Chivalry 2 is one of, if not the, most fun video games of 2021. In modern times, three types of games seem to dominate everyone's attention. First, there's the narrative-driven, single-player game where gameplay takes a backseat to thought-provoking moments. Then there are the nostalgia overlords that either focus on older intellectual property or gameplay from yesteryear. And lastly, there's the increasingly "AAAA" game that is essentially too big to fail. It's rare for an exceptional game not to fall into one of these categories, which is why Chivalry 2 is worth celebrating. In Chivalry 2 there's no story to hook you or nostalgia to beguile you, there's just pure, unadulterated fun, and in this case, the definition of fun is running around like a madman who just finished Braveheart and now has a bloodthirsty taste for dismemberment.
Chivalry 2 doesn't overcomplicate its formula. While there's room for refinement and mastery, it's a very easy game to jump into and just about anybody can. Not everyone will excel at chopping off arms, but just about everyone can understand the premise. This isn't to negate the nuance of Chivalry 2's gameplay though. There's a lot more to Chivalry 2 to keep you playing, but none of those details get in the way of initially picking up the game and having fun immediately. I had just as much fun from minute one playing Chivalry 2 as hour 20. The same can't be said for any other game I played this year.
The difference between Chivalry 2 and just watching Outlaw King on Netflix is obviously the immersion. Chivalry 2 is a Medieval battle simulator. Is it representative of the totality of Medieval warfare? Not at all, but it does feel like it perfectly recreates the chaos of Medieval warfare.
If mindlessly cutting a path through bodies of chainmail -- whether to get to an objective or just because -- gets boring, there is the aforementioned nuance and complexity to conquer. You can spam your bow or swing your axe blindly, but you will get cut down quickly by other players who have spent time mastering dodging, parrying, and other techniques. The beauty of Chivalry 2's chaos means even the greatest skill gap can be overcome, but you may have to respawn a dozen or so times before this happens because said gap often outweighs luck.
What's also refreshing about Chivalry 2 is that none of its multiplayer fun is bogged down by overwhelming or evasive progression. There are opportunities for microtransactions and progression grinding, but it all feels like it's in the background. For those deeply entrenched in the gameplay loop of modern multiplayer games, this may be a shortcoming, but for someone who is sick of live-service elements, Chivalry 2 was a pleasant exception.
A good Medieval game is also as rare as the Holy Grail. The temptation for most developers is to add a fantastical or fantasy element. While it's often whimsical, Chivalry 2 fights off this temptation and provides a more-authentic Medieval experience, which, again, is quite refreshing.
After 365 days last year, I put more time into Chivalry 2 than any other new release. Not because its story had me glued to my seat; it has no story. Not because nostalgia had its firm grip on me; it has no nostalgia. And not because it's the most polished and refined product money can buy. I kept coming back to Chivalry 2 because it was, put simply, more fun than any other game I was playing at any other point throughout 2021. For that reason, and even if only that reason alone, it certainly deserves to be spoken of during any conversation about best games of the year.