Some games have a lot of longevity because, well, where are you going to take the concept? There’s a reason there’s not a Team Fortress 3, for instance, and…uh, it’s because Valve doesn’t make games that aren’t VR anymore. Bad examples aside, a sequel might represent refinement rather than evolution – we see that with Chivalry 2, which is a prettier, more polished take on the original medieval battlefield sim.
Much like the original game, Chivalry 2 is all about huge-scale battles where players charge at each other screaming and waving weapons around. If you like the W key and the left mouse button you’re absolutely going to enjoy Chivalry 2! Point yourself at the baddies and get to work! Heck, kill some of your allies by accident while you’re at it, they’ll love that!
Joking aside, there’s actually a ton of depth involved in the combat here. Murder’s more than just a matter of hitting someone with a static weapon; weapons are dynamic here, with damage focused on the actual blade or head, and the amount of pain you dish out is based on physical concerns like how fast you swing, the direction the swing is going, where the weapon strikes and so on. On defense, you can block attacks, riposte to put the opponent off balance and counterattack.
There’s a lot to learn, and the difference in performance between a W+mouse-button-1 mashing newbie and a skilled player is striking. Vets tend to say that the combat is different enough to throw them off, but as a relative newcomer I found the game felt pretty similar to the first Chivalry. By that I mean, of course, that I spent most of my time getting slaughtered, but that’s to be expected.
The number of different weapons and classes available is pretty striking as well. You start with access to four classes – the Knight, Vanguard, Footman and Archer – and those all have appropriate starter weapons. There’s plenty of unlockables as well, but most of the more interesting stuff is, unfortunately, locked behind a Call of Duty-style leveling system. You might have to hammer your face against an XP wall for a while before you’re able to hammer an enemy’s face with a giant maul or something.
You’ll take your swordfighting skills and customized classes into battle in any of several modes. Free-For-All and Team Deathmatch are classics, of course, and Team Objective mixes that up a little by adding in goals to work toward…but tends to play a lot like Team Deathmatch. There’s an Arena Mode as well, featuring 3v3 matches to really emphasize your growing ability to gut other players. I found myself preferring Team Deathmatch because I’m a neanderthal who hates thinking, but there’s plenty to enjoy all around.
It’s a little shocking how good Chivalry 2 still manages to look and how smooth it runs given the absurd amount that can be happening onscreen at one time. The PC version is just about perfect…with the exception of the odd crash here and there. Make sure to apologize to your team if you get dropped out of the blue. They’ll probably understand – it’s surely happened to them as well.
Crashing aside, Chivalry 2 is a fantastic medieval warfare simulator that really rewards time investment and practice. Swinging a greatsword around is plenty of fun, but the degree to which you can improve belies how much is happening underneath the surface. If you’re into fighting games, Game of Thrones-style gritty medieval settings or crazy chaotic team battles, you might want to join up with the army and get to training.