I’ve not played through the original game, but after enjoying my time with the rogue-lite spin-off Heroes of Hammerwatch, I’ve found myself invested in the release of Hammerwatch II. I’ll admit, I’ve grown a little tired of the rogue-lite approach over the last few years, so having a more traditional adventure is something I’m always eager for. And believe me, Hammerwatch II delivers just that, with its entertaining dungeon-crawling sure to spark some buzz for old-school action-RPG fans – even IF it does have a few little issues here and there.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Like many action-RPG adventures that have come before it, Hammerwatch 2 begins by letting the player pick the class they want to play, with the option of taking on the role of a Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Wizard, and Warlock, with players also able to fine-tune their appearance to give their hero a personal touch. Naturally, each class brings with them different strengths and weaknesses, whilst their core abilities are also distinct to ensure they each feel unique to play as.
Like picking off enemies from afar? The Ranger and their bow will be perfect for you, though the powerful magic of the Warlock can be equally rewarding to use. Want to get up close and personal but also be able to take a punch as well? The Paladin’s melee skills will suit you, whilst their defence ensures they won’t fall anytime soon. Do you want to be a bit nimbler in your approach? The fleet-footed Rogue is the way to go. Each class brings with them plenty of unique abilities and buffs to play around with that ensure they each feel diverse with their skillset, whilst the deep progression through the game means it’s satisfying to continue to enhance their capabilities as you push forward. It’s definitely worth toying about with each different class to see what suits you, with each bringing something worthwhile to the adventure.
The core gameplay loop of Hammerwatch 2 sees players exploring its vast open world, all whilst completing quests for NPCs, gathering loot, collecting plenty of gold, and vanquishing the many enemies in your path. It’s all very old-school in design (both in its gameplay and appearance), but it has enough modern nuances to ensure it remains fun to play. It helps that the combat is satisfying, with each encounter demanding some strategy as you plot out your enemies’ demise. Simply running in and going for the kill is never going to work, with players having to work out the perfect distance to attack from, isolate enemies from their allies, avoid traps and hazards, and carefully utilise their own abilities if they hope to survive. And sure, some encounters are easier than others, but when you find yourself facing off against a horde of enemies or one of the more epic boss battles? You’ll really see your skills put to the test. I’d be lying if I said it couldn’t be a little clunky in places (especially when using specific abilities), but for the most part combat feels intuitive and ensures that battling in the game is a lot of fun.
“It’s made even MORE enjoyable to play when going through with a couple of friends in local or online multiplayer, with the whole adventure feeling more epic and rewarding when you’re fighting alongside others.”
Unlocking additional gear is always satisfying, whilst completing quests and reaping the rewards they offer always brought a smile to my face. There’s a LOT to see and do in Hammerwatch 2, but I never grew tired of the routine, with the epic scale of the adventure ensuring it feels worthwhile throughout. I’ll admit, I haven’t beaten the game yet, but there’s plenty of incentive there to keep me coming back for more. You’ve got things like crafting, cooking, and even a card-based mini-game to dive into too, so there’s plenty of busywork alongside your core adventuring duties to add to the variety.
That being said, it does have one issue that I still haven’t fully got on board with: exploration. Whilst Hammerwatch 2 offers a meaty world to explore that is full of activities, it’s rare that it ever gives you any guidance as to where you need to go and what you need to do. In fairness, the sense of discovery can add to the journey in places, but there’ll also be times when you wish there were just a few map markers to point you in the right direction. This can be especially unforgiving when in the midst of a dungeon, where you might not know where you need to go (or if you even need to be there yet) and find yourself running low on resources to keep yourself alive. It isn’t as severe a problem early on but becomes more noticeable the longer you play – especially with the game’s lack of fast travel that can make traversal a chore.
Despite these issues, there’s still plenty of fun to be had in the game. It’s made even MORE enjoyable to play when going through with a couple of friends in local or online multiplayer, with the whole adventure feeling more epic and rewarding when you’re fighting alongside others. Not only does it allow you to take advantage of multiple classes and skillsets to ensure you get the upper hand over foes, but it also brings with it a stronger sense of adventure (and it also less tiresome not knowing where to go when you’ve got someone joining you along the way). Admittedly, it can become a bit manic when you’ve got four players together, but with two or three? It really helps make the experience all the more memorable.
Check out some screenshots down below:
I’m a big fan of the visuals too, with the simplistic style feeling befitting of the old-school adventure Hammerwatch II offers. Whilst it’s not the most detailed world you’ll explore, there are plenty of visual effects going on to ensure locales pop, whilst the creativity of the enemies you face ensure you won’t tire of the monstrosities of the world. Whilst I’ll admit that some of the dungeons can get a little repetitive, there’s plenty of charm found in the main world’s map to ensure you’ll always find the land captivating to explore. The UI could do with a bit of work and it can feel a little clumsy to navigate (especially if you’re playing with a controller), but everything else looks great.
Hammerwatch II Review
Hammerwatch II is very old school in design, but it offers a captivating adventure to embark on that’s great to play with friends. There’s plenty to see and do across the world, building up your character’s abilities is rewarding, and combat is surprisingly strategic and tense, with plenty on offer to ensure your journey is an exciting one. And sure, it does let itself down with a lack of map markers and fast-travel (something owed to its old-school design), but these issues don’t stop Hammerwatch II from being a blast to play if you’re looking for some nostalgic dungeon-crawling thrills.
Publisher: Modus Games
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed)