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The RPS Advent Calendar 2021, December 1st

Charge into Christmas!

It's the very first day of the Advent Calender, so to get hyped up we're all going to strap on some medieval armour and charge at our foes waving swords around. Or possibly waving fish around. It's up to you.

Go forth, brave knight! It's Chivalry 2!

Matt Cox: A sword fight gets so much more intimate than a shootout. I’ve lost count of the multiplayer FPSes where death comes instantly and often, and usually at the hand of whoever happens to spot the other first. Swords aren’t like that. They’re personal, they require an exchange. Every blow has to be fought for, every victory earned - and there’s so much more to it than clicking in the right place quickly.

Chivalry 2 understands this, because Chivalry 2 has separate buttons for jabbing, kicking, thrusting, slashing, overhead smashing and weapon-specific murderising. You can dash. You can duck. You can (and should) bellow out war cries to inspire your allies and instill fear in your enemies. The chopping goes much deeper than in Chivalry the first, and perhaps even a smidge deeper than in Mordhau.

Castle gates crumble under cannon fire, crenellations turn to dust, and villages burn while huge ship masts shatter to the ground in Battlefield-worthy spectacle.

This is certainly where chopping gets the glossiest, and the most bombastic. Castle gates crumble under cannon fire, crenellations turn to dust, and villages burn while huge ship masts shatter to the ground in Battlefield-worthy spectacle. The biggest clashes take place across sprawling, varied multi-stage objectives, often rewarding the best player on one team the chance to take on a special pivotal role, like surviving as a big Duke or fleeing as a massive bare-chested prisoner. Even if you don’t want to delve into mastering fancy swordplay, it’s worth coming for the action scenes.

Of course, I am here to master fancy swordplay, and combat I initially dismissed as overly forgiving compared to Mordhau turns out to have its advantages. Chivalry 2's health pools are vast, blocking is near infinite, and everyone moves just a touch slower. That means you get fewer jaw-dropping rampages where a single combatant slays everyone around them with a few well judged strikes, but it also means everyone - squires and hulking knights alike - gets to stay alive a lot longer. The slower pace actually extends those electrically overwhelming moments where you’re surrounded, flitting between foes like Zorro on musketeer catnip, somehow clinging on to life. The highs aren’t as high, but they come more often and last longer when they do.

Chivalry 2 is also, of course, very silly. One of the maps starts with randomly selected players fighting an honourable duel in a courtyard, while scores of nobles spawn in on either side clutching harps, roosters and bread rolls, before immediately pelting them at each other’s heads. There are dozens of custom voice lines that let you acknowledge and elevate almost any situation, whether you’re protecting an enemy who’s decided he wants to be friends, or rubbing in the fact that you just chained an awesome matrix dodge into a feint into a surprise accelerated overhead. You can get your mates to literally catapult you behind enemy lines. I don’t know what else to tell you.

It’s replaced Mordhau as my go to chop ‘em up, which is a remarkable feat. Plenty of the games in this calendar serve as impressive experiences that you’ll remember fondly, but Chivalry 2’s got staying power and that counts for something. I’m still playing it, six months on. Right now I’m in a phase of chucking my shield at people while pretending to be Captain America, repeatedly catching it in mid-air while shouting in chat about how all those who face my mighty shield must yield. What more could a chop fan ask for?

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The all-seeing eye of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the voice of many-as-one.

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