Pirates, Vikings and Knights II
Pirates, Vikings and Knights II, usualy abbreviated as PVKII or PVK2, is a video game mod which utilizes the Source Engine, known for powering games such as Half-Life 2, Counter Strike: Source, to name a few. It is a total conversion with mostly original content and an unique entry in the Source Engine modding scene for its hand-to-hand combat, diverse cast of characters and colorful graphics.
The mod was first released on January 1st 2007 and received a Steam release on February 2010. Reaching its 11th anniversary in 2018, it's one of the oldest multiplayer Source Engine mods actively in development.
The concept of Pirates, Vikings and Knights II, much like its GoldSrc predecessor, is as ludicrous as it can be; a premise as simple as Pirates, Vikings and Knights beating the living crap out of each others in several locations and time periods, with plenty of goals, such as stealing chests from other teams, dominating them, capturing territories or even surviving massive cataclysms.
PVKII's is among the earliest known examples of in-dept hand-to-hand combat, predating its former mod competitor Age of Chivalry by over six months, as well retail releases such as Mount & Blade, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare (the spiritual sequel to Age of Chivalry) and For Honor, the latter bearing the most similarities to PVKII as far premise goes. One or dual-wielding weapons such as swords and axes can be manuvered with directional poses, both when swinging or blocking. Swinging is performed with the left mouse button and the player can hold the charge until it releases the attack. The block can be performed almost immediately after pressing the right-mouse button. On sword/shield combos the directional block is replaced by a shield which absorves a good amount of the damage, and it can be used for shield bashing when holding the shield and pressing the left mouse button. Even with the melee-focused gameplay there are several other gameplay options in the mod, such as firearms (esclusive to the Pirates), ranged weapons such as longbows and crossbows, and special attacks, unique for each class.
As of 2017 there are nine classes released in the mod, three for each team.
Main Article: Official Maps
As of the latest release there are 17 official maps supporting all five official game modes. However, several custom maps made by the community exist to further expand the player's experience, with several of them being hosted by specific servers.
Maidens and Mayhem
Prior to the development of the sequel to the GoldSrc mod, a first attempt at a successor called Pirates, Vikings and Knights: Maidens and Mayhem was planned, serving as an overhaul of the mod graphically and gameplay-wise. The plans to Maidens and Mayhem, however, fell through with the release of the Source Engine and its SDK to the public, leading to the development of a proper sequel.
Development on the mod started in mid-to-late 2004, around the same time as the release window of Half-Life 2 and Counter Strike: Source, both by Valve Software and both carrying the Source SDK, the development tools needed to build the mod. Development on the mod took two years, with screenshots and eventually a teaser trailer only appearing in 2006. The mod was eventually released in its Beta 1.0 state in 2007, with much acclaim.
Beta 2.0 saw the release of three new classes and new content, followed by several changes. The following update saw the release of new maps and game modes.
Steam release and Beyond
On February 2010 PVKII saw to date its biggest release, dropping file-hosting websites in favor of Steam for easier patching, analytics and much more. The mod also saw the move to the then latest version of the Source Engine and several gameplay and design changes that continue to work to this day. Months later the mod received yet another update which provides voice acting to all classes, adding to the mod's production value as far Source mods go.
Despite the mod's popularity the development team started to have a busy schedule due to key members of the development team working on real-world projects or studying, leaving the mod as a side project and motivating the inclusion of beta testers. The mod eventually got the release of highly anticipated classes such as the Sharpshooter and the Man-at-Arms, as well new gameplay features and the move to a newer version of the Source Engine. The development team also further enhanced Steamworks implementation with workshop support, among other features.
Even though the mod's population isn't reaching the same numbers as it used to, the development team is working hard at bringing new content to the table. The release of new content such as a new class, maps and more gameplay features are expected to happen throughout 2018.
Throughout the years the mod has received positive reactions from gaming sites, reviewers and gamers, with critics praising the gameplay, the cathardic fun and specially the graphics, with the unanimous claim of being one of the best Source Engine mods available.
Despite the positive reception the mod is often criticised for having a bad scheduling of releasing updates, with promised releases such as new classes or maps being delayed or indefinitely postponed. Various members of The PVKII Team have claimed that "Pirates, Vikings and Knights II is a part-time project, not a full-time job, and the team welcomes beta testers and applicants to help contributing to the mod's development".