Warhammer: Chaosbane (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 06.10.2019

Review for Warhammer: Chaosbane on PlayStation 4

The Warhammer franchise has had numerous games over the years, going all the way back to the RTS titles on PlayStation and PC in 1995. Since then there have been MMOs, turn-based strategy games, first-person shooters, but this is the first Diablo-style hack 'n' slash action-RPG. Surprising really, considering it seems a natural fit between the franchises. There a vast and diverse world within Warhammer Fantasy, ripe with locales and characters to use, thus the prospect is promising. Sewers full of Skaven; mines with Goblins; dark forests with Elves... but past Games Workshop videogames have shown that it's best not to get too excited. Perhaps little-known French developer Eko Software can break the pattern? After a look at the PC version, here's another take on Warhammer: Chaosbane on the PS4.

Fans of the tabletop game will be familiar with the setting here. The hero Magnus is not quite yet the Emperor he will become, though he is uniting the various factions of humanity under one banner. Chaos isn't going to let him continue unchallenged, and has managed to inflict a curse on him. Now four of his most dedicated warriors are on a hacking and slashing quest to save their liege. Those four warriors are selectable before the start of the campaign, and in an absolutely insane design choice, they can't be altered without making a whole new save file. There's no opportunity to try the characters out, instead they're locked-in without really seeing what they have to offer.

There are some familiar classes on offer. First up is a Captain of the Imperial Army, Konrad Vollen. A close combat specialist who can be equipped and specialised to be the tank of any group, with his shield he's able to stun nearby enemies with a bash or to charge forward with it smashing through anything in his way. For those who'd prefer to play as a more fantastical race, there are other allies of the Empire on offer. In the vein of the famous Gotrek comes a new Dwarven slayer in Bragi Axebiter. Slayers are a fantastic concept, Dwarves who have lost their honor and embark on a quest to lose their lives in the most honorable way, taking on the biggest and baddest creatures out there in hopes of the most glorious death. Bragi is a glass cannon. Wearing no armor and dual-wielding a pair of axes he puts out some crazy DPS but at the constant risk of death.

Screenshot for Warhammer: Chaosbane on PlayStation 4

There are two flavours of Elves on hand, both fitting with their most famous incarnations. Elontir is a High-Elf Mage and that means he's all about the ranged DPS. He has a wide range of skills to utilise on the battlefield from single damage to big AOEs, able to summon walls of flame, lightning storms, and breathe flames onto the hordes of chaos. Finally, there is the Wood-Elf archer, Elessa. Elessa is all about controlling the battlefield, able to pick enemies to pieces at a distance with her bow, and when levelled up can use DOTs and spells to keep one step ahead. She is able to summon walls of briars or even friendly Dryads between herself and the enemies.

Each of these characters has unique fighting styles, along with a bunch of skill trees to progress through and develop into full builds. The trees full with abilities both passive and active, which can completely alter the experience of playing the character. However, here again, there are issues. As previously mentioned the lack of being able to switch between the characters without starting a whole new campaign is a ridiculous flaw, especially with a multiplayer focus. It would be a far wiser design decision to make it so that the currently played character gets the majority of the experience, while unused characters get a percentage, incentivise experimenting and let the players find their niche.

Screenshot for Warhammer: Chaosbane on PlayStation 4

When starting the game, it's easy to get excited, it feels like there's a lot of potential here. Each character feels unique in how they play, the new abilities come at a steady pace and the opening missions which are used to introduce the fundamentals are all pretty solid. Each stage has a whole new environment. It's easy to pick up and full of character, it feels like one of the good Diablo clones. At least, it does in the beginning. In the first few hours it seems that this could be something special. Then in just a few hours more, that feeling goes away.

At this point the game has devolved into picking up a quest from the central hub, heading into one of the handful of zones, which each just has a handful of maps, with each map having a terribly small catalogue of enemies to take on. Considering the breadth of characters and species in the source material, this is pretty appalling, even worse that the enemies look like pretty generic fare and don't even capture the original style. It's not just in the presentation where things get repetitive. Repetition is the name of the game across the board, and while that is a standard complaint with the sub-genre, it's excessive here as it affects every aspect of the title.

Screenshot for Warhammer: Chaosbane on PlayStation 4

Take, for example, the combat. Four classes, tons of skills, and yet most of them are never really needed or utilised. For the majority of the game, it comes down to just using standard attack combined with the odd active ability. The enemies just don't pose enough of a challenge to require complex strategy, even through to the endgame. Even when there are huge waves of enemies, they're stupid enough to be led into AOE zones of death that make quick work of them. Even Boss battles don't increase the difficulty much in terms of the strategy needed to take them on. Instead, they just having absurd health pools and damage output, making battles feel cheap instead of challenging.

One of the key elements that has made Diablo endure, that has kept it leagues ahead of its competitors has been its lifespan even after finishing the game. It's in this Endgame where the game truly begins. But Chaosbane couldn't be more different. Everything that keeps Diablo engaging is completely missing here. There was a meme doing the rounds way back about the World of Warcraft dungeon loot devolving into the bare minimum in terms of stat upgrades and that's the case from the very start here. There aren't even exciting skins for weapons and armor to entice players into replaying dungeons.

Screenshot for Warhammer: Chaosbane on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

At first, this looks quite promising. The opening levels are diverse enough to keep things interesting and the introduction to the gameplay gives a standard but solid Diablo clone. But the veneer is too thin, and this quickly becomes something that only the most hardcore Warhammer fans will truly enjoy. For the rest of the players out there, this is just yet another Diablo clone atop the veritable mountain that already exists; one with repetitive maps, a lackluster character progression, and dull combat. Not to mention the story. One that is completely without teeth. It's like a YA novel; standard fantasy fare, with some of the worst voice acting in recent memory. This is kind of fun, but there are many other games already that do what it tries to do so much better.

Developer

EKO Software

Publisher

Bigben Interactive

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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