Warhammer Chaosbane Impressions

I sat down with the Warhammer Chaosbane private beta during the weekend it was on, and managed to get just under two hours in. Now I have played plenty of these types of games before, Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance 1 & 2, Diablo 1-3, Champions of Norrath, Path of Exile, Torchlight, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 & 2, Sacred 2 and Titan Quest. So I like to think I have some experience with the genre.

One thing that you can notice immediately is that the setting takes a break from the End Times and the time of Karl Franz. It is based during the time of Magnus the Pious who united the empire against Asavar Kul, which is a while before the time that the likes of Warhammer Fantasy and Vermintide take place in. The change of setting is neat and makes for a nice new story. The story is shaping up to be really cool, but I will get to that later.

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/warhammerfb/images/5/57/Capturedfsd.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20131118010750
Magnus in all his glory.

Now what isn’t new are the character choices, Imperial Soldier, High Elf Mage, Dwarf Slayer and Wood Elf Ranger, where have I seen that before? Probably everywhere. I don’t fault the developers for these choices as they are iconic roles that compliment each other very well, but I always want to see more unique things. A Warrior Priest, Witch Hunter, a White Lion of Chrace, a Swordmaster of Hoeth, Dwarf Runesmith, Bretonnian Knight, things like that. Dwarf Slayer is probably the most unique of them and I can always applaud that, as well as the High Elf to some degree cause I love High Elves in the Warhammer Fantasy setting. Also some people might point out these were lots of the things that were playable in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, to which I have to say, yes they were and it is too bad that game isn’t around anymore. That is a whole other thing though..

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/warhammerfb/images/2/2e/Warhammer_White_Lion_of_Chrace.png/revision/latest?cb=20161209000702
White Lion of Chrace

The other issue I find is the lack of equipment diversity, something about the Imperial Soldier not being able to wield a great sword sits wrong with me. Of course there is build diversity with skills, but equipment goes a long way in games like this, so you want to see as many different weapon options as possible without overkill. While I was playing I was definitely driven to get all the loot I could, so it wasn’t a BIG issue, it was that I just wanted more options. However, I don’t want to sell short the amount of skills and powers available though because there are a lot that sound like lots of fun later.

Those two points are my only real critiques and that’s all they are, they aren’t what I would really call negatives. As for positives the combat itself flows nicely and is satisfying. The two classes available for the private beta, Imperial Soldier and High Elf Mage, both were fun with the Mage being the best for me. Flinging spells will always be more than just being the dude with a sword who can hit them in slightly different ways, but that is just me. The classes all have their unique skill mapped to the space bar by default, the Mage lets you manually direct spells which can let you really blow up specific enemies. This was a fun mechanic for the Mage and definitely helped to keep me going. The game looks and feels good, as well as being completely Warhammer in all of its facets. The combat in general is quick and satisfying, giving you just enough enemies to feel powerful as you carve through groups of them.

My greatest compliment I can give this game is that I love how the story is presented with the art style and narration of the cut scenes. They look and sound phenomenal, I absolutely adore them.

Honestly the voice acting and story telling is very compelling to me. The story for the Imperial Soldier was honestly so awesome and appealed to me in so many ways, too bad I couldn’t get into his game play as much as I got into the Mage. I just hope the game has so much of this story telling because I just love the way it is presented. The launch unfortunately has the different editions that get you different levels of access to the game which is something that I have never liked when it comes to releases. It isn’t a big deal though, and nothing to really be complained about though since you see it everywhere.

Choices, choices, choices.

In conclusion I think this game has lots of potential, but I honestly find it hard to commit to at its price point ($66.99 CAD.) Honestly I want to say it is wholly worth this price point, but with so many competitors in the genre it can be a hard sell, especially when it feels like it doesn’t do all that much for new experiences since you can be the Imperial Soldier or Wood Elf Ranger archetypes in so many other places. If you are a massive Warhammer Fantasy fan I would definitely recommend it especially if you like these kinds of games because the setting and storytelling is just top notch.  I hope to see something that really pushes me onto the ‘must purchase’ side, but it would definitely help if my friends also got it… though the playing with friends argument can make ANY game better. Warhammer Chaosbane could be a really awesome experience, especially with the awesome storytelling, but time will tell if it is worth the price point.

 

Vermintide 2: Electric Boogaloo the Review

So recently Vermintide 2 came out, and if you were wondering if it was any good I have your answer right here.

Yes it is good, very good. Why is it good though? Well for a number of reasons, but to start I will say if you like the Left 4 Dead style and like Warhammer then this is the experience for you. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

The Setting

To start I’ll set the mood, it is a time of desperation and destruction as the end of the old world nears. Now if you ask most people they will say they loved the End Times setting and book series both, as it took risks that were never before taken pushing Warhammer Fantasy to its brink (too bad Age of Sigmar can’t capture any of this.) So this is where Vermintide 1 and 2 are set as the inevitable end comes, but that doesn’t stop you from trying to prevent it as you parade through razed towns, sewers, chaos worshiper camps, etc. The desperation of the end times are visible in all the maps and they capture it beautifully. Despite usually having so many enemies and things going on at a time everything still manages to look really good, with some breath taking areas.

The Characters

So I found the five characters in the Vermintide games to be somewhat interesting and their banter is entertaining (save for the incredibly annoying elf Kerillian,) always having something to say to fit the situation. The spread of archetypes are sure to give you one that you fancy, and although it starts to feel somewhat cramped when you get a full group of people who want to play different things from time to time, all the characters bring enough variety to be enjoyable to play. They all have different weapons, three different sub-classes with their own talent trees and skills (passive and active both) that give a plentiful amount of options to play with. For example Markus Kruber the former Imperial sergeant has the three sub-classes; 1) Mercenary dedicated to chopping up groups of enemies while having a war cry that gives the whole team temporary health, 2) Huntsman with a focus on ranged weapons that has a stealth ability allowing for better positioning or just an easy way to save allies, and 3) the Foot Knight who has more durability, more blocking stamina, a damage reduction aura, and a charge ability that allows you to move through groups of enemies at a time. Then as I mentioned before those each have their own talent trees that unlock as you level up. So the characters are varied, have progression and have a variety of play-styles within the weapons/talents that almost guarantee you find something you enjoy. Also as a fun tidbit all the sub-classes have a bit of backstory that pending which you play reflects how the character changed after the first game, neat.

The Equipment

Now normally I wouldn’t call the equipment in a game a big selling point, but here I feel like it really is, because you are constantly trying to get that ideal equipment as you climb the difficulties and become stronger. To earn equipment you have the rewards system or the crafting system, the rewards system gives you chests at the end of missions and when you level up. The end of missions rewards which pending your accumulative level, what difficulty you earn them on, and fulfilling certain objectives. The crafting allows you to dismantle old equipment for scrap allowing to craft whatever you want out of blueprints that you unlock as you go along. Here we have a “power level” system which combines your level with the values of your equipment determining your  overall strength. I think it’s a good system that you don’t have to grind for the weapons that do the most damage (as your damage is determined by the power and the type of weapon,) but find the traits and qualities you want most in a weapon instead of the damage vs traits dance that often ends up happening in those scenarios.

As I mentioned before the weapons have lots of variety, and are different for each character. So for the Witch Hunter if you want something to cleave through lots of enemies you take a falchion, if you want some armour piercing go for the battle axe, or if you want something in-between you will take the rapier. The ranged weapons you take alongside the melee weapons adds more variety, want to snipe out enemies from a distance? Use a crossbow. Like the crossbow’s range but hate the reload? Take the repeater crossbow. This is just still using the Witch Hunter example, with still more weapon types and it being like this for all five characters. All in all there is lots of play-styles you can utilize with the weapons that fit all types of scenarios. There is also a risk reward system that has you collect tomes and grimoires throughout the maps that give you better items at the end of a successful game, but they will also hinder you, best example being the grimoires that reduce your maximum health making it harder to survive in the battles to come.

The drive to get newer equipment is quite enticing and keeps you coming back.

Enemy varieties

In any game ever the enemies that are featured have to be interesting, satisfying to face, and varied enough that you don’t get bored halfway through, so in other words they have to be engaging enough for you to want to engage them. In the first game it was just Skaven with their array of enemy types, Clanrats/slaves that swarm, Gutter Runners that ambush you, Packmasters that rope you up and drag you off, Ratling Gunners that shoot a warp-stone mini gun at you, and more, so the Skaven alone had a lot of variety in themselves. Adding the followers of chaos into the mix adds even greater amounts of variety the compliment the Skaven; you got the Leech who isolates allies and leeches their health, the Blightstormer who creates plague tornadoes to toss you around, Berserkers who hit hard, Chaos Warriors who are mountains of metal that inflict great amounts of damage, and those are just a few examples. The most basic chaos follower enemies are tougher than the basic Skaven so them thrown into a horde changes things up, especially if they have those pesky shields. The enemies also never attack in the same places or same ways (save for some scripted events) making each run different from the last.

The Combat

The combat in this game is so utterly and viscerally satisfying that it is hard to have a bad time playing it (unless off course chopping the limbs off enemies isn’t something you enjoy.) The mechanics are pretty good too, with being able to dodge, block, push, and chop your way to victory. As I mentioned prior there are many types of equipment to use to get the job so you can address fights in many different ways that can all get the job done. Again it is REALLY SATISFYING to fight all these enemies and come out on top after a brutal battle.

Price Point

So $33 CAD is what it costs for people in Canada, which for a game that will last you a while is a pretty big selling point especially in an era where new games cost upwards 70-80$. To get a quality game for less than half the price of something like EAfront 2 or Destiny 2 or any other crap that a AAA developer puts out is well worth it.

So in Conclusion

If you like action RPGs or Warhammer, or Left 4 Dead horde survival style, with some visceral combat involved then this is the game for you. It is very fun, has lots of replay value and again for $30ish you cannot go wrong. It is also a great co-op game if you can manage to find enough friends to fill the ranks, so a big plus with that.

Also as a bonus have some of my personal game-play from the pre-order beta here:

And then some more recent stuff: