We recently got to take part in the Warhammer: Chaosbane beta on PC. Does the game do enough to impress, or did we leave disappointed? Check out this preview and find out.
Warhammer: Chaosbane Preview
Note that this coverage of the beta was done on PC.
Warhammer: Chaosbane is similar to the Diablo series and Champion of Norrath. In this title, players take on the role of a hero and face off against massive waves of enemies in instanced dungeons. For the beta, we could only play as Elontir the mage or Konrad the soldier. There is also a Dwarf Slayer and Elf Ranger, but they weren’t available at this time. Regardless of who you choose, you end up in the same place at the start. The future Emperor Magnus is under attack, and you have to rush to his aide. However, you arrive too late, and the Chaos Sorcerers have cursed Magnus. A high elf mage named Teclis wants you to help free him of the curse, and from there on your adventure begins.
Like any true medieval hack-and-slash action RPG, you start by going into the sewers to clear out some rabble. Gravitating toward Konrad (due to his emphasis on melee over range), we were able to attack dozens of enemies early on, clearing them out quickly with AoE moves. From there, mages that can poison and slow you and archers were added to the mix, leaving us guessing. Players can still AoE everything for the most part, but large enemies and mages start to take priority. Nothing saps your HP quicker than a poison/slow combo inside a horde of enemies.
The real reason you are butchering all these baddies isn’t for the quests, but rather for the loot. Put simply, Chaosbane floods you with loot during your trips down to the sewers. You get loot from killing enemies, looting chests, beating bosses, and occasionally for beating quests. It got to the point where I had to beat a mission before checking my gear; it drops so much. If you manage to survive, you get a buff that increases the loot you get as well. Want more loot? Add more players. More players increase the loot and add HP to enemies, but with more people, you also do a lot more damage. Even if the same character joins your game, they might have a different skill build than you.
The skill tree in Chaosbane allows you to power up specific skills at the cost of others. This means you can buff a spell or attack you enjoy, while leaving your basic attack at its base level. You have a set amount of skill points which increases as you level and by beating certain quests. If you have ten skill points, that means you can only enhance a skill that costs that much or less. You can blow them all on one strong ability or try a couple of weaker skills. The points are not removed permanently, allowing players to easily experiment with builds. Personally, I was all about the AoE damage so I could wreck weaker mobs, but I was weaker against boss mobs as a result. Mix and match to find what works for you.
My chief issue with the game currently is the sewers. I love the idea of starting in the sewers and working your way to more difficult areas. This does not mean I want to be in the sewers for every quest. You are in the sewers regularly during Act 1. The maps are not all the same, but they are all similar down there. Even missions that aren’t in the immediate area seem always to end up back down in the sewers. If we are spending that much time there in Act 1, I have a hard time believing there will be a massive variety of levels down the line.
Other issues reared their ugly head when I was looking for games. While you are in game, you can either search for online lobbies or open your game up for people to join. When I tried to find public games, it would occasionally lock, forcing me to restart. When joining from the main menu, I didn’t have these issues. There is currently no lobby system, so you might enter a game that is on a different quest than you are. Joining with friends is easy, and you can group up right after the tutorial mission.
Certain quests also brought minor issues. Sometimes you have to speak with Teclis after a mission, then talk to them again to start the next mission. However, after the quest is turned in, he moves, forcing players to find him again to proceed. This should be more streamlined to more quickly get you back into the action. A couple of crashes also popped up, mostly in co-op. A few sound bugs were present as well, making some sound effects much more loud compared to others.
We are cautiously optimistic about Warhammer: Chaosbane. It certainly has potential, but we won’t know how good it is until it releases on June 4.