When we sat down to write our War of the Roses Beta Roundtable last month, we thought we’d seen all the hack-and-slash medieval combat this year had to offer – that’s when Chivalry: Medieval Warfare landed on our desks and confused the hell out of us all.
Going in, we expected to see a rehash of the same, and instead found ourselves amidst yet another completely awesome experience, with no clear champion in sight. Both offer an almost identical gameplay experience, and yet, each is packed with subtle innovations that help shape a unique identity. One thing’s for sure: we’re going to need to play a lot more before we even think about choosing a favourite. It’s a tough life.
Cody: As usual, I was completely blown away by Chivalry. With my heart comfortably stolen by WOTR, I wasn’t expecting a lot, but after a single game I could already see the difference in style, and was immediately captivated.
I guess the element that grabbed my interest the most was the objective-based game mode, which was something that I felt was missing from WOTR. Team Deathmatch is great an’ all, but I prefer something a bit more complex. In Chivalry, my first game began with the ransacking of a nearby village – burning houses, slaughtering peasants in their homes, that sort of thing – while another team of players attempted to defend it. That was quickly followed by another goal, asking us to push a battering ram across the field of battle and up to the opposing teams’ castle, arrows raining down from the castle walls above – once inside, one of their team was transformed into the King, and our goal became simple: kill, or be killed.
An epic battle in the throne room of said castle ensued, and afterward, feeling physically exhausted and completely engaged, I knew Chivalry was offering something very different.
Dan: Those differences run right through Chivalry, pulling you into a much darker and grittier world than War of the Roses, and capturing the cinematic moments of battle I always dreamed of recreating in a video game. Players mainly fight from the first-person perspective, making the game much more immersive and adrenaline pumping. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you finally cut down an opponent after trading blows and dancing around the battlefield.
When I say that Chivalry is much darker, I mean it – you’ll be decapitating players and removing their limbs before you know it, soaking yourself in the blood of your enemies. The great thing about this new style of medieval combat are the intense large-scale fights that take place, standing in the middle of battle as everyone is screaming around you, covered in blood and hacking away at each other like there’s nothing left to lose. Torn Banner Studios have created a great atmosphere, and it’s absolutely everything I could have hoped for – with a few rough patches around the edges of course; this is a beta after all.
Tob: I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here and say that Chivalry has nothing on War of the Roses so far. Yeah, I get that Chiv’s still in beta, but mechanically it doesn’t stray far from a modern shooter and I don’t think that’s going to change.
WotR combat was intense due to the precision needed – striking a guy in the head wasn’t necessarily an instant kill; it could deflect off your targets helm if you swung at the wrong angle. Chiv feels much less precise, more akin to a mash-buttons-to-win style of combat (in fact, one part of the training/tutorial section specifically encourages you to spam attacks as a technique).
Of course, Chiv has it’s upsides too. It’s much more visually appealing than WotR, even as a beta, and the game modes are more in-depth as well but I just can’t shake the feeling that Chivalry is just a reskinned shooter and that detracts from the fun somewhat, for me at least.
Cody: Tob, you’re always playing Devil’s Advocate, but you do raise a good point about arrows deflecting from armour and helmets in WoTR, but not so much in Chivalry. I think it does happen in Chivalry, at least, in the sense that damage is reduced or avoided entirely occasionally when landing an arrow attack, but in WoTR you saw it happen, and the accompanying HUD icon, shown as a shield, confirmed what you’d just seen making for a more complete and satisfying experience.
Chivalry takes a more realistic approach than WoTR, in that you’ll usually be killed in a single attack if you don’t block or avoid it, much like you would expect in real life, with the limb attacked literally coming apart from the torso. While I personally prefer this style of combat, and the accompanying satisfaction that comes with surviving a battle long enough to see it come to its blood-spattered conclusion, I still can’t say which I think works ‘best.’
In WoTR, battles felt like they were shorter, but I felt like I survived a lot longer; though, that probably has a lot more to do with the difference in the archer classes between the two games. The archer feels a lot tighter in WotR, and the level design is much better suited to the bow – the HUD plays a large role in this too, with the bowstring draw being visually represented in WoTR, but not at all in Chivalry.
Dan: Typical Agathian attitude, this is why we don’t take your kind in the Mason Order. For me, even though there are some bugs that need to be fixed – there’s something about the first-person view that just does it for me. Much like War of the Roses, once you figured out all the little quirks of your class and the way the combat mechanics work for your weapons – the game really opens up and starts to offer a lot more for those who hone their skills. Epic fights have been somewhat rare, with some opting more for the mash and slash method, but when you finally have that epic duel – it’s worth the wait.
I still can’t say that either game is bad, because they both offer something a little bit different that keeps me jumping back and foward. While Chivalry has a long way to go in polishing the game, I think they have already proven that they can create a gory and immersive experience for the medieval obsessed gamer. Both games are still young, but I am definitely looking forward to playing a lot more – and kicking both your asses while doing so. Let them join their families, IN DEATH!
Tob: I’m not sure if “gory” quite covers what Chivalry represents. Somewhere between gruesome and outright macabre would be better. I’ve never seen limbs dismembered in such detail, ever. Muscle, bone, arteries all severed in glorious HD! I know some people are into that sort of thing, but I’m the kind of guy that thought Medal of Honor was overdoing it back in 2000. Watching a guy roll down a hill with both of his arms almost completely severed, just barely dangling by magically unharmed blood vessels is another step towards “too real” for me. It’s not quite there yet, but almost.
Dan: You’re terrible, go back to your corner.
Tob: Well, not everyone delights in bathing in arterial juices, maniac. Hygiene issues aside, Chivalry does a lot of stuff right; the controls are tight, the graphics are great and the battles are thoroughly enjoyable. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on – hopefully it won’t walk down that all-too-trodden path of today’s arena-style shooters.