The Bane of Chaos

Warhammer: Chaosbane, is a fast paced action-RPG set in the tumultuous time of the Old World during the reign of the Emperor Magnus the Pious. It tells the story of four heroes who battle against the forces of Chaos to prevent the Empire's collapse when the Dark Gods rise again to challenge the Old World and disrupt the status quo.

I've spent quite a while in the Old World of late, what with two Vermintide games and running the tabletop Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th edition.

Chaosbane is very much in the vein of Diablo 3 and thus we can definitely call it a Diablo-clone.

What does it bring to the table, why should you get it?

Read on and I'll try to explain why I think it's a decent game, but very bare-bones at the moment on console compared to the PC release.

Welcome to the Old World, heroes.

You have four heroes you can choose from, each one shares fragments, gold, and the stash where you can place weapons/armour and so on for other characters. All you need to do is play the game with one character to begin with and unlock the various features as you go through the story, then these become available for any newly created characters out of the gate.

But who do you play as?

Konrad Vollen: The Imperial soldier, a veteran of many wars and a tough, stoic capable hero who provides a lot of melee backup if you play the game co-op. He has a powerful shield move which is bound to the right stick.

Elontir: High elf, prince, and a mage which can unleash some devastating abilities on the battlefield. A great ranged and support class, with the unique ability to control his spells using the right stick. Cast an aetheric orb and drive it around setting fire to your enemies, beep beep!

Bragi Axebiter: Angry, disgraced, mighty and the party tank should you choose to spec him that way. The Slayer is a lethal combatant who eschews armour for more things to hurt the enemy, and lives to die a glorious death! He has a chain-hook on his right stick and can pull himself toward big enemies to let them taste steely death.

Elessa: The young Wood Elf Scout from the Athel Loren forest, excellent ranged and fire support character. Elessa is a brilliant archer, her abilities synergise well with the tanky classes and she can dodge using her right stick. She can also field tree-like dyrad creatures and has a glowing familiar from which she can restore her energy.

Each one of these characters is fully voiced, has their own reasons for being in the Empire and is embroiled in the story due to reasons which I'll let you discover on your own. They have their own illustrated cut-scenes as well, which remind me of the intros to the characters for Diablo 3.

Fighting the Forces of Chaos

I've seen a fair few complaints about the repetition of the game, but I'd just like to say that Chaosbane is in its infancy here - Diablo 3 took a while to mature into the excellent experience it is now and even that's repetitive. Heck, shooting bad guys day in day out is repetitive... playing deathmatch is the same.

What you really want is something that makes the grind worthwhile, such as ... LOOT.

Chaosbane is a Diablo-clone, so you're going to play the campaign, you're going to level from 1 to 50 and you're going to collect loot along the way. Loot comes in a variety of rarities and the game suffers a little from the incremental loot effect, where you get a new sword, but that sword is only a marginally better upgrade than the one you had even though it's a different rarity.

Still, the loot game is much better than certain other games I could mention and the later levels introduce some truly epic items that feel much more powerful than before.

Loot is only part of it, the loot helps you survive and fight, and the fighting pillar of gameplay is really important in a game like this.

So how's it feel to take the battle to the forces of the Ruinous Powers?

GOOD!

There's something to be said about meaty and visceral combat, and Chaosbane has that in droves. The game throws a lot of enemies against you, and granted -- the unit types are fairly repetitious at the moment - but the combat system makes up for it. Combat has a weight and momentum to it, and seeing the ragdoll units go flying all over the place when you land some powerful abilities never gets old.

Magic really feels powerful here.

I've had fun with every class and each one approaches combat differently, with the range of powers on offer from passives to the active abilities for each class. You can also switch out powers as you level up, since you pay for them with skill points and as long as you can afford it, you can tailor your build on the fly to deal with various situations. It's pretty intuitive and it means there's some build variety here.

I'm not going to go into the various classes and abilities here. There are wikis and the web for that sort of thing, and let's play videos on Youtube. I suggest checking out AirSick Hydra for a start.

I will say though that the game can be played solo, or it can be played couch co-op, or online, or even a mix of couch and online. The characters have been designed to synergise cooperatively as well, with certain abilities designed to empower the other players when you're in a group.

Beyond the Campaign

Chaosbane is bare bones at the moment; a short campaign provides the levels required to tackle the other content which consists of:

Expeditions: Forays into random dungeons for loot and glory.

Boss Rush: A boss fight against the area's main boss, replay for more loot and more xp.

Relic Hunt: A random dungeon with better loot and more danger: Higher risk, greater reward.

Invasions: Not out on console yet, only PC, coming soon.

Any loot that you can't use, you can always trade to the Collector's Guild which replaces a shop, since you can't buy things in Chaosbane as you can in Diablo 3.

Basically though, it's very bare bones as I said, and more content is on the way for the end game. At the moment however, it might not be enough to keep you sated unlike other games in the genre...

The Look and Feel

Chaosbane looks good, feels good and the atmosphere and aesthetic is spot on to the Old World. The developers have really managed to get the level design nailed here and the creature designs are great. The animations are solid and the voice work is decent enough, with only a few rough spots which you can pick up on.

Sound is solid and the various creature sound effects are good too, especially the Nurglings.

The combat system has a lovely weight and mass to it, physics are solid, and the ragdoll makes each battle highly unique as the enemies go tumbling off things or fall down stairs when they're struck by a heavy blow.

The Soundtrack of the Old World

Pompous and overbearing in places, just like the Empire itself, Chaosbane has some great music which matches the zones you travel to and the areas you're in.

Playing with Others

So far so good, the game does a good job keeping lag to a minimum and I've experienced very little in the way of disconnects. The offline play is solid and there's fun to be had here.

For Magnus!

I like Chaosbane, perhaps not as much as I like Diablo 3 and Inquisitor Martyr, but there's a hefty potential here which I can see. It's a solid entry to the Diablo-style genre and I've got my eyes on the game's direction. Invasions sound like a good next step and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

Hopefully more content, more updates, new areas and bigger places to play in. Better dungeon randomisation might be good too.

We'll see, because for now, there's enough to keep me happy. However, your mileage might vary.

Credo!