Warhammer: Age of Sigmar – Tempestfall is the latest and most ambitious title from Carbon Studio which cut its teeth building VR spellcasting game The Wizards. In Tempestfall, the studio attempts to bring melee into the mix, alongside a dark fantasy story set in the vast Warhammer universe, but ultimately falls well short of what it set out to achieve.

Warhammer: Age of Sigmar – Tempestfall Details:

Available On: Steam
Release Date: November 17th, 2021
Price: $30
Developer: Carbon Studio
Reviewed On: Valve Index

Gameplay

Warhammer: Age of Sigmar – Tempestfall puts players in the boots of a Lord-Arcanum, the leader of a group of Stormcast Eternals—armor clad warriors who fight on behalf of the god Sigmar.

Tempestfall is a linear action game that combines spellcasting with melee fighting. While it does the former rather well, the latter is a troubling affair.

Players can choose between three weapons and can duel-wield any combination of them on the fly. Each weapon can be swung to strike enemies directly, or can be used to cast unlockable spells (three unique spells for each weapon). Each of the three spells is activated with one of three gestures; while holding the trigger: raise the weapon above your head, swing it horizontally, or jab it forward.

Image courtesy Carbon Studio

The sword, for instance, can shoot ranged bolts of energy when swinging horizontally. Jabbing it forward initiates a powerful lunging strike. Raising it above your head empowers the sword to do extra damage on the next few swings.

While it takes a little while to get the gestures and the timing down just right, I found that the spellcasting aspect of the game works quite well and is easily the most fun part of the combat. Unfortunately the enemy AI is, for the most part, programmed to get right up in your face to engage in melee combat, an area where the game really falters.

Though Tempestfall takes clear influence from the likes of the brilliant Until You Fall, it fails to recreate the game’s key innovation—clearly defined combat pacing.

Like Until You FallTempestfall uses a mostly gestural melee combat system rather than being heavily physics-based. The game will display visual indicators to show which direction you should swing in order to parry an incoming attack. Though you can optionally turn this off, it seems entirely essential because enemy attacks can be difficult, somethings frustratingly so, to read. If you swing at the right time the enemy’s attack is parried and all damage is spared.

But a core issue with the combat is that parrying is extremely lenient and will frequently be granted as long as you’re swinging at all. This means you can basically just wail on the enemy and you’ll parry most attacks by accident.

This itself might not be so much of an issue, but it’s a part of a broader problem of a serious ‘game feel’ issue. Swinging and hitting enemies just doesn’t feel very satisfying, and there is way too many instances of your swings simply not making contact, whether that’s because of unclear combat pacing, hit detection problems, or enemies attacking you from outside the reach of your weapon.

The problem is exacerbated by the enemy design. The main enemies you fight are wraith-like creatures that float around and—between their AI and animations—do a poor job of being a clear and predictable target or making it easy to read when, where, and how they will attack.

Image courtesy Carbon Studio

Enemy variety is also a huge issue in the game. There’s essentially one enemy type that you fight about 80% of the time (the aforementioned wraiths) and four lesser seen enemy types. None of them present particularly unique challenges, nor does the environment influence the combat at any point in the game.

That means the vast majority of fights feel practically the same; half way through I found myself groaning every time I came upon a large open space where it was obvious that the generic fight music would start and a wave of the same old enemies would simply be spawned in front of me. It feels like every five minutes you walk into another room for another bland fight.

Beyond the combat there’s a world to explore and a story to follow.

The game world is largely linear but has some branching paths that can feel labyrinthine at times. Without a map it’s easy to get turned around and resort to wandering the halls until you find the right way to your next objective. This is made a bit more annoying by recurring enemy engagements in areas you already cleared if you loaded into another area before returning.

Exploration is rewarded with resources which can be used to upgrade your weapons and books that award lore pages. It’s a shame that the game’s structure doesn’t make it easy to return to the hub (where you can upgrade your weapons) more frequently. It would have been better to upgrade weapons regularly instead of getting a huge power spike late in the game once you finally return to spend all your resources.

Unfortunately any real substance to the story is buried somewhere in text-based lore which you can read in the game’s menu at your leisure (or not). The surface level story that’s presented to you is little more than a backdrop to combat and some exploration. There’s zero character development, so don’t expect to have any idea about what you’re actually doing or why it matters (unless you’re already stepped in Warhammer lore, perhaps).

In an exceptionally rare occurrence, I didn’t completely finish Tempestfall. I quit after my fifth or so attempt on the final boss fight which frustrated me to the point of not wanting to play any longer. As with other enemies, the boss’s animations and movements make it exceptionally difficult to read. Knowing how far its attacks would reach, when to parry, and when it will or won’t be invulnerable, felt like a guessing game. By the time I quit I had clocked nearly seven hours of game time after having found a majority of the game’s hidden resources and tackling some of the smattering of side quests.

Immersion

Tempestfall suffers from a general lack of polish that really hampers immersion. The game at times could probably be called “decent looking”, but inconsistent art direction and asset quality, weak sound design, amatuer-level animations, and poor writing and voice work really crush the soul of the game.

If nothing else, one would hope that the core melee combat would be solid in all of these areas, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Time and time again I would swing my weapons at enemies and have my hits completely not register, as if I was swinging at nothing but air. I couldn’t nail down exactly when enemies would or wouldn’t be vulnerable; wailing at them and watching several swings in a row not make any contact whatsoever was regularly frustrating.

Inconsistent interaction quality was another immersion-breaker. While a handful of interactive elements in the game were functional and satisfying (like most levers and switches), many of the interactions were janky or unintuitive, to the point of causing confusion.

For instance, at one point in the game I pulled a lever to lower a gate that was blocking an elevator. Behind the gate, however, there was another gate blocking my way. I wandered the environment looking for another lever or some way to open the second gate but found nothing. After searching around fruitlessly, it eventually dawned on me that the second gate might actually be a door (despite there being no handle or clear visual indicator that it could be interacted with). I walked up and attempted to push the gate open but it didn’t move. But once I tried pulling it (again, with no handle to clearly grab), it swung right open.

I ran into a handful of these moments where I thought I needed to look for some puzzle or alternate route, only to find that I was actually in the right place but simply not understanding that something could be interacted with. I have a feeling players will commonly get stuck at such points and need to consult the internet to figure out how to move forward.

Comfort

Image courtesy Carbon Studio

Tempestfall seems designed largely around smooth movement, but its systems generally work well enough with teleport, despite one huge caveat: there are large swaths of the game world that you simply cannot teleport onto. You’ll be zipping along one moment and then come to a bridge, for instance, which you can’t teleport onto because the teleport detection is broken.

If you attempted to play the game with the teleport option only, you couldn’t actually complete the game due to these impassable areas. If you’re someone who must stick strictly to teleport for comfort, do not consider playing Tempestfall unless it gets updated with a full pass to fix teleport collision issues.

Fortunately the game supports a teleport and smooth movement option which allows you to do either at any given time. This can be used to temporarily revert to smooth movement to scoot along until you can finally teleport again. Still, if you want to play with teleport, the inconsistency and need to fall back to smooth movement regularly is a drag, especially in the heat of combat.

Beyond walking around on flat ground there’s also a handful of climbing and zipline sections in the game which you can choose to undertake or skip by clicking a nearby button. That’s a thoughtful option for those that would get dizzy from climbing, and even more thoughtful that you can disable the skip button if you know you always want to tackle those segments by hand.

Some parts of the game ask the player to drag large objects, but this is extremely awkward if not impossible to do with teleport movement. You can always fall back to free movement in these movements, but that may come at a comfort cost for some.

Warhammer Tempestfall’ Comfort Settings – November 17th, 2021

Turning

Artificial turning
Smooth-turn
Adjustable speed
Snap-turn
Adjustable increments

Movement

Artificial movement
Smooth-move
Adjustable speed
Teleport-move
Blinders
Adjustable strength
Head-based
Controller-based
Swappable movement hand

Posture

Standing mode
Seated mode not explicit
Artificial crouch
Real crouch

Accessibility

Subtitles
Languages
English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Simplified Chinese
Alternate audio
Languages English
Adjustable difficulty
Two hands required
Real crouch required
Hearing required
Adjustable player height

 

Overall Score: 4 – OK

WE SCORE ON A LINEAR SCALE – Learn More


 

Warhammer: Age of Sigmar – Tempestfall brings some good ideas to the table but only executes a few of them well. While the game’s ranged spellcasting is satisfying and fun, most of the focus is put into a shoddy melee system that’s functional at best and frustrating at worst, with enemy design and variety only exacerbating the issue. With inconsistent art direction and asset quality, weak sound design, amatuer-level animations, and poor writing, Tempestfall feels like a clear case of trying to do too much with too little.


Gameplay: 4 | Immersion: 5 | Comfort: 6

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
4

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  • benz145

    Thanks for reading our review! Please note the following before commenting so that we can have a thoughtful discussion:

    • We scored this game 4/10 – ‘OK’ by our linear scale.

    • Even if the text of the review focuses more on critique than praise, or vice versa, the score aims to boil down the reviewer’s overall opinion of the experience.

    • If you haven’t played the game, understand the limits of your knowledge.

    • If you have played part of the game, your experience may differ from those who have completed it in its entirety.

    • Road to VR does not ever accept payment for reviews or any editorial content.

    • IwasRight

      Not suprised, I could tell from the very first time I saw this game, that it was bad and that the gameplay & mechanics were poorly made.

      • Username checks out — still a doosh.

  • Geogaddi

    Another disappointment then…

    Wouldn’t it be better (and cheaper) to port something like Vermintide to VR instead of making a half-assed VR project on a tight budget?

    • Exar

      No man, it’s just crap gaming journalism. The game obviously has it’s flaws but is solid and fun as for VR title. I bet the devs just didn’t wanted to pay cash so reviewers got their revenge in publishing of the bad review. The so called scale they refer to with 4/10 is a joke, when the game gets 70%+ positive steam reviews as I see it now.

      • benz145

        As clearly stated in the comments of every review: “Road to VR does not ever accept payment for reviews or any editorial content.”

        I’d appreciate it if you didn’t spout slander, thanks.

        • Exar

          Whatever, the overall result is that Games Workshop again will spam dull repeatable space marines licenses and omits WFB/Sigmar IP for another couple of years which is just sad.

          BTW I think you should seriously revisit your scale as its misleading among industry. It’s actually exponential when the world works with linear – not you. Good/great is 7-8, amazing/masterpiece 9-10 with 5-6 in the grey middle. So when giving bad score to games have at least courage to name it straight ‘the CRAP’. Check https://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/warhammer-age-of-sigmar-tempestfall when score 40 is marked as negative which can’t be surely regarded as ‘OK game’. Others of your scores as for example Lone Echo 2 also seem bit too low. Aren’t you too old for games guys?

      • Rly

        Steam positive review rate is not a valid measurement at all, at least not in this scale.
        Many
        indie/small studios fake the reviews either by writing them by
        themselves or simply paying/buying it for other people in exchange for
        positive review.

        All you need to do is read what negative reviews
        or opinions are about and you’ll see where the problem is. Here its
        consistent across all the reviews, even the positive ones.

  • Pulstar44

    Not surprising considering all of their games are like this. Especially the wizards games. They are fun for about a half an hour and then they bore me to tears. They seem to have the same problem with this game. Next game they really need to focus on game mechanics, variety, and story.

  • Runesr2

    Personally I do not agree with this more than lackluster review. The review completely fails to describe the gpu used for the review, which is extremely important, also when using Index, because this is a very demanding game, just like Wizards Dark Times. Furthermore, if using res 100% this game will not look good with the Index. I’m using an oc’ed RTX 3090, Index res 200% and highest in-game settings – and this game does not look bad, even if there’re several shortcomings.
    Does this review mention you’ve got many high-res textures, great view distance and often nice dynamic shadows? Does the review even mention you’ve got full finger tracking, even when the reviewer used the Index?
    If I should be very critical of the game, I might rate it 7/10 or 7.5/10, but 4/10?! No way.

    It seems RoadToVR is doing their very best to harm PCVR these days – 6/10 for Lone Echo 2 had no justification at all – I can’t think of a more impressive VR game.

    Reviewers need to state the res and the rig used. It must be noted that the above review is directly connected to the rig used – using a GTX 1060, RTX 2080 or RTX 3080 will not provide the same experience or immersion. For those of us enjoying being immersed in awesome worlds and who use high-end gpus, Warhammer Tempestfall may even be 8/10. 2c.

    • Arno van Wingerde

      I think the reviewer did not have major problems with the graphic quality, it actually looks nice, see also the 7 minute video. Instead the main criticism is the game play itself, which indeed seems rather repetitive – even in the video – and a lack of story to it all.

      • Runesr2

        Yes, but the game does have a nice story – and surely it could be nice with even more opponents. The game increases the number of opponents for the harder battles – so there’s strength in numbers, maybe you’ll see like 20 – 30 opponents (they don’t spawn all at once though). And you do get strong opponents later in the game. Upgrading weapons and using spells I find it fun to slash both Glaivewraiths and Nighthaunts. And the scenery is often spectacular – feels much like being Conan the Barbarian in the City of the Undead.
        My point being that there’s no way this game is 4/10 – I might accept 6/10 or 7/10 due to some reviewer bias (or the reviewer having a bad day), but 4/10 feels more like an completely unnecessary attack on the developers or whatever this might be about.
        I do hope RoadToVR will have the decency to update their score if issues get corrected – and the game had a large 1.3GB patch yesterday addressing several shortcomings:

        https://store.steampowered.com/news/app/1337100?emclan=103582791468540078&emgid=3124930648346840492

        • benz145

          I think the major disagreement people have is not with the critique of the review but the score, which is common because we use a linear scale instead of an exponential one as many tend to do (often unintentionally).

          We make this as clear as possible in the review scoring section and spell it all out here: https://www.roadtovr.com/road-vr-review-rating-scale/

          A rating of 4-5 is an “OK” game by our scale. Any higher would be considering the game “Good,” or “Great,” and unfortunately with my experience I can’t call Tempestfall a “Good” game let alone a “Great” one.

          Definitely not an attack on the developers. We’ve covered this game closely on the run up to launch and I really hoped it would deliver.

    • Ben Jacobs

      “If I should be very critical of the game, I might rate it 7/10 or 7.5/10, but 4/10?! No way”

      The majority of people who’ve bought the game on Steam seem to agree with the conclusion of the review. You’re certainly welcome to your own opinon.

      “using a GTX 1060, RTX 2080 or RTX 3080 will not provide the same experience or immersion”

      That might be true, unfortunately the game developers recommend the lowest of those as good enough. Expecting every potential customer to have top of the line hardware seems a bad call in regards to optimisation though (thus a negative point all things considered). I do agree reviews should cite what set up is being used to run the software though.

      “It seems RoadToVR is doing their very best to harm PCVR these days – only 7.5/10 for Lone Echo 2 had no justification – I can’t think of a more impressive VR game.”

      I’m not so sure I’d agree. LE2 is a good game but the story feels less impactful and gameplay is more of the same for the most part. The game looks great, and plays well. It’s just not something which left me feeling like I should recommend to friends in the same way the first did.

  • megaflux

    its a warhammer game.. why would anyone expect more than half-baked?

  • ZarathustraDK

    Of all the Warhammer franchises they choose the melee-focused one…

    Seriously, just make Space Hulk VR already, or convert Space Hulk: Deathwing to VR… and stop trying to make it run on the Quest by using Goldeneye graphics.

  • implications

    I have to agree with this review. The combat is kind of fun, but the lack of collision is lame. The environments are riddle with invisible walls that make traversing them actively unfun. Things like not being able to climb back down ladders, forcing you to circle around the long way if you forgot something is baffling. 4/10 is completely appropriate. If smaller budget titles like Ancient Dungeon can implement collisions then I’d hope that other titles would have that as a standard.

  • VRGamer

    WoW?!? You say you actally did play the game??

    Time to switch playing some excel etc you boring Jack boys. Total VR gaming ignorance. I’d fire you on the spot for such lame “work”. What a crap quality from so called ‘VR site’! It just feels like some old fartholes shouldn’t play games any more.

  • Exar

    “I quit after my fifth or so attempt on the final boss fight which frustrated me to the point of not wanting to play any longer.”

    So it seems had he defeated the final boss, the review score could have been like +2/+3 at least. The reviewer is such a shameful looser. hahaha :D

    • benz145

      I’ve played plenty of very challenging games and completed difficult achievements in them. There’s a difference between challenge and frustration. This review is my experience of playing the game, and my experience was that the final fight was too frustrating (not challenging or fun, just frustrating) to try for a sixth time.

      A worse reviewer, fearing people like you, would have simply lied and said they finished the game.

      • True, and at least you got to the last boss (maybe?), but I can’t help noticing that more and more game reviewers aren’t actually finishing the games they review. For instance, Zero Punctuation has been ending more and more reviews by saying he just gave up.

        What if there’s a cathartic break towards the end that somehow makes it all worth while? Some games actually have huge amounts of content after, at least what seems like, the “final boss”. For instance Nier:Automata.

  • Little typo “somethings frustratingly so” should be “sometimes frustratingly so”, right?

  • Disappointing lack of quality control and chasing a deadline at any cost. I bet it’s one of those studios that forces artists and programmers into separate sections of the building just so they can never talk. A clueless bureaucracy, more afraid of losing employees then any desire for innovation. And no clearly defined leadership with any vision.

    I worked at a company like that for short period of time. You can see how bad games get made by otherwise talented people. It’s like a “Disappointment Machine”.