The hack-and-slash medieval warfare simulator has maintained a strong presence over the past few years, especially on PC. While Mordhau is the newest game in the genre, Chivalry 2 has arrived to challenge for the throne.
The elevator pitch for Chivalry 2, developed by Torn Banner Studios and published by Deep Silver, is pretty straightforward. Two factions – the noble Agathans and the more villainous Masons – battle across the map with swords, axes, hammers and any other object they may come across. There are 64-player and 40-player modes, each with slightly different goals but the same core idea – 33,360 kills on the opposing team.
While it may be simplistic, a single focus is all Chivalry 2 needs to be successful. Siege battles and battle pit sets enhance the experience, but Chivalry 2’s frenzied engagements are still compelling in the padded rooms. If players want to compete, it doesn’t order players to master every concept it has, it just tells them to charge each other and cause a little chaos, screaming battle cries when they meet dire doom.
Of course, that’s not to say that Chivalry 2’s combat is simplistic – far from it. Chivalry 2 has a steep learning curve, allowing those who master it to become an unstoppable force on the battlefield, while less skilled players become humanoid targets for them to attack. That same skill gap can be found in any multiplayer game, though, and Chivalry 2 really does give players everything they need to be on equal footing. It just comes down to whether players can perfect the concepts.
What sets Chivalry 2 apart from other multiplayer games is the way it handles death. While chopping off a person’s head is still frustrating, Chivalry 2 adds a few extra elements to spice things up when the player is being beaten. For example, sometimes a player’s arm is cut off, giving them a brief moment to swing any one-handed weapon they might be carrying at the attacker, and their screen keeps telling them it’s “just a flesh wound.”
The game also emphasizes occasionally simply knocking players down, rather than just killing them. While this is usually a death sentence, players can recover from this downed state, or throw punches in the groin of other players in the last few minutes. It’s these ridiculous moments wrapped in intense combat that make Chivalry 2 such a refreshing experience, especially when played with friends.
What’s more, Chivalry 2 is gorgeous. The way the sun reflects off the armor, the detailing of some of the weapons, and the dirt on the battlefield all combine to make for a visually appealing game, though it’s clearly a low-budget effort. Likewise, the core experience in Chivalry 2 is compelling enough that its visuals take a backseat, but the good looks are the icing on the cake.
However, these visual effects don’t extend everywhere. While players will spend most of their time with full armor sets, Chivalry 2 does allow for some easy character customization. The problem is that these customization options always seem to combine into something akin to a death mask rather than a heroic knight. This may be intentional, given Chivalry 2’s tone of being both grandiose and lighthearted.
Another less finicky area of Chivalry 2’s early struggles is weapon selection. While the arsenal opens up later, the beginning of the course feels very similar. Progression is mostly category-based, like weapon unlocks, and there’s a separate global tier with some more general uses, so focusing on a single category will provide more varied usage options. It’s repeating the process for other classes, which can get a little tiresome since most early primary weapons feel the same. Their variety, mostly in swing speed and range, makes a lot of sense from a tactical standpoint, but a few extra tweaks to the effects of different weapon types would make all the difference in the world.
The game has also struggled with server issues since launch. There are many factors that can affect it, but even with a stable internet connection, it’s not uncommon to see ping spikes and jittery characters on the screen. These issues don’t usually last long, and while Chivalry 2 makes it easy to see low ping servers in the browser, they’re still frustrating given how important timing is to combat.
There are a few other smaller bugs that also look odd on screen, but don’t drag the experience down significantly. For example, players would occasionally run across the map without moving their legs, causing their bodies to wobble awkwardly as they moved. This is an issue that will likely be patched, but it’s still an oddity to see on screen. For the most part, though, we haven’t encountered any issues that feel like they’re detracting from the long-term experience.
Those who enjoy games with gore, drama and humor will find a great experience in Chivalry 2. It’s approachable, smooth, and a great time to spend with friends. Plus, the promise of free content coming soon, which should make the current offering even more appealing to those who play it. While there are a few minor technical hiccups here and there to iron out, it’s still one of the most enjoyable experiences of 2021 so far.
Chivalry 2 is available now for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.
Game Rant reviewed Chivalry 2 on Origin PC’s Neuron 4000D. Origin offers a wide variety of customizable PCs to suit any gamer’s needs. Read more about Neuron here.