, and it’s worth questioning if an alright Warhammer game is enough anymore, when we already have so many that are mediocre. It’s certainly not enough to outshine the exceptional additions to the IP in recent years, such as Total War: Warhammer and Vermintide, and while that comparison may be unfair when considering studio-size and budget, I don’t think it would’ve taken that much to push Chaosbane from being an alright game, into being a great one.
It’s a fine addition to the Warhammer fantasy IP, and you’ll especially enjoy it if you like dungeon-crawlers, or are a Diablo fan. But beyond that, it falls somewhat into the category of genre-clone, no matter how much you might enjoy its setting/lore.
Enjoyable to play with friends online or in local co-op, good tactical combat and Warhammer setting.
Fairly generic, doesn’t really add much to the dungeon-crawler formula