Platforms: PS4, PC, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Windows, Mac, Linux
Developers: Torn Banner Studios, Mercenary Technology
Chivalry, the Medieval multiplayer first-person (or third if you prefer) hack and slash is a game that I’ve wanted for a long time because of being able to control a soldier in first-person and slice through your enemies in a Middle Age fantasy setting. Despite the Middle Age style, it’s set in a fictional world with all sorts of weapons and tools of death at your disposal. Being an Indie game, there are some things that it does well but doesn’t in other areas. So let’s see if this is a great game that will be remembered in the coming years!
How does it feel?
One of the best things about Chivalry is how immersive the game feels (if the game allows it). It’s important in any game that it allows you to understand the world and imagine that you’re in the world as you play. Does Chivalry deliver on this front? Sure it does! The combination of having no music play while you’re in this Middle Age map with the rain dropping down and brutal fights going on everywhere makes Chivalry one immersive experience. It may not have big blockbuster effects and top notch animations, it’s the other things that make the game…well fun to play.
The maps also look quite incredible and they do well to help you sink into the game and feel like you’re truly in the middle of a small battle in fantasy Middle Ages era. Some of the maps feel a bit too similar however, like the Battleground and Farm maps, so more variation would have gone a long way! Just look at these pictures below and you know what I mean!
The Team Objective mode is something that enhances this experience because one faction has to penetrate the other’s defence and claim control of the base. To do this, you use a mix of siege weapons like catapults, your own strength to strike down anyone standing in your way (just try not to hit your own team!) or to pillage a village. What you do in the game feels believable and immersive because of all these little details.
You’re always in close quarter situations where you’re backed up against a wall or just fighting one on one with another player and it feels gritty and brutal (with decapitated limbs and spurting blood) because the only outcome is death and one of you will die. This makes each fight feel personal because you, the character will survive no matter what…or at least try to! Simply caring about your character and not wanting to die results in an emotional connection to your character, despite the game having absolutely no storyline. It’s almost like you make your own stories!
Team games are somewhat exciting because even if you aren’t able to get many kills, it feels like you’ve contributed to the war effort and that’s a great feeling! But with each game mode, there are fights everywhere and it makes you feel on edge because you might get ambushed from behind when you’re focused on taking out a soldier! Being outnumbered can get especially intense since you have to constantly watch each enemy and quickly react to any strikes so that you’re ready to block or parry their attacks. More often than not, you’ll probably die in a 2 v 1 scenario (depending on how good the enemy attackers are) but it’s still very much possible to come out of it alive. You just have to play smart and time your blocks! If there’s one in front and behind however, good luck to you! Regardless, each and every one of your kills feel rewarding and satisfying because of the effort you put into each fight. This is what makes it stand out from other multiplayer games.
Vanguards use heavy and long weapons and being one with a giant greatsword charging at the enemy brings out my imagination of being a warrior in the Middle Ages. Not to mention when you see someone screaming and charging at another, but they miss…it’s actually quite humorous!
Although there aren’t exactly a buffet of classes to choose from (4), each of them are completely distinct and remain faithful to how they would be in the Middle Ages. For example the Archer class can’t use greatswords, flails, axes and so on, however they only use bows, javelins, spears and the ever so fearsome, sling (because why wouldn’t throw stones at heavily armoured soldiers?!)! They can of course use shortswords as their secondary weapon and deploy a Pavise (a large shield) to use for protection, which is one of their tertiary weapons, but they excel in ranged combat. On the other hand, Knights can use flails, axes, hammers and all those heavy weapons, they have the most amour but are incredibly slow compared to the Archer and Man-At-Arms classes. The Knight class is known as the tank of the classes because it can take more hits than an Archer, who has very minimal armour, as you can tell in the image below!
Familiar game modes
Chivalry gives us a choice of six game modes, none of them being particularly inspiring or original. Team Deathmatch, Free for All, Team Objective and Duel are game modes that almost every multiplayer game has. Horde feels too simplistic and is very similar to Left 4 Dead’s survival modes where you fight off waves of enemies.
My personal favourites are Team Deathmatch, Team Objective and Horde simply because of the teamwork involved or on rare occasions, you’ll find everyone running around like headless chickens, aimlessly swinging and firing!
What makes Horde mode an interesting game is that at least one person has to survive in order to progress onto the net wave, so you have to try and not do what I did and separate myself from everyone else. You’ll find yourself overwhelmed at later stages of the game mode when there are 50+ soldiers coming after you! In Horde mode you can buy weapons and armour from within the map as you play so you’re constantly progressing and upgrading your equipment as you get accumulate your score (which acts as the currency to purchase equipment).
Speaking of teamwork, if you absolutely loathe friendly-fire, you’re gonna have a bad time! You can’t turn friendly-fire off so you’ll eventually come across people who attack their own teammates, so this is another thing you have to be wary of if you don’t want to die! More often than not hitting a teammate is accidental and it’s very easy to do if you don’t time your swings. It’s funny for the first couple of times but it just becomes an annoyance and if done excessively, it can ruin the gameplay experience, especially if your team aren’t exactly in the lead! However this doesn’t really happen as often as you’d think so it’s not exactly game breaking, and you can just avoid these people by turning away and running off in the other direction. Just think of it as someone on your team is committing treason against your faction! That’ll certainly add some level of immersion and spark your imagination! Besides, anyone who damages their own teammates get a second added (for each hit) to their respawn timer. Jokes on them?
Can we use mods?
Since this review is focusing on Chivalry for the PS4, I won’t be going into detail about mods, but mods are something that add longevity to the game and this is what makes it better than Chivalry on consoles. Even if you aren’t a fan of modifications, there’s usually a mod for everyone so if you do plan on getting the game on PC, I encourage you to browse the Steam Workshop. You won’t be disappointed (I hope)! Or you can have a crack at making your own!
Is there any progression?
Although there is a levelling system, there isn’t much progression outside unlocking cosmetics and more weapons. What might’ve been nice is some kind of stat allocation when you level up. Maybe speed, strength, stamina stats to increase per level? Not something that will have such a big impact that it makes low levels and new players at a big disadvantage (have the stats less effective as you level up or for them to not have such an effect on your character?) Wouldn’t want new players and low level characters to have a horrible experience against higher levelled players!
Most of the skill involved is from dodging and timing your blocks. Landing hits does take some degree of skills or careful aim (Archer class actually requires some high level of skill and control to land arrows), but because of the awkward hit boxes and occasional lag/choppiness. You can either expect a hit or not. More often than not, you’ll land a hit anyway, so it’s not that bad! But in terms of skill, you’re constantly progressing and getting better as you get used to the game and it’s brutal situations that you can find yourself in. As you get better, you’ll find yourself getting more kills and that’s what makes it rewarding.
Weapons don’t necessarily provide you with an advantage as each of them are good in their own way. Just find a play style you’re comfortable with and have fun! If you prefer faster gameplay, shortbows, shortswords, daggers and similar weapons will be the weapons of choice for you, just don’t expect yourself to deal amazing damage and range with each strike. You also might want to stay 100 miles away from the crossbow because of how long it takes to load the bolts and draw the string after each shot…unless you love long reload times then go right ahead!
Training mode is nice to used to the game, which is definitely something I recommend you do before getting yourself slaughtered on multiplayer. If you don’t like tutorials (this one is pretty boring) then you can do Horde mode or create a game with bots to practice. Although creating a game with bots doesn’t really help because they’re really easy to kill and both the enemy team and the bots on your team just stay in one room until an enemy somehow gets close, making this game some of the worst A.I. I’ve ever seen in a game. For a game that’s been re-released on the PS4 and Xbox One, you’d expect some level of improvement on the A.I., but what can I say? It’s horrible in that regard.
All other aspects of the game with bots i.e. Training and Horde modes are fine however, but they certainly could be improved. The thing with Horde mode is that you’ll most likely be put with other players, but it’s not bad because you’re not fighting other players. But if you want to know how each class plays and how they distinguish from each other, then the Training mode is certainly something for you.
I’ve played both the PC and PS4 and while there isn’t a difference in gameplay, the PS4 version definitely suffers a little from framerate issues. The first game I entered was laggy, but it’s nothing that made me want to quit and uninstall the game because it’s completely playable and it doesn’t ruin the gameplay experience. In fact most of the time there aren’t framerate issues and some of the reviews I read about the PS4 version claimed that it’s plagued with horrible framerate issues. From my experience, it’s fine in this regard.
The biggest peeve that I have with the game is the questionable hitbox or how accurately hits are landed. Occasionally you may find that from your point of view, your sword or whichever weapon of destruction that you have chosen looks like it hit or landed on the enemy, however the game decides that you didn’t! This is something that can and probably will occasionally happen as you play Chivalry. Sometimes it’s just a matter of aiming better.
I wouldn’t call this a technical issue because it’s generally the case with all games that require precise aiming and fast reactions. It’s more difficult with a controller than a mouse because it’s slower to turn and aim with, which is especially the case with bows, crossbows and throwing weapons. Classes that depend on this kind of gameplay (mainly the Archer class) are at an even bigger disadvantage because of this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s entirely possible to get kills with ranged weapons, it’s just that it’s difficult and can get frustrating if you’re always missing! Also, melee classes can easily dodge arrows against an Archer by simply running left to right, but at least every class has a melee weapon so they can at least defend themselves with when an attacker gets too close! It’s always a sight to see an Archer with a shortsword vs a Knight with a flail!
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is a game that indeed immerses you in Middle Age fantasy settings as warriors slaughtering each for what seems to be for domination and power and it certainly feels rewarding to play (unless you’re constantly dying and getting no kills), but hey, at least you can get assists.!
Although the game does well to tap into your imagination and establish an emotional connection to your character and the environments, the game could be more polished in terms of A.I. capability and general technical issues. If more time was spent on these areas, it would make Chivalry a better gameplay experience. However despite these non-game breaking issues, it’s still a game that I’d recommend you play if you’re into the whole Middle Ages thing and with the reasonable price tag (before sales), I don’t see why you shouldn’t buy it if you’re interested in the game. It’s just these technical issues that bring it down, especially since it’s been out for a while now and the developers haven’t seemed to bother with fixing said issues. If it was more polished, it certainly would be a spectacular game that I’d remember and play for years to come.