Chivalry 2 Hands-on Preview – A Massive Improvement Over Medieval Warfare
To say that Chivalry 2 has been a long time coming would be an understatement. The first game in the medieval combat franchise was released in 2012 for PC and it was a spiritual successor to the popular Half-Life 2 mod Age of Chivalry.
With Chivalry, Canadian indie studio Torn Banner achieved success, selling millions of copies. The game eventually launched on consoles as well, though the experience there never quite matched what was available on PC. Then, in 2017, Mirage: Arcane Warfare was released in an attempt to mix sword with sorcery.
This effort didn't go well at all. Mirage sold poorly, leading Torn Banner to delist the game (it cannot be purchased on Steam or any other stores ever since) and shut down its servers after only a year, though at the time the studio also cited GDPR issues as part of the reason the game went offline for good.
Chivalry 2 is Torn Banner's attempt at refocusing on their original, successful formula, albeit with a much larger scope to boot. We had the chance to play the game during a recent press event and came away impressed, to say the least. In their presentation, the developers mentioned trying to capture the epic feeling seen in the Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones, and they appear to have been successful in that regard. The increase in size alone (Chivalry 2 supports up to 64 players in a match) makes a significant difference and, of course, the maps have been suitably enlargened to accommodate the larger player count. There are also lengthy modes modeled after castle sieges; these will eventually require the attackers to defeat the King in his throne room, and the King is none other than the player with the highest score on the defending team.
The maps are much more interactive as well compared to the original. There are literally dozens of objects that can be picked up and thrown or otherwise used as impromptu weapons, from cabbages to chickens, from pitchforks to branding irons, and so on.
Combat is still at the center of it all, anyway. It builds upon the solid foundation of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, where attacks are split into horizontal swings, stabs, and overhead strikes, while increasing the number of options at the player's disposal. It is possible and, in fact, recommend to 'combo attacks' by continuing to swing after the first strike to keep the momentum, though that will inevitably cost you a lot of precious stamina and missing could, therefore, prove to be fatal. A riposte is available as a fast counter-attack right after blocking, and feinting has been revised to be more effective.
The highly recommended tutorial will help you get to grips with the changes and additions, though it'll only be through hard-hardened battlefield experience that mastery will come, eventually. That's something we noticed ourselves. As we played, we got a lot better and even managed to kill a few enemies at once. We also quickly realized that large weapons are great whenever there's space enough to swing them but turn out to be cumbersome and counterproductive in tight spaces.
Something we didn't get the chance to test in the preview is ranged combat, enraptured by the thrill of close-quarter fights as we were. According to Torn Banner, however, it should be as refined and viable as melee combat, which wasn't exactly the case in the previous iteration.
Once you become familiar with the move set and understand what's really possible with the updated combat system, it's a blast to play, as all of the weapons feel appropriately deadly and weighty. Naturally, this is just the very tip of the iceberg. There's a lot that can be done with the customization of your playstyle, as each class (Knight, Footman, Vanguard, Archer) comes with three unique subclasses, for a total of twelve. Moreover, there are over sixty weapons to unlock in Chivalry 2, so you're bound to find something to your liking. Those who are fond of visual customization in games will be happy to know that Torn Banner promised 'a wide variety' of such options, though character customization was not available in this event and we cannot comment on it.
Particularly impressive are both the visuals and the performance. Unreal Engine 4 is on full display here, delivering a highly detailed rendition of a medieval battle. More importantly, even with all these players on screen, the performance never faltered during our session, as you can see in the gameplay footage below. We were playing at 4K and maximum settings on a PC powered by i9 9900K CPU and RTX 3090 GPU.
The same can be said of lag, though it's hard to say whether the same will be true once the game goes live and the servers will be flooded with gamers from all over the world. As crossplay will be supported, it'll be one big community playing together.
Anyone interested in Chivalry 2 will soon get the chance to don the plate armor and enter the bloody battlefield, given that the beta is set to begin on Friday, April 23 at 10:30 AM EDT through Monday, April 26 at 10:30 PM EDT. Pre-order customers will get in automatically, but we'll be able to offer codes to our readers with a giveaway; stay tuned for that.
The full game is not too far off either, being set for a global debut on June 8th on PC (Epic Games Store), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S|X. It'll be priced at $40.