By Sigmar! This Warhammer game is guilty of the sin of merely being decent.
Imagine you’ve got a good friend. Now imagine your friend moves away and you start hanging out with their younger sibling. It’s like hanging out with your friend, but also not because you don’t know them as well as you do their older sibling, and you also don’t have a history together.
Then the younger sibling moves away, so you’re stuck hanging with their cousin. You like their cousin, they’re a decent person and all that, but you’re probably going to be comparing them to their relatives, even if just subsconsciously.
There’s the problem: If you’d met the cousin to begin with, you’d probably have really liked them on their own merits.
If it’s not obvious: In this analogy, the good friend is Diablo II, their younger sibling is Diablo III, and their cousin is (wait for this you won’t see it coming) Warhammer: Chaosbane.
According to the Steam storefront, Warhammer: Chaosbane can be described like this: ‘In a world ravaged by war and dominated by magic, you must rise up to face the Chaos hordes. Playing solo or with up to four players in local or online co-op, choose a hero from four character classes and prepare for epic battles wielding some of the most powerful artefacts of the Old World.’
All I’d add is that it’s a Diablo-like Action-CRPG. In other words, there are statistics for each character but the focus of the game is on combat.
Like every game, it has good and not-so-good qualities. Let’s discuss them, shall we?
The Case Against Warhammer: Chaosbane
Let’s get this out of the way right up front: The DLC for the game is, for the most part, laughable.
There are multiple character emotes available in various DLC packs for the game, but you can only equip one at a time? They’re joking, surely.
USD 5$ for a 5% Gold Boost? Now I KNOW they’re joking. They MUST be.
USD 5$ for a 5% Experience Boost? Oh wait, jokes have punchlines, don’t they? I guess they must be serious after all.
The game itself is apparently also quite short (I haven’t finished it yet) and according to the Steam forums, the endgame isn’t much good. It’s apparently just replayable sections of the base game chopped up and delivered to the player via different game modes.
The game also isn’t very innovative. Imagine if your friend from the opening analogy wore random streetwear, but their cousin wore brand-name streetwear. That’s how this feels: It’s just a better-looking Diablo game but with official Warhammer artwork used for the graphics.
Assuming that the Steam forums and reviews aren’t lying and there’s only 10-20 hours of play, the game is very over-priced. Say what you like about Diablo III (I know I do) but it’s decent value for money.
Also, it has cutscenes. Cutscenes have no meaningful place in action games.
The Case For Warhammer: Chaosbane
The first issue discussed above is the overpriced and useless DLC. The only DLC which actually has any real effect on the game is Tomb Kings, which adds a new campaign arc and enemies.
This is actually a blessing in disguise. Let’s take the gold and XP boosts for example: They’re useless. You don’t need to buy them.
In fact, assuming you keep playing the same character and don’t swap between them like I did, you’ll get a 20% boost to your gold and XP in your first two hours of play. And sure, the DLC boost and the free in-game boosts stack, but the extra 5% doesn’t really affect the gameplay experience.
Whether intentional or not, most of the Warhammer: Chaosbane DLC creates a similar vibe to the various ‘Supporter Packs’ produced by many indie game developers: Buying them won’t really affect your gameplay, they’re just a way to show your support.
Regardless of their Warhammer licence, the France-based developers, Eko Software, could actually qualify as indie. In fact, they’re probably most well-known for the aptly-titled zombie killfest Action-RPG series ‘How To Survive’.
Finding that out actually changed things for me. I’m a huge fan of the How To Survive series, and that actually has similar DLC that affects the gameplay. I still don’t know how I feel about that, but at least they’re not charging through the nose for basic skillsets. I’m looking directly at you, DC Universe Online.
Now let’s look at my earlier sentence: ‘It’s apparently just replayable sections of the base game chopped up and delivered to the player via different game modes.’
The thing is, that also describes the awesome endgame for the Batman Arkham series, which is why I still play them to this day. In fact, that’s my favourite kind of endgame content: Challenge modes.
And sure, it’s not innovative, but it IS good at what it does. The same could be said of any punk-variant band. There are people who don’t like The Sex Pistols or GG Allin and the Murder Junkies (who are both first-wave punk bands) but do like Green Day, The Offpsring, or My Chemical Romance. Hell, even Billie Eilish qualifies as punk.
Warhammer: Chaosbane is Billie Eilish, you heard it here first!
I’m not going to defend the game being short, but I will defend the value for money. This is pretty cheeky of me because I got the game on sale for $30, but I’m happy with my value for money so far. My game-value rule of thumb is simple: I expect 1 hour of entertainment for every dollar of the asking price. I’m a third of the way through the game itself, and I’m about 10 hours in, so I’m on track, value-wise.
Finally, sure there are cutscenes, and those cutscenes really do drag on – but the motion comics look old-timey (which is awesome) and you can skip the cutscenes.
Warhammer: Chaosbane – Recommened (but only on sale)
Warhammer: Chaosbane, like the cousin in the opening analogy, might be unfairly judged due to preconceptions about what to expect from the family (of games) it belongs to. Sure, it’s not ground-breaking – but should it be punished for simply ‘being a decent game’?
I’m enjoying running around the Warhammer universe, defeating various Chaos foes such as the classic Warhammer Chaos unit, the Chaos Spawn. I’m also enjoying using all the different classes, and seeing how their skills can be used.
Sure, Warhammer: Chasobane isn’t Diablo – but it’s also not some low-effort asset flip either.
If you’re interested in Warhammer: Chaosbane and you see it on sale, you could do a lot worse than to pick it up!