Move Over, Diablo, a New Chaos has Arrived.
As a youngster, my friends and I loved Diablo II. On our 56k modems, we dialed up our co-op action to slaughter and loot the devil’s beasts. It was one of the most memorable PC experiences for me, and I still look back fondly on those days of procedurally generated grinding sessions. Since then, there haven’t been many experiences that could match D2 – including Diablo III. Granted, there have been a few successful and popular looters (Destiny, for example) and other not-so-popular looters (Marvel’s Avengers and Anthem, anyone?). None of these, however, have had even the resemblance of a similar experience.
Enter Warhammer Chaosbane. First released on Xbox One and PS4 a few years ago, Warhammer Chaosbane is a top down looter RPG in the same vein as Diablo. On PS5, the loot based hack and slash features 4k, 60 frames per second gameplay that feels crisp and looks great while including all of the DLC content from the original experience, along with two new characters. In Chaosbane, you can play as one of six characters based on the classic Warhammer strategy game classes.
So what’s it all about?
After the Grand Master is abducted by agents of Chaos, your character is tasked with his rescue. But it isn’t as simple as that; you’ll need to track down the Chaos agents, battle hordes of daemons, and venture across the world to delve into how deep this conspiracy goes. You’ll scourge through the streets of Praag, the Frozen Forest of Knives in Norsca, Nuln, and more in order to do so. You’ll slaughter waves of enemies that range from rats to champion Chaos beasts and, of course, the lesser daemons and bosses.
For me, a good looter RPG consists of two main elements. One: is there enough variation in the aesthetics of the gear sets; and two: how customizable is my character? Warhammer: Chaosbane has gear in spades, and I felt like I continuously found new sets of armor. Heck, there was a fifth tier of gear I didn’t realize existed until I ended up with a green-designated body armor for my Witch Hunter, Haider (tiers are identifiable by color – gray, blue, yellow, red, green, respectively). You can routinely find gear as you pulverize the enemies, so you can feed into the stats you feel are the most important for your class or play style. Additionally, each character has an exorbitant amount of skills and and skill points to allocate, which allow you to create a character that caters to your play.
For example, when I did my second playthrough as Elessa, the Wood Elf Scout, I packed her with as much crit percentage and damage increases as I could while boosting the Dryads she can summon. She had the fortune to run through the game after Haider, who unlocked a few universal skills (increased loot quality drop, for example), so she found rare gear much earlier than he did. If this isn’t enough, toward the end of your first run, you’ll unlock Relic Hunts, which sets you in one of the settings and challenges you to blast your way through Chaos to slaughter the relic champion and discover mounds of heroic gear (this is also where I found the fifth tier gear).
That’s actually part of the beauty of Warhammer: Chaosbane – the amount of replayability the game offers. Not only will you find 12ish hours worth of mainline content (that excludes the DLC that is included) on your first playthrough, but the Boss Rush, Relic Hunts, Chaos Tower, and Invasions/Explorations offer you the chance to continue your spree of carnage while finding some awesome gear. Add to that the ability to increase you difficulty to Chaos 10, and you’ve got a game ripe with challenge (for the purpose of this review and my own trophy hunting, I did challenge and defeat a boss on Chaos 5 with my Legend level 35 Witch Hunter, and it certainly adds new layers to the fight).
On the technical side of things, Warhammer: Chaosbane is pretty to view and fun as hell to play. With its upgrade to 4k 60fps gameplay, the game runs entirely smooth. Stringing together attacks and performing your strategic game plan has never felt better in a looter/RPG like this – and it feels like a huge improvement from when I previewed the game on the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro before it launched originally. Sound direction, too, excels with solid voice acting and a pulsing soundtrack to match your adventures.
The biggest drawback of a game like Warhammer: Chaosbane is that, once you’ve run through the game once, new ventures will all feel the same. You’re still exploring the same maps with the same sets of enemies, and the process could certainly turn away more than a few interested parties. With that said, I’m well on my way to the platinum trophy for this game, and I’m having fun exploring the prowess of each of the character classes. I have Haider completed (he’s my relic hunt trophy hunter) and Elessa nearly done, with Konrad next on my list (I previewed the original game with him). Basically, if you’re a fan of looter/RPGs and Warhammer, you’ll probably have a blast with this one.
If you’ve recently purchased a PS5 or Xbox Series S/X, you might be pinched for cash. You might wonder if this game is worth the $60 price tag with a slew of other next gen titles available. My answer is: yes, it’s worth it. The question you should be asking is where you want to invest your time. In any case, Warhammer: Chaosbane is a welcome addition to my PS5 collection, and I’ll be playing it for a while after this review is published.