Content warning: Chivalry 2 has an Australian classification of R18+ (High impact violence, online interactivity and in-game purchases).
Chivalry 2 is an outstanding medieval multiplayer combat game that sways more towards the Monty Python lighter comedic side than true historical accuracy, and if you’re one to look on the bright side of life, Chivalry 2 has plenty on offer.
Chivalry 2 is an action multiplayer FPS first person slasher game by Torn Banner Studios and published by Tripwire Studios. It released on June 9, 2021 on PC, PlayStation and Xbox, and is a sequel to 2012’s Chivalry: Medieval Warefare. I never played the first game, though did pick it up in a previous Steam sale at some point. I am wishing I had played it now because I am really enjoying Chivalry 2, especially partied up with a mate. Whilst the developers describe the game as a first person slasher, given majority of the combat in the game is done with melee weapons, it can also be played in third person view. After playing the beta at the end of May, I was super excited for launch and I am having a blast and two new maps were added for launch – Fighting Pit and Escape from Falmire.
Chivalry 2’s main game mode pits up to 64 players split into two teams, the blue and gold Agatha Knights and the red and black Mason Order, in multiple game modes as you try to survive against clashing swords, storms of flaming arrows and sprawling castle sieges. There is plenty of variety in the game’s eight maps with three deathmatch maps taking about 8-10 minutes to complete, versus the five huge team objective maps that take 30-40 minutes or longer to battle it out in multiple map phases. It is all out brawling warfare and honestly, it’s so much bloody fun, and boy is it bloody. With OCE servers too, our pings are nice and low so playing with 40-50 ping is a whole lot better than the 200-300 we’re used to in other games to US servers.
The developers took inspiration for Chivlary 2 from epic medieval movie battles, and I can see where they are coming from, especially when you are in first-person view. You are feverishly attacking the enemy faction using horizontal and vertical slashes and stabs with weapons ranging from swords, axes and maces to large two-handed spears and hammers. At the same time, you need to be aware of what is behind you, and listen to the woosh of a heavy weapon or the zing of an arrow as it passes your ear. The sound design is incredible with heavy weapons sounding different to the smaller one-handed variants, and the clang of steel against steel, or the thonk of an arrow as it lands in the wood beside you. It is a fully immersive experience, and I can only imagine how terrifying it would be as a VR game.
There is also friendly team fire, and I reckon I have contributed to many a teammate’s death by swinging my weapon the wrong direction. It is quite difficult to accurately swing and drag your weapon when you are in the thick of it. The tutorial does a good job of teaching you the mechanics. If you click the left mouse button and then move the mouse in a direction, you character should swing in the direction you moved the mouse. I say should because I got stuck on that tutorial section for a few minutes. I could hear the Billy Maddison quote, “it’s all in the hips” in my ear as I tried. The developers do describe the combat as an extension of your body, and I did find myself moving in my chair as I swung at the enemy and dodged incoming blows.
Players can choose to play as one of four classes in Chivalry 2 – knight, footman or vanguard for melee combat, and the fourth class is the archer. Each class has three subclasses that you can unlock by playing and levelling up that class. Knights, for example, start as an officer (melee/support/ranged hybrid) and you can unlock guardian (shield + 1-handed) and the crusader (tank). Archers start as a longbowman and you can unlock a crossbowman and a skirmisher. Footman play as poleman (long weapons), man-at-arms (agile with 1-handed weapons) or field engineer (support), while vanguard play as an ambusher (melee/ranged hybrid), devastator (largest weapons) or raider (two primary weapons).
Archers can be devastating from range and there are also throwing weapons. You can even throw your primary weapon at the enemy, vanquishing them as they try to make a quick getaway. There are also various items within the game that can be picked up and thrown at the enemy, including fish out of a well, chickens, barrels, and even body parts from vanquished throws. There is nothing more embarrassing than being killed by a teammate’s severed head, or a stray barrel thrown in jest. Some classes get forms of grenades, and you can light fire to straw lying around. There are many, many ways to die.
Sometimes you get incapacitated and whilst crawling on the floor, it gives your teammates an opportunity to revive you, or what I like to do is try to get some last punches into the enemy to take them down. Most of the time you will be vanquished quickly by the person that knocked you down but occasionally I have managed to get a kill which has given me a second chance, rising to continue to fight. There is also the chance you can lose a leg or arm and start bleeding out, and in rare instances can continue fighting despite the dismemberment and the words flash on the screen from Monthy Python and the Holy Grail – “It’s just a flesh wound!”
Chivalry 2 runs exceptionally smooth despite the amazing graphics, scale of the large battlefields and 64 players fighting each other in close-quarters combat. I did feel though, that the 64 player battles felt like there were too many players. You either found yourself alone, up against 4-6 or more of the enemy, or it was the other way around. Swarms of players would easily overwhelm almost any defenses. On team objective maps, I found the attacking team were usually the victors, unless the defenders could run the clock down which was rare in my play time. I have seen the king successfully defended a few times, so it is not impossible. Thankfully though, there is a 40-player lobby variant that we could play in, and I found this to be much more enjoyable. You can still be surrounded by the enemy team if you get yourself out of position or push too hard, but I felt it was less hectic and cluttered.
You can parry with your weapon, and some classes like the guardian have a shield which is by far my favourite class. That huge shield has come in handy, deflecting many arrows that ordinarily would have killed me as the other classes. If you can perfectly time a block or parry, you can get a riposte and throw the enemy off balance. The combat is so satisfying, especially after you have played for several hours and got the feel of your favourite class. Once each match finishes, you will have earned gold coins that you can spend to customise the look of your character, and the sheer level of detail here adds huge variety for head type, skin tone, head & facial hair + colors, facial imperfections, face paint, nicknames, heraldry, helmets, armor, weapons, and more. You can make some really menacing characters once you earn good amounts of gold. You can pay real money to buy crowns, but I earned gold fast enough to unlock the things I wanted.
The in-game party system has not been working for many players and the developers are working hard on a solution, though I had no issues grouping up with my co-op gaming legend Garbz. We can see each other’s names in the game so we can quickly group up together. Garbz was lethal as the archer, so he would find a good perch to rain hellfire whilst I’d charge as the guardian. There were lots of yahoos and cheers as we battled for hours, and there were many laughs as heads went flying or we’d get killed by a random spear throw, or slam someone up against spikes in the fighting pit, only for me to be pinned up on the spikes myself.
We have had a lot of fun in the game but can see some potential cracks that could form. The eight maps are fantastically detailed and given the dynamics of the various objective points, every game feels a little different to the last, but eventually it would be great to have some more map variety. It is pleasing to see there are more coming on the development roadmap “sooner than fans expect.” The other threat that could rear it’s ugly head is hackers. If they find a way into the game, it will totally ruin the experience given the reliance on accuracy and timing of your weapon swings and movement. I hope the developers can manage to keep them out as this is a great game with lots of potential for longevity.
Overall, Chivalry 2 is an outstanding medieval multiplayer combat game that sways more towards the Monty Python lighter comedic side than true historical accuracy, and if you’re one to look on the bright side of life, Chivalry 2 has plenty on offer. The combat is by far the best feature, having me shifting in my chair to swing my weapon true at my enemy’s head. Arrows, chickens, fish and barrels are flying all around, while you dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge your way to victory. Local servers are a very welcome feature for this style of multiplayer game and I’m looking forward to some more post-launch content. I’ll see you on the battlefield!
This review utilised an Epic Games Store key provided by Koch Media ANZ. Chivalry 2 is available to play now on Epic Games Store, PlayStation and Xbox.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis