When I saw that Chivalry: Medieval Warfare was coming to current-gen consoles, I was pretty excited – I never got to play much of the PC version of the title, but what I had played, I enjoyed very much. That’s why I was rather disappointed when the short amount of time I had with the game on computer was much greater than the several hours I spent on the PlayStation edition.
When a you buy a current-gen remaster or port of a video game, you expect certain aspects of the release to be improved upon in order to bring it up to current-gen standards. Naturally, the gameplay is absolutely one of these aspects – and unfortunately, it’s one that Hardsuit Labs’ port of Chivalry fails to deliver on. There are two things in particular that hurt the game – it’s hit detection system, and it’s frame rate.
First of all, the hit detection in Chivalry really isn’t quite up to par, which is really a rather negative trait, especially in multiplayer-only games such as this one. There would be times when I would be playing a match of “Team Objective”, and I would see a player land a killing blow through a shield, or watch my own sword go through another character model – and when I say go through, I meant clip through, not stab – to find it does zero damage, and then find myself killed by the member of my own team standing right behind me.
Oh yeah, accidental team-killing is a whole thing in Chivalry, too. The hit detection being so imprecise means that whenever more than one player from the same time gets into a close-quarters skirmish, there is a pretty high chance you’ll end up hurting your own team more than the other. I can assure you that in all my time reviewing Chivalry, a rather significant number of my kills were my own team members, and not once was it on purpose.
Secondly, the game struggles BIG TIME with it’s frame rate, and that simply is not acceptable on current-generation consoles, especially not for a port of a game that has been out for some time now. Whenever enough players are on the screen to make a fight get really intense and interesting, the game’s frame rate drops to the point where the fight ends up coming down to “who can get lucky enough to actually see what their hitting by the time they press the trigger”, as opposed to skill. If a game can’t handle the amount of action going on, it isn’t ready for release. It’s that simple. For a game advertised as being 60fps, I sure haven’t seen much of what was promised.
Okay, so surely the game’s content makes up for what the it lacks in gameplay, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, the port offers nothing new in terms of game modes. In fact, it offers less – it swaps out King of the Hill for an uninspired “Horde” mode and completely takes out Capture the Flag. Beyond that, none of the other modes have been updated to bring anything new to the table on consoles – the arenas are all the same, as are the objectives. On top of that, I often found it hard to find anyone playing anything other than Team Objective, which can drag out and prove to be a rather lengthy mode.
As for levelling, there really isn’t much to it. You start a match, you play the match, you are rewarded with XP at the end of the match, and you unlock new weapons when you’ve accumulated enough XP. The customisation isn’t overly in-depth; you can change your armour colours, your crest, and your helmet, but beyond that, you have a whole bunch of similar looking character models running around the maps.
Chivalry features four different classes to choose from before each match: Archer, Man-At-Arms, Vanguard and Knight. While each class has certain advantages and disadvantages – such as the ability to use heavier weapons at the cost of speed – you’ll notice that the archer class may as well not have made the cut – the hit detection is really no better with arrows than it is with swords.
The console release of Chivalry, like the PC release, features no single-player mode, aside from the stock standard training mode accessible from the main menu. Despite knowing this going into the game, I couldn’t help but feel like the medieval team shooter absolutely could have benefitted from some kind of SP mode, even if it was just a version of Horde or Team Objective with bots. Then again, the gameplay issues would still be present in single player, so perhaps that would just prove to cause even more frustration for players.
Chivalry certainly falls short in the graphics department as well. Again, the character and weapon models in the game constantly clip through shields, players and the environment, making for a less-than-pleasant spectacle. Textures really don’t meet current-generation standards, and, to be perfectly honest, they are often times plain ugly to look at. To make matters worse, the constant frame rate drops often make animations appear clunky. Other problems I’ve noticed in my time playing include character models floating above the ground, & assets clipping into the environment.
Hardsuit Labs made some rather unlikeable choices when it came to designing the controls for Chivalry on PS4/Xbox One, such as the “sprint” function set to toggle as opposed to being tied to whether or not the left analogue stick is being held down, or the ability to change the camera view from first-person to third-person (I wouldn’t recommend it) and vice-versa being L1 + Square. Of course, this won’t be an issue for some, but it is for anyone else, especially considering the game doesn’t allow you to customise the button mapping – you HAVE to play with the control settings that Hardsuit have set for you.
The UI isn’t anything special either. The game replaces the usual system of a player’s gamertag being highlighted “blue” for team and “red” for enemy with set colours for each team, which is a rather odd design choice. The kill log is rather insignificant, and lacks the sleek design of modern shooters. However, the game fails to indicate anywhere else whether or not you managed to score a kill or assist, forcing you to refer to it if you want to see if you landed the final blow. The in-game menu allows a manual kick option, which is rather necessary considering the team-killing problem – for few players who accidentally team-kill, there is at least one player running around doing it purposefully. Unfortunately, the implementation of the kick system as being 100% player controlled allows the system to be abused fairly easily. Perhaps an automated system based on number and frequency of team kills would have been a fairer mechanism for the game to implement.
Overall, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare turned out to be a rather disappointing port for the current-generation consoles and, whilst I haven’t played it myself, I’ve hear the Xbox One version actually plays worse than the Playstation 4 edition. It is hard to believe that much effort was put into updating the gameplay and graphics for the current-gen release, and Hardsuit made some rather odd, and ultimately unlikeable, design choices with the port. You’d be much better off playing the game on the PC version developed by Torn Banner. Here’s hoping Mount & Blade: Bannerlord will be better developed when it comes around to Playstation 4 and Xbox One systems.
This review was based on a copy of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare on the PS4, supplied by Activision.