Chivalry II | PS5 Review
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
Chivalry II is developed by Torn Banner Studios and published by Tripwire Interactive. It is the successor to Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. It was released this week on ALL platforms including the previous generation of consoles and is cross-platform also. Chivalry II is a first-person, multiplayer, hack and slash game set in medieval times that is primarily made up of team-based objective game modes and to begin with, all I really need to say is it's an absolute treat of a game! With up to 64 people in a lobby, Chivalry II really shines and really captures (what I would imagine) to be the chaos on a real battlefield, just clusters of people hacking limbs off, heads rolling, and guts spilling. The game might be called "Chivalry" but being chivalrous was the last thing on my mind on starting this game. For the purpose of my review, I will be primarily talking about the PlayStation 5 version so there are likely some features that are not available to me yet that can be found on the Windows PC version.
With Chivalry II being online only, it's easy to assume that there isn't any story to this game, but that would be selling the game short and ignoring a wealth of lore that is actually behind it. Chivalry II is based in a place called Agatha which was originally ruled by the Agathian Knights. That was until the Mason Order came along and challenged their rule and quickly took over after they killed the Agathian king, which quickly pushed the bold Agathian army into hiding leaving the land free for the Mason Order to pillage and plunder at their own free will. The player can choose from either of these two factions to play as within the game. You could break it down further by saying the Agathians are like the noble knights and the Mason Order is like the ruffians or rebels.
There are four main classes that you can play as: Knight, Vanguard, Footman, or Archer. Each class has its own play style, different weapons tailored to each, and a different ability ranging from bear traps you can place all the way to a horn that heals teammates. Within each of these classes there are weapons you can unlock simply by levelling up by playing as whichever class you like and there are also sub-classes that have even better weapons and secondaries available to you. I found myself very quickly gravitating towards the footman class where I could throw bandages to heal myself or teammates in battle. I just personally found the weapons in the footman class to very much suit my style of play, which leads perfectly into one of the first things I noticed about Chivalry II that I loved; no matter what your skill level, play style or experience of the genre, the game is accessible and enjoyable. You don't need to be a live action RPG fan already, you don't need to have been an expert in the first game and thanks to this, you don't feel completely overwhelmed by the mechanics or physics or the fact that there is anything up to 63 other people in the lobby with you. Once you learn to pick your battles, push with your teammates and not try and go on a solo mission, you'll very quickly start to see progress in your abilities.
Most of the game modes are all objective based that involve your team either defending or attacking an objective, whether it be defending a village of innocent people from the Mason Order or working as a team to guide a siege tower to the castle walls to infiltrate it and kill the nobleman. There is also team death match and free for all modes available at the moment. Being a Call of Duty player, I expected to prefer team death match or free for all to the objective based modes but it's the other way around for me! The objective based modes can take anything up to almost 30 minutes to complete, provided you complete all of the objectives or they can be finished in as little as 8 minutes if you fail to overthrow the opposing side. I think this game really shines in the objective based modes more than it does in team death match or free for all. I found the tactics and the strategy required to be really engaging and lots of fun that didn't get stale or turn boring within my hours of gameplay because no matter how many times I played the same scenarios, each game was completely different. I can only assume this is because with 64 people in a lobby you can never predict how each of those individuals play and what their strategies are so this really keeps each game feeling completely fresh. I had mostly wins last night with high kill games but then there were other games where the other team was simply better. They were stationed up properly and when a team is playing strategically it becomes really tough to simply sneak past their defences and complete the objectives and you find yourself repeatedly just charging at them and dying. So I'm incredibly excited for the possibility of partying up with your friends on other platforms, because then you'll be able to organise some of your team and have communication with them and tell them what you're doing or where you're going and plan your attacks strategically rather than everyone just running into battle like they're Rambo on a one man mission.
On that note, I'd like to touch on one of the few flaws that I've found whilst playing. Whilst the game is entirely cross-platform and also cross-generation, players currently can't squad up with friends on other platforms and there have been issues reported with PlayStation 4 users not being able to squad up with their PlayStation 5 friends. Whilst the complaints have been extensive throughout social media about this and whilst it does affect me as a player, I'm not overly concerned about this because the developers have been incredibly quick to fix issues with the release, for example, when the game servers opened at 4pm (BST), they were down for around 2 hours because they were overwhelmed, and after that they simply worked and throughout my entire stream of it I only had issues twice, one was with a little bit of lag and the other the menu was bugged and I had to restart. When you take into account the lobby size and that it's entirely cross-platform, I believe this was a very successful release and went very smoothly.
Initially, when playing the tutorial, I felt like there was just way too much for my little brain to absorb and it felt like the timing of the attacks would be difficult. Admittedly, after a few attempts at the various moves in the tutorial, I opted to skip them and not get myself too tied up with perfecting it there and then, which in retrospect I don't regret because no amount of tutorials can prepare you for the battlefield and with how intuitive the controls are - it really is a learning process that you complete on the job, or on the battlefield in this case. I don't necessarily recommend skipping the tutorial altogether, but don't let it put you off if you struggle to do it initially, because it can all be learned through experience within just a few games.
When I heard about this game, I expected clunky, awkward combat and I could not have been more wrong. The tutorial alone showed me just how intuitive the combat is. There are three main attacks you have; a devastating overhead blow, a heavy attack, or a jab, but it's not just as simple as that. Moving your right stick during an attack allows you to effectively follow through and hit multiple targets with one attack. The parrying system is very easy to grasp but requires some practice to perfect. I had a couple of really fun sword fights with people throughout the course of the night where I genuinely felt like I was in a movie scene with the quality of the movement and just how intuitive the controls are and as I progressed through the night I was finding myself performing strikes that I couldn't do earlier, because I was really grasping what was being asked of me. For example, you can perform fake outs where you strike one way and change direction to fool your opponent and get behind their shield - I was just about getting to this stage when I turned the game off 9 hours later and like to hope I'll continue to progress skill wise. Also found scattered through the maps are random objects that you can throw at your enemy or use to defend yourself. These vary from barrels and logs all the way to chickens and catapults. Apart from the amazing gameplay, one of the biggest highlights of my first Chivalry II session is absolutely the moment where I picked up a chicken, was set on fire by an enemy and I then proceeded to throw a flaming chicken at an enemy. That moment was captured on my Twitch stream as you can see in the clip.
The level of immersion that completely floods this game is amazing in all senses - whilst visually it's excellent I really feel they done an amazing job of the sound effects, whether it be the roars of your comrades as you charge the battlefield, the pained cries when you dismember someone; or the sound when someone successfully parries you and your weapons clash. The other thing of great significance that helps with immersion is the ways in which the developers have managed to implement the amazing features of the DualSense controller for PlayStation 5. When your stamina and health is low the controller starts vibrating with every move and the haptic feedback in the triggers come into play where you feel your characters heartbeat. When you've parried a few attacks and your guard is down, the haptic feedback in the triggers really stops you from bringing your shields back up. I will never not be amazed by haptic feedback, but in this game it really brought the realism and immersion to the next level. The other significant area where I loved the haptic feedback is when playing as an Archer where you can feel the tension in the bow reverberating through the triggers - you know when you've maxed out the power in the bow and when to let go for optimal damage. I haven't really levelled up my Archer class very much, but I've been brutally murdered by cross-bows a few times and can imagine there'll be a similar feeling when firing them.
Overall, I genuinely struggle to find many negative points about Chivalry II other than the cross-platform party system, but after what I experienced yesterday with the developers being so quick to fix problems, I'm not even remotely concerned and I'll continue to enjoy this game solo or with PlayStation 5 friends until full cross-play parties are available. With how well they've done on the existing aspects of the game, I see such a bright future for this game and can imagine this becoming massive. Apart from fixing the cross-play, I'd really love to see some other game modes brought in, perhaps adding horses and having a jousting mode or capture the flag would be worthy additions; however with this said, this isn't a deal breaker for me, I'll play the game regardless and love every second of it. Chivalry II really is a wonderful distraction from games that have become stale for me and I really hope it takes off and has a long lifespan, because I see a very bright future ahead for Chivalry II. Torn Banner Studios clearly care about this game which is something that I feel a lot of developers and studios are lacking. I regularly play games developed by larger companies that have far more significant problems long after release than Chivalry II has and this really speaks to the quality of the team behind it. I simply don't see me leaving this game behind due to lack of enjoyment and I hope the developers continue on their wonderful work that they've already started within the game.
I generally do not say that a game is "perfect" because simply put, I don't know what defines a perfect game but this is pretty close. I had so much fun during every second of gameplay - I didn't encounter any bugs, it appeared to work as intended and I was either laughing hysterically as I chopped off limbs or feeling so immersed in the game that I felt like Braveheart commanding the battlefield. So for that reason, and every other reason that I have detailed here:
Lj's Rating: 5 severed limbs out of 5.
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