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Chivalry: Deadliest Warrior DLC

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By MrJenssen07-02-2014
StuntmanLT (editor)
Bobfish (editor)

The Defence

Developer:
Torn Banner Studios
Publisher:
Torn Banner Studios
Genre:
Action
Release Date:
14-11-2013

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Quad 2.4 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce GTX 460
AMD Radeon HD 5850
RAM:
4 GB
HDD:
7 GB
DirectX:
9.0c

The Case

Chivalry: Medieval Warfare was one of the very first games funded through Kickstarter and released to critical acclaim. It successfully managed to create a first person multiplayer melee fighting experience without resorting to the traditional point & click mechanics that most MMOs and multiplayer melee games did before it. It was more about skilfully timing your attacks and parries than the power of your stats. The Deadliest Warrior expansion is now out, and promises to merge the same formula with six new fighter classes and a handful of other features. Is the bloodbath worth the price?

The Trial

I loved the original Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Many think the brutality of the combat is what made Chivalry so great, but this is only partly true. Sure, being able to behead people and kick their still standing corpses to the ground likely drew a lot of players in. But the novelty soon wore off. What remained, was a game with solid fighting mechanics that rewarded proper timing and teamwork rather than the boring old “mash left mouse button until enemy is dead”. The game also had fantastic level design, and a lot of really cool modes. The Team Objective mode in particular, was varied and tons of fun when players worked together to achieve their goal. One moment you’d be slaying entire villages of innocent peasants, the next you’d be breaking down a castle gate to get to the enemy king while arrows whizzed past your ears and boiling hot tar ran down your neck. It was intense.

Deadliest Warrior sounds like a great idea on paper. A fantastic idea. I don’t care much for Spike TV’s show, but the historical, almost mythical warriors portrayed there are simply awesome. I mean, you now have a game with a brutal combat system, and then you douse armies of vikings, ninjas, samurai, pirates, spartans and knights on top? All duking it out in the brand new six-team deathmatch mode, over six new thematic battlefields? How could this possibly go wrong? Well, I’ll explain.

Where'd it...oh there's my arm.

Where'd it...oh there's my arm.

First of all, I need to go back to the original Chivalry again. Over the months following Chivalry’s release, the game was patched extensively with new content, bug fixes and other tweaks. Some of these changes were for the worse. And though a lot of players voiced their concerns about new weapon imbalances and glitchy hit detection, little seemed to change. It was around this time that I and a lot of other players started feeling alienated from the game. It no longer felt like a solid melee brawler where every class and weapon had clear strengths and weaknesses. The polearm-type weapons of the Vanguard is a prime example. The polearm had better range than any other melee weapon, but could still strike and block just as fast as one-hand weapons. The polearms also had several frustrating exploits, like being able to strike through shields that were supposed to block them.

The Deadliest Warrior expansion does little to improve on these issues at all. If you felt cheated by exploitative players and buggy mechanics in the original, then don’t expect the expansion to treat you with any more respect. It’s buggy, it’s glitchy, it’s very imbalanced and it’s incredibly frustrating if you intend to play it competitively, and not just for the novelty of seeing heads get chopped off.

Even if you didn’t experience these issues with the original, Deadliest Warrior might still disappoint you. If you were hoping for the expansion to give us new maps for the Team Objective mode, perhaps seeing vikings fight their way up a pagoda, or ninjas infiltrating and robbing the treasure island of the pirates, then I’ll have you know that Team Objective doesn’t show its face at all. Neither do King of the Hill and Capture The Flag. What we’re left with here, is a number of modes that are all variations on the tired old Deathmatch mode. FFA, TDM, Last Man Standing, Duel… you get the idea. The one new mode offered in the expansion, is Six-Team Deathmatch, which as you can imagine, is just TDM but with six teams instead of two.

According to the game, this stab didn't connect.

According to the game, this stab didn't connect.

But why the long face? Surely, the new classes must be worth it alone? Just play the awesome Team Objective mode from the original but use vikings instead? Well you see, despite Deadliest Warrior not being a stand-alone expansion, it doesn’t really have anything to do with Medieval Warfare at all. In fact, the two games are started separately through the Chivalry launcher. You either play Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, or you play the Deadliest Warrior expansion. None of the features in one game are compatible with the features of the other. The novelty of the new classes soon wears off, and what you’re stuck with is team deathmatch with imprecise combat mechanics.

Okay, sure. The new classes themselves did clearly have a lot of work put into them. They all feel relatively unique, with their own voices, abilities, unlockable weapons and cosmetic items, and so on. The viking can wield two melee weapons at once and can throw his shield as if it was a weapon. The ninja, while weak, moves quietly, can throw ninja stars without sheathing the melee weapon, and can roll to avoid enemy attacks. The samurai is slow but heavily armored, and his katana makes its first attack already as you unsheathe it. The spartans have long javelin spears that they can stab and throw, and shields that are apparently impenetrable even if the shield is facing in the opposite direction of the incoming attack. The pirates have annoying firearms and… are generally very annoying. Finally, the knight is basically the same as he was in the original Chivalry. Heavy and clunky, but powerful and deadly.

The classes are cool, sure. But they’re not very well balanced. The samurai is supposed to have heavy armor and strong attacks. And yet the rag-clad pirate can take almost as many slashes from the samurai’s two-handed katana, as the samurai can take from the pirate’s wimpy little scimitar. The spartan is nearly naked but can still take a good few hits before going down, and though his feet are clearly exposed when he blocks with his shield, it’s impossible to hit them with even the most precise stab. The ninja’s rolling ability never really seems to avoid beheading either. In fact, I think it makes it even easier to get killed. The weapons all have the same issues. Swings that you saw go straight through the bowels of your enemy, don’t register at all, and strikes that you were sure you evaded with a good margin, still lop your head off.

Dying under grog influence causes your screen to remain like this until the end of the round. Enjoy.

Dying under grog influence causes your screen to remain like this until the end of the round. Enjoy.

Even looking past the imbalance issues, one can’t help but feel that the potential of the new historical classes feels underutilized. The same goes for the maps. Each of the six new maps are thematically tailored to one of the classes, and though they are fairly large and look good, they too feel kind of pointless. And it’s all because of the restriction in game modes. All you do is run straight towards the first enemy you see, and then start pounding him, making the map design arbitrary. No teamwork is ever required - other than the obligatory “don’t run around alone” tactic - and, I mean, do I even need to describe it to you? If you’ve ever played a multiplayer game before, then you KNOW just how fast deathmatch becomes stale. And when that’s the whole game, then we have a serious problem.

The Verdict

I’m sure some Chivalry apologists will come to Deadliest Warrior’s defense. But it’s not about how the critics need to “learn to play”. Between all the problems - imprecise and buggy hit detection, numerous bugs and exploits that have yet to be fixed, the incompatibility with the original game and the complete focus on deathmatch - Chivalry: Deadliest Warrior finds itself surrounded by an armada of bad, lazy or rushed design choices. I’m sure it can offer some occasional fun for you and a large group of friends to start your own server and play against each other, not being too competitive about who kills who or who wins. But that argument can be used to defend any game, good or bad. Torn Banner abandon most of the concepts that made Medieval Warfare so fun for so long, and trusts that Chivalry’s combat alone is solid enough to keep players entertained. Sadly, Deadliest Warrior is proof of the opposite. This is not an expansion, it’s a contraction.

Case Review

  • A Class Act: The classes are varied enough to make for some fun in short bursts.
  • Six Ways to Die: The new six-team variant is chaotic and occasionally enjoyable.
  • Stands Alone, not Stand-alone: It requires the original game to run, but all the cool old maps and modes are incompatible.
  • The Memory Remains: All the problems from Medieval Warfare return in force with new ones.
  • Die, Deathmatch!: Seriously, variations on deathmatch was supposed to keep people playing forever?
2.5
Score: 2.5/5
A disappointingly anticlimactic ending to such a fantastic idea.

Appeal

If there’s a game that’s best suited on the show Deadliest Warrior, it is Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. And here we have the DLC/expansion. The base game has pretty great bones, being somewhat like Mount and Blade, which is perfect to apply to more than just knights. Knights are cool and all, but I'm happy to see matchups like Samurais vs Vikings. It brings back old memories of playing Pirates, Vikings and Knights, only now there’s more options, but somehow doesn't look as good.  

A bit of a warning though, this game is very screamy. There’s even a dedicated button for taunting that lets out a very loud battle cry if you are moving when you press it. So naturally what everyone does is press it repeatedly. If the developers added the Kamakazie from Serious Sam, they would have to immediately remove it because it would be the only class anyone would play. While playing the DLC, I had more fun just running around screaming than actually fighting, which is a huge deal because the combat is pretty great.

It isn’t the best looking game. Not by a long shot. It’s not a terrible looking game either, just slightly below average. This is where another comparison to Mount and Blade comes in, because levels remind a lot of Warband. They aren’t an eyesore, but don't expect to be absolutely blown away either. Overall, I had fun and I’m sure you will too.

4
Score: 4/5

Appeal

Chivalry has always been a mixed bag for me. On the good side, the game actually nails the whole FPS fighting with swords thing and really captures the feeling of carving people up into bite-sized chunks of man meat (or being carved up yourself for that matter). My biggest argument with the game is that I'm no damned good at it! Nevertheless, that doesn't really affect the fun that can be had from waving massive swords around. I would quite happily (and often do) get chopped up a hundred times in a row just to land that single broadsword haymaker that splatters a guy's head open with a satisfying squelch.

Deadliest Warrior has simply added to the fun by taking the original classes, dressing them nicely, mixing them all up and dropping them back into the fray. Each have their own distinct strengths and weaknesses, giving each individual class its own style of play to master. It almost feels like you're learning a martial art from scratch and playing against some of the die-hard players online feels like you've walked into your local karate club and called them all pussies!

Deadliest Warrior has brought with it a shiny new menu system and levelling up your warriors is much clearer now. The game generally looks a little more polished (but not massively different) and the meaty sound effects are still just as gruesome as ever. You'll be pleased to know that each class has its own recorded vocabulary of cheers and taunts, meaning you'll no longer need to shout “FOR SPARTA!” at your monitor. Overall it's a nice addition to a fun little game and if you enjoyed the original, you definitely won't be disappointed with this instalment.

4
Score: 4/5
Comments (3)
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Posts: 1199

Hehe yeah that's a pretty good comparison. Fun enough if you just take it for light entertainment, but once you start looking into the details of it, it becomes extremely flawed and tedious.

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Posts: 15

I like to think of this game having the same quality as the show...take that however you want.

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Posts: 1199

Hell if I know what game the appealers were playing...