Mordhau PC Review

Launch issues aside, Mordhau is a brutal, chaotic medieval first & third-person slasher with an engaging combat system, satisfying one-on-one duels and rich customization options.

By Woozie, Posted 02 May 2019

Mordhau doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to introducing you to its own brand of medieval mayhem. As wood, metal and fists get swung around, clashing against armor, shields or each other, the trade of blows always results in participants misreading their opponent or reaching exhaustion; and that’s when heads and limbs begin to roll in quite a glorious fashion.

Mordhau is a first & third-person slasher inspired by games such as Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Using a variety of medieval weaponry, you can perform a number of different attacks, some basic, others more advanced, in order to best your opponent. On the basic front, players can slash, stab and perform overhead attacks. If the latter two have dedicated buttons, the direction of slashes is determined by slight mouse movements prior to initiating the attack, which can feel a tad fiddly at first. Make no mistake, simple strikes are lethal but against experienced opponents, they won’t get you that far. That’s where the game’s more advanced moves come into play.

Mordhau, PC, Review, Screenshot

You can combo multiple attacks by initiating another strike while an attack is being performed. Feints stop an attack from going through, throwing the opponent off and potentially making him waste a parry while morphing lets you initiate one type of strike, like a slash, and turn it into an overhead attack as it is performed. Dragging your mouse with or against the attack can also delay or make it land quicker. By far the most satisfying advanced move in Mordhau is chambering, which requires mirroring an opponent’s attack with extremely precise timing and angling. When pulled off, a very fluid, satisfying motion both parries their strike and lands a hit. Then, there are some more off the cuff actions, like outright throwing your weapon at an opponent –perfect for showing cowards what’s what without relying on the game’s chase mechanic– and pulling throwing axes right out of your body and sending them back to their owner’s skull.

In one-on-one combat, Mordhau’s brutal executions come at the end of a fast session of trading blows. It’s an engaging, intense experience, where misleading opponents into wasting their parries and capitalizing on such missteps are key to scoring kills. It’s a test of skill and coming out alive at the end of such back and forths between armored knights is exhilarating, especially when you leave an opponent’s head or hand on the ground as a sign of your battle.

Mordhau, PC, Review, Screenshot

Outside of specific moments in Mordhau’s skirmish mode or on smaller servers, things heavily revolve around blobs of players clashing and swinging wildly at each other. Where in one-on-one combat tactics play a major role, larger fights have numbers determining the winner more often than not. While I’d lie if I said this manner of chaos isn’t fun to partake in –it very much is–, I also can’t gloss over how it doesn’t allow for tapping into the game’s excellent combat system efficiently. The title also mixes in fairly satisfying, if a fiddly, ranged combat with some rather inefficient catapults and very unruly horse combat.

Mordhau’s mainstay mode is the 64-player Frontlines, which melds Team Deathmatch with flag capture and objective-based play. Although it sounds like a great combination, the team Deathmatch aspect takes precedent most of the time. While capturing flags does grant more spawn points and completing objectives is one way of advancing towards victory, these aspects aren’t as fleshed out as in games such as Battlefield or Chivalry, feeling like afterthoughts. As much as the icons on the map let me know there were civilians to defend or barrels to break, I rarely felt compelled to do so and, seemingly, so were the majority of other players.

Mordhau, PC, Review, Screenshot

If Frontlines isn’t your cup of tea, Mordhau also has a Battle Royale mode, which plays about as you’d expect it. You start without equipment and rely on skill and a hefty quantity of luck to be the last one standing. The genre never managed to appeal to me, but Mordhau does an adequate job of mixing its combat with elements of the battle royale recipe. If you enjoy both of these, you’re bound to have a good time. Horde is a rather barebones co-op versus AI mode, where you go against waves of differently equipped enemies. Killing them rewards points, which let you pick up equipment strewn across the map. The high cost of most items, however, can result in some rather underwhelming action. Team Deathmatch and Deathmatch also make an appearance, as does Skirmish, a variant of the former where each player has one life per round. Aside from Frontlines, it’s the mode where I had the most fun, given its higher stakes, even if the chaotic nature of fights did sometimes leave me wanting for more tactical engagements.

You get a fairly large selection of premade classes to play as when first setting out. From lighter armored brigands with two-handed swords to a heavily armored knight wielding an Eveningstar, getting used to them takes a while. But that’s not what Mordhau relies on. Its rich customization system lets you create your own class by choosing individual armor pieces, weaponry from a very broad selection of blades, shields, bows and blunt instruments of varying sizes, as well as perks that give you passive buffs. There’s a fair share of cosmetic items as well, all unlockable through in-game progression. As you play matches, you earn gold which you can use to unlock specific items. It also translates into experience at the end of matches, which increases your level. The higher the level, the more items you have access to. From what I could glimpse, however, progression leans a bit towards the slow side at the moment.

Mordhau, PC, Review, Screenshot

Mordhau’s 7 maps do tend to offer fairly different experiences, from narrow, elevated frozen paths overlooking a larger open area below, to outright war-torn expanses and medieval camps and castles. That being said, they do become overly familiar fairly quickly. Especially in Frontlines, which only cycles through four of them, the number feels relatively small. The possibility of renting servers and setting the desired player limit and specific rules could help with maintaining player numbers, but more maps would be very much welcome in the short term.

Although I’ve already highlighted a handful of qualms, Mordhau’s launch was plagued by bigger issues. The servers buckled under the weight of players trying to join, which, in the first day, led to lengthy matchmaking times, a broken server browser and severe lags pikes. Things improved gradually over the following days, but that didn’t stop lag spikes from occurring and random disconnects from marring the experience. Not only that, but progression was also broken until today, not registering gold and experience points obtained. Luckily a hotfix came in that addressed these progression-related woes.

Mordhau, PC, Review, Screenshot

But even so, I found myself happily jumping into Mordhau to slash away at foes while seeing my head be ruthlessly separated from my body one too many times. It all comes down to how great its combat system is, making trading blows and landing headshots with bows feel so damn satisfying. There’s, undoubtedly, a pretty hefty learning curve to cope with before you’ll master reading opponents and pulling off advanced moves like chambering and delaying attacks reliably. But I didn’t find that to be a turn-off. As long as the server issues get fixed and the map pool ends up getting some much-needed love, Mordhau has the potential of becoming a major player in the, admittedly barren, subgenre of medieval slashers. Yet, while it’s terribly fun to play, there’s still a bit to go until it gets there.

Bogdan Robert, NoobFeed

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General Information



Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Triternion
Developer(s): Triternion
Genres: Action
Themes: Medieval
Release Date: 2019-04-29

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