Warhammer Chaosbane

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In a world ravaged by war and dominated by magic, you must rise up to face the Chaos hordes. Playing solo or with up to four players in local or online co-op, choose a hero from four character classes and prepare for epic battles wielding some of the most powerful artefacts of the Old World.

One of the things that has been keeping me from painting in the last few weeks has been my lovely XBox.  First Diablo launched a new season and then Chaosbane was released.  It’s a tough time being a gamer.

So I’m sure you know what Diablo is (if you don’t the rest of this article isn’t going to make a lot of sense) but you might be asking yourself what Chaosbane is.  Well easiest way to describe it is to say its Diablo in a Warhammer setting (Warhammer so the Old World, not shiny AoS goodness) which means a hack and slash arcade adventure with random loot drops, some RPG like elements with skill trees and a boat load of monsters (actually make that two boat loads).

The game is set at the end of the first great chaos incursion where Magnus has turned back the forces of the dark gods at Praag.  The invasion has been defeated but there are still a lot of chaos warbands to be hunted down and destroyed and this is where you come in.

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You can pick from four character classes (Empire Soldier, Dwarf Slayer, Wood Elf Archer,  High Elf Mage) and each plays very differently – the Imperial Soldier seems a little boring if I am honest but the other 3 are great fun.  Most of my playtime so far has been as Braggi Axebiter, Dwarven Slayer who chops up Chaos Deamons very efficiently indeed, building up his rage to unleash even more powerful swings with his axes.

You travel through various famous locations of the old world (Nuln, Praag etc.) hunting down Chaos Champions in pursuit of the mysterious figure of the Harbinger with each chapter ending in a classic boss fight against a great deamon of the relevent power.  So far a Great Unclean One and a Bloodthirster have fallen under my axes and given that I am currently in a Slaanesh based area I feel that it will be a Keeper of Secrets next.  It will die.

Loot is pretty much the same as Diablo (though drops are less frequent) with different rarity values.  So far I’ve seen 3 types but apparently after you have completed the game you unlock ‘heroic’ drops which again seem to be analogous to Diablos legendaries.

Skills are where the game gets more ambitious as you have a certain number of skill points to spend on your abilities, both active and passive.  Most abilities also have 3 levels, each level being more expensive than the previous, which means you have to make hard choices about what you are going to invest it.  I’m guessing that the hope was that players would be constantly switching points around to give different play-styles a go within the same character but for a player like me it just means that you are using just a couple of abilities as you know what they do and how to get the best out of them.  It’s possible that later level design might require some rethinking but I’m not really sure thats going to be the case.  You also have the God Power tree which is another way you can customise you character – note that the usage of this isn’t very well explained when you get access to it and its very easy to spend points (and other resources) on builds that won’t actually help you with the way you want to play.  You can reset the tree but whilst it will give you the skill points back it won’t refund the resources (gems called fragments) that you have used.  Bit of a miss there I think.

Graphically the game is great, the screens look like the old world, the monsters are instantly recognisable (assuming you know your Warhammer) and the special effects are suitably flashy.  For me the fixed camera is a little to far away, I’d like to see more of the detail of both my character and the things that I am fighting but its a personal preference thing.  I see why they have done it, its just not what I would have done.

Sound is the biggest issue with the game.  The incidental sounds are all fine but the voice acting is not great with accents going all over the place.  There are also some bugs where the conversations get muddled up with the subtitles which can be slightly jarring.  It’s not enough to ruin the game but it is enough to yank you out of the playing experience.  Teclis sounds very very manly as well, certainly not how I would imagine a high elf speaking, especially one with his health problems.

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The game supports 4 player co-op though I haven’t tried that out and once you’ve completed the main quest line you can unlock various multiplayer random dungeon type experiences – think Diablo Rifts and you aren’t far off.

Apparently we will be getting more content soon as well including another playable class – my money is on a witch hunter.

Overall I’d recommend the game and give it a solid 7/10, certainly the best Warhammer game I’ve played in a long time.  Its not Diablo but until we get a new one of those it certainly fills the gap nicely.

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