Chivalry II, the successor to Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is set to launch on June 8th 2021, but those who pre-ordered the game, along with successful applicants who signed up through the website were allowed into a cross-play beta that ran from 23rd – 26th April. The NDA was lifted from this beta, so as a veteran of both Chivalry: Medieval Warfare and the more recent Mordhau, here is my impression of the game during this beta. Remember that this is not the final product.
The premise of the game is essentially the same as the first title. The Agathian Knights are waging war with the ruthless Mason Order in order to gain control of the kingdom. Chivalry is hardly a story-driven game, but the premise of the conflict does make the matches slightly more atmospheric if nothing else. The beta allowed for games of Team Deathmatch, which involves reducing the enemy to 0 reinforcements by getting more kills, and Team Objective, which has the attacker try to complete map objectives under time pressure. You can choose between 4 different classes, which also have 3 different subclasses that affect your abilities and choice of equipment. 2 of the 3 subclasses are locked behind a level requirement, and some weapon choices have further level requirements within that, so you will need to play for a bit to unlock all the options.
The core of the combat mechanics are the same as with the first game, but there are a lot more options at your disposal. The 3 attack types are horizontal swings, which can be chained together and are best for hitting multiple targets, overheads, which do the most damage, and stabs, which have the furthest reach. Additionally, you can feint by switching attack types to throw off your opponent. You can kick to break an opponents block, and punch to interrupt their attack. On the defensive side, you can dodge either backwards or sideways, block, which then allows you to riposte, counter, which is similar to Mordhau’s chambering mechanic whereby you can hold block and then launch an attack matching your opponent’s (swing, stab or overhead). There are also special attacks which can also be used when sprinting, which can be blocked but will push back your opponent and drain a lot of stamina. It’s a lot to take in and get used to, however the tutorial does a decent job explaining things in stages, and when playing in large scale battles you don’t have to try and master every single mechanic in order to be effective. The combat feels nice and weighty, with the sounds giving a feeling of impact on landing a hit, although it does feel a bit clunky, and the animations could use a bit of polish. You can tell that the developers have made an effort to improve the mechanics from the first title, but the combat lacks the smoothness and fluidity of Mordhau.
The area that the game shines most is in it’s immersion. Although there are some memes thrown in here are there, such as using live chickens as projectiles, playing in Team Objective feels like you are fighting in a battle as opposed to an arena with some objectives thrown into the mix for good measure. Even playing in Team Deathmatch, there are brief opening cinematics which cut to the action with your character running towards the enemy. The brutal, weighty combat adds to this feeling of realism. Team Deathmatch is a fun mode, but Team Objective is the best way to enjoy Chivalry II.
Performance wise, the game ran smoothly on my rig (mid-high end), though there were some instances of players blinking short distances across the map due to lag. There was also an occasional bug where the server would glitch upon starting a new map. Although these issues did occur more than once, the majority of the gameplay was smooth, so it could be a result of the beta testing the stability of the game and the servers.
My overall experience of the Chivalry II beta was a positive one. The game could use some polish in regards to the fluidity of its combat and animations, but otherwise excels in the job it’s trying to do. If you want a multiplayer hack and slash title but you don’t like the style of Mordhau or want to try something a little different, Chivalry II fills that role. Fans of the original will be happy to know it’s an improvement on the original in essentially all aspects. Wait for the final release so you can ensure the servers are up the job and the worst of the bugs have been addressed, but otherwise there’s no reason to be hesitant about picking up this title.