I have a special place in my heart for Chivalry: Medieval Warfare—I followed that game, and even participated in its Alpha and Beta testing phases. Developer Torn Banner Studio has been on a bit of a rollercoaster of highs and lows since then. Their last flagship title, Mirage: Arcane Warfare wasn’t as well received as Chivalry and games like Mordhau came in to fill the gap that the absence of another Chivalry created. Now, Chivalry is back with Chivalry 2, and you can once again take up the banner of Agatha or Mason.
Chivalry 2 is a first person hack and slash class-based player versus player multiplayer game. Teams of 32 or 20 face off against each other in medieval-style combat, using swords, bows, and even pots of flammable oil as you attempt to complete objectives or just murder your opponents. These potentially large-scale medieval battles have a very cinematic feel to them, sometimes even starting with a leader giving a speech in front of their men while the opposing side waits patiently for the battle to begin. And when the battles starts, you start off charging and yelling towards the opposing ranks, yelling being something that is ubiquitous and strangely endearing about Chivalry 2. But what really sells me on it is its great combat.
There are only a handful of first person games that have really good melee combat, and Chivalry 2 is among them. Weapons feel like they have weight to them, and there is a satisfying impact when you hit an opponent. The way you control specific attacks in Chivalry 2 are still about how you move your mouse, but there has been a little bit more precision added since Chivalry: Medieval Warfare making combat feel more responsive than its predecessor. Chivalry didn’t back away from the blood and gore, and neither does Chivalry 2, and even ups it a tad with the ability to continue fighting when missing an arm—if only for a short while. The combat is also great for duel-style gameplay, and fights with another skilled opponents can actually last a while, with the ability to feint, dodge, parry and block to stay alive. Of course, that is until some archer picks you off or another teammate comes ploughing through and ruins your honorable duel.
Chivalry 2 has multiple ways to play, but most of the time I spent with the game was in its objectives-based 40 player or 64 player modes. There are free-for-all modes and even large scale team death match modes that take place on tournament grounds or in arenas, but my favorite way to play Chivalry 2 was when two large(ish) forces are fighting to attack/defend areas. And while there’s a vague sense of cinematic-style medieval warfare because of the push towards the objectives, it’s really an illusion. On a tactical level, Chivalry 2 feels more like a chaotic melee than a clashing of two forces with thoughtful intent. The ridiculousness of the constant battle cries mixed with the imagery of medieval soldiers repeatedly jumping and spinning midair doesn’t just sit in juxtaposition of its cinematic imagery, but also reminds me of arena style shooters of a bygone era–for good or for bad, chat function and all. There aren’t squads, or squad leaders to plan out sneaky backdoor pushes, it’s just continuous waves of meat and metal clashing repeatedly until something gives.
As a class-based game, Chivalry 2 is a bit of a failure. Each of the classes are pretty different, and have abilities that could, in theory, be team boosting, but the time to kill is so short, and battles so chaotic, these boosts hardly translate to noticeable differences on the battlefield. The archer is the only ranged class, and the most different of the classes, while the others are a trade-off of speed, health, and damage dealing potential. Each class has three subclasses that unlock as you increase in level with that class. In fact, Chivalry 2 loves leveling up things, since every weapon has a level that increases as you use it, and even your account level is a consideration, especially when it comes to cosmetics.
Cosmetics are almost a no-brainer, and while Chivalry 2 has a lot of them, none of them are very interesting. You won’t be able to don sparkly rainbow tunics while swinging flaming swords in Chivalry 2, as its visuals are stuck in a more “realistic” sensibility for some reason, if only to keep its cinematic-style authenticity. But as over-the-top and ocassionally tongue-in-cheek Chivalry 2 already is, I think it could definitely benefit from some absurdity, especially when trying to sell cosmetics with premium currency, which, of course, Chivalry 2 has incorporated in the form of “crowns.” But whether you’re using crowns or the in-game currency to buy these cosmetics, you’ll have to buy them for each faction, as Agatha and Mason don’t share in-game styles. And for a game that forces balance by switching me from one team to the other, I don’t know if even want to bother blinging out even my preferred classes.
Chivalry 2 feels like more Medieval Warfare, and I’m totally cool with that. If you want medieval-style objectives-based gameplay, Chivalry 2 is a no-brainer. While multiplayer games live and die by their community, there has been a bit of a drop-off since its release, but Chivalry 2 still has a good amount of players engaging in its chaotic battles even a couple of weeks after release. But joining a server full of real humans without any bots is getting harder and harder—which is a bad sign for a game that’s so young. But the server browser helps with this problem, and there always seems to be a dedicated group of players willing to slash each other for fun.
If you like the video game, tabletop, or other technology content that Third Coast Review has to offer, consider donating to our Patreon. We are the only publication in Chicago that regularly reviews video games, and we cover lots of local Chicago-based events and more. If you want to contribute to our coverage of Chicago’s video game scene (and more) please consider becoming a patron. Your support enables us to continue to provide this type of content and more. Patreon.com/3CR
You can also catch us streaming games we’re reviewing and staff favorites on our Twitch channel.