Archive for 2024

Review – Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord

When I discovered the original Mount & Blade I was really impressed by the sandbox approach it used. You play as one person in a world that continues to move as you do. It’s fundamentally pretty similar to some earlier games – Uncharted Waters, for example, took a similar approach. M&B added an excellent combat system, though – one that was very well suited to keyboard + mouse controls, that incentivized (but didn’t require) a shield and allowed the flexibility of mounted combat. It also brings in a character growth system that extends to companions in your party. While other games might see you becoming a “superman” in a few hours, you never really feel immortal in M&B – mighty, perhaps.

As revisions came in for the original games, new factions and weaponry were added and eventually Mount & Blade: Warband came out. A standalone game that could be considered Mount & Blade II, Warband added more complex politics and a couple of new factions as well as multiplayer. Importantly, though, there was enough of a fanbase and the system was extensible enough that mods were plentiful. Although my favorite was The Last Days, the LOTR mod that still receives updates, there were several fantastic total conversions as well as a lot of smaller mods that extended the “Vanilla” experience.

The “actual” Mount & Blade II, subtitled Bannerlord, isn’t a bad game per se, but it misses the mark a bit on what made Warband so addictive. It seems to focus more on set pieces than sandbox features. Diplomacy is somewhat middling, the “campaign” quest seems tacked on, and while the family and aging system has potential it isn’t particularly exciting due to its extremely slow pace. It may have been more interesting if the “Realistic” death settings were realistic in the least (or allowed for percentage chance of death in combat based on age, for example) – requiring a character to switch characters frequently to inherit the legacy of their predecessors.

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