The original Chivalry: Medieval Warfare filled a niche that had, surprisingly, remained relatively unfulfilled until its release. The 2012 title gave gamers the chance to step into the shoes of a knight participating in bloody, gore-soaked combat. Now, almost eight years later, Torn Banner Studios hopes to catch lightning in a bottle again with a sequel – Chivalry II. And, from the looks of it, the developers have recaptured the nuance that made the original such a hit while also managing to improve the core gameplay in several ways.
This new title comes at a crucial time for Torn Banner, due to the release of Triternion’s Mordhau in 2019. Thanks to Mordhau’s refined gameplay, fans flocked to it in droves, eager to adopt a new, more modern medieval combat game as a replacement to the original Chivalry, which was beginning to show its age. Mordhau threatened to take ownership of the genre once and for all – luckily, Torn Banner was waiting in the wings with Chivalry II. Based on my first impressions of the game, the new title is a potent weapon in the war for the crown of feudal fighting games.
After meeting with Torn Banner, I was ushered to a demo station and readied up for a multiplayer match. The objective was to storm a castle and destroy four trebuchets to win the match. However, I was informed that this was just the final third of the match, as at launch, the maps would be more sizeable, and the games longer. Torn Banner elaborated that this was a major area of improvement when compared to the first Chivalry – there is an increasing amount of focus on scale and longevity in II, with the developers wanting to truly reflect the macabre grandness of medieval combat.
II’s gameplay captures these epic scenes quite well – the player count lends itself to chaotic brawls where you will need to use all the tools at your disposal to keep all of your limbs. And lose your limbs you will – but this time around, you can keep fighting even after this happens! Several times during the course of the demo I lost one of my arms and was reduced to using either a one-handed weapon or my remaining fist to do damage. One laugh out loud moment involved me being killed by an enemy who I couldn’t even see – upon inspection, however, it turns out the enemy was down on the ground below my line of sight, clutching his wounds and using his last remaining strength to fist bump me down to zero health.
With more ways to engage enemies in battle, Chivalry II is a strong update for the franchise’s signature combat. Each hit is powerful, with audio and controller feedback satisfyingly reflecting your actions. And series veterans will be happy to know that advanced moves like crouch dodging remain intact and improved upon. There is a wider variety of attacks at your disposable here – new or improved moves like special charges, kicks and punches, and sideswiping swings give you plenty of options to come out on top in the game’s bloody duels to the death.
And longtime fans of the series will be happy to know that the signature Chivalry identity remains intact. Over-the-top voice lines bemoaning your opponent’s low birth, body parts flying across courtyards, ridiculously pressurized blood blasting out of wounds – Chivalry II has it all. The game is morbidly charming, just like its predecessor, and it accomplishes this through its gory combat and understated comedy.
Chivalry II is a strong showing for Torn Banner, one that Chivalry and Mordhau fans alike should keep a watchful eye on. A closed alpha will be available in March, with a full release following sometime later in 2020. Be sure to stay tuned to GameRVW for more PAX East insights!