The Warhammer universe is available in a variety of forms in the digital world: Vermintide offers an FPS co-op experience, there is some turn-based strategy on PC in Total War, and even fantasy football frolics with Blood Bowl. Chaosbane represents the tabletop games’ first attempt at a hack-and-slash dungeon crawler.
Thanks to a recent closed beta on Xbox One, we were given the opportunity to go hands-on to see how the Warhammer world manages to transcend into new grounds.
First thing to note – especially with a game like Chaosbane that is based on a series steeped in so much lore and jumping in here without any prior knowledge can be daunting and off-putting – is that Chaosbane does not require any prior knowledge. Having it will obviously help your enjoyment but even for someone who’s only exposure to the world of Warhammer is a dodgy Roy Hodgson accent repeating the word over and over again (see the Athletico Mince podcast) it isn’t ever game-breaking not knowing anything.
At first glance, even down to the character select screen, this looks very much like a Diablo-clone. So much so that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was. It looks like the team at Eko Software and Bigben Interactive have clearly used the leader in action-RPG dungeon crawlers as their inspiration, even using the same isometric view to portray the action when you get into the meat of the game.
During the beta I took the high-elf mage through their paces, but there is also a human soldier available for use throughout the beta. The final game will also feature a dwarven slayer and wood-elf scout, each with their own unique abilities.
The mage starts off with one basic spell launching fireballs at enemies, but as they level up, more spells become available and not before long, they are a full array of six spell slots full of offensive attacks. These spells – other than the fire spell – use MP but I found it regenerating quickly enough that I wasn’t ever waiting on it. Equipping different armor allowed me to regenerate it quicker if I deemed it necessary.
The first act had me travelling down to the sewers of Nurn where the denizens of Chaos God Nurgle have taken up residence. Be prepared to face thousands of his personal army as the screen is regularly full of enemies all closing in on your position, all baying for your blood. Many spells have area-of-effect damages which are useful to simply thin the numbers.
What starts out as just a swarm of tiny Nurglings running around quickly turn into bigger Plaguebearers with a much more impending stature. There are even bigger enemies in the sewers to contend with, but these – thankfully – aren’t all that frequent.
Come out of the sewers in one piece though and it will be worth your while; there is a lot of loot to be had down there. Gold crowns – the game currency – will quickly have your pockets full to bursting. It’s good to know then that there are plenty of wares to kit out and improve your characters, whether they be in the treasure chest hidden away, or dropped from higher level enemies.
It is worth picking up anything you can down there, even if it’s stat roll isn’t up to your standards. See, items can be donated to the shops to boost reputation with them, in a move that feels very like Destiny and the various resources that offers.
Journeying through Chaosbane isn’t simply to complete the main quest, and there are other options to increase the replayability. There are a few extra modes including Boss Rush and Relic Hunt, and the promise of free updates to elongate the game well past besting the final boss.
Warhammer: Chaosbane isn’t just a solo adventure though. Up to four players can play along – both locally and online – to take down the hordes of monsters. And with a bestiary of over 70 monsters, it sounds like you will need all the help you can get. Local multiplayer also features drop-in/out gameplay, a simple tap of the Options button will quickly have players spawning in.
If you are playing solo though, it isn’t all bad. You can choose which difficulty to play on depending on your skills, and then there is always Bloodlust.
Bloodlust is a meter that fills up as you pick up necessary items from defeated enemies. Once the bar is full it removes your six standard attacks and replaces them with a much more powerful attack until the Bloodlust meter is spent. You can be sure that even if you are going solo, you will still have some surprises up your sleeves.
Warhammer: Chaosbane will be releasing on Tuesday 4th June 2019 on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. It is clearly inspired by the likes of Diablo and other dungeon crawlers but fans of the genre will not have long to wait to see if the game has enough stored away to help differentiate it from its’ inspiration.
Don’t just take my word for how the game plays and feels though, try it yourself! There is now a public Beta open for business, allowing you to play the first Act of the game and give it a whirl. This Beta will run through until Wednesday 13th March 9am GMT so you have plenty of time to get yourself to Nuln and push back the daemons.
It has yet to be confirmed whether or not progress will transfer over to the final game from the Beta but should you wish to keep playing after the Beta end, there are several options to choose from. The Standard Edition priced at £49.99, the Digital Deluxe Edition at £52.99 which has a gold boost, unique emotes and pets, or the Magnus Edition (£64.99) that has all previous bonuses as well as a fragment boost and the Season Pass. Pre-order any of these now to receive an XP boost and four legendary helmets.
Better still, pre-order the Digital Deluxe or Magnus Edition and get early access some four days early , allowing you to play Warhammer: Chaosbane from 31st May 2019 rather than the standard release of 4th June 2019!