The original Chivalry: Medieval Warfare released in 2012 and was one of the most unique action games of its time. It brought players to romanticized medieval battlefields where they could hack, slash, and stab each other across a variety of game modes themed around sieges, infantry charges in open fields, and more. Issues with animation clarity and glitches detracted from the experience, but overall, the game was an absolute blast to play and attracted a sizable fanbase.
Since then, few games have been able to replicate this type of experience well (Triternion's 2019 hit Mordhau is a notable exception), and as a result, many hoped that the developers of the original Chivalry, Torn Banner Studios, would create a sequel. These wishes were granted in 2019 when Torn Banner announced Chivalry 2, a game that promised to improve on the original game in every way. It was originally slated to release in 2020, but due to the pandemic, the launch was pushed back to 2021.
Recently, Torn Banner announced the game's official release for June 8, 2021, and I (along with several others) was lucky enough to get my hands on a pre-release build. After playing it extensively, I feel confident in saying that this is one of the games I'm most excited for this year.
Chivalry 2: Battle the enemy your way
The melee combat in Chivalry 2 is incredibly rich, with every player getting tons of moves they can use to try and overcome their opponents. Slashes, stabs, and overhead strikes are all available attack options, and each of these attacks can be charged for increased damage (if they land). You can also morph one type of attack into another or feint your attacks to throw off your opponent's guard, which will leave them open to follow-up moves if they fall for it.
Players have strong defensive options as well. Guarding just before a foe's strike allows you to do a fast riposte counter-attack, and kicks can be used to interrupt feint-happy enemies or create some distance between you and your adversary. Many weapons can be thrown, too, which can do a lot of damage to unsuspecting players.
Speaking of weapons, there are plenty of them available across the game's four distinct classes. The nimble and lightly-armored Footman can use various swords, maces, and axes with a shield or opt for long-ranged polearms like a halberd. The jack-of-all-trades Vanguard specializes in two-handed weapons like battleaxes and greatmaces. The heavily-armored Knight enters the battlefield with medium range longsword-style weapons. Lastly, there's the glass cannon Archer that only wields a dagger in melee combat, but mainly relies on longbows or crossbows for ranged damage. You can also pick up weapons from dead players on the battlefield, which can lead to interesting gameplay situations.
There are also many different siege weapons and other sandbox elements that players can utilize while on the battlefield, including catapults, ballistas, containers of burning coals, and more.
Selling the feel of combat
Another thing that makes Chivalry 2 so appealing is its superb presentation. Its graphics are stylized, yet also very detailed. This lends itself well to the romanticized medieval look that Torn Banner is going for in Chivalry 2, and I think it looks better than other games in the genre.
The animations of Chivalry 2 are also a lot better then the original game's in terms of readability and clarity, although there are still some that I feel are a little difficult to read. These are things that the developers will likely iron out in time with community feedback, however, so I'm not too worried.
The game's sound design is excellent too. You can hear every grisly detail of swords slicing through flesh, maces crushing bone, and so on. This, along with the game's plentiful blood spatters, emphasizes the violence and brutality of this type of combat. All of these categories together emphasize the most important elements of combat. It might not be realistic, but the details are there where it counts.
Performance is incredibly smooth
Finally, I'm very impressed with how well Chivalry 2 runs. In the build that I played at 1440p on the highest settings, my gaming PC was able to run it at a solid and stable 60 FPS. There were some occasional dips into the high 50 range, but only during the most intense moments where dozens of players were funneling into one massive group battle.
Considering the fact that many large-scale multiplayer games have performance issues at launch — and that games like these are a lot harder to enjoy when framerates are choppy — it's a good sign that the pre-release build of Chivalry 2 ran as well as it did. This doesn't guarantee that the game's performance at launch will be great, but it gives me high hopes for Chivalry 2 nonetheless. Hopefully the same can be said about the game on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
Chivalry 2: Final thoughts
Overall, I loved my time with Chivalry 2, and I think that the game has a bright future ahead of it if the full game is as good as the preview. I've been looking for a new medieval melee game for a while now, and I hope that Chivalry 2 scratches that itch for years to come.
Chivalry 2 is available to preorder now on Xbox and PC for $40. Preordering gives you access to the Closed Beta coming to all platforms from April 23-26, so I recommend doing so if you're interested in these types of games. If you aren't, make sure you check out our roundup of the best Xbox games and best PC games available for more options.
Flesh and steel collide
Anything but chivalrous
Chivalry 2 is the sequel to the famed Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, featuring skillful melee combat and massive multiplayer battles.
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