You’ve got a PC and you aren’t playing Chivalry yet? You actually took time out to look for a review? Well Kudos to you for doing so. If you’re looking for a TL:DR sum up then here it is. You can battle shout and run into combat slicing of limbs with psychotic abandon and find a much deeper combat system than you might expect. Go on, go buy it now!
You’re still here? Ok ok, time for a bit of explanation. You are owed that much.
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is set within a civil war between the kingdom of Agatha and the Mason Order. No real story or script here. Just a reason to beat, maul, slice and tear the living crap out of one another. Legions of people charge headlong into visceral devastating combat hellbent on cutting their enemies to ribbons. Rolling green fields are splattered with blood and limbs while sandy desert towns are painted red, the sand and dust soaked a brilliant crimson with the tales of slaughter. Monuments to savage hate-fuelled combat litter the barren rocky wastes, built with the severed limbs and broken torsos of those who participated in the flesh-flaying melee of war. Pompous as this all sounds after so many hours in Chivalry its mindless savagery starts to become artistic. Each map and location is built to subtly bring everyone together to engage combat, whether they want to or not. Even some of the more ambitious and crazy locations are built upon in such a way as to make them a fun backdrop while not affecting the gameplay with distractions. Even the maps with lava pits don’t bend your sense of what this game is about out of proportion. They are just a fun addition which factors into the whole basis of this game. Fun always takes priority.
Torn Banner Studios initially built this premise into their free mod for Half Life 2 named Age of Chivalry. After the popularity of the mod and its use of maces, flails and swords in combat the studio decided to go for a kick-starter to bring the full game to realisation. After beating their initial target by over 30% Chivalry:Medieval Warfare was born into its full life. This is often a natural state of progression for mods but instead of sticking to the engine used to create Age of Chivalry, Source, Torn Banner shifted to the Unreal engine to help them fully realise the games potential. As a result the game can run incredibly well on a wide rage of machines. All this means more lambs to the slaughter and more people to fight across the battlefields.
The act of combat in Chivalry is not simply just run in and spam buttons. Well not if you want to succeed. Over various game modes you play either in a team, in a free for all or in a duel based set up all of which are built to fit into the game setting. Team play is where it gets probably the most interesting where you find groups of players flying into combat together flipping their swords and brandishing Bardiches in the endless quest for dominance over their opponents. Team play also lies where the most care is needed because Chivalry does not turn off team damage. If you swing wildly you have just as much chance of taking out the opponents as you do your team mates. Instead of just wildly raging and thrashing at the enemy you have a selection of three different kinds of strikes to take down your opponent. An arcing swing, a crushing overhead smash and a quick jab are your trio of attacks. While not a vast array of attacks, when combined with blocking, parrying and guarding and ducking the combat becomes as deep as any combat you might encounter in a video game because the enemy is just as capable. Lets not forget here you’re fighting real people here with just as many tools at their disposal and they will combine them in just as many ways as you can to destroy you.
Each player has access to four different classes. They are nothing overly special in themselves but each does bring something different enough to the table to keep you looking. When combined with an armory of unlockable weapons the variety of styles of play and options in combat become almost stratospheric in quantity and depth. No wonder then that Chivalry is earning not only a cult status but a following in pro gamers for its deep multiplayer combat where skill is more important than luck. The archer allows a player to sit back and pop off shots but with minimal melee backup they can be easily killed in a shot or two. Combined with the fact that people don’t tend to stand still for more than 2 seconds in Chivalry you have to be a damn good shot to get enough arrows into your foe for a kill. Like the archer, the Man at Arms also has minimal armour, which he makes up for in speed and maneuverability allowing a player to dodge quickly to any side and get in the hits where they are needed. If you want to be an armoured steam train then you’re going to be playing a Vanguard. 6ft of heavily armoured muscle charging at opponents using two handed weapons to deal brutal damage to both opponents and team mates if not properly controlled. It is late? Then its obviously Knight time. Heavy duty masses of health capable of wielding huge weapons and shields. These guys can make for massive blocks in the enemy attack if they play defensively and unstoppable brutes of strength when sent charging into enemy lines.
Perspective is a fickle mistress. Chivalry allows you play in two different ones though so not so bad. You can play first person and channel your inner rage monster and see the limbs fly and blood spurt in first person or you can quickly tap the L button and view the game in an over the shoulder third person view. Each player often drifts more towards one than the other depending on the class they play or are playing. A man at arms can very easily plan their dodges and moves from third person while a vanguard may be better suited to first person so they can perfectly angle their vicious strikes. From both views the game looks incredible and the detail in models while a little lacking at times never holds you back from having a good time.
Problems infest every game and sadly there are some here, however minor they are. Servers are often paid for and supported by third parties like clans so they aren’t always of the lowest ping and often 90% of servers are empty. This doesn’t mean the game is empty however, very far from it. You’ll often find servers of 12 to 64 players beating the crap out of one another. Graphically the game holds up to most standards but upon death the lines start to show as the bony joints are exposed on players showing the models were really built to a budget. Added to this we have the issue of sometimes the community being elitist. The community on the game for the most part though is amazingly fun. If you do teamkill a fellow player by mistake a simple sorry is all it needs and 99% of players will just put it down to the horrors of war and continue on as if nothing happened.
The final point here is simply this. If you press the C button, you can do a battle cry when running. Doesn’t sound like much but believe us here. Chivalry is made by this. Being able to run in a group of 20 players headlong into the enemy all screaming a battle-cry awakens the primal parts of our brains tuned for combat and has you screaming and raging along with your character as you wade into combat only to get cut to pieces. Chivalry is not a game for the faint hearted nor is it a game for the crybabies in the world who scream when they are killed by a friendly player by mistake. The players who call out cheaters are quickly shot down since cheats do not exists in this game and if they do, in 30 hours of playing it not once has one been seen by myself. Combine all of this fun with a deep unlock system and more little touches like very funny if badly acted taunts and shouts and there you have Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.
The game is available on steam at time of writing for £18.99 or around $24 if my exchange rate knowledge is still up to date and you can quite easily find disk copies in city centres for even less. Its a lot to pay for an indie title of that there can be no doubt. However for what is paid, the amount of fun and dismemberment featured in the game more than make up for it. Dive in and let loose your battle cry! You will not regret it.
So damn fun