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It’s hard to fathom that Chivalry: Medieval Warfare has been out for eight years. It seems like only yesterday that we stepped into Torn Banner Studios’ olden adventure and hacked away at a variety of our friends. But if you thought that experience was something, wait until you see what the team has in store for Chivalry 2.

While the theme generally remains the same, the developer has really opened things up for the sequel. This includes the potential to kill your opponents — and a lot more of them to boot. Torn Banner recently invited us down to go hands-on with a near-finished build of the game. Though there wasn’t much to see in terms of map variety, there was more than enough blood-gushing fun to go around.

Grab a sword, you welp

As with the first game, Chivalry 2 lets you choose a side and then take to battle. This time around, however, they go much deeper, with up to 64 players. That’s a huge leap over the count from the original game. Alas, we didn’t get to take on that many people during the preview event, but the potential for it sounds enthralling.

In the build we tried out, the battles took place in a jousting arena and open field, giving us ample opportunity to take on opponents. There are a variety of subclasses and weapons available, depending on what your forte is. For instance, if you want to go with the archer and hit enemies from afar, you can. But keep in mind this leaves you with very little offense when someone charges at you. You might need to take the old Monty Python adage and “Run awayyyyy!” when the situation calls for it.

But then there are the more brutal classes, brandishing everything from a traditional sword and shield to a two-handed mace. This is where the real guts of the game come together, as you feel the thrill of swinging your weapon against others.

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Much more to the combat this time around

Torn Banner has gone all out with the combat system for its new release. This time, things are based a little bit more around momentum. For instance, if you swing your body to go along with your weapon, you’ll have more power when it hits an opponent. This can be tricky when you’re surrounded, but it’s a cool feature nevertheless. There are also defensive moves to get someone off your back, like a quick kick to send them flying backward. You just need to make sure you land it properly, because it can be hard to do when someone’s hacking away at you. The plight of medieval combat, we suppose.

But that’s just the beginning of possibilities with Chivalry 2’s battle system. You can actually pick up items and use them in imaginative ways. Ever want to set a chicken on fire and then throw it at someone’s head? You can. Feel like picking up someone’s decapitated skull and beaning their ally with it? That’s something you can do as well. Improvisation can go a long way in a fight, so don’t hesitate to try a new thing. (Reminder: maybe make sure you’re not under attack first. These opponents come at you quickly and fiercely.)

You can throw traditional weapons as well. Sure, you might run the risk of being temporarily disarmed and having to throw a few fists. But it’s worth it if you can land a proper axe throw on someone, then watch them scamper as you attempt to finish them off. It’s all about the timing and maybe catching someone off-guard.

Alongside the combat, you have the ability to use secondary items within the game. These include spike traps, battering rams, ballistas, and even ladders. In some cases, they’ll help you get further ahead; in others, they make for good ambush tools. These, combined with the stuff you can find in combat, make each fight a little more unpredictable.

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Fight your way, die your way

However, the game remains personable. You can design your character however you see fit using a number of customization tools. These include creating proper facial features (even if they’ll be cut to ribbons anyway), as well as changing around your outfit and weapons. The more you play, the more possibilities open up for your character’s design.

In addition, you can also equip your warrior with a voice and emote. Chivalry 2 is all about humorous personality in this regard, as you can run an opponent’s defeat in their face with a few quick gestures. And, yes, the dialogue has its moments where it sounds like it’s inspired by Monty Python. Have at you, indeed.

Even though we didn’t see many of the environments, Chivalry 2 looks sharp thus far. The animations and blood effects appear to be much better than the original game. It also didn’t lose any sense of speed, even when the battlefield was loaded with adversaries. There’s sure to be a lot more variety in the final game as well, including castles just waiting to be sieged.

More epic moments await us as well, including the ability to charge with your fellow army members against enemies. In fact, if you’re good enough, you might even manage to clean up on a group of them and continue to move forward. But with the 64-player potential, you’re going to have a lot of work ahead of you.

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Multiplayer mayhem in the making

The time we spent with Chivalry 2 was short. Fortunately, it was more than enough to give us the impression of what Torn Banner Studios has in mind. It’s definitely showing signs of improvement over the original game, and the audio is top-notch with the humorous taunts. That said, the gameplay is the real treat here. The visceral combat continues to be spot-on thus far, and the potential for all of the available classes and weapons goes a long way. You can really build yourself up to be a bad-ass if you want to. Or an archer, if long-range combat is your thing.

At the moment, the game is slated for release sometime later this year. Those of you going to PAX East will be able to try out a 24-player multiplayer skirmish, and it’s worth the recommendation. You haven’t lived until you’ve taken part in a medieval battle with trash talk and bodies lying everywhere.

Check out the trailer below, and read more about the game over on the Epic Games Store. And remember… Chivalry may not be dead, but depending on how good you are, you just might be.

We thank Tripwire Interactive for providing accommodations for this hands-on event.

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