Returning to Chivalry — Not for the faint hearted

Believe me, playing this guy feels as just as badass as it looks
When it came out, I played Chivalry to death. This HL2 mod made into a full game was oozing awesome in pretty much every way. The combat was both simple and complicated and it took a long time before you got to grips with mechanics. The "real time strike" system was simply revolutionary. It allowed each weapon to trace a path in the air depending on how you handled the strike. Each hit was an actual hit, rather than simply being an invisible bullet with little range. It also had a quasi-realistic setting mixed with a lot of humor and gory exaggerations.

It was my type of game: a borderline simulation with a lot of mainstream elements. Easy to pick-up, but hard to master. It only had a small problem: it wasn't polished nearly enough. It crashed a lot, was grossly unoptimized, the combat quickly devolved into who used the exploits better, the server browser was a mess and the content was sparse. My interest quickly faded away and I gradually focused more on other games after sinking about 100 hours in it.

Yesterday, I felt like checking it out again. It's been almost three years and this game is still packed with servers and players, so obviously the developers were doing something right. First thing that caught my eye is the new menu. It's much more slick and has a new option for . . . character customization? There are all kinds of shiny armor pieces, helmets, textile patterns. It turns out they went the way of TF2 with the character customization. I really don't mind unless it affects gameplay and this game is pretty suitable for this kind of customization.

You can use your surroundings to your advantage

The second thing I realized is that the game runs much smoother than the last time. Sure, I had a different laptop back then but it was still respectable. Not only I could play without any hiccups, I could also stream without any noticable performance degradation. Awesome!

Unfortunately, returning to a game after a long time comes with its hazards. At these "later" stages in the life of a game, it's mostly populated by its most devoted fans. That means you'll be going up against hardcore veterans most of the time and your impact on the game is going to be limited. Devastation sums up my experience. Not only I had forgotten the delicate details of the combat other than the most basic "swing, block, kick" actions, but people have gotten extremely good at this game. People seemed to have an exceptional situational awareness and they had no difficulties dealing with my attacks while having a perfect defense. I felt like poor Neo fighting against an agent; I was putting up a fight but resistance was futile in the end.

Still, I was fully expecting the "Oh my god, I suck!" feelings. The good thing about Chivalry is that no matter how you do, it's still a pretty fun game. The combat is downright brutal and sometimes hilarious with all the random things happening. Random occurances like kicking your enemy into the valley below or accidental silly teamkills never fails to put a smile on my face. The team objective mode is my favorite, there are some interesting objectives like freeing your men from burning stakes (by putting out the fire by . . . kicking it), murdering villagers, saving slave laborers, dumping sick bodies into the water reservoirs, burning down cities with torches . . . every stereotype medieval action has its place here.

One of my rare victories *sniff*

The content has also been reinforced a lot. There are a ridiculous number of maps out there (I didn't play on the same map twice during my 2.5 hours run) and there are also different gamemodes as well. Duel gamemode is especially pretty interesting, it's a strictly 1v1 mode where you can challenge anyone. Don't think of this is a proper training ground though, I was hoping to get some practice, but all I got was merciless slaughter by opponents I just couldn't break.

The brutal skill difference between beginners and veterans must have caused concerned for Torn Banner too, because I noticed servers with rank restrictions. Unfortunately back in the day I played a lot, so I already had rank 24 which excluded me from these servers. It seems like I have to take the beating to improve.

I do want to get better though, in order to do so I've been reading up on tactics and guides on mechanics a bit. Regardless, this game is ridiculously fun. I want to play more!

PS: If you feel like watching my Chivalry VODs, you can find them here. Beware though, they're not edited and they're about 2:30 long.
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About Rak

I'm an engineer who likes to write extremely long articles about games that border simulation and mainstream.
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