Mordhau might be one of the most difficult games that I have ever had to review in my career. It is undoubtedly one of the best medieval melee combat games ever created and has pushed the concept of massive battles to impressive new heights. It has a vibrant and passionate community of die-hard fans and people who have put tons of hours into it to get better. Without a doubt, Mordhau is one of the games that most people should have in their PC games library. But with all that being said, I hated just about every individual moment I spent playing the game. I felt my levels of frustration hitting record highs at points, and there were many times where I said flat out, “I am done with this, I am uninstalling, screw this game!”, but then kept playing for several more hours. I do not know what it is, but despite it all, Mordhau had its claws in me.
Platform: Windows PC
Release Date: April 29th, 2019
Because there is not much of a story to Mordhau for me to talk about therefore I can just move onto the most important aspect of the game: its gameplay. If you are a fan of Chivalry, you will no doubt find a lot to love in Mordhau as it is essentially Chivalry, but bigger.
There is something that I found to be incredibly appealing in the violent brawls and, at times, hilarious violence of Mordhau. The chaos that it captures has never been properly replicated or achieved by any other first person melee combat games.
Mordhau is a game that is all about its massive scale battles between two teams of up to 32 players each. Usually, one team is tasked with defending a position or series of positions, while the other must battle to make their way through the map before either the time or their tickets run out.
In a sense, it is as if Battlefield went medieval. There is also a battle royale mode, which I actually found myself enjoying a lot, and a horde-like mode where you and a small handful of allies fight off waves of increasingly difficult AI-enemies.
While these other modes, along with your standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, are fun for what they are, the main reason to pick up Mordhau is simply for that primary game mode, Frontline. Only in Frontline will the player truly be able to experience all the mayhem that Mordhau has to offer.
There are plenty of weapons, armor, and styles of combat, each having their own benefits and drawbacks. Along with the many premade classes to choose from, the player is also able to create their own custom classes, creating their own personal warrior of choice.
So if you want to roll as a knight in heavy plate armor with a battle axe, or as a frumpy fat peasant in nothing but pantaloons with a rapier, Mordhau aims to fulfill that fantasy.
Every piece of equipment can be purchased with in-game currency that is acquired by simply playing and finishing matches. While this is a nice system it’s where my largest criticism with Mordhau lies.
The grind of Mordhau feels insane to me. For Frontline matches, which can last upwards to an hour at times, the amount of currency the player is rewarded feels miniscule. When it takes several hours to unlock a weapon, there does not feel like there is a satisfying return on my time investment.
But, for others this may be a goal that they are happy to grind for, so maybe I am the one who is wrong. Luckily, there does not feel like there is any sort of unfair advantage for those who have already invested dozens, if not hundreds, of hours into Mordhau before a new player has a chance to swing a sword. The premade classes are just as effective as the character created ones. I was just as capable at filling anyone I saw with arrows as the next guy.
Mordhau is all about the player skill when it comes to fighting – the longer you play, the better you are. While this may seem like common sense, I can not stress enough that there is something different about games play Mordhau or even For Honor compared to other online multiplayer games.
There is a sense of player psychology that plays out during a duel, one in which the duelists need to be able to be able to perfectly predict their opponent’s movements and actions.
There were many times where I watched enemy knights take on two or three people at the same time and kill them all. If you want to get the most out of your time with Mordhau, you need to be prepared to git gud as it were.
The presentation of Mordhau is nearly perfect as well. The graphics are on par with most AAA studios, but where the game truly excels is the sound design. Mordhau may have some of the best combat sound I have ever heard in a video game.
Whether it’s the sound of trebuchets launching in the distance, horses galloping through the mud as their riders aim to decapitate an enemy with a well placed swing, or just the sounds of people butchering one another in a mosh-pit – all of it sounds great.
There is always the sounds of battle in the air, which helps to bring Mordhau to life. In my opinion, there are few things more entertaining than watching two people fight to the death, only to have one emerge victorious as his character bellows with laughter and starts throwing out petty insults towards his slain foe.
Coming from this, there is an elephant in the room with Mordhau which I feel like I need to address in a manner that is honest but fair. The community surrounding Mordhau is incredibly aggressive. In fact, it might have some of the most toxic players I have ever played video games with. That being said, I would not have it any other way.
While I am a person who goes out of his way to always be polite to others in game, I love the community around Mordhau because it gives me a goal. When I see a player being a jerk in the chat, saying dumb or awful things – I go out of my way to try and kill them.
If that player is better than I am, well that just means that I have to improve if I ever have a chance at killing them. While some critics of Mordhau’s devteam and fanbase have argued that these players should be punished. I do not think that there is any punishment worse than decapitation via my claymore.
Mordhau is not a game for everyone. In many ways, it is not a game for me. But I am a massive supporter of what these developers have managed to accomplish with this game. It ranks up next to titles like Rising Storm 2 with the amount of fun chaos that it captures within its missions.
While there are certain aspects that would love to see improved, I am confident that those who are even mildly interested in it will find plenty to keep them coming back.
Mordhau was reviewed on Windows PC using a review copy provided by Triternion. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.