Mordhau is the best new PC game of 2019 that you haven't heard of

For years, the only quality multiplayer medieval game on the market has been Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. While Chivalry is undoubtedly a good game, it's also one that has aged rather poorly. Many of its mechanics are vulnerable to exploits, the overall feel of the game is sluggish, and the presentation is quite dated in terms of both visuals and audio.

Fear not, however. A spiritual successor has arrived: Mordhau, a title that masterfully combines a Battlefield-style sandbox with deep, nuanced mechanics systems, and then wraps it all up with solid graphics and some of the best sound design in gaming. And while Mordhau isn't perfect, it has an incredible foundation to build upon.

Blood, bone, and steel

At its core, Mordhau is a melee title with a wide array of different weapons to choose from. Everything from a two-handed greatsword to a dagger is viable in combat, provided you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your weapon; speed, reach, and damage is different across the game's various spears, maces, and blades.

In Mordhau, the way you use a weapon is just as important as the weapon itself.

The type of weapon you're using is only half of the equation, though, because how you use it matters as well. All weapons can be used to parry, riposte, feint, or chamber with, and you can even drag your mouse towards or away from your enemies in order to accelerate or delay the speed of your attacks. In addition, weapons often have an alternate mode of use; The longsword, for example, can be wielded upside-down in order to hit enemies with the pommel, which does more damage to armored opponents. All of these mechanics come together in the end to form a core combat system that's beautifully rich and full of depth.

Equally excellent is the game's point-based class building system, which allows you to create your own character to take into the fray. Everything from a heavily-armored knight with one large sword to a lightly-armored soldier equipped with several small weapons on his belt can be created with this system, giving you an awesome amount of freedom. Also, there are tons of customization items available in the game's shop, which you earn currency for by playing and leveling up.

Ways to play

When it comes to game modes, Mordhau has three: Frontline, Horde, and Battle Royale. Frontline is Mordhau's main experience, offering 24-versus-24 (custom servers can go up to 64 players per team!) experiences in huge, objective-filled battlefields. In this mode, teams will clash together in large groups, with archery, cavalry, catapults, and siege engineering all adding a twist to the flow of combat, just like vehicles and aircraft do in Battlefield titles. These gameplay systems have plenty of depth and can be challenging to use, but they're rewarding, and can often be the difference maker in a match, especially if you're using a custom-built specialized character for filling these support roles.

Next up is Horde, which is arguably the weakest of Mordhau's offerings. Horde is your typical player-versus-enemy (PvE) horde mode, throwing lots of low-skilled opponents at you and allowing you to purchase equipment for yourself as you clear more waves. Horde is fun, but it's impossible to play solo due to how many enemies attack at once even in the earlier waves. With a large group, the experience is better, but even then it often feels impossible to get far. In my experience, Horde is best used as a practice mode.

The last of Mordhau's gameplay experiences is Battle Royale, which I have a lot more fun with than I thought I would. I've never really been a fan of battle royale, but Mordhau's take on it is unique and interesting. Because the game is melee-focused, the maps are very small, which keeps the pace consistently fast. In addition, there are only 30 players in a match, so things don't drag on. I think the way the item spawning works needs tweaking, but aside from that, the Battle Royale mode is surprisingly great.

It simply feels good

At the end of the day, Mordhau's combat feels incredible. Movement is fluid and animations are smooth, but the best part of the fighting is how it feels to successfully land blows and kill opponents. Mordhau doesn't hold back when it comes to blood and gore spatters, and the combination of metallic grinding, meaty thwacks, and pained screaming make up the sound of cutting or smashing into armored bodies.

Mordhau's combat feels absolutely incredible.

When it comes to visual fidelity, Mordhau isn't amazing, but it looks pretty good overall. There's a great amount of detail on both character models and the maps themselves, with the lighting, in particular, standing out as excellent. The game's musical score is even better, consisting of battle music that does an awesome job of getting your blood boiling for war.

What does the future hold for Mordhau?

With such an incredible foundation to build from, Mordhau's future looks bright. While the game only has a relatively small following now, it's quickly rising on the Steam charts and is one of Steam's current top sellers. In addition, the developers are sure to update and tweak things like the structure of Battle Royale as the community provides feedback over time, and when we reached out to them to ask about an Xbox version, we were told that they are considering it. Without a doubt, Mordhau is one of the best games so far in 2019, and I can't wait to see where it goes next.

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.