Review: Warhammer Chaosbane (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required
  • Move None
Title: Warhammer Chaosbane
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (9.29 GB)
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Publisher: Bigben Interacive
Developer: Eko Software
Original MSRP: $59.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: M
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
The world of Warhammer has always been intriguing to me. I’ve only visited it via video games and occasionally purchasing some of the interesting figurines at a local shop. I’ve played some smart phone apps, and some very good strategy games. But Chaosbane is the first time that I’ve been genuinely excited for a Warhammer game – primarily because the dungeon hack-n-slash genre is so fun to play in a fantasy setting.

Chaosbane does not disappoint. I really wanted to put in a few hours before giving an opinion on this, because there is so much content here. But I’m happy to say that this title is one worthy of your investment.

Not only does it allow for 4-player drop-in/drop-out co-op (both locally and online), but cooperative gameplay is a blast. For this review I played almost entirely with other people.

Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed that I could not craft my own character from scratch. Chaosbane allows you to choose between four pre-named and pre-rolled characters. I’m guessing it’s to strengthen the narrative more. Then again, Diablo 3 allows custom character creation and those characters still spoke and had personalities.

As such, I ended up playing a female elf ranger-like class. Which was totally fine, because she was a pretty robust character to play. Additionally, you have a choice of a dwarven battlerager of sorts, a traditional warrior, and a mage.

Much like similar dungeon crawlers, you are afforded a handful of abilities to help you combat legions of bad guys. But Chaosbane handles your abilities and spells in a slightly different way.

Spells, for example, are unlocked as your level, with first level abilities costing nothing to equip. However, as you continue to gain rank, stronger versions of your abilities unlock (because of your actual level). But in order to use them, you have to use a pool of available skill points to unlock them. But these points are more of a resource, and you can choose to, say, power up a single ability to its max power, by taking points away from a skill that you don’t use often. As you gain more levels and skill points, you will obviously be able to strengthen most of your skills. But early on, I’d put all my points into the skills I used more often.

In addition to the traditional active skills (skills that require a button press) there are also passive skills that you can assign points to unlock. EXP and HP buffers are among the many options available to you.

This mechanic of moving points around added an interesting depth to the ability system. While it’s nice to just simply level abilities, it was fun to strategize and decide what was important and what wasn’t.

What’s a game like this without looting? Fortunately, Chaosbane offers plenty of loot to keep the greediest thief busy. A familiar color system allows you to gauge whether a weapon or armor is worth keeping or donating to the trade guild. Often, you have to choose whether the rarity of the weapon is worth passing on for a lesser weapon with better stats, but that’s part of the struggle with dungeon crawler genre.

Controls are incredibly tight. I’m one of those few that believe that games like these are better played with a controller over a mouse, since selecting an enemy with a mouse pointer has the chance of accidentally missing and sending your character off in a direction you did not intend (because that same button moves your character). A controller, however, lets you just point the joystick where you want to go, while button mashing feels better, along with the force feedback.

As previously mentioned, abilities are assignable to your button of choice. Migrating from Diablo, this was great for me, because there were familiar bow skills that just felt natural on certain buttons.

This is not a short game, so prepare to get comfortable for the night, with your closest friends or siblings, because you will be burning the midnight oil with this one. Just when I thought we were getting pretty far, I realized our characters were just getting started.

Visuals:
I’ve always found Warhammer games to share a consistent branding aesthetic, and for the most part, they are visually pleasing. Chaosbane is not an exception to this by any means. While the starting area in the game is nothing to scream in glee about, the moment you start exploring the quest area, you will be treated to some beautifully-rendered environments, complete with excellent lighting.

While character models don’t have to adhere to the highest level of detail in dungeon crawlers (what with the high camera angle and distance), what is here still looks fantastic and blends well with the environmental detail. This applies to both your character, as well as the myriad of enemies you will encounter.

Abilities and spells look pretty explosive too, with giant fireballs that fill up the entire screen as they travel through the environment, causing little to no performance issues whatsoever.

Audio:
Sound design is paramount in chaotic games like these. If it doesn’t sound like the battle of Helm’s Deep every time you encounter enemies, then someone’s not doing their jobs. The sound echoes “chaos” here as much as it needs to, resulting in pretty epic-sounding battles.

Online/Multiplayer:
No issues, here. I mainly played locally, but I did try an online game just to make sure everything was in working order. Much like Diablo, the game compensates for local play by tugging uncooperative characters when the player is checking their phone or taking a potty break.

Unlike Diablo, Chaosbane allows for multiple players to check their status screen, and change weapons and abilities on the same screen, at the same time. No more going to fix a sandwich while your friends are shopping or going through their loot. This means more to me than you know. Sure, this might be an issue if you are playing on a twenty-inch screen and having to squint at tiny text, but it’s not too bad.

Conclusion:
I can count in one hand the number of quality dungeon crawlers available on PlayStation 4. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of more than two. Warhammer Chaosbane falls into one of the quality ones. I had to play fast and hard to get this review in a semi-timely manner. But I will continue to play it well beyond this review and try it again using the different characters. Until Blizzard decides that mobile gaming is not the place for their big dungeon crawler, Chaosbane will more than adequately hold me over, and entertain on its own merits while it’s at it.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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