Thursday, 24 October 2013

Chivalry: The Knighthood that never was

Since I was little, I was always fascinated by Middle Ages. Mostly about castles and armies. Not really about the peasantry, how work was hard, life tedious, and plague plucked the lives of helpless people like nothing. I did not care about city life, merchant guilds, and how the word "bank" came from the word for a desk. So, when I first saw Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, I was really excited.

Chivalry is a game played from first person perspective. You can play from third person perspective. Both are valid options, and both have strong and weak sides. If you play from third person perspective, you have better awareness of space around you. You can see when someone is about to hammer you with a maul from behind. But because of that spacial awareness you are weaker in direct combat. You do not see clearly where an opponent's sword or axe is about to cut, thus your blocking and parrying is impaired.

From the first person perspective on other hand, you can make more precise strikes, but like in real life, the only way to fend of that maul from behind trying to smash your head in, is to rely only on what you hear. The game is brutal and ful of gore and blood. There is adrenaline rush when you are blocking the attack that could end your life, and a smile of triumph when you see your enemy fall in front of you with his head, leg, or hand missing. It does not spare you the details. And that makes it great.

There are numerous game modes available. Chivalry is, only and only a multiplayer game. You can choose between Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Team Objective, Duel, and my personal favourite these days Free for All.

You have two factions, Masons and Agatha. Besides the ideals they fight for, the choice does not really matter. Both factions have same classes available, and all the weapons that accompany them. It is mostly just a matter of taste between the two. Masons have more, what I call, Moorish looking armours for their classes, while Agatha has what most would consider a classic European attire. Personally, I prefer Agatha's armour.

There are four classes. Archer, Man-at-Arms, Vanguard, and Knight. Every class has a primary weapon, a secondary weapon, and then an accessory. All have strengths and weaknesses of their own.

An archer is very susceptible in melee combat, while it can be devastating from afar. It could be said, that, archer's real strength is in numbers. This is probably why the amount of archers on most of the servers is limited to quite a small number. His arsenal consists of bows, crossbows, javelins and a sling. His special ability is back stab, dealing additional damage if his target is struck from behind, be it either with dagger or bow.

Man-at-Arms is the rogue of this merry band. It can dodge, which can be quite infuriating if you play one of the two heavy armour classes. In the time you spent to swing at him, he managed to get away and stab you at the same time. It has access to most of the fast one handed weapons such as swords, axes, maces and quarterstaff. That combined with an Oil Pot, a device equivalent in power to the Greek fire, can make Man-at-Arms a formidable opponent.

The Vanguard is class built with only one thought. Attack. When you play as Vanguard, you do only two things. You attack, and you charge. There is no finesse or some trick to help you out. Vanguard is the berserker meant to seed chaos in the lines of the enemy. It is the class wielding two-handed weapons primarily. There is no shield available to them. And this makes them an attractive targets for archers. Still, it is my favourite.

The Knight is the heaviest armoured of the bunch. He was built to last. He can take more punishment than any other class, his blocks drain smaller amount of stamina, and his large shields make him the nightmare of every archer. To compensate, he is quite slow. You will never see a Knight chasing after someone, as that is futile. Anyone can outrun the knight. His slow speed makes him vulnerable to kiting. But come in range of his great hammer and you can say your prayers.

Recently a character customisation was added to the game. There you can set how your character will look like. The colour schemes are quite rigid when it comes to the two teams, but they loosen up when it is about Free for All. It makes sense, when there are two teams, you need to be able to quickly distinguish between a friend and foe. There is friendly fire (cutting would be more appropriate term). The options available for free customisation are astonishing. It can take quite a fair bit of time before you are happy with how your four characters look like.

I usually play with my friends. We have our mini game of sorts. We like to think, that this is how we improve our score. A real knight needs an archenemy, so we find one. Preferably someone with a distinguishing colour scheme to his armour. It is quintessential for a knight to recognise his nemesis at the first sight. We stay clear of grey-shirts (players that do not customise their armour), as they are mostly new to the game, and it would be a waste of time chasing down after a player in bland grey, when there is ten of them in the game.

Chivalry as it stands, is great deal of fun, the combat system is intuitive, and the maps available are diverse. Game modes that are given allow great deal of flexibility, and there is something to be found for everyone. I find it hard to believe that this was Torn Banner Studios's debut game. As it stands, there needs a lot to be done if they want their next games, that are sure to come, to outshine Chivalry. Because as the word itself, the game became a sort of ideal that the game developers should strive for.

1 comment:

  1. Oooh that sounds interesting! I'll go give it a look, erm... a better look, after reading this write up. :)