Chivalry 2 is out now across a number of different platforms, but the launch doesn’t mark the first time that players have been able to experience the all-out medieval warfare the game offers. There was another Chivalry before it, and in the months leading up to this new game’s release, there were numerous tests to give people chances to try the game. Between those tests and the game’s release, we spoke to Chivalry 2 developers Torn Banner Studios to learn more about their thoughts on the beta and their plans for the future of the game.
As is the case with any beta test, community sentiment was taken into account when it came to things that players particularly enjoyed or things that they wished would’ve been different. Meta weapons already had begun surfacing in the beta and topped pre-release tier lists that have persisted after launch, though as players get more comfortable with different weapons after unlocking them, that’s bound to change.
All that’s already happened or is happening and we still haven’t even gotten to the post-launch content. Torn Banner has plans for that, too, and says it’ll get the content out quicker than players might’ve imagined.
Check out our full Q&A with Torn Banner Studios Brand Director Alex Hayter to learn more about the current state of the game and where it’s headed in the future.
What were some of your biggest takeaways from the cross-play beta regarding areas players particularly enjoyed or ones where improvements might be needed?
Quite simply, the biggest and best feedback we heard was that players were having fun! It sounds like a trite answer but there was so much thought put into the experience of playing Chivalry 2 that was considered with a “fun first” approach from our team – from the moment you spawn into a map, the activity between fights, the struggle as you’re capturing objectives, the time you can spend socializing with other players. Even if you’re losing, you’re always having fun. We think we really nailed that feeling, by trying to ensure a low-friction, low-frustration level experience where even new players to a skill-based game won’t be discouraged and will immediately get to the core fun. Our ambitious, large-scale Team Objective mode maps were also very much at the heart of that and it’s been awesome to see how people enjoy our vision for epic scale maps that feel straight out of a medieval movie scene – people want even more of that, and more will be coming!
In the Betas, it was fun to see how level item pickups became such a popular thing. Picking up wagon wheels or town bells and yeeting them at other players, or forming a gang with allies (and even enemies) where you’re all holding chickens on fire and squat-dancing. People really took to that stuff (for obvious reasons) as well as the roleplay aspects of the game – we are therefore going to ensure there more of that kind of thing coming down the line, post launch with each content update.
Character customization was clearly also very important to how players express themselves and enhance the fantasy of being a medieval knight. That’s also something we’re committing to adding more of, post launch.
We also heard feedback from players about features they felt that were missing. The Chivalry 1 fan favourite “arrow cam” – which is like a GoPro attached to arrows you fire – wasn’t in the Betas, and isn’t coming at launch… but after hearing so many requests for it, of course we’re adding it as soon as we can.
A server browser on console platforms was a feature that, while not that common in console multiplayer games, can still add a lot to the social experience and was something we saw a lot of requests for during the Betas. Finding the same crew of people on your favorite official server every night, and so on – it’s a cool thing, especially in a 64-player game with a lot of in-game social and roleplay elements. So that’s definitely coming shortly after launch.
We’d encourage our community to follow our Roadmap Preview on Trello for more info.
What features present or absent in the beta are you most looking forward to players engaging with?
We can’t wait for players to experience the 2 new launch maps, Escape From Falmire and The Fighting Pit. Falmire is an epic Team Objective map where one team attempts a daring rescue mission in a dilapidated Mason prison camp and fortress. The Fighting Pit is a TDM/FFA map that’s a throwback to the classic Arena map from 2012’s Chivalry – complete with fire traps, spike pits and more.
We generally are looking forward to more players discovering emergent, hilarious stuff in Chivalry 2: like how catapults can toss other players, the spinning jousting target in Tournament Grounds that can smack other players, and other fun, strange interactive stuff located around the various maps. Try out the Iron Maiden if you can find it!
Was it surprising to see the half-joking animosity towards archers? And, more seriously, is ranged combat becoming overpowered a concern?
It’s always fun to see the community rallying around something in-game, to the level of memeage, and thankfully we do think it’s mostly about harmless banter in this case – rather than anything too toxic!
Archers do have a server cap to ensure they don’t become overwhelming in number. We also take measures to help ensure that archers need to get fairly close range, get “stuck in” to combat to actually be effective. Ammo spawn supplies are fairly scarce so they’ll need to venture into combat either to retrieve arrows or find an ammo crate.
Archers are an important part of the medieval fantasy experience, and we think the battlefield would be a worse place without them! They help bring a sense of extra, cinematic danger to the battle, helping to ensure that attackers can’t just make a direct beeline for objectives and need to think about how to use the level design and cover to their advantage. Melee players can also just chuck their weapons at archers – who can’t parry projectiles while their bows are drawn.
From observing discussions on Reddit and other forums, it looks like players are already looking for “meta” weapons like the Messer. How do you plan to approach balance changes and shaping the meta while ensuring subclasses and loadouts remain viable?
The game was built with a lot of flexibility in mind when it comes to combat balance.
Chivalry 2 benefits from live tuning, which means we can tweak things like weapon values using an online system and do not need to patch the game to implement those changes. As well as taking in feedback from the community and monitoring discussion, we also do stat tracking to see if any weapon is overwhelmingly popular or underperforming.
When it comes to patches too, we’re positioned to be incredibly agile with what we can tweak. There are oodles of toggles our design team can tinker with. This was a major benefit to working with Unreal Engine 4 and its Blueprint visual scripting system. It empowers our designers to be able to tinker with things, including areas of the game that touch on balance issues, without needing to ever dig into code.
What was your philosophy when creating the class-based abilities to maintain balance and roleplaying potential? Were there any abilities that didn’t make the cut?
A lot of feedback that we heard during very early Chivalry 2 playtests – prior to us adding class-based abilities and tools – was that many players wanted more support roles and ways to be useful on the battlefield while they were still learning the ropes of combat – or if they simply didn’t feel like going full throttle beast mode all of the time. Not everyone has to be the one-man army. In the chaos of a 64-player battlefield, the abilities and support role features (healing banners, spike traps, etc) really help to space things out and compliment the tug of war flow to the overall medieval army experience. And they also foster a more team-centric approach, which leads to more satisfying victories!
The abilities and tools were built to complement the core melee combat, and as such, it was a fairly natural path to identify what abilities would integrate well into the system, early on. While there were different ideas passed around in design docs, I can’t think of anything at the moment that was actually prototyped and then didn’t make the cut in some form or another.
What sort of matchmaking criteria is in place to keep matches fair? Is it based on players’ levels, in-game performances, or something different?
We don’t have criteria like player level or in-game performance or anything like that when it comes to matchmaking. However, Team Auto balance is a feature that helps keep a reliable balance of skill between the two teams.
Our primary goals for matchmaking were that players should always be matched into good ping servers, that the matchmaking process should be quick and painless, and that players should enter high population servers as much as possible. This is really the way that we found its best to do it when it comes to a 64-player game.
That isn’t to say we wouldn’t look into adding additional criteria in the future. But in terms of skill balancing, we’ve found consistently good results for players enjoying their time regardless of their experience being matched into teams across various experience levels. The mechanics of combat also make it a game where it’s still quite viable for a new player to survive against an experienced player and wait for backup, thanks to elements like held block and active parry (how a riposte can actively block attacks during its release).
Fighting/combat games like Chivalry 2 can be tough to get back into after taking a break (For Honor comes to mind). How can players be assured they’ll still be able to hop back in and enjoy themselves if they step away for a month or so?
We’ve seen this in a lot of other games and we’ve definitely learned from it. The difficulty level of Chivalry 2 was something at the top of our minds from the beginning of development – more specifically, how punishing and discouraging the game might feel for less experienced players. Our goal was to make a game with a low skill floor but a high skill ceiling.
Our team worked to integrate combat mechanics that make the game straightforward for newcomers to get their bearings, but also help those less frequent players to have a better time if they miss out playing for a while and come back feeling a bit “wet behind the ears” again.
We also have a tutorial section of the game which we will plan on updating as more mechanics are added to the game. We view the tutorial as something that is very comprehensive at launch but we know that we can’t simply leave it be, and as we work on the game and improve it, we’ll often be tweaking the tutorial and adding more content.
Crucially, the game also does a lot of active tutorializing while you play it – in the form of Tool Tips that come up and can remind those returning players how to survive. Worst case, there’s also an offline practice mode where players can boot up any map, add bots, and start swinging until they’re in their comfort zone again.
The “out of bounds” warning in the beta felt particularly aggressive when you suddenly found yourself outside of the area of play and end up fighting an opponent AND a 20-second timer. Are there any plans to relax or otherwise change that system?
Thankfully this is a pretty easy thing to iron out the kinks through tweaks, and is something we heard about a bit during Beta testing as you say!
It’s always a delicate balance with this kind of thing and the game’s level design, where we are deliberately trying to push players through the map and create a sense of momentum and excitement as your team moves through the map together – but at the same time, give players a lot of freedom to choose how they move through any level. The out of bounds aspect is one way that we try to do that. Of course, it’s not always going to be perfect in a Beta. That’s something that we’ve seen and are already looking at examples of when that mechanic is overused in certain maps.
“Seasons” and mini-events have become common in many modern games – can you share some insights into how you plan to support Chivalry 2 post-launch to keep up with requests for new content (classes, subclasses, factions, maps, ect.)?
Chivalry 2 is very much built as a foundation to be expanded upon. We look at the game as a long-term project for a studio. It’s not just how we built the game but how we’ve built our studio itself too.
Certainly, the content that we will be adding post launch will be largely dictated by what the community wants. So, to a degree we don’t know yet but we’ll be adding in the long term.
In the short term – the very short term – we’re already working on more content to come. We think players will be very pleasantly surprised at how rapidly we will be releasing significant new content for the game. We’ll have information coming out in the very near future about what content will be coming after launch.
We’re confident that post launch support for Chivalry 2 is going to really help our game stand out not just in the genre but in the industry too.
Post launch content will also be an important part of the actual identity of the game. Players are going to see more of the broader war of Chivalry 2 play out, and find out how the resurgent Agatha Knights fare against the ruling Mason Order.
Chivalry 2 already has a leveling progression system in place with unlocks, but does a battle pass or something similar make sense for the game? If not, what systems in place do you have planned to reward your most frequent players who unlock things quick
We’re focused on launch right now and then the most immediate content updates for the near future. Definitely longer term we’re going to look at other progression aspects, outside of the high skill ceiling of the game’s combat and the intrinsically sticky, long-term learning experience that comes with it. We’ll be looking at options to make the game even more fun for those frequent players who’ve already hit extremely high ranks and have unlocked all of the customization options.