Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
The original Chivalry title caught many people by surprise, myself included. At first glance, it really did not pique my interest, and I slept on it for some time. I finally got around to playing it though and found it to be pretty enjoyable. Now along comes Chivalry 2 several years later, and it has learned some lessons along the way and become a better game because of it.
Chivalry 2 has an interesting brand of chaotic player versus player carnage. Attacking is a relatively simple thing. Attacking effectively however, is a completely different can of worms. Early in, you get a feel for the maps, the different weapons and mostly just run up to someone and flail about with a weapon. It plays like somewhat dumb, shallow fun and if that’s all you’re looking to get out of the game, that’s okay too. You’ll die a lot, get some gloriously bloody kills in along the way and experience the progression systems here and there.
For those willing to dig in a bit deeper though, you start to realize that the melee combat is actually pretty deep, and that a combination of skill and patience is rewarded via gameplay success. You learn to start managing your stamina and instead of simply holding your shield out in front of yourself, to time them better so as not to drain yourself. You start to make your swings count more, waiting for opportunities instead of wildly mashing away. There is a definite sense of satisfaction in besting your opponent one-on-one, but it pales next to taking down two or even three people in rapid succession during frenzied combat.
The maps and their design elements are generally excellent – if somewhat lacking in overall number. With only eight different maps, it’s pretty easy to see all of the different environments rather quickly. That being said, there are some pretty innovative ways to interact with the environment, such as creating chokepoints near a crossing or using catapults to launch other players.
You have four core classes to choose from, which might not sound like much until you dig in and realize that they each have a few different subclasses. This when combined with the different weapons at your disposal can help to create some interesting, varied loadouts not unlike what you might do in a Call of Duty game – just with swords and shields instead of guns and flashbangs. Appropriately, each of these classes comes with their own plusses and minuses. Archers can provide support to comrades from relative safety, but in close range their dagger is almost useless. Hulking warriors with heavy armor and weapons can take and deal a lot of punishment, but they are slow moving from one point to another and can find themselves surrounded easily as well. They may be able to survive a one-on-one fight, but that lack of mobility might limit their usefulness in other ways, such as objective-based maps. That being said, it sure would be nice to have even more customization options. Faces get a good deal of detail, but the armor and weapons could stand to have a bit more flexibility.
I never really considered the first game overly attractive visually, but the sound effects brought the carnage to life in a visceral way that worked within the presentation. Chivalry 2’s audio remains really good, but I enjoyed the graphics more this time around too. Granted, some of the character animations can be just a bit stiff / slow, making countering certain attacks a bit dicey at times, but these are smaller issues. There is a lot to soak in on the different stages as you look around the maps. They tell a sort of silent story that appealed to me as I continued to discover more of them each time.
I was also really happy with the cross-platform play. These are some massive battles, sometimes with dozens of combatants. It might have been challenging to fill the lobby if you were only drawing from say, a PS4 crowd. But the fact that PC and all of the consoles get to play in the sandbox together? That just makes these largescale, robust battles that much quicker and easier to fill up. That said, I didn’t see any options to do cross-platform parties, which was a bit of a downer. Combine the robust online player base right now with the progression system that lets you unlock new weapons and armor along the way, and the motivation to keep playing is strong here. Meanwhile, the core gameplay revolves around deathmatch and objectives – hardly new for these kinds of online competitive games, but they feel different due to the heavy melee nature of combat here versus the plethora of online shooters out there.
Chivalry 2 works on most fronts, and certain where it is needed the most – bloody, visceral combat. To that end, the hackfest that is Chivalry 2’s meat and potatoes delivers a lot of fun for both casual players and those who want to dedicate their time into digging deeper into the gameplay mechanics. The progression system and maps are both quite good, even if I’d have liked to see a few more options with both. All in all though, Chivalry’s carnage-filled gameplay is just a whole lot of fun.Score: 8.5 / 10