Torn Banner Studios has released their follow-up to the successful Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, which is out now for PCs as well as last and next gen consoles – and it’s one of 2021’s best multiplayer titles yet! We played the PlayStation 5 version, which is a native PS5 game that comes bundled with the PS4 edition.
Because the original Chivalry was so firmly rooted in its PC origins (it started out as a Half Life mod), I never actually played it. I had heard good things though, so the upcoming sequel had me intrigued – and now I’m regretting never playing the original because I’m having a blast. Although it has archers as well, it’s a brawl-centric game that excels in how it manages to convey the experience of an epic on-screen battle (think Battle of Rohan) in a videogame setting.
In Chivalry II, two teams battle across a fairly diverse range of scenarios and locations. A game can be played with smaller groups, but Chivalry II allows for up to 64 players in a game – meaning things can get pretty chaotic at times because you’re never playing with a set group of players. Because of an emphasis on melee, however, it’s easy to forget about team tactics – just like it’s easy to forget about the storyline that the game has.
Despite the relative emphasis on one on one melee combat, Chivalry II does a great job at giving you a sense of scale, with large and small battles raging all around you – letting you know you’re part of a much larger struggle. How you play your part depends on the character type you choose, and choices range from a knight with his trusty sword to a vanguard with an axe, and to mid-range fighters like the footman with his polearm and the long range abilities of the archers. The latter feel a bit like odd ones out because they’re so distinctly different from the other ones, and their presence feels more like a tactical layer than part of the face-to-face player-vs-player combat – which can result in frustration for those engaged in melee combat but get caught with an arrow.
While you can just dive into the battlefield without much experience, and even have a good degree of luck just mashing your gamepad’s buttons, practice will soon teach you about strengths and weaknesses – both your own and those of others. You’ll also learn that how you position yourself matters in combat, and that employing the help of others (or lending a helping hand) can swing the tide of battle.
Playing grants experience points, which can be used for cosmetic changes but also lets you unlock more weapons for your arsenal. These have different stats than the ones you start with, but so far the experience seems well balanced because what you gain in one area (stats-wise) you’ll lose elsewhere. If you fall during a round it’s not a permanent kind of death either, so experimenting is encouraged. And that can even mean that you’ll keep going after you lose an arm, which feels especially heroic when you manage to still take someone down.
Besides the different locations, which look fine but don’t give off a ‘next gen’ vibe, the game also gives you different objectives – which while playing is about as much “story-driven” as it gets. Although some battles follow a ‘last man standing’ principle, others have you defending strategic points, falling back, doing it again, pushing forward for a siege or trying to kill a certain enemy character. The lack of a strong traditional single player narrative makes you fill in the blanks with whatever your favorite movie moments are, which makes for great entertainment and replay value that doesn’t get repetitive quickly. And if you just want to have fun – there’s plenty of that as well, because Chivalry II doesn’t always take itself seriously, with the ability to pick up random objects or even the limbs you just severed and swing them around.
I can’t judge how Chivalry II compares to the first game, but the sequel is one of the most fun multiplayer games I’ve ever played and the most fun I’ve had online since Fall Guys.