Chivalry 2 Hands-On Preview
Before multiplayer medieval warfare games like For Honor and Mordhau, there was Chivalry. Instantly a cult classic back in 2012, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare took the formula of online shooters and replaced the trope of guns and grenades with swords and shields. It adorned players with heroic plate armor and colorful banners in place of camouflage and flak jackets. It gave us the opportunity to become gallant knights running into battle with our comrades, ready to slash someone’s head off in one fell swoop, all while screaming Monty Python-esque battle cries at the top of our lungs. While the original Chivalry rose from the passion project of a fresh and relatively inexperienced studio at the time, Torn Banner is back and stronger than ever with their epic sequel to the popular online, medieval slasher: Chivalry 2. In a hands-on preview of the game in San Francisco last week, I got to see Chivalry 2 in all its dumb, spectacular glory, and I could not get enough of it.
Slash And Slay
The story of Chivalry 2 sets you up in a medieval land ravaged by war and caught in the grips of a ruthless leader, King Malric. The game takes place 20 years after the events of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare and loosely follows the rise of a new hero who seeks to overthrow the King and reclaim the kingdom. In the massive, 64-player battles, you will fight for either King Malric or King Argon II in a variety of battlegrounds and modes, and they are all wickedly amusing and outrageously funny.
You play through the first-person perspective of your hero and have the choice between four different classes: Archer, Vanguard, Knight or Footman. Each class has their own distinctive loadout, with archers having options between crossbows, longbows, javelins, throwing knives and throwing axes, and knights being able to choose from a collection of warhammers, pole axes, messers, swords and shields — to name only a few. Vanguard soldiers use heavier weapons such as greatswords, battleaxes and longswords, while footmen take on a more run-and-gun — er, run-and-swing? — approach with lighter swords and shields. No matter what you choose, the mechanics stay the same, which makes switching between classes mid-battle more accessible than having to learn entirely different controls for each one.
There are multiple ways to slay in Chivalry 2 that require more finesse than your simple hack-and-slash mechanics, and even though you can definitely button mash thoughtlessly, you may not survive against players who have mastered the strategy of the controls that are offered. Weight and momentum are important new mechanics in the game — rather than just pressing the action button to swing your sword against an opponent, you will land your attacks faster and more effectively when you also move the joystick in the direction of the swing. You can not only slash your sword at your enemies, but you can also jab, kick, and throw items from the environment. My personal favorite way to utilize this mechanic was chopping someone’s head off, grabbing it off the ground, and throwing it at swiftly someone else. If that sounds morbidly awesome to you, you should also try grabbing a chicken, lighting it on fire and chucking it like a molotov cocktail — pun intended.
It’s Just A Flesh Wound
I thoroughly enjoyed the combat in Chivalry 2, though it took me a while to get the hang of. There are a lot of different actions and motions your character can perform, and it took me a few moments to get a handle on memorizing the controls. Still, the combat felt really good and much less clunky than I had expected. If there were any instances where I felt the game was clunky, it was more of an issue with myself not being able to respond in time to other players’ attacks. Once another player lands an attack against you, it becomes easier for them to land the next one and more difficult for you to break out of it without rolling away or using a special jab. Simply swinging your sword in response to an attack is not enough to save you, and if you do not understand this mechanic right off the bat it’s possible you will feel a frustrating clunkiness from the game that may no longer exist once you pick up on the strategy.
Without a doubt, the best part of Chivalry 2 is the hilarity that ensues from battle. The voice-overs and emotes are endlessly entertaining, with different whinges, shouts, complaints and cries being superbly funny to listen to. Hearing your character scream as they run into battle and chop someone’s arm off adds to the epic and ridiculous tone of the game, and it truly satisfies some deep part of me I just can’t explain. Spend a few minutes running around and fencing your foes in Chivalry 2, and I think you’ll understand the sentiment. It also helps that players can continue to fight even once their limbs are compromised, because there’s something outrageously dumb and funny about pulling out a dagger and trying to survive with your non-dominant arm once your other one has been detached.
I was only able to play the Team Deathmatch mode in Chivalry 2, but I am also very intrigued by the other modes the game will offer. The game is meant to be more than just a hack-and-slash, sword-fighting sim; the main motivation of the developers is truly to capture all aspects of medieval warfare. There will be a sort of castle siege mode, where one team will move through a village and push towards the castle while the other tries to defend and prevent the opposition from moving forward, and I am very excited to try this one out in the future. The maps and battlegrounds I did get to see were already pretty awesome and very well-designed, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like on an even larger scale.
Chivalry 2 was an absolute riot to play, and I can’t wait to see what players make of the game when it releases. I’m sure the absurdity of battle and how you can use objects in the world around you will only heighten once more players get their hands on the game, and I think fans of the first title will be thrilled with the improvements and expansions the sequel has brought to the table. Chivalry 2’s graphics are stunning, the design feels very true to medieval times, and the large variety of weapons open up a lot of opportunities to play and replay this game. Though the actual combat doesn’t hold back in its gory presentation, the game itself feels light, outlandish, and downright gratifying, and I can’t wait to go back for more.