Warhammer: Choasbane makes a good first impression. An intriguing start to the story has you accused of murdering the famous hero who reunified the Empire of Man, Emperor Magnus, before it’s revealed there’s sorcery at work and you begin a quest to bring the true villains to justice. But the overall experience doesn’t quite live up to the promise.
Satisfying combat quickly immerses you in battles against dozens of foul creatures, with copious amounts of loot being dropped for you to hover up and gradually increase your stats. Level progression is quick and new abilities adds some tactical variety to combat. Indeed, the first hour or two is so very promising. Then the cracks begin to show, expanding the longer you play, and while they never truly break the game and its enjoyment completely, it does reduce the experience to a mediocre one. A sprinkling of greatness can be found here and there, and for fans of the genre there’s plenty to sink your teeth into in the end game, but Warhammer fans looking for their fantasy fix will be less impressed.
One of Warhammer: Chaosbane’s most alluring features is the up to four player co-op, however playing this feature will produce the first of the cracks the earliest. Minor annoyances with achievements not popping for anyone other than the host can be largely put aside, but invisible quest givers and global dialogue events interrupting all players regardless of their status and whereabouts, are a little more frustrating. Otherwise the co-op was excellent fun and wonderfully stable online, and overall an excellent feature. However, general bugs crept in to ruin the enjoyment, affecting singleplayer and multiplayer alike. Invisible walls due to objectives not detecting completion and events not triggering and requiring a reload, audio going quiet after death and failing to return to normal until you load into an entirely new area, and even a bout of immortality that, while entertaining, was clearly not intentional, all cropped up and left a bad taste.
Outside of bugs and oddities Warhammer: Chaosbane still has issues. Enemy variety is limited, with only a handful of different creatures per chapter to represent the underlings of the Chaos gods. Moreover, many of these enemies possessed the same traits as previous enemies, largely reducing them to different models and textures but the same behaviours. It all became a bit tedious and predictable. This also damaged the tactical variety on offer; despite new abilities being unlocked, it became apparent that any combination of attacks was just as effective as the rest.
However, despite the strategy being reduced to mostly mindless hack ‘n slash action, witnessing dozens of enemies crowd around you and be reduced to gore as you slash, clobber, shoot and blast your way through them was still highly satisfying, and the core loop of slaughtering enemies and finding more loot with slightly better stats proved engaging enough to easily keep our attention for the 6-8 hour long story. And once the story was over, fortunately Chaosbane opens up a little more and introduces additional challenges.
While ultimately Chaosbane’s story was shallow and predictable and only gave us four chapters and therefore four environments to explore, returning to these areas and engaging in the treasure hunt side missions that require you to explore a map, kill everything and gather goodies, once again tapped into that core loop and its compelling loot collecting. Additionally the boss rush side missions allow you to take on the four Chaos demon bosses again, and while these demons didn’t provide much in the way of thoughtful tactical considerations as part of the challenge, they were a bit of a spectacle to see these storied demons in digital flesh. Meanwhile, both these side missions allow you to choose from a wide variety of difficulties that increase loot rarity potential and truly challenge you.
This end game content makes Chaosbane hugely replayable, especially if you mean to conquer the bosses on the very highest difficulty. Additionally, the four playable characters offer slightly different playstyles for you to experience. Certainly, the loot collecting is the biggest draw, and for fans of these Diablo-style adventures Chaosbane will scratch that itch. However, the story and the locations only scratch the surface of the Warhammer Fantasy lore, so while the odd hint at the larger universe can induce a smile, it’s not the epic adventure we all hoped for.
Warhammer: Chaosbane is a fun, hack ‘n slash, loot heavy RPG, and co-op adventuring pleasantly increases that fun, but it’s a shallow game. Limited, albeit nicely detailed and attractive environments, equally limited enemy variety, a whole host of bugs, and a disappointing story hurt this otherwise enjoyable game, resulting in a mediocre experience overall.