I’ve never engaged in any live action role playing, or LARPing as it’s more commonly known. But playing Chivalry II makes me think I’d probably like it.
After a falling out, the Mason Order and the Agathian Knights have found themselves at each other’s necks. And so it’s up to you to choose a side and fight for victory in Chivalry II. Supporting up to 64 players, this multiplayer hack and slasher has thrills and spills aplenty, alongside buckets of blood and a healthy dose of humour. It’s perfect for anyone who’s ever fancied a spot of medieval warfare.
I was a bit worried heading into Chivalry II at first, I’ll admit. Jumping into the game’s tutorial, there seemed to be a lot to remember, combat-wise. I wondered if the game might end up being a bit over-complicated. The truth is though, that as long as you take in the basics, everything else will come naturally. And besides, even if you don’t master the game, you can still have an obscene amount of fun with it. To simply play Chivalry II is to have a whale of a time, whether you win or lose.
Three modes are available, with two of them being team-based. Team Objective designates one team as the attackers and the others as defenders. Playing as the attackers, you need to complete a number of objectives that vary depending on the map. You might have to push siege equipment to a castle’s walls, for example, take control of a courtyard, or even burn some tents. Complete an objective before time runs out, and another will commence with more time added to the clock. Complete all objectives and you win. If the defenders manage to hold out until the clock depletes during any stage, however, then they emerge victorious.
If you’d rather engage in warfare free of any complications, then Team Deathmatch is available. These battles play out on maps smaller than those found in Team Objective, allowing you maximum combat time. And the victory conditions are simple: the first team to a set number of kills wins. The same maps are used for Chivalry II‘s third mode, Free-for-All. In this mode you’re on your own, free to kill anyone you see on the battlefield. Again, the first to a set number of kills wins.
Each of Chivalry II‘s three modes provides an experience that’s utterly unique. Jump into Team Objective, for example, and you’ll find that the objective-based gameplay really drums up the tension and the need to work together to succeed. As the attackers, you need to overpower the enemy to gain ground. And every once in a while you’ll encounter a bottleneck where absolute carnage ensues. Playing Team Objective, you genuinely feel like you’re in the middle of a battle scene from Game of Thrones or suchlike. It’s amazing.
Moving over to Team Deathmatch, all you have to worry about is killing the enemy. But the smaller, more intimate nature of these battlefields means there’s less chance to strategise. Even more troubling, though team killing is enabled in both team-based modes, here it’s vital that you’re aware of who’s around you. If you don’t consider your strikes carefully, you might end up lopping a teammate’s head off as you attempt to execute the opposition. In Free-for-All you’re free to just go mental, swinging your weapon at anyone in sight. Just be sure to mind your back.
It’s the combat itself that makes Chivalry II so special, though. It’s weighty and tactical; easy to get to grips with but hard to master. You can perform slashes, stabs and overhead attacks, perform feints to outwit your enemies, and even punch and kick if you need to. Though it’s not all about offense. If you want to live for more than a handful of seconds, you’ll need to learn how to block. And once you’ve done that, you can then begin to perform ripostes or counters. The combat in Chivalry II is deep, allowing you to get into some really epic scraps when you come up against a similarly skilled opponent.
It’s not all about melee though. While three of the game’s four classes are indeed melee focused – Vanguard, Footman, and Knight – there’s also the Archer who can combat opponents from afar. As you play with each class you level them up, too, unlocking additional subclasses that grant access to new weapon loadouts. A basic Knight is an Officer equipped with a Longsword, for example, but with a bit of levelling up they can become a Guardian, equipped with a hammer and shield. Meanwhile, a basic Archer is a Longbowman equipped with, you guessed it, a longbow. With just a bit of work, you can turn them into a Crossbowman instead if you wish.
The final nuance that adds a bit of flair to each battle is that each class also has access to a special ability that can be used when a gauge is full. Some have access to pots of oil that engulf the area in which they land in flames. Others can make use of a trumpet that heals those around them. A few can even put down spike traps. If used well, these support abilities can really turn turn a fight around.
Like any online-based game, Chivalry II has the occasional issue. After sitting through matchmaking I’ve been thrown into games as a spectator numerous times, for example. Also, jumping into Free-for-All matches where a player needs 35 kills for the win, I’ve seen the kill counter go up to 55 before the victory was awarded. I’ve not encountered anything too major though, and no doubt these kinks will be ironed out in time.
Chivalry II is one of the best online multiplayer games I’ve ever played, it’s as simple as that. It’s accessible but belies a huge amount of depth, and each of its game modes offers a notably different gameplay experience. Medieval warfare has never been so in-your-face and brutal yet also so hilarious. This is a game in which you can lose an arm and still keep on fighting, insisting that it’s just a scratch until you inevitably end up laying motionless on the floor, just like all the other unfortunate dead. It should be horrifying, really, but that’s Chivalry II‘s greatest achievement; it’s so well put together that such moments can only be considered a bloody spectacle.
Chivalry II Review: GameSpew’s Score