Knights in not-so-shining armor.
On paper the premise of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare sounds like a brilliant idea. Take the familiar online component of a first-person shooter, throw in swords and shields, and focus on objective-based modes. However, in practice the series has not materialized the way some would have hoped. On PC the game has a loyal, if not vitriol community, then it was ported to last-generation consoles with tons of technical issues. Now Xbox One and PS4 owners can finally see what all the fuss is about, and to be frank, it is still a mess.
The first thing to take note of, Chivalry is an online-focused game. The only single-player offerings come in the form of a thrown together tutorial. From the moment I stepped into it though, it felt off. The original game was a PC mod of Half-Life 2, and it has not aged extremely well. The combat feels clunky and the hit detection is frustrating. Mastering the moves the game requires for combat just doesn’t feel right, especially with a controller. When my attacks did land, it never felt satisfying. Instead I ran around wildly swinging my sword in hopes that maybe I could take someone out.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC, 360, PS3
Price I’d Pay: $9.99
Multiplayer: Online only
Chivalry is a class-based game with players having a choice of four different loadouts. Each class comes with a set of weapons and that is honestly about it. Characters only have two stats, so most of the class functionality lies in the weapons. Certain classes can carry heavier weapons, while others have more stamina or health. Customization is also pretty non-existent leading to battlefields full of clones just wildly swinging swords.
The sporadic combat also leads to plenty of team killing. Not having solid feedback from hits makes this an all-too-common occurrence in online games. As players level up, stats do increase, but without a lock-on mechanic it is hardly useless. It just made my swings more powerful, thus ending my own teammate’s life sooner than expected. Needless to say, combat is a mess.
Chivalry also doesn’t take advantage of its unique combat repertoire. Online modes are standard fare, with deathmatch and team deathmatch the player count has increased for this iteration, up to 24 as opposed to 12 from the previous generation. More players doesn’t really change the fact that matches are more sporadic than strategic. Players are still wildly swinging swords in the hope they might hit someone. It is chaotic and downright boring.
The larger, objective-based modes fare a little better, but mainly because they don’t rely as much on combat. These modes attempt to inject strategy into the mix by introducing large weaponry and machines that must be operated, but in most of my online matches it was one set of players who clearly play too much just running around killing everyone. Then the rest of the team screaming and flailing their swords around, at least when I could get into a match. The community for this game is minimal at best.
Visually it looks exactly what I expected a Half-Life 2 mod to look. Animations are jarring, and performance is atrocious. The Xbox One version runs at half the frame rate of the PS4, but both suffer constant drops. Textures are abysmal and the overall art style of the game is the definition of boring. It is hard to believe that a game that looks this bad can still manage to run as terrible as it does.
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is not a good game. Perhaps if there was a single player campaign, some competent combat, or even some unique online modes, it might be redeeming, but as it stands it is a textbook example of how to ruin a great idea. I imagine the online community also died in the time it took me to write this review, so I guess my best advice would be to stay as far away from this game as possible.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.