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REVIEWS

Mordhau Review

When I want to write about Mordhau, I play it every time under the pretext that I have to better understand the game’s combat mechanics. Maybe I should try out more weapons. Try different loadouts. You could try getting better acquainted with the map. Whatever. Whatever.

Mordhau, the latest game released in 2019 is by far the best. Period. This marks the moment that melee combat videogames started to be a smooth, fluid experience and began to mimic how real weapons function. The spiritual successor to Chivalry will be around for a while, and with the right content and support it can thrive in the coming years. The game already has a lot of content, and a dedicated community grows around the deep combat system and unique gameplay. Let’s get into the battle!

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It is not easy to learn the ropes of Mordhau. In your first few matches, you will die and die some more. You will be taken through a hilarious (and essential) tutorial that teaches you the basic elements of the game. However, the mechanics are not explained.

Move your mouse to the desired direction and you will be able to perform an attack. There are side swings of different angles as well as thrusts and under-and overhead swings. Face your opponent’s attacks and parry. Your footman will then be introduced to combos. Parrying to attack and feints are next. Then, chambering is the last step. This is where you meet your opponent’s strike. Knowing how these moves flow in the high-intensity, short-lived fights is the key to mastering Mordhau combat. The maneuvers you perform deplete the stamina pool. If you overstretch your body one more time, it will be gone. You’ll also lose your weapon. The player is left unarmed and in a world of pain.

As weapons are physical objects, there is no pre-made animation for strikes. If you start the swing in one direction, and then immediately move the mouse to that same position so it makes contact sooner with your opponent’s weapon. You will catch them off-guard by ruining their timing. If you look away for a few seconds, then move the mouse towards your opponent to defer your attack and trick an early parry. To gain the upper hand, you need to mix up your moves. Oh, the joys of Accelerations and Drags. We’re going to start. Chilvary had them. Some call it an exploit while others see this as adding complexity. The idea of Accel an Drags is something I love and it adds a great deal to the game. Otherwise, battles could be reduced to stamina/parrying contests.

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The location of the character’s body, and how it moves also matter. It’s hard to explain this mechanic, so I chose to demonstrate it with the above gif. You can see me parrying and swinging in one direction to force early contact. Before the end of the battle, I crouched an enemy attack, then brought my head forward after failing to parry. It was easy to avoid and I could swing downwards to cut off his legs.

The player is responsible for the loading. Each piece is worth a certain amount of money. This way, the game can keep its powerful combinations under control. There is no chance that a knight in full plate armor will be running around with a longbow and a spear. The system is flexible and allows for many different builds. There are some weapons that work better together than others, but there is no one loadout I can call the best. Players will experiment with the different weapons and playstyles. You may have six or seven swords, but the difference between the messer and the bastard is huge. Spears are not useful with side-swings. They rely solely on thrusts. Mauls are slow, heavy and can be used to one-shot a target with a head hit. The majority of weapons have a second stance. You can use the point of the spear to make faster and more powerful attacks, but you will lose some reach. By using the pommel, you can do more damage with longswords and polearms. You can unlock a great deal and learn a ton. You can use a lute to shred away nasty licks, or you could throw rocks and horse spit. You can play the game in a way that suits you.

The Mordhau system of progression is fantastic. Weapons are inexpensive and a lot of gold can be earned after a fight. You can do whatever you want as long as you have gold. After completing the tutorial, you will be rewarded with a plethora of shiny items. Even after 70+ hours, I am still unlocked new weaponry and armour. You can also forget about loot boxes and shitty cosmetics. Gold is awarded only for play. Full fledge expansions would be worth it.

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Do you remember the maps of Chivalry? Remember the maps? They were big, objective and linear. Those were great. The other team tried to stop you from achieving your goals to move on to the next level. The Mordhaus Frontline maps are strange in that there are also capture points you have to grab in a specific order, but the map is wildly wide open. This means that most fights are big brawls with teammates who are less experienced swinging their swords wildly and chopping both friends and enemies alike. It’s worth it when swords collide in nice, skillful exchanges. The maps are a mix, but they’re all incredibly fun. The game has so far included a half dozen different maps. Crossroads is a large open map, with a fortress crumbling in the center. This map is primarily cavalry-focused, and the game cycle becomes mounted knights mowing footmen by the thousands. It is unfortunately the most popular map at this time, based on my own experience. It also includes a battle-royale mode, which is a given. Although I don’t find either of these games as fun as Frontline, hey, if those are your thing, then go for it.

Mordhau was one of the few games that I didn’t think would meet my expectations. I am glad it did. Swordsman, I’ll see you on the battlefield!

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