ARPG’s are a ton of fun. At least, I used to think they were fun a few years back. Lately, I haven’t had the best of luck enjoying them. I’m not sure why the fun levels have fallen away for me but they have recently become a lot more boring and repetitive. The Torchlight Franchise, Diablo 3, Path of Exile all feel the same and basically all play the same for me. Along came Warhammer: Chaosbane. It’s not that it’s the second coming of ARPG’s, but it’s at least a good start. Does it do anything different though? Isn’t it just as grindy? Doesn’t it have a lot of bugs like the reviews say? It’s not as black and white as some people have described it to be. Let me do my best to break it down for you.
Chaosbane is set in the “Old World”. I’m guessing that’s simply apposed to the 40k universe, I really don’t know the lore much. I do know that you’ll not be finding any awesome Space Marines or definitely killable Greenskins (I know, “shots fired”). It’s more of the medieval, fantasy setting with Dwarves, Elves and humans. (The Greenskins are apparently more 40k with Games Workshop titles… boy this gets confusing.) Traditional setups and such. Basically, you have a world at war and a divided land that is brought together by this monocled man named Magnus. He’s almost killed and your job is to hunt down the crazy mage that did it to him. Maybe you can save him and that means some baddies need to be hunted down and/or killed. That’s where you come in. You can deploy as Bragi Axebiter, the Dwarf Slayer (and obvious choice), a Wood Elf Waywatcher by the name of Elessa, the High Elf Mage Elontir or an Imperial Soldier named Konrad Vollen. Basically you’ve got a fighter, ranger, mage and tank respectively. There is actually quite the variety in the range of play between these four classes and after beating the game, I actually wanted to play though again with a different class… and so now I am.
Let’s jump into some of the negatives. I really enjoyed Bragi’s voice acting. It felt really spot on and super enjoyable. Your main mage companion Teclis has a snooty arrogance in his voice even though his character doesn’t act that way, but he’s an elf so they basically are born sounding that way. Voss is a Witch Hunter with a chip on his shoulder and seems to hate the world. His voice comes off as such and so then again, great job. Elessa, the Wood Elf’s voice is so soft and floaty that it kind of ruins the scene almost every time she speaks. It’s not that she does a horrible job for an elf, but she seems very out-of-place even though I love the story for her and playing as her. I haven’t started the other two, but I do plan on playing through as a Vollen, at least, as I enjoy tank classes. The other negative with the voice acting is when it’s off (which happened a bit when playing through Bragi’s story. Sometimes the words will not match up with what’s being said or they will skip dialogue (not on the players part, but will simply be missing a section of dialogue written below. It can be funny how they match up at times, but in the end it feels like a lot of this should have been caught before this was released. (I want to assume it would be an easy fix; please patch it guys!)
I’m a solo main when my personal friends don’t have the game so I didn’t partake in the Co-Oping with random people on-line. (I did enough of that in WoW.) I’ve heard that, while it was easy to connect with others, there we some issues, but I can’t address them personally. I can address two other issues that did pop up for me though. Most of the annoying bugs that I encountered were on bosses. Seriously, this is probably one of the worst times to have a bug pop up because the fights can get pretty intense. The third boss had a damage over time effect in the fight which doesn’t stop after the fight is over (pictured above) and the talking between main characters begins. Yup, I died after the fight ended and couldn’t use a potion because the controls were disabled for narrative purposes. After the talking stopped, the game told me to gather the loot and head out… but I was a corpse on the floor. I had to restart the fight and do it all over again. The last fight had the screen turn blue on me (pictured below) other than my character and the HUD. I could still hear noises and laughter, but, once again, I had to restart the fight from the beginning. All of this stuff was annoying, except for one main fact: I was having a ton of fun with the combat!
The combat in Chaosbane is very, very enjoyable. For the longest time I wasn’t able to put my finger on what was so different. On the surface, it plays much like every other game I mentioned at the beginning, but then what made this game so different? Then it dawned on me. I found the abilities to be much more fun. In other ARPG’s there are a lot of options to be sure, but not a lot of them appealed to me and I tended to use only left and right-click basic-button abilities and maybe one other move every now and then. That was basically it though. Here? I’m utilizing all of the moves that I can because they are a blast to use. None of them feel “extra” or like “filler” for bulking up the skill-tree. (I’m sure there are some that I consider filler, but there are so many good choices that the ones I don’t choose don’t stand out to me.) As you level, you get two additional versions of the same move that either get improved by increasing in strength or adding to the ability with more effects. With Bragi, I stuck with the second level of a spell because I didn’t like the change they did for the third tier version, but I also didn’t feel gimped for doing so. It was so nice to have so many viable and fun options whereas I don’t normally feel like that is the case. It’s also much the same way with Elessa, I’m happy to report. I’m still finding new ways to use the skills and having fun dispensing justice with them. Major kudos to the developers of the fighting mechanics here!
In the end, though, the story will end satisfactorily in about twelve to fifteen hours (with one run-through for one of the four characters). While traversing the world outside the towns/camps, you’ll notice that the levels in the specific areas are basically the same. I can understand why some people are bothered by this as many of us are more used to the randomly generated maps. That’s not part of the story here. You are in definite cities and wooded areas. When you leave out of the same door, you’ll find the same environment. It actually makes a ton of sense to have it done this way and I get the point of doing it so. You are saving specific areas of the Old World, not random portals to differing lands (although, the Expedition Mode gives you that randomness this after you clear a chapter or beat the game.) So the lack in area variety doesn’t bother me too much, but rather it’s the monster variety that I notice more. This is especially funky when the Steam page says that the game has “AN XXL BESTIARY with over 70 monsters” There are some reskins on some of the larger monsters and a handful of different little ones, but you’ll be seeing the same baddies from the first levels in the last levels. To be fair, there are new monsters in every zone. Visually it’s still weird; it really is. However, one could argue that the chaos horde is a mass of baddies so of course you would see some of the same enemies everywhere you find a horde of chaos minions… but there could have more individual variety. However, wherever you are, whoever’s face your blade meets, it’s still a joy to kill all of the things and that fact helps me gloss over a lot of the issues I have with the game.