Chivalry: Medieval Warfare was a brutal game. Armed with a great sword, mace, or any other pointy object you’d run into a bloody battlefield and slash your way to victory, poking or prodding your enemies and maiming a bunch of them in the process. Its stylish melee elements took center stage and stood out among other multiplayer games that continued to focus on bullets and shooting. Nine years later, Chivalry 2 is poised to expand on what made the original such a bloody good time. And believe us – lots of blood will be spilled.
During our hands-on with the beta build of the game, we had a chance to play through a few different maps and two modes to really get a feel of what it’s like to wield a pole arm and let out a battle cry in the midst of war, the latter of which is all just for good fun but can come in handy when you want to a good laugh. More on that later.
As soon as our first Team Objective match started, we instantly felt like we were in the middle of a medieval film. During the opening presentation to the beta event, Steve Piggott, President at Torn Banner Studios, mentioned that’s exactly what the game is trying to feel like. It’s not so much a historical representation of medieval battles, but it’s more along the lines of exaggerating the look and feel of this era and transporting players to iconic TV or movie battles. And let’s just say, we felt that.
The Siege of Rudhelm map was impressively huge and featured various checkpoints that kept the action fresh and exciting. Not to mention that a match can hold 64 total players, so you’re bound to feel like a part of something big – a siege for sure. If you are on the attacking team, you need to stay close to a large battering ram-like engine as it approaches the gates of the town you’re invading. There are two main prerogatives to achieve that: kill off any enemies trying to stop you while keeping enough allies around the siege engine to move it along. If you are on the defending side, your obvious job is to keep the enemy numbers in check to slow them down.
Once that first part is completed and the enemies reach the village, your spawn point changes, and you “unlock” a new area of the map to play on. Each objective you complete gets you closer and closer to the final throne room where you will need to defeat the heir to the throne played by one lucky player on the defending team.
This mode does a fantastic job of throttling the action and mixes up the feel of a battle. One minute you’re on the field, the next you’re battling it out on a bloody marketplace in the middle of town. What’s more, the defending team can also trigger traps like falling boulders, trapdoors, and more to further impede the enemy, so communication will really play a key role in winning a match. Because our voice chat was disabled during this preview build, we couldn’t strategize much, and the attacking team ended up winning each time.
Slice and dice
What really makes Chivalry 2 stand out from other melee sword games is its responsive attack system. Luckily, the game features a tutorial that shows you how to wield a sword so even if you’re new to the series, you will easily pick up the controls as you play. After you press the corresponding button, you want to either swing your sword, perform a downward strike, or forward thrust, you then have to move and drag your mouse in the direction you want your sword to swing. This is key if you want your attacks to land as the enemy could also be attacking from a different direction leaving you prone to attack.
The crucial ingredients to a good sword swing are distance and timing – you may want to sometimes start your attack before you get close to your enemy, so your swing has time to complete its trajectory before reaching enemy. Attacking too soon can lead to multiple weapons clashing, for example. This requires some getting used to, but it can lead to great combos if you master your timing, parrying, and knowing when to exploit an opening after a swing-and-miss. Unlike most other games we’ve played that involve swords, Chivalry 2’s combat truly made us feel like we were swinging around heavy things made of metal.
In addition to common swords, the game features four primary class types – knight, footman, vanguard, and archer – with their own weapons and abilities to choose from. Footmen, for example, rely on pole arms; vanguards are slower and wield two-handed swords, and archers are the quickest class but also most vulnerable. In addition to these classes, you can also unlock subclasses with unique weapons as you gain experience with each class. This opens more play style possibilities, and you can also customize your loadouts for each mode you play.
Frays and fart jokes
We got a lot of experience playing Team Deathmatch since. As the name suggests, your goal is to take down the enemy’s army supply. Here is where combat can get pretty chaotic as you’ll have 63 other players and even some bots wielding weapons in all directions. One of the maps we played on, Tournament Grounds, takes place in a giant arena and features various traps and stage hazards that add to the fun. Team attack is also on, so we can’t tell you how many times we either killed one of our guys or were pushed into a spike trap – allegedly accidentally. And while we think we did a good job landing our hits, there were moments we were literally backstabbed by enemies or accidently killed by our allies in attempts to overpower an enemy. Timing and placement are really crucial to successful combat here.
To finish up, let’s talk about blows for a bit, low blows included. There is no question Chivalry 2 is a gory game. You’ll see heads rolling all over the battlefield, severed limbs flying in the air, and hear the squishiness of flesh getting skewed by metal. You could compare it to some of the more memorable battles in a Games of Thrones episode even, but you also could add in some Monty Python comedy to that image as there is obvious humor in all that carnage.
Your character can perform various emotes and taunts as you play, including annoyingly funny remarks about the enemy and others self-inflicting jabs at the fact that they soiled themselves and no one cares. Plus, you can even pick up a fish from the well and slap your enemies to death if you so desire. Or if you prefer, you can try to beat up someone to death with a broom.
Cinematic, bloody, and funny at times, our beta hands-on with Chivalry 2 was a joy to play. Despite our limited time with the game, we can really tell the finished product will delight fans who have been eagerly waiting for its sequel and introduce new players to the joys of medieval carnage. Chivalry 2 releases later this year, on June 8.
Giancarlo Saldana | Gamepressure.com