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access_time June 13, 2021 at 7:00 AM in Reviews by David Poole

Review | Chivalry 2

Purely multiplayer games need to work much harder to stay relevant in the competition these days. With genres like battle royale, hero shooters and more, it takes a unique style of gameplay to stand out. It seems like Torn Banner Studios’ Chivalry 2 not only finds that unique style, but also goes above and beyond to be an incredible multiplayer experience. If you’re a fan of large team-based games like Battlefield, it might be worth going back a few hundred years to the medieval times of Chivalry.

Chivalry 2 puts players in the feud between the Agatha Knights and the Mason Order, set 20 years after the events of the original game. While there’s a decent amount of lore to dig through, including key characters and events, the true story is the one you make with your own imagination. You see, Chivalry 2 is essentially a virtual LARP, allowing players to live out their dreams as a medieval fighter. Letting your imagination carry you is heavily encouraged, as it makes for better enjoyment of the game. Perhaps you’ll lend your sword, your axe, or your bow to your team, and protect the heir from annihilation.

You’ll be able to pick from four main classes, each with their own set of sub-classes. This includes the Knight, the Archer, the Vanguard, and the Footman. The Knight offers the Officer, Guardian and Crusader options, each with their own specialties. For the Archer, you’ll have the option to choose the Longbowman, the Crossbowman, or the Skirmisher, the latter of which has the shortest range but deals the most damage. The Vanguard gives access to the Ambusher, the Devastator, or the Raider, offering several offensive classes. Finally, the Footman offers the Poleman, the Man-at-Arms, and the Field Engineer, giving a balance of different classes.

These sub-classes each specialize in various different weapons, wielding unique secondary weapons and equipment like bandages or war horns. They’ll even have unique skills like sprint attacks and shoves. Each class feels balanced, and they offer something different to the fight while being essential to the battlefield. My personal favorite is the Vanguard Ambusher, using a series of various axes to take down foes. To keep things balanced, the game will also limit how many of each class can be selected. This way, you’ll never have a full team of Archers.

As you play with each class, you’ll rank up and unlock new cosmetics and eventually the later sub-classes. You’ll also gain experience for your profile, leveling up your global rank for even more cosmetics. The cosmetics you unlock will then be available to purchase with gold, which you’ll earn through gameplay. If you choose to, you can purchase crowns with real money to buy the cosmetics without unlocking them. It’s nice that the microtransactions aren’t crucial to the gameplay, and they’re entirely avoidable. For a game like Chivalry 2, it’s nice to offer visual customization to show some personality. Even better that it can all be unlocked without spending additional money.

Getting to the real meat of the game, players will have options between 64 or 40-player team battles, as well as free-for-all. When playing the team modes, you’ll have various objectives like simple team deathmatches or more layered modes like Siege. Sieges will have one side attacking while the other defends, giving a variety of tasks for both sides. In some maps, you’ll be protecting prisoners or soldiers while others, you’ll be burning down settlement camps. Some Sieges will even involve siege towers or ramps to push, using them to invade the defending army. Attacking teams will have a limited time to perform each objective to progress toward victory. Overall, there’s a surprising amount of variety for the team objectives, and with eight maps circulating, it rarely feels repetitive.

When it comes to actually playing the game, you can play in first or third person when engaging battles. Going into battle with your favorite class is both invigorating and rewarding. With a lot of inspiration from Hollywood movies, there’s plenty of glory to earn on the battlefield. Sometimes you’ll rally your team with a healing war horn, or maybe you’ll be the last man standing after an epic bout. The game takes advantage of these situations by playing up the moment. Lose an arm? That’s okay, because you’ll be able to keep fighting until you bleed out or perish. Perhaps you’re knocked down? If you manage to attack enemies enough, you’ll be able to get back up for a second chance.

Aside from all the different main weapons, there’s a ton of offensive options in the game. From mounted ballistae to whatever you can pick up, the possibilities are practically endless. The various objectives offer all kinds of ways to take out your foes as well. You can lure opponents near trap doors or even knock them into death pits. One of my favorite options is dropping large boulders on enemies trying to breach your gates. It’s just such an unconventional method, that it makes me chuckle every time. The game even gets sillier by offering weapons like bread or chickens. Are they viable? Well in the right hands, they certainly can be.

When it comes to the main combat, Chivalry 2 offers incredibly deep options. All melee weapons offer normal and heavy attacks, with standard swings, overheads and stabs. The faster you drag your mouse or camera, the sooner you’ll make your strike. When you really get desperate, or if you’re just trying to kill a cowardly player, throwing your weapon is also an option. To do well on the battlefield, you’ll want to mix up your attacks to throw your foes off. You can even feint your opponents by canceling into another kind. Classes like the Guardian have shields to help protect them in combat while others like the Poleman may have weapons with long reach. All the different options provide plenty of strategies, and players should try each class to find what works best for them.

When it comes to defensive options, you’ll be able to block incoming attacks with a bit of aim, but you’ll also be able to dodge as well. This comes into play pretty often, and even an unarmed player can dance around their foes if they master these maneuvers. Of course, there is a stamina meter, so you can’t abuse these methods endlessly. Going further, you’ll have bandages to heal yourself, which can also be resupplied at various spots on the battlefield. You can only hold one at a time, so use them wisely; unless you’re by a supply chest. As for special items like oil bombs and braziers, they’ll act on a cooldown timer, making it so you’ll have to use them wisely.

Getting to the production value, Chivalry 2 has tons of great features. These range from the gorgeous animation in the Unreal Engine to fun dialogue options from your emote wheel. Players can practically have full blown conversations just with these emotes alone. All of this works great in fantastic looking environments, really selling the medieval feel. Character faces could look a little better, but it won’t matter much when your head gets decapitated by an executioner’s axe. With this being an online game, Torn Banner did whatever they could to provide plenty of options. Bots fill up games that don’t have enough players and you even have cross-play between platforms. It’s great to see features like this at launch, and it makes me wonder what might come to the game over time.

Now as far as the performance goes, the game does have some hiccups here and there. Respawns are a little inconsistent, as players tend to spawn in random locations. The spawn also just looks strange overall, as players just quickly rise up to their feet as they run. Changing class between deaths does also add to the spawn timer, which almost feels like a penalty for wanting to change. As far as the online goes, there’s very little lag to deal with, but you’ll occasionally see players teleporting on the map. Despite this, due to the overall nature of the game, it’s easy to forgive, and win or lose, fun times are likely to be had.

With Chivalry 2 coming in at a budget price tag, it’s a great multiplayer experience for anyone to enjoy. The combat is deep and full of variety, giving players a chance to live out their medieval fantasies however they wish. Utilizing cross-play and great animations, players will always have someone to have their epic duels with. While it might not be perfect in the performance department, nor for offline play, Chivalry 2 is still good fun. Even if you die, the experience can still be enjoyable enough to encourage you to keep trying. It seems that Torn Banner Studios has really found the right formula for their multiplayer.

Final Score: 8.5 out of 10

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