Sharpen your blade and raise your shield, Chivalry 2 is taking us way back.
As a sequel to an industry phenomenon, Chivalry 2 has some big greaves to fill. Luckily, fans of the original will be happy to know that the game deftly builds on what made the original so beloved.
However, it’s important to make one thing clear right away. Chivalry 2 is a multiplayer-only title. For those who enjoy a calm and solitary adventure, this isn’t the game for you. While there is no single-player campaign, the game still has a lot of lore behind it. You can use the in-game lore section to catch up on previous events and to get acquainted with some of the major characters. Moreover, every map in the game tells the story of a specific battle. It may not seem like much to those who simply wish to jump in and slash away, but it does add a lot for players who enjoy roleplaying.
On the subject of maps, Chivalry 2 launched with 8 of them. Five maps are specific to the game’s objective mode, while the remaining three are tailored to Team Deathmatch and Free-For-All. That might seem like a small number, but Torn Banner Studios aimed for quality over quantity. This is especially true for objective maps. They are huge and filled to the brim with flanking routes, diverse locations, and objects to interact with. In my dozen or so hours with the game, I rarely found myself thinking negatively about the map rotation.
Massive Medieval Warfare
While Team Deathmatch and Free-For-All are options, the focus of Chivalry 2 is its objective mode. The game supports up to 64 players, split into two teams, in a match. It’s truly in this mode that Chivalry 2‘s scale and gameplay really shine.
Every objective match contains multiple phases for each team. For example, attackers need to escort siege rams to a town’s walls, while defenders must hold them back. Should the attackers succeed in their goal, a new phase of the match opens up.
And while teams attempt to complete their objective, it’s all-out warfare in every direction.
Arrows whizz past your head. A giant boulder, fired by players from a catapult, crashes in the ground next to you. A teammate is missing his arm and, in his last moments, is trying to stab a dagger into his foe.
With Chivalry 2, developer Torn Banner Studios’ goal was to create a Game of Thrones, Hollywood-like depiction of medieval combat on a massive scale. They absolutely nailed it. You can’t take two steps in the game without some kind of action taking place. Of course, the sense of scale is aided by the game’s fantastic sound design.
From the roar of your soldier’s battlecry, which is usually accompanied by several other players, to the sometimes humorous voice lines delivered perfectly, the battlefield comes alive around you. This extends to battles. There isn’t anything like the sound of steel swords clashing. Except, maybe, the sound of your weapon slicing through an enemy’s neck.
(Not So) Chivalrous Combat
Combat in Chivalry 2 is easy to learn, but difficult to master. If you want any chance of being effective on the battlefield, you’ll need to quickly get acquainted to the various moves you can do. You’ll also have to make split-second, tactical decisions in combat. Should you feign an overhead blow and go for the stab? Would it be wise to throw your axe at the incoming enemy, sidestep, and attack from the side?
With so many options and strategies, Chivalry 2‘s combat system could very well be a dealbreaker for many new players. Luckily, Torn Banner Studios implemented ways to make combat as approachable and user-friendly as possible. You can learn the basics and practice your moves in an infinitely repayable tutorial mode. Moreover, helpful hints are displayed whenever you spawn in.
It’s worth taking the time to learn the intricacies of combat. Frankly, Chivalry 2 has the best melee system ever implemented in a game. Combat is visceral. You feel the weight of your weapon when you swing it. Your heart pounds as you face multiple enemies and make quick adjustments to your fighting style. Yet beyond striking enemies, combat is also about stamina management. You’ll need to pace yourself in order to remain in the fight, otherwise you’ll soon find yourself exhausted and vulnerable.
But nothing beats the feeling of vanquishing multiple foes.
There are four primary classes in Chivalry 2. You can be a cowardly Archer, a Vanguard, a Footman, or a Knight. Every primary class also contains three subclasses which you unlock as you play. As you’ve no doubt guessed, each primary class and subclass fills a particular role and each has its pros and cons. For example, a Vanguard Raider can carry two primary weapons. On the other hand, a Vanguard Devastator has access to the game’s largest weapons.
Chivalry 2 lets you customize your soldiers via a pretty robust customization menu. You can adjust your physical appearance by using a number of preset options, but things go deeper. You can customize armour, helmets, add heraldry, and more. Want to give yourself a title? Go for it.
This customization also applies to weapons, albeit on a smaller scale. You can unlock different weapon skins as you level up with each specific weapon.
Not All Is Fine In The Land
One of my main issues with Chivalry 2 are directed at the menus. I find them to be a chore to go through and, sometimes, outright unintuitive. For the most part, they strike me as being cluttered and this turned me off of customizing my characters and weapons. Between the game’s launch and the publication of this review, things seem to be better in terms of navigation, but there’s still a sour taste in my mouth.
Modifying your loadout is also in an odd place. As of this review, it can only be done during a game. Therefore, if you want to change up your weapons, you have to get out of the action and leave yourself vulnerable. Another option is to make any changes between lives. Still, being able to customize loadouts outside of games would be a great quality-of-life improvement.
Finally, the Free-For-All mode needs to be addressed. It’s not that fending for yourself amidst dozens of other players isn’t fun, it’s that FFA lobbies contain bots. AI bots serve a clear purpose in other game modes: they fill up lobbies and add some flavour to matches. However, they shouldn’t be in Free-For-All. It’s hard enough going toe-to-toe with multiple players, the last thing you need is a bot to come out of nowhere and join the fray. Especially since they aren’t challenging, they only serve to drain your stamina and distract you from real threats.
Chivalry 2 – Final Thoughts
It’s too easy, not to mention reductive, to simply describe Chivalry 2 as “Battlefield with swords.” The game has its own personality and executes its unique ideas very well. It’s also a blast to play alone or with friends.
That being said, it won’t sway you if you aren’t a fan of multiplayer gaming. You’ll also need to devote some time to mastering combat if you hope to be successful.
Overall, Chivalry 2 is a worthy successor to the original. It builds on almost everything the first game did. Most importantly, it melds fun, visceral combat with a dash of dark humour.
Chivalry 2 is available now for PC (Epic Games Store), PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.