Ever wanted to cleave someone in half? Chivalry II answers that question with a resounding, “YES!”
In Chivalry II, players fight on the side of either Agatha (blue and gold) or Mason (red and black). These sides are primarily for aesthetic purposes, but Mason has the obviously cooler catchphrase: “Red for the blood in our veins. Black for the shadow that yet remains!”
Just like its predecessor, Chivalry II is a first person multiplayer medieval combat game. Players can opt for a third person perspective if that is their preference, though first person is much more immersive. Four classes are available, the Archer, Vanguard, Footman, and Knight. Each class has their own playstyle with a unique selection of weapons and a special ability.
When you pop into a match, you are randomly assigned to a side. Classes can be changed between lives so you can adapt and counter particularly strong opponents. Additionally, the weapons of the fallen can be equipped by any class. This means that an Archer who runs out of arrows could easily pick up a war hammer and go to town if they wanted. Changing classes is still important though, as you only gain experience for the class you are currently playing.
Game modes are tied to specific maps. In the standard 64 and 40 player playlists there are: multi-stage attack/defense with a timer, multiple round elimination maps, and an all out brawl until one side runs out of lives. Brawl and Free-For-All have their own playlists. A server browser exists, though this is primarily used for joining private games and 1v1 duels with player honored rules. There are no actual custom modes to be had.
Worried about being thrown into the fray helpless and confused? Not to worry! Chivalry II comes equipped with a thorough tutorial. The tutorial is step by step with short text windows, voice over, video examples, and practice sections. I found this to be impressive as many developers fail to balance engagement and explanation when teaching people how to play their game. Sections of the tutorial can also be skipped if you only want a refresher on certain things. Newcomers should expect to spend a good 10-15 minutes getting used to the controls and mechanics.
I originally struggled with the combat and was repeatedly slaughtered while feeling frustrated at my own ineptitude. After revisiting Chivalry II many months later, I had a much better grasp of the mechanics. In 1v1s I performed fairly well when it came to parries and dodging attacks. I even survived in a few situations where I was outnumbered. Swords were my favorite as they had a good balance of speed and length. With most other weapons, a long swing would get interrupted or I would mistime my charge.
Friendly fire does exist, though allies take reduced damage. Just like in a real battle, you cannot run ahead, wildly swinging your sword or blindly fire arrow volleys into a crowd. Allies can also enter a wounded state upon losing all their health. Enemies can finish them off or the wounded can crawl away and be revived by a friendly player.
I can say that it is not easy for me to pop into Chivalry II after playing other games. I felt the need to go through the tutorial again to remember how the flow of combat worked. It is a situation where the combat is unique and it takes a bit to warm up to it again. Once you readjust, the game becomes a brilliant chaotic clash of swords, tight ducks, and throwing random debris at the enemy.
While the carnage is bloody and the presentation aims for a sort of grim realism, Chivalry II knows it is, in fact, a silly game. A dedicated battle cry button exists for all voices, many of which are purposefully wimpy or sound like your character really wants to run in the other direction. The holiday season had silly cosmetics, like giant reindeer heads, and the ability to throw snowballs and wrapped anvils. It is also possible to get your arms chopped off and keep fighting until you bleed to death.
As is the case in most team multiplayer games, winning matches relies on the competence of your fellow players. Objective focused maps were sometimes a struggle. My teammates were easily distracted and wanted to focus killing other players rather than freeing prisoners or opening gates. Even on defense, sometimes people would charge at those on the outskirts and the formation would fall. Maps where objectives focused on cutting down other players or holding a position typically went without a hitch.
Currency is earned during play. Gold can be used to purchase cosmetics to customize each class for both Agatha and Mason. While I did find the facial models to be…less than appealing, there are plenty of helmets to hide those ugly mugs. Each weapon can have a skin applied to it (which is the majority of what you will see in first person mode). I did find the medieval-inspired patterns for outfits to be the most desirable skins with checkered patterns, big stripes, lion insignias, etc.
Both weapon types and classes can be leveled. Leveling a class will unlock different class variants and weapons. This can be as big of a difference as being a Knight who can start with a shield or an Archer who spawns with a crossbow. Leveling a weapon is much less rewarding as levels only affect the cosmetics that can be applied to the weapon.
The developers at Torn Banner Studios plan to support Chivalry II with new content for years to come. Updates release every few months along with developer logs. The announced plans for 2022 include The House Aberfell update which includes a new map, weapon, new things to pickup in levels, and more. Chivalry II supports cross-play, but currently players on different platforms cannot party up and consoles do not have a server browser. These are features planned to be implemented in 2022.
Chivalry II is a bloody mess, in a good way! While it requires practice and skill to succeed, once you get the hang of how to swing a sword and parry properly, the game becomes a ton of fun. When playing over the holidays, very few of the mixed mode servers had enough players for full matches. Typically a match would have about 45 players. If you prefer the 64 player mode, I recommend popping in during the heavier traffic weekends after new updates drop. I expect the player base to grow once Chivalry II launches on Steam, though no launch date has been confirmed as of yet.
For the RED AND BLACK!
- Combat has a surprising amount of depth
- Approachable to newcomers with a great tutorial
- High skill ceiling that feels rewarding
- Progression system that encourages trying more classes and weapons
- Have a laugh launching allies with catapults and throwing furniture
- A lot of mechanics to take in at once
- A bit too complex to pick up and play after an extended break
- Difficult to find a full match of players in some modes
- Most face models are rather ugly
- Minor bugs on occasion