Hands-On with Chivalry [PAX East 2013]

Chivalry is is a violent, historically accurate medieval combat game unlike anything since medieval times.


If first-person melee isn’t a genre, Chivalry is working to fix that.  You can use crossbows and longbows in combat, but the bulk (and dare I say best?) of the combat is equipping a sword or an axe and hacking away at your enemy.  Chivalry is revolutionary in that while it mines a medieval setting, it does so without any fantasy tropes that one expects from such a game at first glance.  Chivalry appears to be a historically accurate medieval-based arena combat game, and its accuracy makes it both incredibly violent and incredibly fun.

Although released in October, Chivalry was on the floor at PAX East offering its unique style of gameplay up for anyone who strolled by.  The game allows you to pick from one of four medieval classes: archer, man-at-arms, knight, and vanguard.  You then select your arsenal from an armory featuring over seventy weapons.  My man-at-arms went into battle with a two-handed double-axe and the option to switch to a mace and shield as needed.  The shield proved necessary.  While you can block with the axe, the shield was much more effective.

Combat is fast and bloody.  Torn Banner Studios had a sixteen player game of Capture the Flag available, and once the enemy was engaged, it became an endless stream of decapitations and disembowelings.  Steve Piggott, President of Torn Banner, helped me by pointing out that the mouse pivots through the player’s hips, not the player’s head.  When aiming your swings, this realization can allow for some particular vicious slices.  On floor footage showed opponents being chopped up like Monty Python’s Black Knight, and in one particularly unfortunate encounter, I found myself with my own head cut off.  Playing in third person over-the-shoulder view, the camera followed my head as it flew while the screen went grey.  Waiting to respawn, all I did was watch the tip of my brain stem twitch.

Death is swift in Chivalry, and it comes in many forms.  Players can be killed by the environment as well.  Some of the maps feature walls that need to be breached, and battering rams to be used for that purpose.  Defense of these walls comes in the form of vats of burning oil to be poured on the attackers.  Another trap that can be sprung is the two-log trap, where two logs swing in from the left and the right, crushing the player between them in a brutal demise.

Piggott said that with the release of the level editor they are hoping the community will make even more maps for people to enjoy.  Certain famous battles, like Helm’s Deep, might be difficult to recreate both due to legal restrictions and the lack of 10,000 in-game orcs, but such a map would still ensure for an amazing experience.

In Chivalry, Torn Banner has taken the tried-and-true formula of arena shooters and extended it into completely new territory.  The wisest combat decisions were often to engage your enemy slowly, as a wrong move could open you to a quick defeat.  But when facing an army, time is an expensive luxury.  Death comes as quickly and from anywhere as one might expect in real medieval combat.  Chivalry is a brutal, vicious game, and that is what makes it so great.

Chivalry is available now on Steam and at www.chivalrythegame.com.

Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz

Senior Producer

Host of WoW! Talk! and The Tauren & The Goblin. Sometimes known as the Video Games Public Defender. Wants to play more Destiny and Marvel Heroes but WoW is all-consuming. Decent F2P Hearthstone player. Sad that he lost the Wii that had Wrecking Crew on it. Would be happy if the only game ever made was M.U.L.E. Gragtharr on Skywall-US. Garresque on Ravencrest-US.

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