Medieval combat games are few and far between. It’s a budding genre, one that’s growing surely and steadily. Chivalry got the genre into the mainstream originally, but Mordhau managed to truly capitalize on it. With Chivalry 2, Torn Banner studios is taking its crown back with a medieval combat game that doesn’t take itself too seriously while still managing to be a bloody good time.
Chivalry 2 is split up primarily between two game modes: objective based and team deathmatch. The latter takes place entirely in different, small-scale arenas, perfect for getting a feel for Chivalry 2’s combat.
The game works like many other medieval combat titles; you control your character’s legs with the arrow keys or left stick and their hips with the mouse or right stick. Weapons are all weighty, and you can feel their heft behind each massive swing. You can also do overhead attacks, stabs, parry attacks, counter attacks, jab, or kick, which sounds like a lot to manage at first.
However, it doesn’t take long to figure out the almost rock-paper-scissor-like combat system of Chivalry 2. It’s incredibly easy to get a feel for, and once you’re comfortable simply attacking someone, it’s much more fun to start experimenting with the game’s different classes and weapons. Each class has its own type of weapon, sidearm, and items, and weapons themselves are packed with their own stats, showing which types of enemies they’re best at decapitating.
Some of these stats are extraneous, and I ended up ignoring them for most of my playtime. Regardless of who I was going up against, a war axe always cleaved through groups effortlessly, and large, heavy mauls always left bloody dents in armor.
Chivalry 2’s objective-based games are where all of your knowledge and skill are put up to the test. These massive, 64 player matches task attacking teams with multiple objectives, whether they’re breaking down a castle’s gates, freeing prisoners, or torching a village. Defenders, naturally, have to stop all of that from happening.
These games are where you’ll likely have the most fun playing Chivalry 2. In my time with the game I’ve seen players crushed under chandeliers, and killed a man with a chicken. If you’re feeling wild, you can decapitate a man and use that man’s head to kill another man. That’s all a very long way to say that Chivalry 2, while bloody and seemingly serious on the outside, doesn’t have to be. The game can be whatever you make of it, whether it’s a harsh medieval combat sim or something more lighthearted and goofy. To that end, players can even customize their characters with extreme, and silly, personalities. One thinks they’re God incarnate, and listening to them lord over a cut down an enemy is more than worth a laugh.
Sadly, some of the game’s set-piece maps aren’t designed to give each team a good, fighting chance. On some maps, defenders spawn impossibly close to the objectives they’re protecting. Others have the opposite problem, giving attackers more than enough space to complete their goals. Every map has at least one phase of objectives like this, which can take the wind out of an otherwise exhilarating match.
Chivalry 2 is still a standout medieval combat title, despite those issues. Starting a match on the Siege of Rudhelm and having both teams clash, with battle cries blaring and limbs and weapons flailing about is fun and exhilarating every time I’ve experienced it. With a fun, open design that doesn’t make it a struggle to get into the game and a treat to master it, Chivalry 2 sets a high standard for its genre.