Chivalry: Deadliest Warrior Review — the Evolution of Hack ‘n Slash Games

The history behind the Chivalry games is kind of cute in a way, as Age of Chivalry was originally a Half-Life 2 mod that brought hack ‘n slash madness to Half-Life 2. It got so popular that they decided to do a Kickstarter to create a full new game called Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. The Kickstarter was a success, with Torn Banner Studios officially in business and released Chivalry: Medieval Warfare in October of 2012. It quickly picked up steam among hardcore PC gamers as a fun pick-up-and-play hack ‘n slash FPS game. The big sites that reviewed it found it fun but a lot of it seemed to be lost on them.

In the last year the game has continued to be a favorite, still in the top 100 on Steam, which is a pretty big deal. Torn Banner Studios might not be the most accomplished group of developers and their games might show a lot of problems, but if you are willing to overlook them, what you find in Chivalry is a deep melee combat system that is easy to learn and rewarding to truly master. So when they announced that they were coming out with an expansion pack I knew that I was down for it, no matter what. Then came the partnership with Spike TV and their now defunct television series Deadliest Warrior.

While that show might be kind of stupid and most of us are glad that it is gone, it did spawn a few interesting games that seemed to continually fall short of the mark. Putting some of the experts of hack ‘n slashers behind a game pitting different types of historical warriors against each other seemed like a perfect fit. It turns out that it really is. The game forgoes C:MW’s classes of Knight, Vanguard, Man at Arms and Archer for different types of warriors; Knight, Samurai, Ninja, Viking, Pirate and Spartan.

Each class has their own themed map with each one having their own unique features. For example, the Spartan Acropolis map features Roman/Spartan architecture as well as a giant pit a la 300, ninjas have a night time Japanese town accented by bamboo, rooftops to run along and booby traps on the ground, Samurai have a Japanese palace to do battle in, Knights have a castle to defend against siege weapons, and Vikings have a Fjord with longships on the shore and longhalls to defend . Each map as a smaller version for smaller lobbies so you aren’t running around a map searching for the other team for the whole match (which trust me has happened).

The gameplay has had a few tweaks, important tweaks that are just different enough to make it feel like a different game. There were a lot of exploits in the main Chivalry game that the developers decided the community had adopted and shouldn’t be fixed. Frustrating stuff like dragging (prolonging shots by turning away before swinging), an almost insta-kill overhead and more. They do their best to update the original Chivalry and work on its balance, but every new patch fixes one issue and then upsets more fans over changing something else.

The strikes have different levels of damage now, depending on where you are in the swing. It used to be that if you were to stab and then quickly turn towards the enemy they’d take the full brunt of the strike, or using the dreaded crouch/look down overhead you’d instantly connect with an overhead shot and kill your opponent. Now those techniques don’t work as well because if you connect late swing you’ve lost most of the strength on it, or if you attack too early you haven’t gotten enough force behind it. It’s an eloquent way to fix the game mechanics while not upsetting anyone. The game has been in beta for a month or so now, which there have been some serious changes over the last month for balancing and textures. Pirates used to dominate maps with their pistols that had ranges like sniper rifles and had an almost instant-reload, while shields did absolutely nothing against attacks in any class that had them. Now the pirates reload time has been fixed, their shots create a giant puff of smoke that hinders their vision and the range has been drastically reduced. You still don’t want to run into a row of pirates with pistols or blunderbuss at the ready, but they are manageable now, at least.

The modes in the game are fun but basic, with Team Objective from CMW not making it over to Deadliest Warrior, sadly. I guess it makes sense, as Team Objective is still rough in the main game, there are so few maps that use it and they seemed to have run out of ideas as it always feels like you are pushing a damned cart somewhere. The modes are Free-For-All, Team Deathmatch, Last Team Standing, Hold the Flag and Duel. HTF and Duel were just recently introduced, but HTF is a lot of fun, as each team tries to hold a flag for a set period of time while the other team(s) try to kill the flag holder and take it for themselves. All of the team-based modes have multiple team iterations, with there being up to six teams in play at a time.

It creates a whole new dynamic to have five other teams to worry about in Last Team Standing, as there are new tactics to utilize in order to walk away victorious. I’ve had some games where I’m the last guy standing on a team only to have a wave of Spartans shouting and rushing at me where it was clear I was completely boned. Each mode also has fixed-warrior or open-warrior selection. Sometimes you are playing Samurai vs. Vikings, sometimes you are playing Spartans vs. Ninjas and other times you get to select which kind of warrior you use.

Chivalry: Deadliest Warrior isn’t the most graphically insane game that you’ll ever play, nor does it have the best sound or the most content, but it has that one great thing that will keep you coming back, which is gameplay. It’s addictive, it’s fun, it’s deep and rewarding and you continue to get better the more that you play. To me this is a no-brainer, this is a game that I’ll play just about every day until they release either another game or another expansion pack because it’s just that fun and addictive. I’d really love for this to see a console release so everyone could see how awesome these games are.

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