Game review: Chivalry 2 (Xbox One/Series X)
Chivalry 2 sounds like the sequel to a turn-based medieval strategy game. Possibly why I gave the first game, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare a wide birth back in 2012. It was only when I heard Chivalry 2 described as medieval Call of Duty that my interest was properly piqued. After checking the game out, the COD comparison is probably the best description you could give it.
The game is set around a conflict involving two factions, the Agatha Knights and the Mason Order, who wear red and blue, respectively. The two factions engage in a variety of large-scale 40 or 64-player battles in free-for-all, team deathmatch, and team objective rounds.
For what is effectively a hack and slash game, there is a lot of lore surrounding the conflict between Agatha and the Masons. Chivalry 2 continues from the civil war featured in the first game. Whereas Agatha appreciates honour and justice, the Masons believe in strength and ferocity. These two opposing doctrines provide the backdrop to the game’s conflict. There’s a whole section on the lore in the game detailing the characters and even a map of Chivalry 2’s world.
The game has no single-player campaign and is instead an online-only multiplayer affair. There is an offline bot-filled training mode, though, if you want to get up to speed and not embarrass yourself. The training mode allows players to experience the complete set of maps and match types, but without gaining any experience. There’s also a tutorial session that goes through the intricacies of the game.
Initially, whilst doing the tutorials, the combat seemed similar to the likes of Mount and Blade and Kingdom Come: Deliverance. In truth, what goes down on the battlefield is a lot scrappier. Players expecting the skillful swordsmanship of Ubisoft’s For Honor will likely be appalled by the haphazard carnage of Chivalry 2.
Whilst the game has many subtleties until you can instinctively perform special moves, the fog of war degrades combat to the haphazard purity of dodge, block and attack. But, boy, is it fun. You can easily bring your weapon down upon your opponent’s head, poke them, or swing at them. But by combining a rotation, that swing can be used to slice multiple enemies. The tutorial (and my description) doesn’t do a good job of explaining this, but you quickly get the gist.
Battles are bloody and not for the faint-hearted. Limbs are lopped and there’s blood everywhere. The game gruesomely demonstrates the carnage of a medieval battle, especially when attacking or being attacked by multiple opponents. Battles are a fee-for-all. Expect the enemy to attack from behind, interrupting your attack on the opponent in front of you. Death is inevitable and frequent, but so are the kills.
Whereas getting taken out by a crafty shot in Call of Duty can be annoying, having your head lopped right off your shoulders by a cheeky sword stroke in Chivalry 2 had me laughing quite a few times. A good defeat can even be rewarded with a message of congratulation.
Battlefields are littered with objects that can be used to attack the enemy, including chickens and even the dismembered heads of the fallen. Similarly, players can continue to fight even after losing a limb, fighting to the last.
Visually, Chivalry 2 is a treat. Players get to do battle in huge environments with amazingly realistic medieval buildings. The maps are packed with detail. The game has a polished look and plays very smoothly. I saw no real difference in performance between the Xbox One and Xbox Series X.
The game can be played first or third-person, adjustable in the settings. There’s also an alternative movement attack option, gore level, UI, and comms options, as well as colour-blindness accessibility settings.
Chivalry 2 features a variety of different multiplayer match types. Free-for-alls in a purpose-build arena makes for some naughty giggles as you kick your victim onto the sharp spikes that litter the field. Free-for-all also uses the tournament area map.
But it’s the team matches where the fun is to be had. Whilst the two arena-style maps are available for a bit of traditional team deathmatch most team matches are objective-based. These six multi-stage maps have both teams defending or attacking fortresses, rescuing prisoners, and escaping the enemy.
There are four classes: archer, vanguard, footman, and knight. Each class for each faction can be customised. This includes their appearance as well as armour, weapons, and heraldry.
Items unlock as players increase the rank of each class; spending gold earnt in the game. Items can also be unlocked using crowns purchased with real money. I’m not really a fan of this sort of thing. It is disappointing to see these sorts of microtransactions in the game, although I do understand that servers etc. cost money to run.
Unlike many multiplayer games where the player base is divided across Xbox, PlayStation, and PC, Chivalry 2’s multiplayer is cross-platform. This means that is easy to find a game pretty much anytime. Cross-platform can be switched off as required via the settings.
Chivalry 2 offers a great multiplayer experience with huge bloody battles that look straight out of A Game of Thrones. Matches are exhilarating and brutal, almost to the point of being comedic. The developer, Torn Banner Studios have confirmed that they will continue to improve and add content to the game, including ridable horses. If you are up for swinging a dirty great axe into an unsuspecting enemy, in no-holds-barred melee combat, this is the game for you.