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30 October 2014

Chivalry: Medieval Warfare - When knife fights just don't cut it anymore.

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Ever wondered what it would be like to take all of the guns out of a first person shooter and replace them with a variety melee weapons? Chivalry: Medieval Warfare does just that.

 

Medieval Warfare! Source: Kickstarter.com

Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is a multiplayer action game developed by Torn Banner Studios. For those that don't remember, Torn Banner Studios developed a mod for Half Life 2 called Age of Chivalry. While the concepts of both the stand alone game and the mod are basically the same, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is a much more polished experience. 

The Armory

Like most team combat oriented games these days, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare has a class system, with four different ones to chose from. In a sense they could be compared to Team Fortress 2 classes, each with their own play style to them with advantages as well as disadvantages over all the other classes.

All terribly effective in the right hands.

Starting out with what I can only describe as the scout of the four classes, we have the Man At Arms. Out of the three melee oriented classes he is the lightest armored and fastest of the bunch. He can attack and run faster than the Knight or Vanguard, but unlike those two he can't hit anywhere near as hard, reach as far or take hits. But a skillful player can more than make up for this by simply being impossible to hit.

A Knight on the other hand is more like the heavy. He is big, slow and can take one hell of a beating, especially from bladed weapons. Their weapons probably hit the hardest in the game, as well as having a good amount of reach, making them a difficult opponent to fight. They can also chose to bring a kite or tower shield into a fight, making it a nuisance to get around their defenses, though they will have a hard time seeing around it themselves.

Vanguards are more akin to the soldier. They have the most reach out of any melee class. They can play keep away while beating their opponents with a variety of pole arms or great swords. They are also special in the sense that they are the only class that can initiate a charge attack with their primary weapon by sprinting for long enough. It is a powerful attack but one that leaves the vanguard terribly vulnerable to a counter attack if it fails to connect.

Finally we have the class I hate to deal with the most: Archers. Much like snipers in any shooter game, they sit in the safety of a far away land where other weapons will have a hard time touching them. In Chivalry: Medieval Warfare however, no other weapon will have a chance at touching them, short of a thrown weapon and those don't match the range of a bow or crossbow by a long shot. Luckily, an Archer in melee is a hilariously easy fight. So while they may be a massive nuisance from afar, once a melee class manages to close the gap they're as good as dead. They take even less damage than a Man At Arms and have even less reach and damage with their melee weapons.

Those knights really didn't like that archer plinking at them.

If that's not enough variety for you, there's more variation within each class to make it so not every single soldier is identical. When selecting a class you will also have to chose their load out and a primary and secondary weapon along with a special item or weapon to come along for the ride. Each class has three different types of primary weapons along with two different types of secondaries. As you play any specific class and gain kills with a type of weapon, players will unlock  different variations on those weapon types. For example, going from a bardiche to a halberd  with a vanguard who chooses to fight with pole axes.

For special items and weapons, the number of choices vary with the class. Man at Arms and Vanguards have the most options, while the Knight has the choice between a couple of throwing axes and a tower shield. Archers, however, have their special item tied to their primary weapon. Armor piercing arrows, portable cover or a buckler depending on if they chose the long bow, cross bow or javelin weapon types to play with.

Sword, axes, bows? Oh my.

So as you might have already guessed, a medieval game has no guns. It has a variety of melee weapons from medieval times, and with that comes a learning curve that most FPS players haven't had to deal with in quite some time. The most similar game I could think of is Mount and Blade, but the combat system is different so I seriously recommend going through the tutorial. It'll even give you a bit of back story to explain why the Agatha Knights and the Mason Order are fighting each other, just in case the thought of asking your opponent a question isn't quite enough.

Blocking, for example, took some getting used to. Where most games would have you face your opponent and hit the block button, you have to actually follow  their weapon as it comes at you in order to block it and there are three different types of attacks players can use in melee. Slashing, stabbing and overhead. All of these can be chained together to make combos on the fly until your enemy manages to block you or hit you in order to stop your chain.

Get used to the respawn view while learning the game!

Then there is the stamina system! Stamina, as one would imagine, is used for to block your enemies attacks and return the favor. If you were ever to miss an attack, it consumes stamina, successful blocks have the same effect. Awkwardly enough, kicking an opponent consumes far more stamina than swinging a great big halberd. Once you run out of stamina, players have to wait for their stamina to recharge in order to be able to defend themselves, making stamina management an incredibly important skill.

And my single favorite action in this game is executing feints. A feint is when a player looks like he's committing to an attack but quickly pulls his weapon back in order to coax a block or dodge out of their opponent. This leaves them unable to block or dodge for a few seconds while you  sink your own weapon into them. This works better in duels than it does in all-out skirmishes, but it is incredibly satisfying to outwit and opponent in sword fights. On the other hand, some people have no idea what a block button is, so feinting becomes pointless in those cases and the fight boils down to who can kill each other faster or who has the most back up.

One important thing about group fights though. Your weapons will cleave through anyone in their path, and I do mean anyone. If a friendly is in the way of your blade it will just go about its merry way cutting through them  and then your enemies. This is why knowing  how to use your slash and stab attacks is extremely important in group skirmishes, even more so when wielding two handed swords and pole arms. This was a lesson I learned quickly after lopping off the heads of my back up in a big skirmish. Never again, I tell you!

Sieges. Skirmishes. Pillaging?

Chivalry: Medieval Combat features classic multiplayer game modes like Team Death Match, Free For All and Last Team Standing. Surprisingly, there is no capture the flag, but most maps have a team objective mode. The objectives change with the map. In one map you can be defending a village as a Knight of Agatha from pillagers of Mason Order. In the next you can be laying siege to an enemy fortress, using catapults to bring down their walls or groups foot soldiers and ballistae as well. The ballistae are especially hilarious to hit an opponent with. The closer they are the further away they will fly off until they leave the map or hit something strong enough to stop the bolt.

Not the most honorable tactic, but effective.

Watch out for the burning oil!

I was having a rather hard time finding any flaws with this game, which is always a good thing in my opinion. Over all Chivalry: Medieval Warfare was an amazingly smooth experience after getting past the learning curve.

My one legitimate gripe with the game was the lack of mounted combat, which was a staple of medieval warfare, but everything else about the game was so good that I could let it slide. Maybe in a future expansion we will see some mounted combat come around. I can dream can't I?

If anything, most of my grief with Chivalry: Medieval Warfare came from my internet connection becoming unstable. With its precise combat system, a high ping is essentially a death sentence. Blocks and attacks won't register, giving your opponent a huge edge over you. So if you can keep a ping under 70 this game is great fun.

Blood and limbs will fly through the air. Rocks will be hurled across the sky by mighty catapults. Burning oil tossed onto knights as they try to siege forts and villages All in all, unless someone was looking for a medieval warfare simulator with massive scale, this is an easy game to recommend, especially at 24.99 USD on STEAM. There is even a four pack available if you can talk three friends to come along for the ride.

So what are your thoughts on Chivalry: Medieval Warfare? What's your favorite class? Let us know by commenting below!

Last modified on Sunday, 04 November 2012 18:54

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