Chivalry 2 | PAX East Preview - Sharper Swords
At PAX East 2020, one of my top priorities was getting to demo Chivalry 2. As for why, I was introduced to Chivalry: Medieval Warfare back in 2013 and it quickly became one of my favorite video games to date, indie or otherwise. I put well over 500 hours into the game in an extremely short period of time. In a word, I was addicted.
Each and every night, you’d find me in the East Coast game servers running around like a fool spamming voice prompts like “Help!” and “Yes!” for no particular reason. I mean, it was funny, so I guess that's reason enough. I wasn’t obsessed with the game solely because of the hilarious screaming and voice acting though.
I made real friends in Chivalry and even joined a clan for a brief period of time (shoutout to my Vq. buddies in Vanquish). For a game about cutting other people’s heads off with swords, Chivalry has always attracted a remarkably wholesome community.
For example, if someone ever acted less than chivalrous during a match, you could initiate a vote kick. Rather than kick immediately, all players on the server get the opportunity to chime in either “Yes” or “No” in order to help decide whether to kick the offending user out or not.
Should you find yourself on the receiving end of a vote kick, you’re still free to join other servers, which is nice as you’re given the chance to learn from your mistakes. Rather than moderate everything themselves, Torn Banner trusted the Chivalry community enough to moderate themselves and I respect the hell out of that decision.
You wouldn’t think it’d work as well as it did… but it really did.
Buoyed by a loyal community, Torn Banner went on to try and expand upon the success of Chivalry with additional content and DLC like Chivalry: Deadliest Warrior. Unfortunately, Chiv players weren’t big on Deadliest Warrior. It was just kind of there, though I will say that it was a fun idea as it gave people the option to play as Samurais, Vikings, and Pirates.
Torn Banner also released a brand new game in 2017 that was essentially Chivalry with a magical twist called Mirage: Arcane Warfare which… eventually got pulled from Steam entirely due to GDPR regulations. Even before that, it was clear that Mirage had failed to find proper footing as it struggled to populate its servers.
Mirage just didn’t hook people quite like Chivalry, and it’s a shame. That said, being able to let Mirage die gave Torn Banner even more time to work on the long-awaited sequel to the game that put them on the map in the first place, Chivalry.
On the surface, Chivalry 2 feels a lot like its predecessor Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. All four classes (Vanguard, Knight, Man-at-Arms, Archer) return in the sequel, albeit with additional subclasses attached. The story of the Agatha Knights and Mason Order is once again revisited, although this time it looks as though Agatha are the aggressors.
The original voice actors have also returned to record new dialogue options, dramatically expanding upon what you can say to your teammates, opponents, or no one in particular. You don’t need an audience to spam “No!” over and over again, trust me.
Emotes have been further expanded with gestures and a fancy new emote wheel. To be completely honest, I didn’t like the emote wheel during my time with the demo. In the midst of a heated battle, the emote wheel felt distracting to me, although I’m sure I’ll get used to it over time.
Speaking of heated battles, Chivalry 2 has dramatically increased the number of max players per server. In Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, the max number of players capped at 32, in Chivalry 2 that number has doubled to 64.
It makes a noticeable difference, especially when playing on a team of inexperienced Chivalry players as was the case at PAX.
At PAX East, I played a shortened Team Objective match with other people right there on the show floor and it went about as well as you’d expect. On my team, people were swinging wildly left and right, hitting one another – yes, there’s team damage – and in general, creating mosh pits of pure chaos.
I imagine once the Closed Alpha for Chivalry 2 drops later this month and servers populate with original Chivalry players that things will feel a bit more organized.
Hardcore Chiv players will likely want to know how combat feels in the sequel as compared to the original. As you’d expect, the mechanics have been updated and modernized.
The ballerina exploits where you could spin around and strike the person behind you are gone, with movement feeling noticeably stiffer. Feints are still present in Chivalry 2 and have been broadened with things like interrupts where, if you mirror your opponent’s attack, you sort of stagger them (similar to the F kick in the first game) and open up the ability to quickly riposte.
Kicks and punches are still present. Drags also return which will undoubtedly excite seasoned Zweihander users. Unfortunately, drawing from the demo I played, the weapons available in Chivalry 2 feel a bit same-y. I swapped between classes and weapons within those classes and was unable to find as clear of a speed difference as is present in Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.
To elaborate on this, my favorite class in Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is the Vanguard which has access to abusively fast weapons like the Claymore and weapons with a nice level of drag like the aforementioned Zweihander. I didn’t really feel that dynamic in Chivalry 2, but to be totally fair here, Chivalry 2 is still in active development.
I have no doubt that if you feel the same way while playing the Closed Alpha later this month and provide that feedback to Torn Banner they’ll adjust things accordingly.
Circling back to the subject of classes, one decision that may be somewhat controversial among returning Chiv players is the fact that every class has the ability to perform the Vanguard’s running wind-up strike now.
Additionally, all classes now have the ability to side dodge like the Man-at-Arms. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this. Part of me dislikes sharing my Vanguard strike with a filthy peasant class like the Man-at-Arms, and another part of me appreciates having it available as a Knight. Another odd mechanic added to Chivalry 2 is the ability to be downed rather than killed outright.
Your teammates have the ability to revive you when you’re downed, or you can kill yourself to speed up the respawn process. Whether this is good or bad largely depends on your teammates. If you’re part of a clan and are coordinating via voice chat, the ability to revive key players is great.
However, if you’re on a server full of random people, chances are no one is going to revive you as was the case during my demo at PAX East. It was ultimately easier to accept death and start over again than to crawl around on the ground waiting for help.
Yes, you have downed actions, but at the same time... you really don’t want to be downed. It’s not a great feeling.
During combat, you can lose limbs similar to the Black Knight mod from Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, a mod originally created by Torn Banner themselves along with the Giant Slayer mod. You can also have your weapon knocked out of your hand which leads to some truly hilarious moments of panic.
What’s nice is that you’re not completely screwed when you lose your weapon as maps are more interactive in Chivalry 2. You can pick up a chicken and toss it at your opponent, or grab a pitchfork and use it to defend yourself until help arrives. I can’t wait to explore these new methods of damage.
Can I kill someone using just a chicken? I’m guessing yes, in which case I can already see players creating servers exclusively for chicken fights (like those fisticuff servers in the original Chiv) and it’s just… it’s beautiful. Oh, and to reassure those who are with me on the sheer joy of being stupid in Chivalry, the F10 suicide is still a thing as well.
You can run up to someone for no reason and F10, also for no reason.
With interactive maps and even the addition of mounted combat, comparisons are bound to be made to the spiritual but unofficial follow-up to Chivalry, Mordhau.
From my time with Chivalry 2, it’s clear the game isn’t being developed to rival or displace Mordhau. It’s not a Mordhau clone, it’s very much a Chivalry sequel. One that will have no trouble holding its own in a 1v1 fight.
Heck, if you want my personal opinion on the matter, the graphics of Chivalry 2 are already better than Mordhau as is the combat (same-y feeling weapons aside).
A large reason for this is Torn Banner’s experience and expanded resources. For Chivalry 2, Torn Banner has partnered with publisher Tripwire Interactive, and you can immediately tell that a nice chunk of money has been put into the game’s development.
I have no doubt that there’s room enough in the gaming realm for both Mordhau and Chivalry 2. I also think that both games will likely share players interchangeably. You can jump into a round of Mordhau, then play a bit of Chivalry 2, and get distinct experiences from each one.
For gamers interested in playing Chivalry 2 as soon as possible I do have a bit of bad news – and I know the hardcore Chiv players hate this more than anything else – Chivalry 2 is launching first as an Epic Games Store exclusive in 2020. I know, it sucks.
Speaking with my fellow Chivalry players, they confirmed that while they do want to play Chivalry 2, they plan to wait a year until the game releases on Steam to do so. I wish I could say I have the patience to do the same, but after getting my beak wet with Chivalry 2 at PAX East, I want the game.
I want it now. I’ll play it on EGS, I don’t even care.
No matter what you personally decide to do – wait or give Chivalry 2 a shot on the Epic Games Store – I think the game has a lot of potential.
Make no mistake, there are things that need adjustment before launch like the same-y feeling of the weapons, the lack of incentive to wait to be revived when downed, and the emote wheel feeling more distracting than it’s worth. That said, I have no doubt that Torn Banner will take player feedback seriously and will work to make Chivalry 2 appealing to new players and returning players alike.
The skeleton is already there, it’s taking shape quite nicely, and I can’t wait to see the final product.
In Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, Torn Banner put trust and faith into the Chiv community and I feel like they’ve earned some of our trust in return. I trust Torn Banner with Chivalry 2, and trust they’ll make the game everything that Chivalry players have been hungering for.
Even if you hate the Epic Games Store and plan to wait until the game gets a Steam release, I highly recommend you give Chivalry 2 a chance at some point in time. It’s going to be a choppy, stabby, slashy amount of fun. Unless you’re an Archer, in which case you must die.
“Kill those Archers!”