Chivalry: Medieval Warfare was Torn Banner Studios' first major release, and it was also an immense success. Focusing on the tactical element of online multiplayer combat rather than twitch reflexes and who sees the other player first, like most modern shooters, plaudits rained down on Chivalry for its satisfying combat, enhanced violence, and often chaotic mass brawls. Mirage: Arcane Warfare is Torn Banner's shot at taking the core gameplay from Chivalry and shifting the focus from medieval combat to magical powers in fantasy lands.
Let's start with the good, as the maps are incredibly well designed, with bright colours and exotic locations spicing up the environments compared to the drab castles and fields found in Chivalry. From the dusty Middle Eastern streets of Bazaar to the moonlit walkways and paths in Lighthouse, each map is vastly different, with a number of chokepoints for each game mode. Each one flows well, whether there are six players in the game or 20, and the increased verticality in each map also lends itself to the increased mobility players have, with the ability to vault over walls and perform deft wall jumps.
Mirage is undoubtedly Chivalry's child-friendly alternative. There's still an element of bloody violence, but it's toned down a lot because half of the killing you'll be doing is with magic, either from range or with enough particle effects and colourful explosions that it disguises the gore. Rarely will you actually manage to take someone's head clean off, an occurrence that was more common in Chivalry, so from a spectator's perspective, Mirage is far more accessible, with less of a learning curve too.
Funnily enough, the most enjoyable and seemingly most well-rounded class for most situations is the Taurant. With high health and offensive abilities like a powerful punch that can break parries and a rapid AOE spin, the Taurant's two handed weapon makes it the one class that wouldn't be out of place on a medieval battlefield. Classes like the Tinker, on the other hand, who specialises in traps, or the Vypress, who is like a ninja with her elusiveness, don't fare too well in most chaotic scenarios.
For each class you can pick three abilities out of six, all of which are unique to the class and range from powers such as being able to teleport quickly out of danger to hurling a giant spiked boulder, as well as a hook that pulls enemies toward you. There's a lot of variation, but use them sparingly, as most powers have a lengthy cooldown. Being hit while casting will interrupt it too, meaning the abilities do require a certain element of skill to pull off, but are very powerful when they do connect.
Melee combat is lifted straight from Chivalry, with three types of attack: Slash, with the left mouse button; overhead, with the mouse wheel scroll down; and thrust, with mouse wheel scroll up. Each method has different benefits, depending on the weapon you're wielding, as slashing wildly with a two-handed axe is a reliable way to deal damage, but the chance of catching a teammate in the swing is high, whereas overhead attacks deal more damage and have a much smaller chance of dealing friendly damage, but they're much slower to execute. Each class, ability, and weapon takes time to get used to as they all play vastly differently from each other.
Thus far, everything mentioned in this review isn't necessarily bad. The problem with Mirage lies in the fact that, aside from ranged combat, which the Alchemancer class is fantastic for, and the diversity in maps and locations, Chivalry does everything else better. The melee combat feels weightier and more satisfying, there's a wider range of melee weapons, and perhaps most importantly, there are considerably more players. One of the key reasons it's a struggle to recommend Mirage as a purchase right now, despite being a competent game, is that the servers are practically empty. In Europe, playing at any time other than the evening means there will be four or five players in total across all the servers with a decent ping, and while some games are manageable with a laggy connection, Mirage isn't one of them, so attempting anything above a 50ms ping is unplayable.
Frustratingly, there's absolutely no form of stat tracking outside of individual matches and your overall level either, no way to see what your overall kill to death ratio is, how many games you've played or won with each class. Nothing. You unlock cosmetic and customisation items as you level up, but that's pretty much it. Due to the lack of stat tracking and the inconsequence of leaving a game early, other players frequently leave and the team balance becomes like a seesaw, ranging from teams being down two or three players to then being up a few minutes later.
Despite Torn Banner Studios creating a competent and sometimes enjoyable game, for its current price it's hard to recommend. Chivalry is cheaper and is frequently seen with heavy discounts and in bundles, and is a far better experience than Mirage in its current state. Perhaps a few months down the line, when Mirage has been updated a few times and has a larger player base after being discounted, it could be worth it, but right now, even though it's four years old, Chivalry can provide you with everything Mirage offers and more.