Crackin’ Skulls with Chivalry: Medieval Warfare

Releasing a low, guttural growl, I charge down the cracked, parched hillside towards the mill. My two-handed greatsword leads the way as arrows and crossbow bolts slap against the burning tree trunks around me. An ironclad knight approaches and I swipe my blade downward in a vertical slash, lopping off the poor bastard’s arm. With my allies in tow, we charge into the mill’s surrounding marketplace and chaos ensues, to everyone’s delight. If you’ve ever yearned to experience the thrills and gore of Call of Duty gone medieval, now you can. Without the annoying twelve-year-olds.

For most users, the game runs at a comfortable FPS and decent latency. Most players stay under one hundred ping, with typically only a handful of people over one hundred and fifty in any given match. This surprised me at first, considering that Chivalry is one of the most gorgeous games of its generation, flaunting high-definition lighting fixtures and shadows on every map.

Boasting nuanced, balanced game modes and realistic maps, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare combines the brutal reality of in-your-face medieval bloodshed and a skill-driven fighting system. Clicking the left mouse button initiates a basic horizontal swing at the cost of a portion of your stamina, and the middle mouse button controls a forward stab or an overhead slash, depending on which direction you push it. With three types of attacks and the ability to combo different attacks together, a player can launch an assault in a multitude of ways. Depending on your opponent, you may want to open with a quick stab and combo into an overhead slash for massive damage, or perhaps wait for them to strike first so you can parry and retaliate. With dozens of weapons and four unique classes to choose from, myriad play styles are available.

The iconic Knight class is your durable damage dealer. Boasting a shining suit of steel plate mail that enables him to take extra hits (at the cost of movement speed), the Knight can choose one of eleven primary weapons, a secondary weapon, and a tertiary item. Most primary weapons such as the Double Axe deal heavy damage and sport a wide range, though most have mediocre speed. Secondary weapons, such as the Morningstar, have short lengths and decent damage, but can swing at rapid speeds. On the field of a typical Team Objective game, most Knights lead the front lines with their primaries in tow, and a Knight equipped with a shield and a secondary can function as a reliable tank.

Despite seeming weak and fragile compared to the Knight, the Man-at-Arms (MAA) often tops the charts of free-for-all and team objective matches. The MAA uses high movement speed and quick, one-handed weapons to overwhelm foes. Pressing “V” allows the MAA to dodge in whatever direction they please at the cost of a large chunk of stamina. An MAA can use the dodge to avoid an incoming swing or rush at his target and close the distance for a strike. Though he lacks the high health and armor of the Knight or Vanguard, the Man-at-Arms more than makes up for it with his speed and agility.

Representing a strange clash between the Knight and the Man-at-Arms, the Vanguard has moderate armor and high damage output. He uses large two-handed weapons, the occasional small secondary, and smoke bombs to blind archers. He can out-speed Knights and excels at chasing down grubby archers. The Vanguard and the Knight make up the bulk of a team’s front lines during team objective matches.

And finally, we have the archer. This troublesome sniper will harass and pin down the enemy from afar, occasionally scoring a kill. A crossbow-wielding archer proves deadly with long-ranged potential instakills, a bow wielder boasts an improved rate of fire and mobility while reloading, and the javelin-wielding hybrid can stab at close range or throw a javelin for massive damage. Each kind of archer performs a crucial role in team objective matches, but they falter in the face of attacks at close range.

Of course, a medieval combat game wouldn’t be complete without a massive arsenal of pointy things. Forget fancy magic fireballs; equip a treasure trove of medieval weaponry including specialized axes, maces, daggers, crossbows, hammers, cleavers, bows, swords, spears, javelins, flails, and more. Skewer multiple invaders at once with a mounted ballista, pulverize crowds of foes with one shot of a catapult, and annihilate a besieging force from hundreds of yards away with the mighty trebuchet. Expect plenty of team-killing.

While chaotic battles and 64-player sieges are all fine and dandy, the skill-based combat system truly shines in one-on-one duels. Expect to bob and weave in real life as you furiously parry and riposte off another player’s swings until one of you slips up and lets one through. Weapon swapping mid-charge, smoke bomb ambushes, and actual chivalrous bows and salutes permeate the dueling atmosphere. The competitive realm of the game rests here.

As the years have passed and the metagame has developed, peculiar playstyles have emerged. Real-time strikes can be adjusted or “dragged” mid-swing, meaning that players can alter the timing on their strikes to fool their opponents and play mindgames. Since most weapons begin swinging from behind the character model, players have learned to spin around one-hundred-and-eighty degrees to strike from behind. Most new players are shocked and frustrated when they fall prey to these techniques, but to experienced players, they can be still be blocked and countered with careful timing and parry discipline. If you ever feel frustrated by a technique that you don’t understand, try watching some YouTube tutorials on the game’s more obscure mechanics. Thankfully, new players can have fun and learn the basics in the low-level servers before moving on to

Without a doubt, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is worth a shot, whether one is familiar with the first-person fighting genre or not. Dozens of hours of entertainment lay ahead, whether you are winning duel after duel, laughing at the hilarious voice acting and in-game taunts, or merely trying to chop off as many of your foe’s limbs as possible. Expect gore. Expect laughs. Expect frustration as you get stomped by people with a thousand hours of experience. But don’t expect chivalry, because let’s be honest, this is the internet.

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