If done properly, there are few things in the world of video games as satisfying as a first-person melee action title. It’s hard to make the combat within them fun and rewarding, and it’s even more challenging to balance them properly. And as far as I’m concerned, Chivalry 2 nails both of these things to perfection.
This is a power fantasy that arms you to the teeth, and lets you loose in a battlefield full of dozens of other meatbags like yourself. You all know that you’re going to die really soon, but what truly matters is the number of foes you take with you.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats the feeling of holding your own against an entire squad of enemies in this game, knowing that a single mistake is all that stands between you and death.
Now this is already obvious to players of the previous game, but new players should nonetheless also be aware that Chivalry 2 is not a story oriented title.
There is a overarching narrative that explains the setting of this medieval world, as well as the role of the different kingdoms within it. Two brief cutscenes at the start also explain the status of the ongoing conflict between our two playable factions; the Agatha Knights and the Mason Order.
But after that, you’re dropped into the game with no further exposition. If you’re really inclined to dive deep into this world, there is a ‘Lore’ section in the menu where you can read a bit more about it.
At the end of the day however, Chivalry 2 is all about the combat.
The core of this game is the phenomenal melee combat that has been polished to near perfection. It’s not nearly as complex as you might expect, but it’s still designed in a way that accommodates players of all skill levels.
As the basis, you have a selection of three main attacks known as the Slash, Stab and Overhead. Each of these utilize a different set of movements, and they have different situations where they are useful.
Slashes are wide swings that can hit multiple enemies at the same time, but you have to be careful that you don’t accidentally hit your teammates. Meanwhile Stabs are precise lunges that deal damage directly in front of you, and the Overhead brings your weapon down in a powerful vertical blow.
You can mix and match these moves in combat, creating combos either by rapidly executing a single type of attack or chaining together the three different types available to you. You can even initiate one attack, but switch to another mid-swing to pull off a feint that can throw your opponent off.
On top of this, you have options like blocking, countering, kicking, riposting and all of the other moves that we’ve come to associate with melee combat.
There are even advanced maneuvers like dragging, that allow you to get the most out of your placement and camera movement. These let you get the upper hand by ensuring that your attacks hit faster than usual, or that you’re able to increase the number of targets you hit.
For players who prefer a ranged playstyle, there is even an archer class that has access to a bow, crossbow or other ranged weapons. This isn’t the main way you’ll be playing the game, but it’s a nice option to have. It also helps that archery is not treated as a secondary style of combat. It’s as satisfying as polished as the melee attacks.
The point I’m trying to make here is that there are a number of different techniques that you can use to dominate the battlefield. They’re all easy to understand, but extremely difficult to master.
Which is why it’s a good thing that Chivalry 2 also features a comprehensive tutorial for new players.
I highly recommend that beginners do not skip this when they first jump into the game. Not only will this drill the basic controls into your brain, it will also give you a fundamental understanding of how the flow of combat works.
With this under your belt, you’ll be chopping off heads with the best of them in no time.
Classes And Customization
To start with, players have access to the four base classes and their starting gear. The Archer, Vanguard, Footman and Knight are decent by themselves, but the real fun starts once you level them up and unlock each of their three subclasses.
Each of these specialize in a particular style of combat, with their own unique set of buffs and equipment. Depending on your preferences, you can unlock the shield carrying Guardian subclass for the Knight, or the dual-wielding Raider subclass for the Vanguard. The choice is always up to you.
Every main class also has a unique ability that charges up over time. For example, the Vanguard class can throw an oil pot that creates a burning area-of-effect, while the Knight can blow a horn that heals nearby allies. These can help you turn the tide of an encounter, but only if you use them strategically.
On top of experience, you also gain gold as you level up. You can then use this to purchase different cosmetic items for you classes in the game store. The options range from various different helmets and armor types, all the way to multiple variations of each of the weapon types in the game.
You can purchase everything available with gold, but the prices on some of these items are a bit too steep. This is because the game also features an alternative premium currency known as ‘Crowns.’ You can purchase these with real money if you choose to skip out on all the grinding.
I’ve never been particularly fond of paid cosmetics in games that already cost money. And personally, I’m never going to touch these, but it does bear mentioning for potential buyers that Chivalry 2 has microtransactions.
Maps And Modes
At launch, the selection of maps available to players is fairly limited. And to be completely honest, what we do get isn’t particularly diverse either. That’s a bit disappointing to see, but players can take solace in the fact that everything is at least competently designed.
The large 64 player maps are divided into multiple sections, each of which get their time to shine as the multi-stage battles that take place within them move forward. Both factions in the game have their own set of objectives for each location as well, and depending on your luck, you can find yourself on either the attacking or defending side. This way, a single map has two distinct viewpoints that you get to see.
Smaller 40 player or Free-For-All maps don’t have the multiple segments that differentiate their larger counterparts, but they’re still open enough to not feel crowded.
More maps are set to be released for the game post-launch, with the first batch coming with Content Update 1 in the next few months.
Chivalry 2 Verdict
The melee combat in this title is some of the most fun I’ve had with a multiplayer game in recent memory. It’s fast, frantic and so utterly enjoyable, that I didn’t even mind the times that my team or I lost a game. Even losing is fun.
Unlike other games of this type, Chivalry 2 is also extremely welcoming to newcomers, with a tutorial that will quickly help any novice understand the fundamentals of combat. Mastering the game is still another matter however.
My time with the game was also relatively bug free and smooth. After 30+ hours, all I saw was one hard crash, but apart from that I faced no major issues. While testing performance on the base Xbox One, I was surprised to see a steady 30 FPS even in areas where over 40 different players were engaged in combat altogether.
In conclusion, I had an incredible time with Chivalry 2, and I’m going to keep coming back to it for years to come.
- Fantastic combat.
- Great selection of classes and subclasses.
- Newcomer friendly.
- Great performance even on last-gen consoles.
- Bug free.
- Promising future updates.
- Limited number of maps.