Multiplayer medieval battle games have become increasingly popular over the last decade or so. Titles such as Mordhau and For Honor have been competing to become the premier sword-fighting experience. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, released in 2012, was Torn Banner Studios’ first foray onto this battlefield. In spite of its irreverent tone and occasional clunkiness, the nuanced combat mechanics and sprawling set-pieces established it as a fan favorite. Torn Banner Studios have polished and embellished their previous offering with a hugely satisfying and entertaining sequel, Chivalry 2.
Chivalry 2 launches you into vast, chaotic battlefields of up to 64 players with various team-based objectives, such as lying siege to a castle or rescuing prisoners. At its heart, it's an impressively nuanced hack and slash game with various classes and weapons to keep things fresh. The bawdy jokes and arcadey style won't be for everyone but it's still undoubtedly a strong contender for the best medieval battle sim on the market.
'Tis But A Scratch
The influence of Monty Python and the Holy Grail is clear. When you lose an arm in a fountain of blood to a well-placed enemy blow, the words "It's just a flesh wound..." pop up on the screen. Your character flails around with their remaining appendages before dying of blood loss shortly afterward. Chivalry 2 has a strong tendency towards the crude and absurd in the face of its often brutal combat. Characters will offer humorous quips on respawn before inevitably being dismembered gorily by an onrushing knight a few moments later.
Fans of the persistently po-faced Mordhau might turn their noses up at this but I think it provides welcome levity from what could otherwise be a relentlessly bleak and drudgerous experience. Even the frequent and gratuitous bloodshed is comically over the top.
As well as hacking enemies apart with a remarkably varied arsenal of weapons, you can also pick objects up and throw them at foes. The objects in question range from the more conventional missiles like rocks and barrels to the more, let's say, experimental. There aren't many games that'd let you throw a burning chicken at your assailants from a castle wall, for example. You can even fire yourself out of a catapult to assault the opposing backlines.
Yes, it's silly. No, it's not all that realistic. It is a hell of a lot of fun, though.
The Dark But Also Quite Colourful Ages
Chivalry 2 looks fantastic. I doubt anyone would dispute that it's the best-looking game of its ilk. It's resisted the stereotype of other games in the genre to present dull and muddy vistas in favor of bright, colorful battlefields. All the better to see the blood spatters, I guess. I was playing on PC with all the settings turned up to Epic and was blown away by the detail.
At the beginning of each match, you're treated to a cutscene of sorts, usually involving a commander giving a stirring speech to his troops and explaining the objective. You're then separated into two lines of soldiers who charged headlong into each other. These set pieces are like something straight out of a film. The juxtaposition of cinematic openings and humorous side moments are Chivalry 2's greatest strength. One second, you're sitting breathless and goosepimpled after surviving an onslaught from 30 bloodthirsty soldiers, the next you're chuckling as a meandering peasant gets piked in a particularly comical way.
Variety Is The Spice Of Death
Most importantly, the combat is fantastic and nuanced enough for you to really develop your own fighting style. You can duck and weave around your enemy's swings until you see an opening or brute force your way through their defenses with a hail of blows. In addition to this, Chivalry 2 lets you pick from 12 different subclasses. This really lets you lean into your chosen playstyle. You can sit back and pick off foes from afar as an Archer, wade into the thick of the melee as a heavily armored Crusader, or assassinate enemies from behind as a sneaky Ambusher. Each subclass is distinct from the others, ensuring combat is never boring or straightforward.
Each subclass has access to different weapons and abilities, allowing even greater customization of your playstyle. You unlock weapons as you level up each class, providing great replay value. Some of my favorite weapons, such as the devastating two-handed Maul, were unlocked after hours of grinding. Similar to the subclasses, each weapon has its own identity: blunt weapons are better against heavily armored knights; polearms have a long-range but slightly lower damage; two-handed weapons tend to be slow but incredibly powerful.
While there are some notably high-performing weapons, the balancing is pretty good overall. Every weapon can be wielded to great effect as long as you have the skill to do so.
I thoroughly enjoyed taking the time to test out each class and subclass and am still happily grinding away to unlock all the different weapons.
Chivalry 2: Verdict
First and foremost, Chivalry 2 is an excellent medieval fighting game. The combat system is incredibly rewarding and nuanced. Although the launch content is a little bit limited, the core gameplay loop is sufficiently compelling to keep you coming back for dozens of hours of fun. I really hope Torn Banner Studios keep on adding new modes, weapons, and maps to Chivalry 2. It definitely deserves a lot of love and attention and I don't doubt that it'll be a firm favorite for years to come. Those of you who care deeply about realism and solemnity will probably find Mordhau more to your liking. But those of you who just want to have fun will see that there are heaps of it to be had in Chivalry 2.
TechRaptor reviewed Chivalry 2 on Epic Games Launcher with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on Xbox and Playstation consoles.
- Rich And Rewarding Combat System
- Incredibly Cinematic Battle Scenes
- Light-Hearted Tone Provides Welcome Levity
- Limited Content At Launch