Chivalry 2 is attempting to evolve the multiplayer melee game in the same way that Call of Duty evolved the first person shooter. Swapping Kalashnikovs for crossbows, and riot shields for, well, actual shields, Chivalry 2 is medieval warfare at its most manic.
There are layers of complexity to its sword-swinging combat though what works best here is its accessibility, being much easier to pick up and play compared to similar hits such as Ubisoft’s For Honor or Mordhau.
At launch, Chivalry 2 sports three main modes. There’s your classic team deathmatch as well as siege battles, each map having its own string of unique objectives. There’s also a free for all melee which dials the limb-chopping chaos up to eleven though it’s Chivalry 2’s team modes where most players will sink the most time. Siege battles are without doubt the highlight here as huge armies clash, the defenders trying desperately to stop invaders from gaining ground.
If you’re looking for a rich tapestry of lore, then you’ll have to do some digging in the submenus. There’s no singleplayer campaign or content here beyond the game’s tutorial and offline practice. Like it’s predecessor, Chivalry 2 depicts a never ending war of red versus blue. Agatha versus The Mason Order.
This sequel’s medieval arsenal is crammed with various weapons including various types of swords, hammers, axes, and spears, each with their own fighting style. That said, they all perform the same attack functions with a side sweep, overhead blow, and thrust, giving players the option to hold down the button for a heavier swing.
They can also block, as well as counter, riposte, and parry – you can even throw weapons to kill opponents out of reach. When combined with dodges, bashes, shunts, and kicks, Chivalry 2 offers a fairly extensive number of actions when duelling with your enemies. Kills can be immensely satisfying, and that goes for ranged weapons too.
Environmental interactions are another strong point. Whether dropping rocks from the castle walls, firing a catapult, or chucking a stolen pitchfork, Chivalry 2 captures the scrappiness of medieval battles brilliantly. This a game that lends itself to player-created moments of set piece action. There’s plenty of silliness there too with daft character voice lines and occasions where knights in full plate armour get mown down by stray loaves of bread.
Chivalry 2 is infectiously fun when starting out. Those first dozen or so victories will have you pumped, though some of that novelty begins to fade the more hours you put in. Melee battles become rote as you perform the same strokes and blocks until a combatant either slips up or is jabbed by another player that’s blindsiding them. The trade-off is that you can come back to Chivalry 2 without having to relearn a confusing web of concepts and mechanics. Even after some time away from the game, a good player can drop straight into a sprawling 64 player battle and still expect to climb the scoreboard.
Torn Banner’s first game was far from ugly, though it leaned a little too heavy on greys and grittiness to sell its brutal premise. Chivalry 2 delivers a visual overhaul that is also bolder, injecting more colour into the game’s medieval maps. It’s quite a visceral game aurally, as swords rings, shields splinter, and projectiles whoosh across the battlefield. Heroic cries and death wails help to amp up the immersion, but we were also hoping for a more prominent soundtrack for the sequel.
If you’re looking for a multiplayer game with a long tail then Chivalry 2 has you covered. Aside from levelling up the four playable classes (and each of their three subclasses) you’ll also gain currency with which to buy new looks for your characters. The menu is unwieldy – at least on consoles – and the selection isn’t amazing though more cosmetics are already in the pipeline. Speaking of post-launch content, Chivalry 2 will also “double in size” via free DLC that will include maps and new game systems such as mounted combat.