With heart, faith and steel. In the end there can be only one.
From Wizards, Warriors, & You to Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare incorporates everything we love about fighting and fantasy into a great game overflowing with modes that deliver. Recently released on the PS4 and XBox One after a run leading back to a 2012 PC launch after a successful Kickstarter campaign, Chivalry will quench your secret LARPer thirst for virtual blood on the battlefield.
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare looks and sounds similar to action adventure games you’ve played before. Once you get a few rounds of game play under your belt, you will realize that Chivalry is strictly more than what you come to expect from a game in this genre. This is brilliantly realistic fighting with classical medieval weapons. There are no horses to ride, magic spells to cast, potions to heal you (outside of Horde mode anyway), or mystical races you can choose to play as. You do have a bunch of load outs that you can develop over four character classes; and you can set a unique appearance for your character. You have three basic strikes and alternate swings which can create combinations. There are unique attacks based on the weapon you are using. You manage a stamina bar while you run, block, parry, jump and duck. There are a lot of meta skills you can develop like ducking under weapon swings, turning while attacking to lengthen your swing, breaking tempo to catch an opponent off guard, or targeting certain body parts. The action is straightforward and easy to understand, yet there is infinite space to develop masterful strategies. While this may sound underwhelming to the typical game player, the execution of this game is what earns its distinction of being both one of the best arena-based action games as well as one of the best medieval time period based games I have ever played.
With no invincibility frames on start up, instant kills after lining up a scope, 2D fireball pressure to make your opponent have to make unrealistic jump flips to get in close, or wake up games to play–this is a tough game rooted in the realistic. Your kills will be well earned. Frivolous looking around or pressing the wrong button will likely get you dismembered. You will be using visual cues to set-up your attacks, blocks, counter attacks, and other strategies. Blocking your enemy’s weapon while it is in the crosshair of your camera will make you most likely succeed in not getting a scratch. After looking around and playing on several of the maps, I felt like I was back in time playing the MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot, especially in the team objective mode where you use siege weapons to storm your adversaries’ castle. The aesthetic of Chivalry is faithful to what you would come to expect in a proper medieval game.
While there is no story mode to speak of, other than knowing that the factions hate each other, the character voices you will be hearing during battle are eerily performed to perfection. Battlecries shift between sounding like they are from Braveheart to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. While a gritty game, humor is indirectly infused into the combat as players yell when they collide in battle, gargle when their throat is slit, or bow to a lone enemy to end them with an honorable duel.
There are six playable modes in Chivalry: Medieval Warfare to choose from. Team objective has players in different factions ransacking villages or attacking and defending castles. Team Deathmatch is where factions wipe out the other team. Free-For-All is bloody chaos with the player landing the most kills coming away the winner. Last Team Standing is where each faction tries to wipe out the enemy in waves similar to Gears of War. Dueling is a 1-on-1 battle extravaganza where you cycle through human opponents after each battle concludes, if you do not choose to rematch. Lastly, there is Horde mode, which is where you defend either a village or a dungeon from enemy faction pillagers and otherworldly creatures in waves. In horde mode, you get fantasy game elements like leveling up and healing.
During the course of writing this review, I’ve had to refrain from elaborating on my hundreds of childhood connections to this game. From D&D to Taito’s dungeon crawler brawler Gladiator, from Ultima Online to Final Fantasy, from Unreal Tournament to Quake 3 Arena, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare excites me to vanquish my fellow bawcocks and internet trolls alike on the battlefield. My inner LARPer has found a playground he can go to everyday.