Do you find yourself constantly drawn to a simpler time? A time when a sword, a horse and a suit of armour was all you needed to make your way in the world? Or, maybe you’re looking for something to fill your time with whilst you anxiously wait for the Elder Scrolls VI to release? Heck, you might just be in the mood to hack off some limbs – who am I to judge?
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Now don’t worry, if you’ve already completed Skyrim six times over – this list doesn’t include it. But, if you are looking for something to satisfy that itch to play it again, then might I suggest one of the best medieval games here instead.
1. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare
Developer: Tom Banner Studios Publisher: Tom Banner Studios, Activision Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
If the aforementioned limb hacking sounds like something you’d enjoy, then this is the game for you. Chivalry’s brutal and gory combat is at just the right balance so it can be picked up swiftly, but still holds enough depth for it to be engaging – mindless sword swinging will only get you so far.
Chivalry also does a great job of making you really feel the power behind each swing. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching two heads fall off with one deft swing of your blade. It’s comforting to know that whatever body part your sword hits is generally going to drop off.
Playing this game with a group of friends is where it really shines. It’s perfect for hopping on for a few minutes and letting loose some of that pent-up frustration. Whether you want to battle it out online, or if you just fancy carving up a horde of bots together – either way you’re guaranteed a brutal medieval experience.
2. Crusader Kings II
Developer: Paradox Development Studio Publisher: Paradox Interactive Platforms: PC
Unlike the other games on this list, Crusader Kings II concentrates more on strategy rather than close quarters combat – trading in swords and shields for intrigue and marriage proposals. When starting out, you take control of any noble lord or king and seek to ensure the survival of their dynasty, taking control of their heir when your character dies.
A typical game will often include conquering, plotting, building good relations with your vassals and finding the perfect bride. On top of all that, you also have to make sure you’ve raised a competent enough heir. The last thing you want is all your hard work to be undone after you’re undoubtedly killed off from some disease or assassination or literally anything except old age.
To those who are unfamiliar with Paradox games, Crusader Kings II can seem a bit overwhelming at first. I’d recommend checking out a tutorial on YouTube as the in-game one offers very little to teach you how to actually play. Once you’ve picked up the basics, you’ll be plotting to murder your wife in no time.
Developer: Warhorse Studios Publisher: Warhorse Studios, Deep Silver Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
The most recent game on the list, Kingdom Come: Deliverance sets itself apart from the rest due to its unwillingness to hold your hand along the way. The game can be brutally unforgiving in many aspects, perhaps most of all in its combat system. Often the best course of action is to turn and run. To stand a chance against a well-equipped and well-trained opponent, blocks and strikes have to be timed perfectly – if there’s a gang of them, you’re probably better of sticking to running.
Alongside this, the game is filled with lots of little details which really help to provide a truly immersive experience. It can be something as simple as having a bloodied sword which can make you seem more intimidating. Or the fact that people won’t talk to you if you haven’t washed for a while (that one took me a while to figure out). Or that you are stronger and a lot more confident when you’re drunk, and how you’ll definitely regret it because of the hangover.
If you’re looking for a game grounded in realism and think you’ll find facing the difficulties of a life in the medieval ages rewarding, then look no further. Coupled with that is a stunning open-world, compelling story and equally as compelling characters which ties together for an extremely fun experience (albeit sometimes infuriating).
4. Mount & Blade: Warband
Developer: TaleWorlds Entertainment Publisher: TaleWorlds Entertainment Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
If you want to get a feel for how a real medieval battle might have felt, then Mount & Blade might offer the closest thing to it. Every battle you fight in, you are present on the battlefield leading your men to victory (sometimes). It can give you the most incredible sense of impending doom as you stare down hundreds of mounted cavalry all charging towards you. Equally, it will make you feel like the mightiest of all warriors when it’s your colossal force making that same charge.
Another sandbox medieval game, Mount & Blade starts you out as a man with no lands, titles or armies and can see you gain all three. From the start, you are given free reign over where to go or what to do with the only aim to become the greatest. So, pick a side and start fighting. Or, fabricate your own claim on the kingdom and take it all for yourself. However you choose to do it, it is up to you, but generally it involves killing a lot of people and storming a few castles.
Despite this game’s age, it still holds up incredibly well. Whilst the graphics may not be the best, the incredible gameplay is more than enough to make up for it. Plus with heaps of mod support on offer to supplement both of these, Mount & Blade will undoubtedly give you a unique medieval experience difficult to find anywhere else.
5. The Witcher 3
Developer: CD PROJEKT RED Publisher: CD PROJEKT RED Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
If you just can’t imagine a medieval game without the fantasy element then the Witcher 3 is a great place to start, even if you haven’t played any of the other entries into the series. Its vast open-world, rich with mighty castles, lively cities and ancient ruins, is the perfect backdrop for a truly gripping tale.
It lets you once again take control of Geralt of Rivia, a monster slayer for hire (and boy do you slay some monsters), as he is tasked with locating Ciri, Geralt’s close friend and one-time ward – and who also happens to be the emperor’s daughter. Along the way, you will constantly be faced with difficult decisions where your actions will have consequences that can affect the whole world around you.
The game also offers a fun and challenging combat system, which blends together magic, alchemy and swordplay expertly. Along with the impressive amount of side quests and activities on offer, you’ll always have something to swing a sword at.
Basically, the game is packed with such an incredible amount of content (it also has a truckload of DLC, all as good as the main title) that it will undoubtedly keep you busy for hours on end. Before you know it, the Elder Scrolls VI will be out.