Picture the period we now refer to as the “Middle Ages.” Kingdoms wage war against one another. Warriors fight in allegiance to the King, but not all of them are of noble birth. Many are villagers and barbarians with one goal—survival. They charge into battle with swords, spears, axes, and other crude weapons of war. From left to right they fall, except for those that are genuinely skilled in the ways of combat.
In MORDHAU, players see these battles through the eyes of a soldier. Experience the visceral medieval combat through the first person perspective and steel yourself with your best weapons, because you’ll want to know how to use them. Understanding the deep gameplay mechanics means the difference between watching your allies fall or joining them. The developers at Triternion want players to feel immersed into the battlefield, and from my time with the game, I believe they have succeeded in that goal.
Spiritual Themes: This is a game set in the Middle Ages, which means it contains symbols and clothing inspired by the many faiths and beliefs of the time. A prime example is the Templar symbols that players can wear on their clothing.
Violence: MORDHAU depicts the brutal combat of the medieval period. Players attack one another with a variety of swords, spears, axes, maces, bows, and more. Firebombs can be used to light enemies on fire. Characters can be decapitated or have their arms and legs dismembered, which players will experience in combat. Cries of pain and screaming are heard throughout the battlefield. An extensive amount of blood and gore is depicted throughout a match.
Language: Characters have several voice lines, so I’ll be honest and say that it is likely that I haven’t heard them all. Players also communicate via text through a chat box, and it is almost sure that they will use swear words.
Positive Content: The violence and dismemberment can be turned off in the settings menu, a feature that isn’t included in many violent video games. The chat box can also be turned off to avoid experiencing player toxicity while playing.
The concept that MORDHAU is built on is not new, with games like Chivalry: Medieval Warfare coming before it. The developers were once a part of that game’s community. MORDHAU has made an on me impact in such a way that few video games have done before. After my first session, playing the game was frequently on my mind. When I wasn’t playing it, I was telling others about it. I captured gameplay footage as I was playing, so it was easy to take a few of my best moments and throw them up on Twitter. I became fully immersed in the action and instantly wanted more of it.
What makes MORDHAU so immersive is that it is meant to be played in first-person. Sure, you could switch to a third-person camera, but it doesn’t have the same effect. One of the most harrowing moments from my time with the game took place at the ground level of a small fortress. As I was fighting for my life, the bodies of my fellow soldiers and enemies fell from the sky around me. I decided that staying on the ground floor was better for my survival and that I had the weapons I wanted and the skills to back it up.
When you boot up the game for the first time, I recommend playing the tutorial. It does an excellent job of teaching you the basics, though I’d also recommend watching some videos on beginner tips to learn a few extra things. The act of swinging your sword is determined by where your reticle is located around the opponent, and depends on whether you’re aiming for a left, right, overhead, or upward swing. Learning how to parry, riposte, and chamber are also invaluable skills to master for your survival. Thankfully the tutorial does a good job showing players what those terms mean, along with teaching you how to shoot bows and fight on horseback.
All of that information may sound intimidating, but keeping these things in mind during a battle increases your chance of survival. Some players still flail around amidst the chaos, so that already puts you ahead. I found that learning how to play the game as the developers intended is the most rewarding experience. I would come up against a player who also knows their way around the combat, and had a good time whether I lived or died. Ultimately, the downside is that not every player likes to play that way.
MORDHAU does suffer from the same issues I’ve had with games like For Honor in the past. Many players love to double team and overwhelm isolated opponents, while I taper off of my group and let them fight if we outnumber an opposing group. That is the case with an online game in general, though; not everyone has the same playstyle and its fun to shut down those that love to play dirty. The best thing to do is to go into battle with a group until you get good enough to handle multiple opponents.
Speaking of different playstyles, the customization in MORDHAU caters to that. A variety of gear and weapons can be unlocked with the gold that you will be earning. Most of it can be obtained quickly, and there aren’t any significant advantages/disadvantages in gameplay to choosing what you want. I made a character named “Sir Cumference” who wears a helmet and chest piece along with wielding a mace, a small shield, and a secondary throwing ax. Create a loadout that works for you whether you want to be a swordsman, an archer, or something else.
So, you’ve done the tutorial and made your character—now you’re ready for battle. There are several ways to jump into MORDHAU with the three featured modes being Frontline, Horde, and Battle Royale. Two of those (Horde and Battle Royale) are self-explanatory and personally my least favorite. Frontline is a classic conquest/domination mode but also where the most massive battles happen. Also, there are Team Deathmatch and Skirmish modes that are hidden within the server browser list that I didn’t discover until later. Skirmish is a much more intense team battle with small numbers, and only one will be left standing without respawns.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy MORDHAU, and I wish they were all listed on the main menu instead of being hidden. There is one community-driven game mode, the Dual servers which allows eople want to test their skills in a unique way. Here, people can dual each other in 1-on-1 fights, and there are specific rules you need follow to interact within the servers and engage in duals. The developers have said they are working on a proper mode, but I love seeing communities come together in a positive way to create an experience that everyone wants.
You may not find much time to do so while running into battle, but take a few moments to admire MORDHAU‘s graphical presentation. It may have only a handful of maps to fight in, but each of them feels crafted with great detail and has made for some engaging scenarios. The character models also look exceptional, even when you customize your own. I was stunned to see such graphical work from a small team of young developers.
Lastly, I want to give a special shoutout to the soundtrack. I started to notice it during those few moments that I was in between battles. It adds a certain grit that significantly compliments the already brutal nature of the game. The main theme track is especially a banger and gets me excited to battle every time I start up the game. For those interested, you can check out the soundtrack via Bandcamp.
I don’t have many negative things to say about MORDHAU. There are times where the chaos of battle can take the enjoyment out of playing, but that’s not the fault of the developers. It can be discouraging when I’m trying to play the game properly while others are playing dirty. I feel like a proper dual mode is in order as well. I’d rather jump into an official game type instead of entering a server and having to worry about following all of the rules, though I appreciate that these servers currently exist.
I have never gotten my hands on Chivalry, but it seems as though MORDHAU developers have improved on everything that people loved about it. MORDHAU may be a brutal video game, but it feels lovingly crafted, whereas many games don’t. The combat has a learning curve, but the gameplay becomes very satisfying once you learn it. Despite a few minor complaints, MORDHAU may be one of my favorite gaming experiences of 2019.
I look forward to seeing how the developers support this game and breathe further life and depth into it.
Code generously provided by Triternion.
The Bottom Line