Set after Asavar Kul's defeated Chaos invasion, Warhammer: Chaosbane picks up in a world where the enemy is not truly defeated. While you're framed initially for cursing the king in his throne room, you're given a chance to head deep in the underbellies of the kingdom in an attempt to break the king's curse while also slaying hundreds of daemons, cultists, and worst.
Chaosbane, at its core, feels similar to other action-RPG and hack-and-slash titles, such as Diablo III, Grim Dawn and even Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. It's a perfect tried and true formula with plenty of foes to kill, tons of loot to steal, and a slew of abilities and skills to cause mayhem and destruction. Loot in these games always plays a significant role - you're only as strong as your weapon, you're only as defended as your shield (and armor). There are multiple slots for various types of weapons and armor pieces, all which vary between the different characters (classes). The Dwarven Slayer, for example, can equip two axes while the Empire Solider runs around with a sword/mace and shield combo.
That being said, the game offers four playable classes - High-Elf Mage, Empire Soldier, Dwarven Slayer, and a Wood Elf Scout. Considering each varies so wildly, it's only understandable there are plenty of differences in how each class plays. The soldier relies on his shield, acting as a tank-like class, stunning enemies and drawing their attention. The slayer is a pure damage dealer, throwing himself around and doling it out as fast as possible. The mage relies on massive damage output as well, filling the role as a glass-cannon, high damage output, but light in terms of armor protection. Lastly, the scout focuses on ranged attacks and setting traps, while moving around as swiftly as possible to kite enemies into the danger zone. Its quite the mix of traditional Warhammer class types, and when put together, the group can be quite punishing to your enemies.
The game revolves around your journey to break the king's curse and is littered with additional quests to uncover the mystery of the chaos-tainted world. The quests will take you from the sewers and forgotten streets of human cities to ancient Elven temples, and more. Completing these missions and slaying your way through hordes of cultists reward you with experience (XP), which in turn levels you up, giving you access to stronger skills and abilities. Playing on PlayStation 4, the skills are assigned to each of the four face buttons, as well as right trigger and shoulder button in whatever fashion you so choose. Leveling grants advanced versions of the skills as well as necessary skill points to keep you modifying your loadout over time. The better versions require more skill points to equip, but with only a limited amount, you'll need to juggle your abilities around. Essentially it means, you won't be entirely overpowered by level 15. Health potions are assigned to the left shoulder button with your Bloodlust ability on the left trigger. You won't have to worry about managing your health potions as it automatically recharges. Bloodlust, when used correctly, is the difference between life and death. Mistimed usage can leave you dead in a heap, so be sure to use it when the situation is dire.
Finally getting a chance to play online, post-release, I can easily both recommend it and throw out some caveats as to how it operates. From a pure gameplay standpoint, it seems to ramp up the difficulty when there are additional players, which is pretty awesome considering how beastly I felt in single-player. Additionally, loot is individualized, so no need to worry about someone stealing everything while you're busy taking on a daemon. The only things that didn't appear to be individualized were the red orbs that build your Berserker meter. I never once actually could collect enough (or anyone else that I saw) to activate it, so I'm guessing this might need a little tweaking if it's expected to be used.
But it's pretty wild otherwise to see multiples of the same character running around, especially when they're all damage dealing tanks. My only problem with online was the occasional connection problems. I run an Open NAT, and it took me four attempts and about 30 minutes of trying (including having to restart the game due to weird looping errors) to even connect once. And it was about 45 minutes into that session until we finally hit a full four-person party. Someone also had a terrible connection, somewhat freezing everyone in place while still progressing the game too? It was strange and made it impossible to play at that point, so I ended up closing shop, but otherwise, the online seems to be a solid, if you can avoid any type of connection issues.
Overall the game has everything operating as it should. My only chief complaints at this point would be some of the long load times, and the odd collision detection. There have also been a few smashed crates and barrels that have thrown my spoils into inaccessible areas or on platforms below me, requiring a bit of backtracking to gather everything up. Not a deal breaker, but certainly annoying. But the game captures the Warhammer Fantasy aesthetic to its absolute core with hulking, monstrous demons, jabbering cultists, and a holier-than-thou set of Elves that I instantly disliked.
An unabashedly fun title, Warhammer: Chaosbane slams itself into the nerve center of the hack-and-slash dungeon crawler genre dominated by titles like Diablo III, Path of Exile, and Victor Vran. I'm looking forward to seeing how the game operates online in a cooperative fashion, and with downloadable content plans already announced for the Season Pass, there will be plenty of new content from emotes, skills, companions, and even an entirely new story arc. Did someone say, Tomb Kings?
Update 6/13/19: Added additional information relating to the online functionality of the game.