Mordhau is the follow up game of “Chivalry Medieval Warfare”.
The highlight of the game is its combat system which aims to create more interaction between players. Parrying isn’t just a case of pressing the block button at the right time but you can also counter-swing against attacks combining offence and defence.
But the actual mechanics can be left aside as what we all like is the satisfying feeling of landing a heavy blow. There are plenty of “Oh $#£&” moments to laugh and giggle at. It will probably take about 2 weeks for you to become nulled by the brutal decapitations. And if you’re not very good with the melee weapons you could always take up archery!
The game is split into three modes. Frontline which is your standard 32v32 PvP experience against other players. Since most games in 2019 apparently ‘need’ a Battle Royale mode there’s of course one of those, and lastly for those who enjoy co-op a wave mode called “horde”. Let’s sum up each mode!
Frontline is capture zone based. Not that anyone really seems to give a damn about capturing the zone because everyone’s trying to brutally murder each other. There’s nothing flashy about this mode but there is one complaint. Some maps don’t spawn you where you select and leave you running for longer than you feel is right.
Horde mode pits 6 players in co-operative wave survival. You start out with no equipment and for each kill made and wave survived you get a little gold to spend on equipment. Annoyingly there is no ‘store’ and you must explore the arena to find the equipment you want to purchase. You have to learn each map for where item locations are and you only have 20 seconds in between waves. It’s not really enough time.
You might think Horde mode to be the best place to employ tactics but the combat mechanics don’t allow for it. It’s not shield walls and archer lines. Instead it’s more about exploiting the AI and spawn patterns. It’s still enjoyable but it completely lacks that tactical element. As you see below the best way to fight ridiculous waves of enemies is to split up and kite.
Up to 64 players fight to be the last one standing. You will scavenge for your weapons on the four maps in the game right now (May 2019). These are some of the smallest battle royale maps I’ve seen. You find chests which drop a few items for you to equip yourself with and the rest shouldn’t need explaining. I will say though that the toughest players fight in this mode as the opportunities for 1v1 matchups increases.
A one versus one fight is the only place where you are going to see players make full use of every mechanic in the game. It’s a totally different dynamic and you shouldn’t be scared to drop into this mode and give it a try if you like the look and sound of the game. It’s made much better when you queue with friends and oppose each other.
Character Customization isn’t too detailed. There are unfortunately no female characters so if you want to play something other than generic male soldier you’re out of luck. Your face may be covered if you plan on wearing a helmet for it’s obvious advantages. You can select between 8 voices and adjust the pitch. There’s some nice taunts and dialogue you can use in a match which add to the hilarity.
Every match you play will grant XP and Gold which allows you to unlock new items and cosmetics. It isn’t too time consuming to grind out what you want to get gold wise but experience will take a few days. Each weapon has some cosmetic modification and armor is separated into light, medium and heavy each with their own cosmetic variations too.
Let’s start with the bad. There seems to be a large emphasis on 2 handed weapon fighting. Weapon swinging is clunky with a long release and if you try to combo a second swing you are sometimes disappointed with no follow up because of the required input timing. Basically don’t try to time your combos and just spam the attack button. One handed weapons aren’t as fast as you would think so don’t really give an advantage against 2 handed weapons like you might assume. There is also no dual wielding sadly.
Now for the good! You can turn into your swinging and for the most part the hit detection feels like it works. There is directional swinging along with mouse wheel up and down for thrusting and overhead attacks.
But…Weapon feint on ‘Q’ is hardly a faint because you have to cancel the attack so early on. So back to the critical me!
Why is fainting so ineffective? You have to feign an attack within a microsecond of drawing your weapon for an attack. It’s really early on in your swing and if the enemy were to parry at this point he would be hit by the attack. Mount and Blade handles interaction between two combatants better by being responsive and even For Honor has more sophisticated and logical offensive/defensive interactions within their gameplay.
If an enemy goes to kick you and you kick at the same time you block the kick. Then the coolest thing is where you can counter swing an attack to knock the enemies attack out the way and attack at the same time. This is one of the harder things to do and when it does happen it makes the receiver feel helpless. So it’s kinda like…cool but at the same time not cool!
Feeling helpless can be quite common because of the unresponsive controls. Think you’re going to swing your weapon? Too bad that input command wasn’t registered. Think you’re going to feign an attack? Too bad because feigns only work if you practically cancel before you swing. Press right mouse button to raise shield? Bet again because something cancelled that command. It’s going to take a lot of ‘learning the game’ rather than ‘learning how to fight’ if you want to take the game seriously.
In a 1v2 situation there is little you can do because parrying or blocking has a global cooldown that lasts about one attacks worth. For Honor handled defending creatively and intuitively in group fighting and it’s probably Mordhau’s biggest weakness that leads to the feel of a lower skill ceiling. It all matters very little though when you sever the arms of an enemy and they resort to kicking you Monty Python style.
Mordhau is well priced for a multiplayer only combat game. It’s combat system isn’t superior to the likes of Mount and Blade or For Honor. It instead offers gratifyingly bloody metal on flesh action. It brings a satisfying shock value. The game lacks content though, mainly maps, which we assume will be expanded over the next few years. It’s not a game you would play religiously but once every so often play with friends and joke about fatal blows.