Put away the Peace-Mallet, it’s time to break out the Warhammer.
It’s time to jump back into action-RPG Warhammer: Chaosbane thanks to the second closed beta that is taking place at the moment. Set in a more fantasy-based Warhammer world, the land around us is torn asunder by the ravaging destruction of an ongoing war. Mystical creatures and magic are in abundance as we explore some iconic Warhammer locations such as Nuln and Praag.
I’ve played a lot of Warhammer computer games over the years, most recently Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr (a bit of a mouthful) but you’ll have to forgive me if I get a few terminologies wrong from the bestiary of creatures that roam the dungeons and shadows. I know what a Squig and a Skaven are, but anything more than that and I have to consult Google to find a creature encyclopedia for reference.
Stepping away from the lore and history of Warhammer for a second – we have an action-RPG here that a lot of people have already visually compared to Blizzard’s Diablo 3, which isn’t a bad thing, especially for a D3 fan like myself. Chaosbane is a hack ‘n’ slash adventure that features four different classes (imperial soldier, high-elf mage, dwarf slayer, and wood elf archer) each promising unique gameplay, skills, and equipment.
This second beta let us have a go at the dwarf slayer and wood elf archer, as well as getting a look at Chapter 2 of the main story campaign. I started out on the slayer, but after only getting to level eight, I decided this melee class was not the one for me. Although it was dispatching the enemy hordes with lightning speed, it was very dull. Even with all the new skills opening up, I only really had to press two buttons to deal with any situation, so I switched to the wood elf archer, which straight away was a lot more fun and involved.
The story in Warhammer: Chaosbane is presented to you via lightly animated fantasy drawings and fully voiced dialogue moments with NPCs relating to the main story quest. It’s traditional fair so far, with the story giving you some excuses to travel to dungeons and lands filled with monsters. The voice acting is pretty good from what I’ve experienced, and definitely adds to the flavour of the adventure.
Once you’ve chosen your character and are dropped into the starting area, the game does a great job in introducing you to the gameplay mechanics. Every time a new feature of the game becomes available there seemed to be instruction or a quest that would highlight how to use this new feature. Also, all of the games features are bundled nicely into a very user friendly UI which is very intuitive to navigate.
The graphics, atmosphere, and music of Chaosbane are also on point – it looks and plays great, with dramatic choral scores that make your adventure feel more grandiose. Animations and spell abilities all fit the character you’re playing and gives them some great class fantasy. The combining of skills to power certain buffs like extra damage on slowed enemies give you some creativity on creating early builds. Of course, you couldn’t do too much as most of the skills were level gated, and can only be unlocked when you’re able to go above the level 25 cap.
Personally, I found the ranged classes to be the most fun to play, with the mage and archer delivering the more satisfying abilities and spells. It’s all down to your preference, of course, and add to the fact that you aren’t able to unlock all the different spells in the beta, there’s still a lot to explore. But from what was on offer, I’m going to be picking the archer for my first playthrough when the full game releases. Who can resist an army of living-tree Dryads tormenting your foes as you launch swathes of arrows from afar?
The difficulty wasn’t overly challenging whilst following the main quest chain, but I’m sure that ramps up later on in the story and when you unlock other game modes. The one boss you get to fight had a couple of fun mechanics, but nothing too taxing. Hopefully, this fight is designed to just warm you up.
My personal pet hate was with the reuse of level assets – although the scenery looks great, some parts were copy/pasted so many times it often felt like you were constantly trolling through the same areas, and cheapened the experience slightly.
Overall it was a very promising beta experience for me. I’m left with the feeling of wanting to play more and get some characters to max level. I also didn’t get to play any co-op which is something I would like to explore more of, as that is where the bulk of the fun is for me in this type of game.