Heroes of Hammerwatch
Genre: Roguelike, RPG, Hack & Slash, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Age Rating: 12
Release Date: 30/07/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Heroes of Hammerwatch is set within the same universe as 2017’s Hammerwatch. With the original release of Hammerwatch developer Crackshell delivered a game with satisfying combat and progression with a great pick-up and play style, whilst also catering to those of us who strive for a greater challenge.
Heroes of Hammerwatch is more of the same thing set within the same universe. This time, however, we are tasked with guiding our hero through the land to the Forsaken Spire. This is no easy task as each location visited is filled with creatures and bosses, who are more than ready to send us to an early grave.
Heroes of Hammerwatch also features online co-op for up to three players, so friends can team-up to loot and conquer the tower together. The game’s gameplay is very reminiscent of the more traditional rogue-lite games on the market, but it has been implemented in a way that feels fresh and satisfying.
Heroes of Hammerwatch is your typical rogue-lite affair and we start our journey with very basic weapons and abilities. As we progress through the procedurally generated dungeons we have the option to slowly build upon our skills as well as add to our ever-increasing pile of loot. Loot also acts as the game’s currency and you will be buying and selling equipment often to then travel further to our goal of the Forsaken Tower. It’s a rewarding experience as we see our character gains strength and then gain more distance through each subsequent run.
We have a variety of character classes to choose from at the start which includes your typical RPG archetypes, such as Paladin, Warlock and Ranger. The ultimate edition also includes the Witch Hunter class which is unlocked from the start, so there is something to suit everyone’s individual playstyle. I chose the Paladin as my starting class and felt right at home utilising its close-range melee attacks to hack and slash my way through the world.
Heroes of Hammerwatch: Ultimate Edition runs on the same fundamentals that made the original Hammerwatch a success. With the main concept hidden behind all the new bells and whistles being exactly the same. We fight our way through dungeons, fighting near impossible mobs of enemies and bosses, loot, die and repeat. It’s a great way of Dungeons & Dragons in video game form and works incredibly well. The screen is often filled with enemies and situations do tend to lean on quick thinking to overcome.
Combat uses twin-stick mechanics, which is moving our hero with the left stick and aiming with the right. This works really well. Whether you’re blasting out arrows as the Ranger or dealing damage up-close and personal with the Paladin, the controls translate easily between the classes. Each of the classes on offer comes with a wealth of weapons, abilities and utilities. Thankfully, due to the easy control scheme, none of the weapons or abilities felt difficult use and switching between them feels accessible, even with all the carnage playing out on the screen.
Naturally, the enemies also come well equipped and Bosses especially have a few sneaky tricks up their sleeves. If you want to survive an encounter its always best to play on the defensive side until you learn of that particular foes moves and then attack. The enemies also like to swarm your hero as a mob so expect to back peddle and defend yourself quite often.
The randomly-generated dungeons we get to explore are full to the brim of enemies to kill as well as various traps and hazards, puzzles, loot and bosses to defeat. Nothing is new in this aspect and most dungeons are reminiscent of other ‘dungeon-crawler’ games. There are only two ways of leaving a dungeon and that is to either clear all of its halls or die and return to town. Ouch…
Prepare to Die!
Death plays a big part in the game and dying happens quite frequently. Once your character does ‘kick-the-bucket’ you are ejected out of the dungeon and sent back to town. When you do die you lose everything that you are currently carrying…items, ore, gold…the lot. However, there is a way around this and we are able to send our items back to town at various points. This does come at a price as the townsfolk will tax you a percentage for the privilege. If you do take this option then naturally you keep the gold and ore that you sent back into town and it will be available to you once you return.
Death does add a risk vs reward mechanic to the game; do you give up some of your loot to ensure this run wasn’t all in vain? Or do you risk it to hopefully complete the dungeon and keep it all? It’s these discussions that can ultimately decide if that particular run was successful or not and it can ultimately affect your progression of the game
Naturally, with any rogue-lite; loot also plays a big part and Heroes of Hammerwatch: Ultimate Edition is no different. The loot we amass from runs into the dungeons can be used in various ways. One way is using it to improve our town base. We can spend the ore we find to add new buildings and upgrade the effectiveness of pre-existing services. Once the towns Blacksmith has been upgraded we then get access to a whole wealth of different upgrades to our weapons and abilities. Alternatively, we can also use our amassed gold on new gear and improvements to our character.
Both of the currencies; Gold and Ore, work well with each other and are split into separate groups. Meaning that we never have to sacrifice one over the other. We also level up via a traditional XP bar, however, when compared to looting this seems a much slower process.
Advetures in the Digital Age
Another big draw to Heroes of Hammerwatch: Ultimate Edition is that the whole game is playable in online co-op. With up to three players able to join you and work as a team through the various dungeons and gather loot together. This adds a team dynamic to the game as we are then able to utilise strategies and work together to tackle the more difficult mobs and bosses.
It has definitely been one of my more enjoyable co-op experiences. The community is also very relaxed and welcoming. The online style reminds me a lot of Diablo with everyone working together to reach that common goal. That and everyone else’s hero looks better than yours…
In summing up, Heroes of Hammerwatch: Ultimate Edition is an enjoyable rogue-lite experience. Whilst it’s best experienced with friends, there is a wealth of content that can be enjoyed solo as well. The Ultimate Edition adds all of the previous DLC and title updates all into one neat package. The inclusion of the Witch Hunter class is an added bonus and when added to the other classes there is a class to suit any play style.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.