Warhammer: Chaosbane is an isometric, dungeon crawling, ARPG. Essentially Diablo with a Warhammer skin. With your choice of one of four heroes you set out to stop the Chaos hordes and get plenty of loot along the way.
Being a Warhammer clone of Diablo the main appeal would be the story and world. I’ve honestly never played anything Warhammer related before this or learned anything about it so my opinions of the story would probably be different if I was already familiar with the world. However, that’s not the case but for a first time real introduction to the world the story did nothing for me. To someone who already understands the world there may be deeper lore behind everything but to a first timer it felt like a mostly generic dark fantasy setting. Of course, these sorts of games aren’t exactly played for the story when there is loot to be had!
The gameplay is mostly focused on combat but there are exploration elements with chests hidden around the map containing loot. How the combat plays out depends on the character you select and the abilities you equip on them. Each of the four heroes has their own playstyle. You have Volen, who is a tank character who uses buffs and taunts, definitely a character aimed at co-op play. Elontir is a high-elf mage who specialises in magic attacks, some of which are controllable. Bragi is the brawler character who is all about rushing in and smacking everything until it is dead, and finally there is Elessa, a wood elf scout who uses her bow and summons in fights. Co-op for up to 4 players is the perfect way to get the most out of some of the more niche archetypes like Volen.
I went with Elontir, I don’t know about how the other characters play but he was fairly interesting with his ability to control certain magic projectiles while using other abilities. His combat would be strategic at times in more hectic situations which would have me using basic spells to hold off enemies on one side while controlling another spell to the side of me. Other times though it would be me leading enemies down a narrow path and moving the spell back and forth, mowing them down with help from my basic attacks. After a while though combat becomes pretty repetitive, basic mobs just get beat on until they die, occasionally you may fight tankier enemies or main bosses with unique attacks that may provide harder challenges but for the most part it becomes a lot of the same in different settings with different enemy designs.
The environments are pretty cool at first as well but also suffer from getting repetitive in the long run. You have cities, sewers, snowy villages and forests amongst other places. You’ll find yourself coming back to these same areas a lot though as you play through on higher difficulties and get to the endgame where you will be going on expeditions and doing boss rushes. In case you haven’t realised the general trend with Chaosbane is that it is repetitive, which is a shame because there could be so much more.
So everything gets repetitive after a while but the loot and character progression is fun with lots of possibilities right? Well, no it isn’t really. At the endgame there’s gear that may support certain playstyles but the use of gear does very little to expand beyond better stats and looks for your character. As you level up you gain access to more skills and upgraded versions that cost more mana. Other skills can be unlocked via a God skull tree which also gives you permanent stat boosts at the cost of fragments that drop from enemies. For a game focused on loot and skills it felt like there was too little variety and the only time you’d get something different is in the combat skills used. I wish there would have been more to get out of all the killing and running around the hub, such as new abilities rather than just higher numbers and percentages to existing stats.
Combat skills have a limit attached to them. There is a point system that decides what you can use, meaning the higher level the skill the more points it consumes. This means builds are usually a mix of lots of lower level skills, a couple medium level skills or a few high level ones. They don’t really allow for much variety in the playstyles of each character though, and due to the nature of the game being about slaying hordes you will find yourself just using a little mobility with maximum damage half the time. The only real way to get a variety of skills is to use a different characters. One thing that is consistent across all characters and one of the most fun mechanics in the game is the Bloodlust mechanic. As you fight bloodlust orbs will appear that can be collected to fill a meter up for a super state in which you become almost invincible and output ridiculous damage.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher