Fans of all genres set their venerated trinities of games, considered the alphas and omegas. In the case of hack'n'slash, you can easily count Path of Exile as one of these. In my personal rankings, I wouldn't include Diablo II anymore, and would rather see Titan Quest and Grim Dawn there. Even though I really love those games, I decided it was time to try something new.
That's why I gladly welcomed the Warhammer: Chaosbane, which was to enrich the hack'n'slash universe with creatures of the Old World. Still, I had in mind the recent disappointment in a similar situation – with the bugged, undercooked Warhammer: Vermintide 2, the bad taste of which I can still feel – so I was careful with my expectations this time. Fortunately.
Warhammer plus hack'n'slash – what could possibly go wrong?
- nice and fluent combat;
- four diversified classes;
- the graphics, which are full of details;
- simplicity and accessibility for new players.
- too simple for veterans of the genre;
- lack of variety of opponents, equipment and maps;
- additional skilltree in a DLC;
- terribly low complexity;
- narrow alleys and linear structure of levels;
- completely squandered the potential of the Warhammer universe.
Chaosbane was created by EKO Software – a studio, which you, dear readers, might have never heard of. As I browsed through their back catalog, a thought occurred to me: "Why on Earth did they make a game about chopping hundreds of monsters?” Their output includes the post-apocalyptic How to Survive, which is kind of a hybrid of hack'n'slash and survival, but apart from that, it mainly consists of sports games and a range of productions such as Garfield Lasagna World Tour Kidz and Bratz "Slumber Party". "But," came another thought, "maybe Chaosbane will finally let them shine?"
Apparently, Games Workshop had the same idea granting the license for Warhammer to EKO Software. Did the studio manage to take advantage of the Old World and Chaos and delivered a fleshed-out rampage of a game that would embarrass Blizzard and their Diablo 3? Well, I can't tell you just now, but you can be sure that the mentioned game will come up more than once in this coverage of Warhammer: Chaosbane. Why is that? The answer is simple – Chaosbane is basically a "poor man's Diablo 3."
If you've played the game from Blizzard, you will instantly feel at home. Be warned, though, that instead of the Deckard Kane, we have access to a range of much less distinctive characters that you probably won't remember after you're done playing. Well, unless you're a declared Warhammer fanatic. In this case, you should pretty cozy in Chaosbane because the game is full of references and nods to the fans of the universe.
PAY-TO-WIN, I.E. MORE FUN MORE PAY
Warhammer: Chaosbane is available in several editions. More expensive versions provide not only earlier access to the game, but also a set of cosmetic items and additional passive abilities. At first glance, they don't seem like anything particular, but we can quickly discover that the extra probability of dropping shards or 50% more chances of finding better gear is extremely useful. I myself felt the difference when I wanted to give my elf archer some fancier items.
Drama in four acts
Unfortunately, my familiarity with this universe is rather limited, so I was not able to fully appreciate all morsels hidden around the game. However, I have some rudimentary knowledge, so it's not like I felt completely out of place here. Still, I was surprised to learn that Warhammer: Chaosbane does such a poor job of fully utilizing this rich setting. The plot was divided into four acts, the completion of which takes about eight hours. If you decide to explore all nooks and crannies and kill every villain on the map, you will extend this time to some ten hours.
Is that too short? In my opinion, not, in the mainstay of hack'n'slash lies in the endgame, and the story is just there to give you a pretext to play. On the other hand, those eight hours did not fulfill my appetite. The first two acts were definitely longer than the latter two, so I originally expected a longer experience. I was also under the impression that the story becomes rushed at some point, whereas it could easily go on further.
As I said – the plot is not so important in this genre, so I'll just give you a rough outline. Two hundred years before the reign of Karl Franz, armies and fleets of Chaos invaded the Empire of men from all directions. Magnus the Pious and elven mage Teclis unite everyone under their banner to repel the invasion. The battle is won, but in this world, the evil always lurks in the darkness. After a short period of peace, a witch casts a deadly curse on Magnus. The Chaos returns and the Empire succumbs to darkness and chaos, while we must break through the growing forces of evil and save the last beacon of humanity.
THE STORYLINE IS FINISHED, SO WHAT NEXT?
So what do we do in Warhammer: Chaosbane when we've gone through all four acts? Three types of activities are currently available. Expeditions – i.e. randomly-generated maps with opponents. You can also take a boss fight in each act to get some serious items. The best thing, however, is the scavenger hunt, where we look for relics, which are Diablo 3's rifts.
Three types of these are available, corresponding to higher levels of difficulty. Each contains a random modifier, and the more expensive the hunt we choose, the more difficult it will be. Our task is simple – eliminate opponents and the minor boss at the end. As a reward, we get shards and better gear. This is the best way to quickly obtain cool attire, get rich in upgrade resources, and develop the character.