Warhammer Chaosbane doesn’t wait to deliver good, gory fun

An action-RPG is supposedly defined by action. It’s right there on the genre’s tin. Yet most are strangely unwilling to throw more than three enemies at the player within the first hour. Diablo 3, even after its many updates, still isn’t much fun until you hit the level cap. Path of Exile is better, but even it waits a few hours before letting players get sucked in.

Leave it to a game in the Warhammer universe to break the mold. Chaosbane, a new action-RPG under development by BigBen (also responsible for the Warhammer 40K action-RPG Inquistior – Martyr) was happy to fling a horde of bounding baddies my way within the first 15 minutes, and I was equally pleased to slay them with a whirlwind of steel that sent my foes sailing through the air on gory contrails.

Now that’s what I like to see.

A quick start to the slaying

warhammer chaosbane beta hands on 2 screenshot 2019 03 11

Chaosbane is currently in closed beta. Unlike The Division 2, it felt like a “real” beta instead of a demo. It isn’t set for release until the end of May and still felt a bit rough (the game didn’t launch at the correct resolution, for example). Still, this feels like an action-RPG built on a firm foundation that could – with proper support – find itself slotting alongside Path of Exile and Diablo 3 in my ARPG rotation.

Let’s start with the basics. Chaosbane is a blast to play. The simple plot quickly brought me up to speed before letting me loose in a sewer to slay baddies gushing poison and chaotic energies. Enemies fell quickly to my attacks, which fluidly cut through opponents in a tornado of numbers.

I picked the Soldier class, one of two available for the beta, which I at first thought was a mistake. The mage certainly wins on pure spectacle. Still, I was won over by Chaosbane’s fluid movement and impactful attacks. Whirlwind was an early favorite. I love the way it chucks dead opponents through the air like party streamers.

I quickly earned other special attacks, like a banner that buffed me and my allies, and a taunt skill. Within an hour, I had a full roster of useful skills and happily used them to maximum effect, bouncing between enemies with a shield bash, taunting them into groups, and blending them with whirlwind.

That’s important. In fact, it’s the most important thing. Players are enjoying games for months, even years, and a Warhammer ARPG like Chaosbane could certainly support a long life. But first it has to nail the basics. I think Chaosbane does just that.

Where will these skill trees grow?

Skill progress in Chaosbane seems to take a modular approach that’s somewhat like Diablo 3, but with more customization. Skills are gained through leveling or unlocked with points and can be improved through upgrades.

Variety is the spice of slaying, and I liked what Chaosbane gave me in my short time with the beta. My Soldier felt like he had a proper build by level six, one that was fun to play solo but also could serve a tank-like role in a group. I also saw how customization might take the character down different paths by improving support skills, durability skills, or damage-dealing skills.

Tweaking skills will likely define builds in Chaosbane, but the developers also nod in Path of Exile’s direction with a dense “god skill tree” that adds passive benefits. These won’t feel meaningful on their own, but they could add up to big gains.

The customization options look promising. It’s a bummer, however, that they’re not explained well by the game, something that is sure to annoy its players. It’s also hard to say how Chaosbane will turn out by end-game, as I had only a few hours with the beta. BigBen’s previous title, Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor – Martyr, wasn’t well received by players and hasn’t enjoyed many updates.

Can Chaosbane disrupt the ARPG order?

The closed beta for Chaosbane is smooth, fast, fluid, brutal, and backed up by tons of character customization. Only time will tell if BigBen can build on that foundation. It’s certainly a great place to start, and Diablo 3’s lack of new updates has left room for a new ARPG to thrive.

Chaosbane will launch at $60 on June 4, 2019 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Upgrade packs are also available and offer early access though, as usual, I recommend waiting for the game’s full release.

Product Review

The Division 2 brings the most fun we've ever had to Washington, D.C.

After 55 hours with The Division 2, it’s clear that Ubisoft has improved on the original in almost every way. The world is richly detailed, the story missions are wonderful, gunplay and enemy design are great, and the endgame content is…

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.

Here's what we know about the Dark Souls developer's next game

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the latest game from Dark Souls and Bloodborne developer From Software. Here is everything we know about the new game, including its setting and combat changes.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild bug lets Link ignore temperature effects

A newly discovered bug in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild allows players to max out both hearts and stamina. The glitch also disables temperature effects such as the heat of Death Mountain and the cold of Hebra.

Report: Nintendo will release two new Switch models in 2019

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Nintendo will unveil two new Switch models at E3 and release them this year. One of the models will target hardcore gamers, while the other will be budget friendly.

Twitch streamer somehow beats Bloodborne, all the souls games without getting hit

A Twitch streamer named The Happy Hob has managed to play through all Dark Souls games, Demon's Souls, and Bloodborne in a row without getting hit a single time. He has been attempting the feat for months.

Here are the best items a Shinobi should buy in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a brutally challenging game that requires persistent focus and a lot close calls with death. You can make things a bit easier on yourself with by purchasing important items from vendors.

Here’s everything you need to know about MLB The Show 19

MLB The Show 19 launches on PlayStation 4 on March 26. If you're interested in finding out what's new in the latest iteration of the annual baseball sim, we've got all the details, from new gameplay mechanics to Road to the Show changes.

Newegg slashes prices on PS4 accessories and AAA games like Anthem

Newegg is currently offering big savings on a number of games for PS4 and Xbox One, including Anthem, Metro Exodus, The Division 2, and Kingdom Hearts 3. Accessories including headsets are also on sale.

Apple Arcade might be the new game subscription service worth signing up for

Apple Arcade will launch this fall bringing a new game-subscription service with cross-platform support for iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. At launch, the service will feature more than 100 exclusive games, with more added to the service regularly.

Fortnite World Cup kicks off April 13 with $1 million in weekly prizes

The Fortnite World Cup kicks off on April 13 with the start of Online Opens for solo play. $1 million in weekly prizes will be awarded during the Online Open Finals, so get practicing!

These Xbox One exclusives are the definition of quality over quantity

Xbox One has a prestigious collection of handpicked titles that you can't play on other consoles. Here are the latest and greatest Xbox One exclusives, including some that are also available on PC

From fatalities to new characters, here's what we know about Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat 11 releases April 23 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Here is everything we know about NetherRealm's latest fighting game, including its characters.