Hop onto that steed
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is the newly released tactical, strategy role-playing sandbox style game from developer and publisher TaleWorlds Entertainment. Bannerlord is the third release in the Mount & Blade series that has spanned almost a decade and a half. Unfortunately, the decade after Warbands release has been quite a long wait for the newest edition to reach its anxious fans. Yes, it was a long wait and it is finally here...but is it worth it? Stay with us as we take you through parts of this newest smash and bash medieval fighting extravaganza that many of us have been waiting years for.
Bannerlord acts as a prequel to Warband and it carries the same time period and start date of 1257 as the original Mount & Blade. Warband takes place about 210 years after the original games start date of 1257. That sure is a bit confusing but the important thing to remember is that the Mount & Blade games are based purely on a fantasy medieval setting. They do not depict the reality of what the medieval period on earth was like during that time.
Playing in a sandbox is great fun
Weapons in the earlier versions of the game were based on real medieval weaponry and the same can be said for this latest iteration. However, there are some differences between the original game and Bannerlord though. Bannerlord's weapons function more realistically while original Mount & Blade weapons were geared towards being overpowered and somewhat fantastical in nature. Since Mount & Blade has always been a highly mod-able game franchise; users in the past took it upon themselves to fix many of TaleWorlds short comings in the base game and they will undoubtedly do the same with Bannerlord. Luckily, this time the developers have fixed the weapon discrepancies which does help with the believe-ability and realistic nature of the game.
The Mount & Blade franchise has always been based on a sandbox style of game play with a very loose story line. There's also a multi-player PVP one-on-one online game, but the point of all Mount & Blade games has been to start from nothing and to build a knight that is eventually able to rule the game world as king. Bannerlord has an improved plot, but it is still rather simplistic in nature. After creating a character, which is greatly improved upon over the original, and choosing clan values, its then on to a simple tutorial. After the tutorial is finished, a family name can be chosen and the flag that your party will carry is designed.
To train or not to train, that is the question...
The tutorial - like the plot - is reasonably sparse in nature. However, players are bound to complete it as it introduces the story line consisting of needing to find your kidnapped siblings along with finding out the meaning of some relics. Completing the tutorial is straightforward, with players simply needing to chase around and defeat three bands of looters, then kill off another group and leader in their hideout. The tutorial covers the very basics of combat, but it is needed to set the plot. If you don't care about the plot then players can opt to overlook the tutorial without penalty.
Like the original Mount & Blade games, the training area located on the map is much better at teaching players how to use hand weapons, shoot bows or ride horses than the tutorial. Even though Mount & Blade is mainly a fighting game with tactical elements thrown in, other aspects of the game are not explained and players will have to learn on the run. In Bannerlord, players can marry and have a family, there's an expanded economic aspect, there's politics and even the ability to be a blacksmith and create your own weapons and many other new and exciting things. The presence of a comprehensive encyclopaedia gives the indication that there is a steep learning curve to the game. However, that's what makes Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord so satisfying to play.
Even though graphics have been improved immensely from previous instalments, there is still a lot in Bannerlord that looks exactly the same as the originals. Having said that, everything looks picture perfect and players will often be found admiring the scenery. Although everything seems to be the same as the original, the developers have done a wonderful job of making sure that it looks a whole lot better. Even the tavern, although packed with people doesn't seem to have anything new other than a couple of musicians playing a tune and a table where a card game can be played. Just like in the original game, there's really no need to walk around a town or village because everything can be accessed directly from the village or town's menu.
I have been a big fan of Mount & Blade from the beginning and have played it and several mods for countless numbers of hours over the years. The sandbox-style of game play where quests are present is nice, but the fact that they do not need to be completed in order to progress gives the series continued replayability. In Mount & Blade, it is all about building a character so it can survive in a world dominated by war. The added mechanics of a family aspect and an improved economy only serve as side activities that players can partake in if they so choose to. These added features certainly give the game world a more realistic feel and provides for more immersion than just riding around killing things. Proficiency at riding a horse and swinging a weapon is still the main goal though.
I love being a knight in Mount & Blade
People that play and love Mount & Blade probably don't care as much about politics or the economy. For most, it will be all about being a knight on a horse that matters, and Bannerlord comes through once again. Any shortcomings or features that weren't thought of by the developers will no doubt be modded by fans. In fact, mods are already appearing and that will only add to the longevity of the game. Even though there are still some minor bugs such as an underperforming AI, I still can't recommend Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord enough. Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord is a highly addictive game that has me wanting to ride around Calradia upon my trusty steed until I become king of the medieval land.
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Picture perfect graphics and realistic scenery along with very well programmed fight sequences. One of the best if not the best realistic war fighting games around.
Game environments and locations such as castles and towns are pretty much devoid of any substance. Looks good the first time but only serves to be there the next times through.