With both games now available on console, the Mordhau vs. Chivalry 2 debate is once again in full swing. The two medieval combat titles are ambitious in scope, both bragging an active fanbase years after release with plenty of overlap but also many key differences.
Outside of traditional fighting games, multiplayer melee action has been a tough concept for developers to nail. Where first person shooters have fallen into an established template, there is no such blueprint for this subgenre, as proven by radically different entries from Absolver and For Honor to Mordhau and Chivalry 2.
The latter pair of games are perhaps the easiest for many gamers to get their heads around, thanks to their predominantly first person focus. It’s easy to see their appeal – instead of guns and grenades, warriors duel to the death in a dance of strikes, feints, and parries. Let’s take a closer look at Mordhau and Chivalry 2, testing the sharpness of their steel in a sword-swinging showdown.
Mordhau strides onto the battlefield with an innovative, intricate combat system. Here, battles aren’t just about brute force, but rather a delicate dance of timing and precision. The directional attacks and blocks add a layer of skill that quickly separates the seasoned warriors from the novices.
On the other hand, Chivalry 2 embraces a more accessible and fast-paced combat system that feels more suited to its sweeping team-based modes, where both sides throw bodies at the objective in a bloody tug of war. That said, there is still plenty of depth for those who master its battle mechanics with skilled fighters able to flawlessly deflect and manoeuvre around enemies to deliver that killing blow.
Graphics and Visual Design
Mordhau’s love for its medieval setting goes way beyond its passion in replicating medieval fighting styles. There’s a honed attention to detail in the game’s gallery of weapons and armour, helping to dial up an immersive sense of realism though, admittedly, there are touches of goofiness, mainly engineers by Mordhau’s players and their comic use of emotes and voice barks
Chivalry 2, by comparison, isn’t what you’d call high fantasy in terms of its visual style; there’s definitely some grit there, though it’s not quite as down and dirty as Mordhau. Boasting a brighter, more vibrant colour palette, Chivalry 2’s breaks from realism arguably work in its favour, conjuring creative, elaborate battlefields for its two fictional forces to wage war upon.
Maps and Modes
Speaking of maps, both games offer a diverse atlas of locations. Over time the number of maps available in Mordhau and Chivalry 2 has greatly expanded, whether battling in snowy peaks, dense forest, or arid desert shanties. These maps offer more than a simple change in set dressing. Each one is carefully designed to enable myriad strategic options for either team, stitching together tight indoor spaces with open stretches of battlefield.
When it comes to game modes, however, Chivalry 2 outshines its rival with ease. Mordhau’s selection of modes is pretty conventional with your standard deathmatch and team deathmatch, as well as Frontline in which two teams clash over contested checkpoints to score points.
Chivalry 2 offers many of the same modes, though most players will find themselves drawn to its marquee Team Objective matches. These sweeping, multi-phase battles see attackers and defenders clash to complete tasks such as stealing treasure, torching houses, or pushing battering rams. Instead of simply standing next to an objective and watching a progress bar fill, Chivalry 2’s environmental interactions ramp up the immersion as opposing teams throw everything they have at completing these objectives. Even if the defenders get pushed all the way back into a last stand, there’s still a chance they can turn things around, imbuing the game with a level of tension you just can’t find in Mordhau.
Since it launched in 2019, Mordhau has enjoyed a steady stream of updates, introducing new playable content, character customisation options, and quality of life improvements. The biggest update arrived in 2021 with the release of Eastern Invasion, adding new desert-themed maps and the scimitar weapon class. While free, notable updates are often flanked by the latest cosmetic DLC bundles, giving die hard Mordhau players more ways to dress up their in-game avatars.
Chivalry 2 has also seen its fair share of free updates – nowadays, adding free playable content to your live service game is pretty much mandatory. Not only has developer Tripwire Interactive continued to enhance the core experience since 2021, there have also been plenty of themed expansions introducing a wealth of new maps and modes, as well as weapons and gear to customise your loadouts. Combined, the scope of these updates easily outweigh the post-launch support Mordhau has received, though Chivalry 2 is a sequel after all and one that boasts a much larger development team.
Taking a glance at our scorecard, there’s a clear winner, though both games have done wonders for the multiplayer melee subgenre. Chivalry 2’s objective-based team modes, regular expansions, and fantasy trappings help edge out the competition. Mordhau is still great – especially with its nuanced combat system and the learning curve that comes with it – though Chivalry 2 offers a better all-round package and a more welcoming player community.