Fighting evolves alongside us. In just the last century battlefields have gone from bloody, trench-filled meat grinders to sky-high drones dropping smartbombs. Our tastes skew to the modern too, especially in our video games. You can relive D-Day time and again across a bunch of titles. But what if you want to get medieval on some asses?
Enter Chivalry II. The melee multiplayer from Torn Banner Studios is everything you could want in a siege combat simulator. There’s tons of weapons and maps all buoyed by mechanics and objectives that feel both immersive and absurd. Its latest update, Reclamation, dropped on Game Pass Nov. 7 and provides the perfect excuse to go once more unto the breach, even if it’s your first time.
The linchpin of the combat system in Chivalry II is fatigue. Unlike most sword-wielding games, where you’re often blessed with an inhuman amount of stamina, Chivalry II has a rapidly depleting stamina meter that provides only bursts of effort. Like in real life, you can’t just swing a sword a zillion times at lightning speed.
You have to think carefully about momentum and try to time your strikes so that, once one lands, you’re already winding up to deliver another. It’s clunky and awkward while also being a bit squishy. New players learn quickly that you can’t just swing away, and situational awareness is key. So is dirty fighting! It’s a battle, after all. Gang up on an enemy or stab them in the back. Flank opponents who are distracted in a duel and get in a cheap shot to tip the advantage toward your allies. Just aim carefully — friendly fire is very much a thing and there’s a vote to kick feature for players who are too reckless.
These brolic combat mechanics apply to the different character classes and weapon styles. New players are encouraged to go with spears and halberds that let them stab at a distance and provide defensive support. If you want to get into the mix, you have to balance speed versus power. Yeah the Highland Sword is massive and cool but if you can’t time your limited swings to make meaningful contact, you’ll get gassed and stabbed up right quick.
The Reclamation update adds a new objective-based map, the Reclamation of Montcrux. Similar to the other maps on offer, it’s a multi-layered scenario that tasks teams with completing a series of objectives. It’s a four-stage map, starting with a payload objective where the attacking team must push carts full of explosives up to the castle walls. The next phase involves players hauling explosives to plant on the base of the wall while trying to not get eliminated by enemy cavalry.
Once that’s cleared the goal is to lower a portcullis, which is a king-of-the-hill type objective where players have to control an area for a set amount of time. The final phase tasks the attacking team with setting explosives. They take a few seconds to ignite and have to burn uninterrupted to detonate, giving the defending team time to extinguish them.
For most players, the Reclamation of Montcrux will be one map of many that pops up randomly during quick play sessions. If you want to play it exclusively you’ll need to find a standalone server hosting the game, but honestly if you’re a new or returning player the older maps are still just as good as ever.
This update also adds a new weapon, the siege crossbow, and a new Battle Pass full of unlockable armor and weapon skins. The joy of Chivalry II is in its simplicity. It’s fun to win, but it’s fun to lose too. There are few games that are as entertaining to be comically bad at thanks to a grisly killcam feature and quick respawn times.
Chivalry II is one of those perfect low-stakes, high-reward Game Pass titles. It’s simple enough that anyone can jump in and enjoy it but with enough depth and complexity to potentially hook you into putting it in your regular rotation. It’s even better with friends.