Tuesday, 26 March 2019 04:52

Warhammer: Chaosbane Preview

Written by

Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

To Me, Sons of Sigmar!

Chaosbane takes you far back into the history of the Old World, over two hundred years before the cataclysmic End Times. Rather than setting you within the final years of the Warhammer Fantasy universe, as most of the recent titles have, Chaosbane drops you right into the illustrious rule of Emperor Magnus the Pious (Vermintide fans will find that name quite familiar.) Following the Great War and the defeat of the Chaos Everchosen Asavar Kul, the forces of Chaos bitterly seek to bring down the Emperor Magnus and undo all that he has done for mankind.

As one of four heroes, you will take the fight to Chaos under the guidance of the High Elf Archmage Techlis, seeking out those who would assassinate the Emperor and bring ruin to the Old World. The set up takes you far away from much of the established canon timeline in Warhammer lore, but that allows for Eko Software to put their own stamp on Warhammer lore to bring fans something fresh. With the narrative backdrop in place, Chaosbane sets you in the thick of things as a meaty and enjoyable dungeon crawler that is laced with love to the classic Diablo franchise while adding its own spin to the mix.

Grim and Dark

Games Workshop’s Warhammer franchise is well known for its over-dramatic and absurd level of gritty atmosphere. It’s a tongue-and-cheek setting where everything is awful and there’s only war at every corner. Even a trip to the ice cream store is likely to get you mugged, stabbed, crushed, mutated, and then probably shot for Chaos corruption. While still adhering to that general style that most dungeon crawlers adhere to, Chaosbane keeps true to the Warhammer Fantasy aesthetic, with its choice of baroque architecture with skulls and iconography built into the very stonework. It’s grimdark and it’s great.

It’s important to remember that this is a beta, but some of the design choices seemed a little off. Certain characters (mainly Techlis) feel as though they were given the wrong voice actor and several levels have visual designs that don’t make a whole lot of sense. The first couple levels of send you through a series of sewer paths underneath the human city of Nuln, yet there’s an incredibly odd amount of Dwarven shrines everywhere. I could maybe concede that the sewer system might have been built by dwarves, but it is still an Imperial structure and there’s just too many of the dwarf statues lying around. This is a mostly negligible concern, but one that might be a bit jarring for fans of the lore or even just players who notice the inconsistencies of aesthetic.

Something Old and Something New

Chaosbane gives you the opportunity to play four different playable characters, each with their own backstory — but stop me if you’ve heard these before: Empire Soldier, Dwarf Slayer, Wood Elf Ranger, and High Elf Mage. If three of these options sound familiar, then you’ve probably played Vermintide before. It’s a bit unfortunate to not see any new characters in the mix from most other Warhammer Fantasy titles, but each character makes up for it with their own personal background story and dialogue interactions with the NPCs.

Although the choice of characters is a bit lackluster in creativity, the available heroes to play were enjoyable and varied from one another in play style. The Empire Soldier was a solid tank that smashed his face against the closest enemy, while the High Elf Mage role was often occupied with avoiding any direct contact with enemies while burning them to a crisp with a dancing fireball roaming over the screen. The basics of the game are exactly what you’d expect from a dungeon crawler, with the expected sea of easily-killed enemies and identical loot for you to sift through. What offers promise, however, is Chaosbane’s dense skill tree that offers a host of active and defensive abilities, as well as passives. This should allow for players to kit out their hero with whatever ability they want to meet their own play style or build.

The Verdict: Promising Bones

Although a little sparse, the Beta for Warhammer: Chaosbane shows serious promise for what should become another solid title for Warhammer and dungeon crawler fans to pick up.

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Alexander Leleux

Alexander grew up with a controller in his hand and remains the annoyance of his gaming friends for being ‘that guy’ who continues to use one even when he’s playing on his PC. By day, he is a graduate student in medieval literature and a freelance writer. By night, he is an avid gamer, hobbyist, and victim of an unhealthy Warhammer addiction. With a passion for stories of all kinds, he firmly believes that video games are an excellent means of communicating a narrative and hopes to one day make his own mark on the Gaming Industry.


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