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Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord

CRmeansCeilingReached

ADC
Moderator
I never played the first M&B, but I bought Bannerlord last week, in early release (£30 on CDKeys, £40 on Steam).

This game is still a year from full release, but is an outstanding game even now. Anybody who loves the Total War games - just get it.

A few random points:
  • The brilliant strategic map movement makes turn-based games feel so dated. Bannerlord army movement is real-time, realistic and simultaneous. Army composition affects speed - whether your troops have horses, if you have prisoners, are overloaded with provisions, perks from scouts etc. You compare your speed with other armies, parties etc and that influences your tactics - decide whether you can out-run larger armies, hunt down packs of bandits, or gradually run down that niggling enemy army who keeps raiding your villages.

  • The battlefield scenes are fantastic, if sometimes hectic and confused (bit like a real medieval battle I guess). You're down amongst it. Set out out your archers on high ground, infantry in a shield wall whilst they get pelted with arrows... your carefully-recruited horse archers intelligently ride rings around the enemy, pelting them with arrows and pinning them behind shields... you pick off a few key mounted enemies with your bow and arrow... then you lead your massed cavalry round the flank, in behind and smash through the enemy ranks whilst your infantry charge in from the front. Mass melee, frantic sword fighting, arrows thudding into your shield as you struggle to manoeuvre... then they break, and your riders are ruthless as the enemy flee the battlefield. You canter along behind them, casually firing your last few arrows into the backs of unarmoured peasants to rack up the kills. Then onto the post-battle screen to count your prisoners and see how many of your troops got enough XP to be upgraded.

  • Siege battles - can be a bit mad, and it's not immediately clear what to do during the siege camp / preparations stage. But once you get the hang of it, it's satisfying to pick off enemies manning defences with your longbow, sniping archers off the battlements whilst your battering ram and siege towers trundle into position. Your battering ram gets taken out by an onager, so you lead the infantry to the inner gate and they start chopping away with axes etc. Meanwhile, your other troops push ladders up against the wall. I watched in amazement as a defender ran up with a forked stick, and toppled the ladder away from the wall. Troops fall to the ground with a thud. From the left flank, a massive crash and the notifications suddenly scroll past indicating about 20 of my troops killed in one go - the enemy collapsed my siege tower with troops crammed inside. You fire a couple of arrows at enemies fighting off your troops on the right hand battlement. Finally you're in through the gate, and your troops flood in, spread out and start the mayhem. Once you manage to get a few around to the left flank (unshielded side), surely the enemy must collapse? No, reinforcements come streaming in from an alleyway and all of a sudden, I'm frantically backing away with shield up as six enemy soldiers mercilessly try to hack me to pieces. I summon a group of soldiers to "follow me", and hold with my back to the wall until they come to my rescue. A narrow escape, with hardly any health left. And then suddenly they break, and my troops are pursuing stragglers through the streets in dribs and drabs. Heavy losses, a third of my army dead or wounded, but I've taken a town whilst outnumbered two or three to one. Worth it.

  • It’s such an open world, and you can do what you want – especially before you are committed to a specific faction. I opened a couple of trade caravans, a handful of shops in different towns… oh, that silversmith isn’t earning much, so I’ll try changing it to a tannery. Who’s my best scout? Hover mouse over faint tracks on the strategy map, and discern that a war party of 2-300 horses passed this way about 12 hours ago. Might be that lord I’ve been seeking for a chat. I want to marry his daughter, and after having chatted her up successfully over a few midnight visits to her castle, I have to negotiate a dowry.

  • It’s an RPG as well – you decide your initial traits through picking your history growing up in a series of stages. And you develop skills through using them – no just “click to level up” here. Want to get better with a bow and arrow? You have to shoot people with a bow and arrow to gradually gain skill points, then select perks. Same for riding, various weaponry types, leadership, charm, trading and so forth. Very satisfying to reach a milestone e.g. 90 Archery – I can now buy that megabow I’ve had my eye on. And all the usual RPG-style stuff of equipping armour and weapons, managing your inventory etc.

  • Oh, and you can recruit companion characters (I’m capped at 7 at the mo). Each of these is full RPG too – equipping them, levelling up, appointing them to different roles in your party: QM, scout, surgeon or siege engineer. Do you want them leading their own party? They will go off tackling bandits and protecting trade caravans, but you can summon them to join your army when you want to take a town or attack a large army. Of course, you have to bear in mind how many hours / days of riding it will take for them to join you. Alternatively, you could have one govern a town or run a trade caravan – all depends on their skillset and how you want to play.

  • You can play in so many different ways. I spent a long time peacefully recruiting, fighting in tournaments to build renown, then joined a King as a vassal. But you can just trade (think Elite – buying goods cheap in one town, picking up rumours from traders about where prices are high etc and transporting them there, fighting off bandits and raiders en route). Or you can smith fancy weapons and sell them for thousands. There are threads out there with detailed advice on market domination e.g. set yourself up as the only blacksmith / tanner / silversmith on the map, by gradually buying up all the competition shops and changing what they produce. Make your millions, and use it to buy top of the range armour / weapons / horses etc.
There are so many little details that I love. I find myself randomly breaking out in a smile at some little feature, or a particularly realistic moment in a battle. Watching my longbowmen ripping arrow after arrow into enemy ranks… charging full speed into a line of enemy archers, taking one down with a perfectly-timed sword cut whilst my horse barrels through the rest, knocking them flying. Then looking over my shoulder to see the other 60 melee cavalry close behind. Change their order from “follow me” to “charge” and they rip the archers to pieces – but I tell them to withdraw as a group of enemy spearmen break away from the infantry melee to rescue the archers. We fall back, then my horse archers rock up and turn them into porcupines.

It’s in early release and they update the beta every few days, but I’ve not encountered any deal-breaking bugs. Two crashes to desktop in a week, and a little box pops up asking what you were doing when it crashed (for the developers to iron out problems). It’s a great game even in its current form, and it’s only going to get better.

Sod this. I’m going back to play some more. I’ve got a castle to storm :cool:
 
I never played the first M&B, but I bought Bannerlord last week, in early release (£30 on CDKeys, £40 on Steam).

This game is still a year from full release, but is an outstanding game even now. Anybody who loves the Total War games - just get it.

A few random points:
  • The brilliant strategic map movement makes turn-based games feel so dated. Bannerlord army movement is real-time, realistic and simultaneous. Army composition affects speed - whether your troops have horses, if you have prisoners, are overloaded with provisions, perks from scouts etc. You compare your speed with other armies, parties etc and that influences your tactics - decide whether you can out-run larger armies, hunt down packs of bandits, or gradually run down that niggling enemy army who keeps raiding your villages.

  • The battlefield scenes are fantastic, if sometimes hectic and confused (bit like a real medieval battle I guess). You're down amongst it. Set out out your archers on high ground, infantry in a shield wall whilst they get pelted with arrows... your carefully-recruited horse archers intelligently ride rings around the enemy, pelting them with arrows and pinning them behind shields... you pick off a few key mounted enemies with your bow and arrow... then you lead your massed cavalry round the flank, in behind and smash through the enemy ranks whilst your infantry charge in from the front. Mass melee, frantic sword fighting, arrows thudding into your shield as you struggle to manoeuvre... then they break, and your riders are ruthless as the enemy flee the battlefield. You canter along behind them, casually firing your last few arrows into the backs of unarmoured peasants to rack up the kills. Then onto the post-battle screen to count your prisoners and see how many of your troops got enough XP to be upgraded.

  • Siege battles - can be a bit mad, and it's not immediately clear what to do during the siege camp / preparations stage. But once you get the hang of it, it's satisfying to pick off enemies manning defences with your longbow, sniping archers off the battlements whilst your battering ram and siege towers trundle into position. Your battering ram gets taken out by an onager, so you lead the infantry to the inner gate and they start chopping away with axes etc. Meanwhile, your other troops push ladders up against the wall. I watched in amazement as a defender ran up with a forked stick, and toppled the ladder away from the wall. Troops fall to the ground with a thud. From the left flank, a massive crash and the notifications suddenly scroll past indicating about 20 of my troops killed in one go - the enemy collapsed my siege tower with troops crammed inside. You fire a couple of arrows at enemies fighting off your troops on the right hand battlement. Finally you're in through the gate, and your troops flood in, spread out and start the mayhem. Once you manage to get a few around to the left flank (unshielded side), surely the enemy must collapse? No, reinforcements come streaming in from an alleyway and all of a sudden, I'm frantically backing away with shield up as six enemy soldiers mercilessly try to hack me to pieces. I summon a group of soldiers to "follow me", and hold with my back to the wall until they come to my rescue. A narrow escape, with hardly any health left. And then suddenly they break, and my troops are pursuing stragglers through the streets in dribs and drabs. Heavy losses, a third of my army dead or wounded, but I've taken a town whilst outnumbered two or three to one. Worth it.

  • It’s such an open world, and you can do what you want – especially before you are committed to a specific faction. I opened a couple of trade caravans, a handful of shops in different towns… oh, that silversmith isn’t earning much, so I’ll try changing it to a tannery. Who’s my best scout? Hover mouse over faint tracks on the strategy map, and discern that a war party of 2-300 horses passed this way about 12 hours ago. Might be that lord I’ve been seeking for a chat. I want to marry his daughter, and after having chatted her up successfully over a few midnight visits to her castle, I have to negotiate a dowry.

  • It’s an RPG as well – you decide your initial traits through picking your history growing up in a series of stages. And you develop skills through using them – no just “click to level up” here. Want to get better with a bow and arrow? You have to shoot people with a bow and arrow to gradually gain skill points, then select perks. Same for riding, various weaponry types, leadership, charm, trading and so forth. Very satisfying to reach a milestone e.g. 90 Archery – I can now buy that megabow I’ve had my eye on. And all the usual RPG-style stuff of equipping armour and weapons, managing your inventory etc.

  • Oh, and you can recruit companion characters (I’m capped at 7 at the mo). Each of these is full RPG too – equipping them, levelling up, appointing them to different roles in your party: QM, scout, surgeon or siege engineer. Do you want them leading their own party? They will go off tackling bandits and protecting trade caravans, but you can summon them to join your army when you want to take a town or attack a large army. Of course, you have to bear in mind how many hours / days of riding it will take for them to join you. Alternatively, you could have one govern a town or run a trade caravan – all depends on their skillset and how you want to play.

  • You can play in so many different ways. I spent a long time peacefully recruiting, fighting in tournaments to build renown, then joined a King as a vassal. But you can just trade (think Elite – buying goods cheap in one town, picking up rumours from traders about where prices are high etc and transporting them there, fighting off bandits and raiders en route). Or you can smith fancy weapons and sell them for thousands. There are threads out there with detailed advice on market domination e.g. set yourself up as the only blacksmith / tanner / silversmith on the map, by gradually buying up all the competition shops and changing what they produce. Make your millions, and use it to buy top of the range armour / weapons / horses etc.
There are so many little details that I love. I find myself randomly breaking out in a smile at some little feature, or a particularly realistic moment in a battle. Watching my longbowmen ripping arrow after arrow into enemy ranks… charging full speed into a line of enemy archers, taking one down with a perfectly-timed sword cut whilst my horse barrels through the rest, knocking them flying. Then looking over my shoulder to see the other 60 melee cavalry close behind. Change their order from “follow me” to “charge” and they rip the archers to pieces – but I tell them to withdraw as a group of enemy spearmen break away from the infantry melee to rescue the archers. We fall back, then my horse archers rock up and turn them into porcupines.

It’s in early release and they update the beta every few days, but I’ve not encountered any deal-breaking bugs. Two crashes to desktop in a week, and a little box pops up asking what you were doing when it crashed (for the developers to iron out problems). It’s a great game even in its current form, and it’s only going to get better.

Sod this. I’m going back to play some more. I’ve got a castle to storm :cool:

Wait till you start exploring the mods on Nexus.
 

CRmeansCeilingReached

ADC
Moderator
Wait till you start exploring the mods on Nexus.

I'm hoping there will be a good Roman mod, but doesn't seem much point investing loads of time in unsupported mods when it's still in development. But yeah, I can see there's a massive modding community for M&B. I'll certainly be keeping track when / if the vanilla game gets boring.
 

bob231

War Hero
Very impressed with first look, having played the original to death when it came out. Worth the cash
 

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