All posts by Taylor Rodrigs

Warhammer: Chaosbane Review – PC

Warhammer Chaosbane feels like a game I’ve waited ten years to play and that’s a good thing. I’ve been holding a metaphorical torch for a Diablo 2 successor for a long time now, and after being disappointed in Diablo 3, I feel like I’m home once again. Warhammer: Chaosbane developed by Eko Software and Published by Bigben Interactive uses the Warhammer license to give us a decently filled lore campaign with each new act giving us a new location and enemies to plow through. Now I need to preface this review with the statement that I REALLY love the Warhammer franchise, be it Fantasy, 40k, even the occasional age of sigmar miniature. I love it and have over 3000 hours in various Warhammer titles, so there is some bias that I will try to quell as we dive into it.

Chaosbane has four characters to play from a Dwarf Slayer, an Empire Knight, a wood Elf Waywatcher, and a High Elf Mage. They fill out roles of a berserker, a tanky knight, archer and wizard respectively. Where the real fun comes in is the progression system. As you complete the games story mode for the first time you will quickly become enraptured in choosing your own difficulty with each higher difficulty tier giving you increased experience, loot quality and loot quantity, tailoring your builds to overcoming the challenges presented is going to be key in some higher difficulties, what worked in one tier, will probably be outclassed in another.

As you level up, your abilities will continue to improve and new abilities will unlock, while it will feel restrictive only having a few abilities early on, the pacing quickly picks up with upgrades to older skills, no ability feels useless after only a short while using it. Each character has a skill point limit for your ability load out and depending on the situation perhaps you want to use 2-3 very strong spells and use all of your skill points, or have the utility of 5-6 lower rank skills.

After a certain point in the game you will also unlock the “god favor system” which will allow you to spend the currency you have unlocked in game to give yourself passive stat boosts such as damage, health, energy regeneration and in some cases, negative bonuses with a huge positive boost to another stat. The favor system is interesting because if you’ve ever played Path of Exile, you’ll realize its exactly like their skill tree system with points you earn being able to progress towards your own path, the major difference is size, and I mean major. Where PoE has hundreds of ways to traverse the skill tree, from the time I spent with it I was able to fill up my skill tree and it made it seem like the choice didn’t matter if I could fill it all up and be done with it at a certain point.

That isn’t to say there isn’t any customization, You will absolutely need to mix and match your abilities because the forces of Chaos are here in full force and keeping everything at its lowest level will be detrimental as you progress due to your abilities ramping up not just in damage but effects such as giving you and your co-players energy regeneration to straight up damage buffs for the party. There are a ton of enemies from the Warhammer franchise to fight off and if it wasn’t for knowledge that I have earned in my ridiculous hours of Warhammer playing I probably wouldn’t have expected half the things we encountered while progressing through the acts. the Warhammer fans will be happy to see the variety on display with examples such as nurglings, chaos spawns, Jabberslythes, ungors, Bloodletters and even more. The new players diving into Warhammer for their first time shouldn’t feel left out either because if you’ve ever played any sort of ARPG you’ll know who the bad guys are as soon as you see them.

Just like the Diablo franchise this game is best played with friends, fellow writer for the Site Oscar Perez and I loved our time playing together, where I have thousands of hours in the Warhammer franchise, Oscar probably has as much in Diablo so it was a good mix to get both sets of eyes on this new adventure. One great part of the co-op play is that you can plug into Xbox or PS4 controllers to your PC and play in a couch co-op mode where you all control a character on the same screen

Speaking of adventure, you start the game adventuring through slums and sewers trying to find the cause of the chaos and pestilence that has recently risen to being thrown into the streets of Praag as they burn to the ground. The Warhammer: Chaosbane story takes place about 200 years before the emperor himself, Karl Franz, makes an appearance so it deals a lot with characters in their early history such as Teclis and Magnous, names that may not seem like much to you but to me was a throwback to Warhammer lore at its finest. Each act is broken down into quests given by NPCs you talk to throughout the campaign in a very linear but satisfying fashion, basically, you get to fight against chaos gods trying to corrupt our world and their vassals.

Once you progress far enough in the story you’ll unlock additional game modes called Expedition and Boss Rush, as of this writing we have played expedition and can probably best compare it to the adventure mode in Diablo 3, you enter an area and have a specific event or quest you must complete for a nice cache of rewards. Boss rush mode from what my understanding was is that you get to fight against bosses you’ve already encountered and essentially farm them for rewards. As of now there is no ranking system or anything to really compare yourself against others but I’m sure it will be added in a future release.

You don’t have to be a Warhammer fan to enjoy some aspects of Chaosbane and I really enjoyed some of the visuals that we encountered through the first few acts. In particular there is a chapel area with amazing looking stained glass windows that really stood to me while we progressed, I also enjoyed the aesthetic of an underground waterfall we had to cross while delving in the deep city sewers, not that I want to know what the waterfall consisted of considering our location but it looked visually appealing at least. The acts varied as I stated from sewer caverns to streets of fire but I know that later acts will take us far north as well and I am hoping they all have their own nugget that stands out.

I wish I could say the same for the voice acting. Sometimes it was pretty good with characters such as Teclis having what I consider a voice befitting someone of his stature but other times, particularly in our characters they just sounded off, the wood elf in particular sounded like a haggard old woman who grew up in the streets of Boston or something, not the young vibrant adventurer she is made out to be. I have no complaints about the ambient sounds and music that we heard, I found it quite befitting and it did a pretty good job of keeping up with the tone of the story we were on.

Now that I’ve spent most of the review talking about how awesome everything is, let’s talk about some downsides. How important they are to you personally will vary but I’ll list them off. The graphics options are basic to say the least, no anti-aliasing, shadow options, or graphics options beyond screen resolution, windowed yes/no and v-sync off and on. There will be inevitable bugs, while none were game breaking there were a few occasions we were forced to leave and join a level because a script didn’t run breaking the level. Lastly there is the price, I don’t think $50 is an unreasonable price, the magnus edition is $70 and includes a season pass that remains to be seen if it’s worth it. That said, my complaints are far and few between. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the story mode thus far and am excited to play through adventure mode with my friends.

While you may want to take this fanboy’s recommendation with a grain of salt, I think the game is worth picking up even if it could use some quality of life improvements to the PC version. Warhammer Chaosbane released May 31st on PC, Xbox and PS4.

Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection Review – PlayStation 4

Persona is a world renowned Japanese RPG series that is developed by Atlas. The latest in the franchise is their “Dancing” series, while Persona 4: Dancing all night was released for the PS Vita in 2015 the Endless Night Collection brings it over to PS4 as well as adding 2 new additional games with Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight and Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight. Persona 3: DIM and Persona 5: DIS are very similar games and I will be talking about them together after covering the differences between it and Persona 4: DAN.

The main difference between all of the titles is their respective “Story” modes; story is in quotes because as this is a rhythm game story isn’t necessarily the primary purpose of the gameplay, but it something that I imagine most Persona fans will at least have some interest. In Persona 4: DAN you unlock songs and progress through a story mode that is light on actual plot and is more just a vehicle to get you to play the songs in the first place. The downside being that there can be long periods of reading in-between game-play segments that only last 2-5 minutes. That is truly the only big downside however, the music and their respective remixes for Persona 4’s soundtrack are enjoyable and the gameplay is exactly what you would expect from a rhythm game, I didn’t often feel the game ‘cheated’ me in any way with regards to missed notes or bad controls.

That is where the differences end really. In Persona 5: DIS and Persona 3: DIM they have resolved the issues listed above. They have removed the forced story mode and replaced it with a guitar hero style progression system of playing 4 songs, which unlocks a “Gatekeeper” song that when completed unlocks your next 4 songs and so on. That isn’t to say that they’ve completely removed the story and plot, but rather made it so that completing the songs will unlock social link conversations that you can enjoy at your own pace. They’ll still be there at the end of the game so you can do them as they come or simply all at once if you are worried you’ll forget the context over several sessions.

Those improvements aside it does not seem to have changed the fact that the plot is mostly there just to give fans more time with the cast of each respective game. While you shouldn’t expect any crazy revelations about a character, there are plenty of times I found myself laughing out loud which is certainly a plus.

Something veterans of the series will appreciate are updated character models for the Persona 3 characters whose most recent flagship title was on the PS2. To go right along with all of those updated models are costumes and props for every single character. As you progress you can unlock a variety of different outfits such as school uniforms from their respective games, glasses, headphones and fan favorite seasonal clothing. Not only do you have the cosmetics but there are additional modifiers you can unlock to apply to a song as well to make it more difficult or easier if needed, such as not being able to fail a song or the song even failing if you miss a single note.  There seemed to be at least 4-5 different cosmetic slots for plenty of customization if that is your thing.

Then we have the music itself. How much you’ll enjoy the soundtrack of each version of the game will largely influence how much fun you have. I really like Persona 3 and 4’s soundtracks but have almost no experience with Persona 5. While it didn’t stop me from having a good time and progressing through Persona 5: DIS, the familiarity of previous soundtracks definitely made it easier to jump right in. Speaking of those soundtracks however; one thing that did detract from the experience for me was that there are many instances of songs being repeated but remixed differently or by a different artist. It isn’t inherently a problem if you like a given song enough, but there are bound to be tracks that you will not like and having to play the same song you don’t like three different ways likely won’t change your opinion on it.

Ultimately Persona 3:DIM and Persona 5: DIS have improved on the design of Persona 4 Dancing all night, if you love the Persona franchise to death and need to get an extra fix these games will certainly scratch that itch. Persona 3:DIM and Persona 5:DIS are $59.99 on PS4 and 39.99 on PSVita. If you are a PS4 player who never experienced Persona 4 Dancing all night the Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection will allow you to play it as well as the two newcomers on your PS4. Overall I would rate the collection a 4.5 /5. The official release date is December 4, 2018. If you like the Persona Franchise and you like rhythm games I think you’ll find it hard to go wrong with this series.

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Valkyria Chronicles 4 Review – PC

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a turn based strategy game, where you control a squad of soldiers fighting for the “Atlantic Federation“, and the “Autocratic Eastern Imperial Alliance” filling in for the Allies and Axis respectively.  Claude is the main character, but you’ll quickly get to know all of the strengths and weaknesses of Squad E’s members. They will be an essential part to overcoming the battle ahead. Not all of the traits will necessarily be positive, but they do add to the immersion as you take time learn their traits.  Keigel is an otherwise solid anti-tank unit (Lancer) is susceptible to losing some of his action points [Ability to move and act] if he approaches a downed solider. At least in my experience troops can go down quickly, but it adds all the more to the satisfaction when you play through a level just right and make sure everyone gets out alive.

For those uninitiated with the series, Valkyria Chronicles plays in “Chapters” which will either be a short cutscene or a battle scenario. An example would be 2-4 chapters of story taking up 5-15 minutes depending on your reading speed and the amount of dialogue and/or text followed by a combat scenario. If you weren’t aware you should know to expect some of the usual anime tropes, unsolicited sexual advances, followed by getting smashed in the face, a trapped character that is a woman in all but bio text and so on. They even added a Beach DLC episode that sadly wasn’t included with this copy of the game. It wasn’t an issue for me but don’t expect a gritty and realistic portrayal of war. It’s like playing an alternate history WW2 anime and frankly it’s pretty fun for what it is.

The scenarios play out with you selecting a small group to deploy to an area and as they are injured you can rescue them with another unit and bring in reinforcements with certain capture points.  There are several classes with their own niches, Shock-trooper, Grenadier, Engineer, Scout, Lancer and lastly Sniper.  Personally my favorites have to be the Grenadier and the Sniper. They are great for clearing the way for your scouts and shock-troopers. It’s easy to get into the swing of things early on, although the tutorial can drag on at times, there are constantly new toys or soldiers introduced into the game to keep things interesting. Not to mention that traits on your characters will actually change as the game’s plot advances. You’ll quickly learn positioning and tactics thanks to very clear cause and effect relationships in the game-play. Keeping your troops facing towards the enemy behind cover and if possible, with their besties, will do wonders as they fire at incoming enemies on the opponents turn and sometimes even duck out of the way of incoming shots.

Each turn will involve you choosing one of your deployed soldiers and running them around the map. Clicking on a character puts you into a 3rd person over the shoulder camera with a meter showing how far you can move. Strafing and management of your action points is important when there are landmines and mortars to worry over.  Unfortunately it isn’t all sun and rainbows.  There are levels that had certain scripted events where gameplay would get clunky because the enemies might be scripted to not move past a certain point in the level. I was left guessing at times what route or actions was I intended to take in order to advance due to running into effective stonewalls in the level. Thankfully there are small things like the polish on the menus, occasionally hilarious dialogue and humorous ragdoll animations to appreciate as well.

The game sports a very stylized art style via what the developers call “The CANVAS Engine “, which I personally enjoy quite a lot. I think it will keep the game looking good long after its release date. While this game is multi-platform this certainly isn’t a rushed PC port. There is a decent amount of visual options and resolutions. Although the English audio is satisfactory with the exception of a character here and there the option for Japanese audio is always available if you are so inclined. It plays pretty well with a controller as well if you want to lean back and relax. There is controller support for Xbox 360, Xbox One, and DualShock 4 as well.

Overall I liked the game design, and the trait system makes for some very entertaining units. The art style just goes very well with this kind of game. If the anime style plotline was just slightly better I could see this getting a better score, but for where it’s at I believe this is as good as its going to get.

Screenshot Gallery

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