I need to start this review by saying that the Warhammer franchise has never appealed to me. But when I started playing Warhammer Chaosbane, I couldn’t stop. From its intuitive combat and diverse range of characters that all feel distinct from each other. To the extensive range of choice the skill system gives when leveling up, it’s an action RPG full of decisions, but its weak story and impactless loot system hold it back.
“From summoning druids to buffing allies, there is a large variety of special attacks to choose from.”
The combat in Chaosbane is fantastic. The way your character can chain together abilities to carve through waves of enemies is buttery smooth. The constant cycle between building up energy then splurging it all to clear out enemies is continually engaging and gives balance to the combat rather than spamming your best attack.
The skill system is designed to provide you with the choice of how you build your character. All the abilities are unique and change the way you play. From summoning druids to buffing allies, there a large variety of special attacks to choose from. Rather than just giving you skills when you level up, the game also offers skill points that will upgrade specific skills, passive and active, or swap them out for new ones. During my time playing, I was constantly swapping out skills to see what fit best my playstyle and what abilities I could string together to make effective combinations. It was all focused on the fun I was having with the abilities, and I never felt pressured to pick the best possible combination. Oh, and did I mention there’s also another skill tree filled with insane god skills to check out.
While the variety in abilities is vast, the same cannot be said for the enemies. The distinct lack of elite style enemies with unique attacks can make fights slightly repetitive. But fortunately, as you reach the later difficulties and chapters, these enemies do start to appear, and the variety of the enemy’s attacks matches that of their visual appearance.
Bosses are all very well designed and add a nice change of pace to the gameplay requiring you to decide when and what to attack. They force you to stay on your toes and pay attention if you don’t want to end up having to fight them over and over, but once you learn the patterns, you should not have too much trouble. And if you are, you can always tweak the difficulty from the overworld though it will decrease the quality of the rewards.
All bosses are replayable in the boss rush mode that will reward you with extra loot and the option to add some modifiers to the fights for added replayability. However, there are only six bosses across the whole game, and it would have been nice to see some more, especially with how good the ones in the game are.
“A diverse range of characters that made me want to play through multiple times.”
All the classes in Chaosbane are excellently designed to feel distinct from each other, and there is something for everyone. My personal favorite was the wood elf archer, with who I did my first playthrough with. I particularly enjoyed grouping up enemies before unleashing a flurry of arrows to mow them down and snipe off the stragglers. As well as the ability to spawn an army of druids to help aid my fight tho at times, they did look a bit lost, not knowing what to attack.
On top of the four characters from the original 2019 release, the PS5 slayer edition also includes all the previously released DLC characters and chapters. The first is a witch hunter that can switch between ranged and melee weapons on the fly, leading to awesome combinations as you dance in and out of enemies. And the second an engineer with an overheat mechanic that has you making moment-to-moment decisions to manage heat levels. Ethier blow of some air for instant damage or charge that power to overheat and cause a massive explosion. It’s great to see such a diverse range of characters that’s made me want to play through multiple times to experience all they have to offer.
The loot system in Chaosbane is slightly underwhelming. After picking up the first few equipment pieces, I found that it was never worth reading into the more in-depth stats and best to equip the item recommended to me. Nothing I picked up changed how I built my character or how I played until the end game items started to appear. Heroics do have some playstyle altering effects, such as reducing the number of skill points a particular skill will require or buffing a specific type of damage. I would have loved for these items to have appeared slightly earlier into the game and for it to feel like a big deal when I finally scored that piece of loot that will take me to the next level.
As someone who has zero experience with the World of Warhammer, I did not connect with the story of Chaosbane at all. All of the non-playable characters are very forgettable and gave me nothing to feel invested in. You are given some hints toward their backstory but not enough to fuel your quest across the regions. And the same can be said for the playable cast, while they are fun to play, they lack the motivation needed to feel like a big deal in the world. If you are experienced with the Warhammer universe, you might get more from the story and its characters than I did. But personally, I found it all too repetitive and predictable, and the below-par voice acting from specific characters left me wanting to skip cutscenes to get right back into the killer gameplay.
“It’s safe to say there is lots to keep you grinding for many hours.”
There is a plethora of post-game content on offer in Chaosbane to help you acquire better gear and climb up the difficulty ladder. As you level up, the guild master will offer you many different modes to try out and see if you can get that upgrade you’ve been looking for. The Tower Of Chaos has you clearing floors of enemies in unique ways, getting higher level loot with each floor that you clear. But once you choose to open the chest, your run will end, you will need to decide how much further you can go.
Then, there’s Relic Hunt that tasks you with clearing out enemies and killing the Keeper of Relics to unlock a Relic chest. Like the earlier mentioned boss rush mode, you can also add modifiers that add difficulty but increase the chance of better loot. So there is a constant element of risk versus reward in the post-game, leaving you to decide how far you will push. With all this and the ability to run through remixed areas of the game, it’s safe to say there is lots to keep you grinding for many hours even after the story ends.
“In 2020 we should be able to play games we love with our friends no matter the system.”
The PlayStation 5 version of Chaosbane has exceptional loading times and runs perfectly smooth without fail. I never once dropped frames, even when I was purposely trying to fill the screen with as many enemies as I could. Chaosbane does not use the duelsense’s haptic feedback in any way, which is a great shame seeing as how good the feature is. Trophy tracking is also not utilized, which has left me guessing how many more Relic hunts I need to do, heroic items I need to bless, and side activities I need to complete. However, the adaptive triggers are utilized when abilities bound to those buttons are on cooldown, so it’s not all bad.
Lastly, there is zero cross-play between consoles and generations, so if you plan to team up online with your friends, you will have to be on the same system. I would love to see this fixed in a future update as I hope cross-play becomes the standard for gaming in the future. In 2020 we should be able to play games we love with our friends no matter the system.
I loved my time with Chaosbane and am putting in more hours by the day to try and get that platinum, even though I have no idea how many more relic hunts I need to do. Its poor story and early game loot system are such minor problems in the broader scope of what is an excellent action RPG set in a beautiful universe with top combat mechanics and plenty of choices on how you want to play.