Warhammer: Chaosbane is a brand new dungeon crawler being published by BigBen Interactive and developed by Eko Studios. As the name suggests this game lets the player dive head first into the Warhammer universe to play as a famous character from the mythos.
“In Warhammer: Chaosbane, the player will be plunged into the middle of Old World history as they embody a human, a high elf, a wood elf, or a dwarf and discover several iconic locations such as the cursed city of Praag, or Nuln, the old capital of the Empire. This adaptation of the franchise will be the first Action-RPG to take place in the Warhammer Fantasy world. The game takes place in the Old World, a dark and bloody continent devastated by wars against Chaos.”
Dungeon crawler/loot based role-playing games are a genre that I find myself immensely drawn to. Regardless of the lore or character design I am willing to pick them up. When Chaosbane popped up onto my radar I was immediately drawn to the gameplay as well as the lore heavy focus. Warhammer has been a series that I have always kept at arm’s length, whether because building and painting models is overwhelming or because strategy games have never been of interest (see Total War: Warhammer), but finally the world comes to one of my favorite genres.
Getting right into the beta I was immediately struck with a strange sense of familiarity. It is not hard to see where Warhammer has chosen to pull inspiration from and it shines through. I was immediately thrown into the story as a war hero who was cast from his home and is desperately seeking a way to find redemption. An interesting choice is that the class the player chooses to play as has a defined character from the Warhammer universe and does not have customizable options. This means that in the beta if you want to play as a female character your choices are limited to the wood elf and only the wood elf. This is an odd choice given most dungeon crawlers allow for intense character customization but it is a risk I enjoyed as it allowed me to feel more involved in the story. NPCs address your character by name and not just an awkward pause or generic “adventurer” or “hero”. Whether Warhammer expands their class option to include characters of many races and genders to fill the roles of warriors, mages, and archers remains to be seen.
The gameplay of the beta was satisfying. I found myself quickly pulled into the story and enjoyed the dialog but the control scheme is where the game truly shines. the players have the ability to map their attack and spells to which ever button feels most comfortable. This allows for a truly custom experience and is another layer of immersion for the players. Games in the genre require great controls and a fun gameplay experience to battle the common complaint that the dungeons can begin to feel repetitive. I can say with Warhammer: Chaosbane I was left wanting more areas to explore and more dungeons to loot. The gameplay only gets better as you are able to have 4 player local co-op. Though there were minor glitches here and there for the majority of the gameplay I ascribed these to it being still in beta and I eagerly look forward to the full release.
The overall art and world of Warhammer is something I hadn’t seen prior to playing Warhammer: Chaosbane and it makes me want to know more about the lands of the Empire and seen the cursed city of Praag. But while the backgrounds, enemy models, and dungeon textures have life, the cutscenes were a bit sparse – at times my character model would run into an empty room and pause only to have the screen transition to a hand drawn style animated cutscene. This was something I found personally jarring and reminiscent of early 2000’s rpgs. I also ran into a game breaking bug while I was playing through my second play-through. I had reached the end of the prologue and while trying to skip the cutscene, my dialog stopped but the animation of the cutscene kept playing. I chalked this up to the beta and let the scene end, but the NPC required to continue the quest did not spawn and I was stuck in the prologue hub world. This was not a big problem as I only completed a small portion of the game but hopefully this is something that is patched out, come the full release.
Overall Warhammer: Chaosbane left me wanting not only more dungeons but also a craving for more lore around the world as well as my character. To find out if my exiled prince/mage will ever be allowed home, I will have to wait to find out as Warhammer: Chaosbane is released later this year.