Have you ever wanted to fight in a gruesome and bloody medieval battle? If Braveheart comes to mind when you hear phrases like epic melee battles or gruesome bloody medieval combat, then you are in luck. Torn Banner’s Studios puts you in the heart of those exact kinds of grueling scenarios Chivalry 2. The game is a multiplayer first-person slasher inspired by grandiose medieval movie battles.
Up to 64 players engage in brutal melee combat in order to complete different objectives. Alternatively, you can simply engage in Team Death Match or Free-For-All mode to mow each other down. The game is a stellar and memorable experience; however, there are some glaring chinks in the armor.
Chivalry 2’s Non-Existent Story
Since Chivalry 2 is a multiplayer PVP game, it’s quite light on the story front. Upon completing the tutorial, you have a choice to make. You can pledge your allegiance to either the Agatha Knights, who wear blue and white or the Mason Order, who don red and black.
They are locked in perpetual battle and with little context as to why. It does not matter much which side you select. It is a more theatrical introduction to the game. This isn’t a criticism per se, but more of a warning. Given how many multiplayer PVP games have looped in expansive narratives and backstories, players may expect to find the same here. The lack of story does not really matter, but what does matter in Chivalry 2 is its combat system.
Live By the Sword, Die by the Sword
Developing a melee-centric online game is a tough nut to crack. Luckily, part of Chivalry 2’s pull is undoubtedly its combat system. Fundamentally, there are three types of attacks. Horizontal slashes, overhead attacks, and forward attacks, or pokes as I like to call them. Each attack type can also be held down to unleash a stronger heavy attack.
Defense in Chivalry 2 leaves you many options. You can also feint attacks, block, parry, dodge, and interrupt incoming attacks. Naturally, timing is critical. Perfect defensive maneuvering will grant a riposte, which is an open chance to unleash damage on your enemy. However, your opponent too can block your attacks. Oftentimes, it’s a back-and-forth endeavor. This is where stamina becomes important in combat.
Blocking attacks will eat away your stamina, and managing it is critical in a fight. Momentum is also an interesting aspect during a fight. When engaged in combat, you can either kick or shove your opponent to interrupt their attack. A shove will maintain your momentum, and you can gracefully follow up with an attack. However, a kick against your enemy increases your chances to interrupt attacks but slows down a follow-up attack.
I felt that the combat system was extremely satisfying. You can feel each weapon’s momentum and weight. It’s not an easy thing to achieve, but Torn Banner managed to pull it off in Chivalry 2. Everything from attacking to defense and the different weapons and loadout options was a joy to learn. It never felt like a burden to learn the ropes. In fact, it was rewarding to see your own improvement during matches. Unlocking new weapons and sub-classes only added to the experience and piqued my curiosity to experiment.
Base Classes, Sub Classes, and Customization
The arsenal of Chivalry 2 expands with the new subclass system that provides more variety than ever before. Four base classes expand to various sub-classes. This opens up an arsenal of unique weapons each with multiple visual variants, and new support items ranging from oil pots to barricades, supply crates, and archer’s stakes.
The four main classes are Archer, Vanguard, Footman, and Knight. Each has its own unique weapon sets and abilities. For the most part, there are not many crossovers between the different base classes, but there are a few worth mentioning. For instance, both the Knight and Vanguard classes can wield axes and swords. There are a total of 12 subclasses across the 4 base classes. Personally, I loved using the Footman’s pikes and Knight’s battle-ax because both handle well and provide great range and power respectively.
The Archer is a point of contention among Chivalry 2’s fan base. While it is fun to shoot arrows from afar, some feel the class is cheap and dishonorable. It is worth noting they are often the first-class select by many players, but there is a limit to how many archers can be active in a game. Honestly, they only prove to be a slight nuisance when fighting against them, as you can quickly close down on them for an easy kill.
Chivalry 2 provides a plethora of cosmetic customization options for each class. Everything from your character’s physical appearance to individual pieces of armor and to and different heraldry designs can be unlocked both in-game or by microtransactions. This also adds incentive to play, which is great and keeps things fresh. Luckily, they are only cosmetic changes and do not impact gameplay.
Few Game Modes in Chivalry 2 Don’t Deter the Fun
Chivalry 2 has few modes, but they are all quite enjoyable. You have the typical Team Death Match (TDM), Free for All (FFA), and Team Objectives. The latter is similar to game modes found in the Battlefield franchise, so no battle royal here. Whereas, TDM and FFA maps are smaller and occur on trap-filled local arenas like jousting grounds. The two smaller modes are quite enjoyable and differentiate themselves from the epic team objective game mode.
Undoubtedly, the team objective mode is cream of the crop in Chivalry 2. It is here that pits 64 players in two teams. Team objective mode usually involves an attacking and defending side, similar to Rush mode in the Battlefield franchise. There are multiple stages that have certain objectives that must be met in order to progress like pushing a siege tower towards a castle or releasing prisoners from their cages.
Each match can last anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes and is an exhilarating experience from start to conclusion. If you played Battlefield’s rush mode, then you will have some context for the experience. The best part is when you coordinate with your teammates and manage to repel an attack or coordinate loading and firing trebuchets that bring down castle walls. But if you are pressed for time, TDM or FFA might be more up your alley.
The Frantic and Comedic Nature of the Battlefield
The frantic nature of the battleground is beautifully represented in Chivalry 2. Fights would break out everywhere around you, while archers rain down arrows. Friendly fire is always on, so you have to be careful where you aim your bow or swing your weapon. You can easily get backstabbed if you’re not careful. Slashing multiple enemies never got old and neither did dismemberment. This really adds immersion and beautifully depicts the chaotic nature of the battlefield.
The game is gory fun and is not for the faintest of hearts. Heads will fly and so do arms. Funnily enough, getting your limbs cut off is hilarious. Your player will be in shock and brush it off as “just a scratch” and will continue fighting.
The voice acting adds to the game’s comedic demeanor. The character lines give vibes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, except without clanking coconuts. The character outbursts are distinctly British in humor, often satirical and just all around brought me to chuckles throughout my time with the Chivalry 2. You can even pick up chickens, set them ablaze, and chuck at enemies to land some damage. Even though at times the game does not take itself too seriously, it does take graphics and performance seriously.
Great Graphics and Performance
The game visually looks beautiful. There is a wide diversity of environments as well. Chivalry 2 has everything from tournament grounds to epic full-scale castle sieges. Both character models and environment looked top-notch. Their texture quality is highly detailed. The game runs smoothly, hitting 60 fps on current-gen consoles. This is a given since the game was built on Unreal Engine 4. The graphics add to Chivalry 2’s immersion and make you feel you’re actually on a chaotic battlefield.
The game ran smoothly on my PC. There were not any notable hiccups when it comes to the graphics department. Even the animations, for the most part, were on par. The same can not be said about some technical points that let down Chivalry 2 a bit.
Although the combat is fun and a blast to learn, there were some obvious issues. You will regularly see players clipping into walls or other parts of the environment. However, one of the most notable technical issues is hit detection. Often times when I tried poking enemies with weapons, it would not register and other forms of attacks also suffer a similar issue.
Sometimes, when you get a riposte and you think you have landed your strike, nothing would register. It seems hit detection will remain an issue in Chivalry 2 for some time, and perhaps changing it would also irritate some of its fan base. Change it too much, then kills will be easy. Don’t change it at all and the angry status quo remains.
Another issue is in the game’s match balancing. Sometimes, I would be an Agatha Knight and after respawning I would join the Mason Order without any notice. This happened a couple of times and it is worth noting. Other times, I was properly informed, but this inconsistency was noticeable.
Prior to the 2.0.1 patch, players used to enter matches quickly that were mainly populated by bots. Luckily now, that has been remedied so you go into matches with more players from the get-go. This may take a little more time for matchmaking, but it’s worth it since bots are essentially just cannon fodder.
Final Thoughts on Chivalry 2
Overall, the game is a bloody good time. If you ever fantasized about being in a battle from Braveheart or lining the ranks in the Battle of the Bastards, then look no further than Chivalry 2. The combat is robust where it is easy to learn difficult to master and is thoroughly satisfying. There are a ton of cosmetics to unlock for each class. The voice acting is hilarious and shows the game does not take itself too seriously. Graphically, Chivalry 2 is beautiful thanks to it running on Unreal Engine 4. Although there are some fundamental technical issues that bring it down a bit, it’s not enough to dampen the experience.
Note – A copy of the game was provided for review. Version 2.0.1 was tested during the review period.