Warhammer Chaosbane is scratching my dungeon crawling itch fantastically

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You think Warhammer, and you’ll probably flash forward dozens of millennia into the future, towards an age of horror and space exploration. And that’s great! Warhammer 40K has proven itself to be one of the most popular franchises of this generation, but I’ve kind of had enough of a universe that is home to a gaping space-anus from which cosmic terror spews forth on a regular basis.

Warhammer on the other hand, is a franchise without the 40K suffix and one that I am genuinely clueless about. For reals, to me it comes off as the bastard child of Braveheart and Event Horizon. Fortunately, Warhammer: Chaosbane doesn’t require reading an entire Encyclopedia Brutallica’s worth of books, to get the gist of the story.

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It’s good vs evil, you the noble hero vs the ruinous forces of chaos as they seek to seduce and conquer the realms. Sweet Chaos Lord, it’s also addictive stuff. On the surface, Warhammer: Chaosbane shares a lot with games such as Diablo and Path of Exile. You’ve got a similar viewpoint to your action, swarms of enemies to cut through and plenty of loot to grab.

As for characters, you’ve got your usual archetypes: A soldier whose defense can push back enemies, a dwarf with a berserker death wish, a spellcasting mage and an Elf whose archery skills makes Hawkeye look like a rank amateur in comparison. There’s some good variation between the classes, with each one of them offering a particular style of combat and a wealth of abilities. The Soldier and the Dwarf can easily jump into the fray and dish out massive damage, while the Elves prefer to stay at a distance and dish out all manner of arcane punishment to any creature that dares to rush them.

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None of this is surprising if you happen to be a fan of the genre, but what is surprising is just how good it feels. Chaosbane wastes no time in giving you a power fantasy to explore, with the majority of your primary skills being unlocked within your first hour of play. From there, you can augment these abilities and choose which ones you want to buff to deal more damage, at the cost of leaving other skills behind.

That allows for some robust character design, emphasising a style of play that suits you. While it did make the actual gameplay a tad too easy throughout the beta, developer Eko Software have promised a total of ten difficulty levels on launch later this year, so at least that gripe should be sorted soon enough.

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But as for the actual combat? It’s chunky and meaty stuff. Chaosbane has no problem throwing dozens of enemies at you, veritable hordes that you have to hack and slash your way through as you navigate towards an endpoint. It does so in a manner that makes it incredibly satisfying, especially with the well designed UI and a story that is told with a cheesy gung-ho attitude.

It’s almost as if they got Brian Blessed to narrate a tabletop session of the classic source material game.

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So far, I’ve had a blast in the beta. The combat feels great, the mindless action is cathartic and there’s a wealth of character development that I still have to dig into, like the favour system which looks like it can drastically alter how your chosen warrior evolves over time. I’ll be honest and admit that there’s nothing surprising about Warhammer: Chaosbane, but I’m a bigger fan of a game which is comfortable in its own skin and is unapologetic about the kind of experience that it wants to be.

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Which makes Warhammer Chaosbane, a confident and fun dungeon-crawler that is worth paying attention to.

Last Updated: April 25, 2019

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