Title: Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
Available on: Microsoft Windows
Publisher: TaleWorlds Entertainment
Developer: TaleWorlds Entertainment
Genre: RPG, Open World, Strategy
Official Site: https://www.taleworlds.com
Release Date: Mar 30, 2020
Where to Buy: Steam
Mount and Blade 2 Bannerlord has just marched into Steam early access last week after 8 long years. Bannerlord has since then, become the biggest Steam release of 2020 with the all-time player peak jumping to nearly 250k within a day of the game’s release. Today I’m pleased to share the experiences I had during my playthrough of Bannerlord. As well as my thoughts on the current state of the game. So with that, I present to you my dear readers, my early access impressions of Mount and Blade 2 Bannerlord.
In past Mount and Blade games, the premise that made them great was the amount of freedom given to players in those games. Players were free to conquer towns and castles and fight a ton of battles. Between this, There were also quests and side activities such as owning a business, trading and raiding caravans. There was also the option to create a kingdom and run it. During the time I spent in Bannerlord, I found that the game’s overall gameplay played much the same as Warband. However, Bannerlord takes what was great about that game, and expands it and improves upon it.
The result is by far one the most well done early access games I have played in years. In my playthrough of Bannerlord, I experienced the majority of the core gameplay features found in the game. I fought several battles and lay siege to castles and towns, as well as completed dozens of quests. So far my experience has been amazing, I feel the game has potential to be a proper Mount and Blade Warband sequel and more. The game also has several new features, such as smithing and the ability to create trade caravans.
Reforged and Enhanced Combat
Combat by far is one of my favorite things I experienced while playing the game. It was especially satisfying to see my hundreds of Calvary crash into enemy formations, to then cut them down as they fled from the field of battle. Battles in Mount and Blade 2 Bannerlord feel Immersive and improved from previous titles. The game further enhances the overall combat with better animations that give it a sense of realism and grittiness. Bannerlord also includes battle features such as unit formations and an option to let the ai take over units and command them. The way units function in battles also has been improved vastly compared to the other games. For example, horse archers would avoid direct conflict with the enemy army, but while still staying in range to harass them, just like Mongol horse archers did historically.
Weapons and armor
The game also has several types of weapons and armor that are both visually appealing and feel great in use. Weapons and armor take inspiration from various cultures from Europe, the middle east, the early medieval ages, and the late roman empire to the fall of it. My favorite armors so far have been the Turkic and Mongolic armors and the mix of Slavic and Norse culture armors.
For weapons, I particularly enjoyed crossbows and bows because both are easier to control in this game. For my melee, I’ve been enjoying long glaives; it’s just so satisfying watching my character swing them while cutting down fleeing looters. Overall weapons and armor, seem highly polished in this stage of the game’s development. The only complaint I have is regarding the amount of both found in stores. At times towns seem to sell small amounts of both weapons and armor, and the stock rarely changes. However, this has improved with recent patches, and more weapons seem to be available in stores. But I still am seeing fewer armor options available for purchase in stores.
Sieges are also improved immensely in this game with more ways to attack and defend castles and towns. We now have several siege engines to use, such as ballistae and catapults to destroy enemy weapon emplacements and kill soldiers on the walls. Further, we can also use battering rams to batter gates while soldiers run up siege towers on to the walls. The defender’s side also gets siege weapons to destroy the attacking army’s equipment as well as kill soldiers.
Overall my experience with sieges has been positive, and I enjoyed seeing projectiles flying into the walls killing enemy soldiers, Then seeing the defenders retaliate with volleys of arrows killing several of my men. However, a few times I encountered some bugs, some were minor performance issues, and fps lag, others unit pathfinding was a little weird and messed up. Then strangest, was during one siege when it started I was teleported into a small room with my whole army and the enemy army, then both armies clashed. Apart from this one event, for the most part, sieges were bug-free and enjoyable.
Bannerlord also has some quests for players to complete, all with varying objectives in the current build of the game. Some quests will have you protecting a village from an army of deserters; some will have you finding a runaway nobleman’s daughter; all were pretty enjoyable for the most part but eventually got pretty old after a while. This was mostly due to there being a small amount currently present in the game. It also tends to spawn the same quest you just did in the next village or town, which over time, was pretty annoying. But overall, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the game; besides further down the line in Bannerlord’s development, more quests will be added to the game.
Hideouts also make an appearance in Bannerlord, similar to the way they function in Warband. In the past, hideouts are bandit locations that the player can attack and destroy. They also have quests that revolve around their destruction. However, Bannerlord adds a new element to them. When the player has killed all bandits in the hideout, a boss will then appear with an entourage of bodyguards. Players will then have two options either fight all of them or duel him. The inclusion of this boss fight at the end of hideouts I found makes them feel more in-depth and helps give a sense of accomplishment when beaten. One improvement the game also makes with hideouts is that they now have more detailed environments. For example, players can now find certain caves in some hideout raids that can be entered and contain several bandits to fight.
For the most part, I liked the hideouts. They were enjoyable to attack, but they felt unbalanced at certain points in the game. It seems to be caused by the game, limiting you to only nine units during hideout raids. In the end, this creates a problem at times because your units could end up weaker than the bandits you are facing. Alternatively, you could work with this by moving your units up in the party list; this would cause the game to select more from those units. This still doesn’t solve the remaining problem that the bandits in these hideouts can often outnumber the player. Overall I think this should be improved later in the game’s development; maybe a system implemented that adjusts the number of units based on the strength of the hideout.
Features and Improvements
Mount and Blade 2 Bannerlord also brings back tournaments and adds several new systems such as the before mentioned trade caravans. Both functioned well in the current build of the game; This was the case with most things I encountered. However, there are several areas where I feel the game could improve to provide a better Mount and Blade experience. First off, I would like to see some features added from the series spin-off Viking conquest. In Viking conquest, players were able to capture a hideout from raiders; They were also able to manage and upgrade it.
Players could also garrison troops and store captives at this hideout using the location as a temporary base. I feel this feature if implemented correctly, could be wonderful in Bannerlord and overall enhanced the game; It would also add an option for a more Bandit like playthrough. Another feature from Viking Conquest I would like to see is ship battles and perhaps customization as It would be interesting to see in Bannerlord. Maybe there could be a new bandit group called Pirates; also, sea raiders then could be real sea raiders!
A further enhancement I would love to see made is regarding the games’ raiding system. Presently there is nothing inherently wrong with its current state; however, I feel it could further be improved. For example, usually, the first thing players have to do when raiding villages is having to fight the local militia. In this part of raiding, I would love to see it play out almost like a mini siege with the militia trying hard to defend behind barricades, as church bells ring in alarm of the pending onslaught.
My Final Thoughts
Throughout my many years of gaming, I have never seen early access games in a state such as Mount and Blade 2 Bannerlord. The game has an overall incredible state of polish and is in a condition of being fully enjoyable in its own right. Bugs and problems have been improved and patched at a shocking rate; it has been a total of around ten days, and already ten patches were released. It is, for this reason, I firmly believe Bannerlord has the makings to become the developers’ magnum opus.
Verdict: In the end, my dear readers, I found that Mount and Blade 2 Bannerlord in early access proved to be immensely enjoyable, but Some things are still lacking. For example, we can not declare war as kingdoms yet, battlefield scenes are reused repeatedly, and the number of quests is low and lacks variation. But in the end, regardless, the game is still quite playable in its current state. For this reason, I recommend checking it out if you are a fan of the previous series, or just like medieval games in general; you can also find our Beginners Tips guide here for help if you are new to the series. Till next time my readers, now excuse me for I have a kingdom to conquer, so I must bid you all adieu.