Although Warhammer: Chaosbane releases in a little more than a month, I jumped at the chance of going hands-on with the latest closed beta build of the game and look into the grimdark fantasy setting of Games Workshop's long-running series of tabletop games. Developed by Eko Software, this is a somewhat new foray into the fantasy world of Warhammer. You may recognize the setting if you played either Vermintide or Total War: Warhammer, but Chaosbane is set at a slightly different time within the same universe. Chaos has risen once again in the north to challenge the Empire and its allies on every possible front. Through no fault of your own, Emperor Magnus is put under a deadly curse and it falls upon you (and your friends) to work together to clear out the heresy and save the Empire before it crumbles.
Much like Diablo, Chaosbane is an action-RPG with core mechanics that differ depending upon your chosen class. There's the Slayer, a dwarf hellbent on revenge and destroying his enemies, an Imperial Soldier who uses shielding and tactics, the Wood Elf Scout with her bow, poisons, and deadly traps, and the High Elf Mage with his repertoire of deadly magic. Each class has its own unique approach to combat and considering this is a cooperative game, each class pairs exceptionally well with each other. I'm sure a full party of four would be incredibly devastating given how each can tackle different aspects of the engagements.
I spent the bulk of my time with the Slayer, getting a strong sense of how the game operates. Generally these style of games are prevalent on PC, especially considering the sheer amount of buttons and hotkeys that can be used, but lately more and more of them have been making their way onto consoles. With that said, I never felt overwhelmed as the game smartly makes use of every button on your controller (I played the Xbox One version of the beta). Using the vengeful dwarf for example: the left thumbstick controlled movement, while, the four face buttons (A-B-X-Y), right trigger and right bumper powers your different abilities. Health potions are infinite, but have a recharge timer before you can use them again. Your special ability can be triggered using the left trigger. Since the Slayer is akin to your "barbarian" class, his focus on using Rage Charges builds over time, powering your abilities in the process.
Throughout the game, I snagged new pieces of loot and gear via chests and fallen foes. Loot comes in different qualities: common, uncommon, rare, etc. In typical fashion, the higher the tier, the better the stats will be. Although the game is going to include plenty of difficulty options, a must for games focusing on gear advancement, the beta wouldn't go any higher than hard, which wasn't too hard in my opinion. Chaosbane throws hordes and hordes of enemies at you, which is the perfect reason to bring a friend or two (or three). Abilities level up along with your character, but the higher level they are the more skill points they cost to equip.
While the game is nearing release, it's got the makings of an enjoyable cooperative experience. However, I did come across a few different glitches, namely invisible walls and the Xbox One version has terrible loading times. The inventory system can be daunting at first but swiftly becomes second nature as you play through the game's chapters. The UI does change depending upon if you are using a controller or a keyboard and mouse. Given the scope of the Warhammer universe, I'm sure there will be plenty of upcoming content for the game, further expanding its life for years to come.
Warhammer: Chaosbane is coming to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on May 31st for Magnus Edition and Digital Deluxe owners, and June 4th for everyone else from developer Eko Software and publisher Bigben Interactive. Fans of games like Diablo and Victor Vran will undoubtedly love the cooperative gameplay and a narrative deeply set within an intricately detailed universe consisting of demons, cultists, and more.