For those who do not know the saga, it could be said that Mount & Blade is a simulator of life in medieval times. After creating a new character with a chosen background from a collection of these, we will appear in the middle of the map, with no possession other than a set of weapons and a horse. Our first mission, which will serve as a tutorial, will be to recruit some men and go to assault the lair of some bandits. From there the game leaves us at ease, and it will be time to make a name for ourselves in the Calradia region.
For this we will have to continue recruiting people, helping -or looting- in the different towns that we find, and starting to win battles against the small parties of bandits that abound on the roads of the region. Little by little we will get to know the nobles of each kingdom, we will equip ourselves, we will recruit more people and we will begin to fight with or against them. We will become vassals of a king, we will begin to command troops and, who knows, we will find the love of our life that, with a little luck, will come from a good family and will give us land to govern. Or maybe not, maybe we stay independent and we will found our own kingdom.
At the same time we will market, create supply caravans, herd cows, or open our own business. All this, and much more, can be done at Mount & Blade. Or nothing. It is up to the player.
The first thing we will notice when starting a new game in Bannerlord will be the new character editor, with many more options than its predecessors, with sliders to customize any feature of the character's face that we create. Once the physique of this is defined, we will choose its origin and its experiences prior to the start of the game. So far it could be said that character creation is common with the different versions of the first Mount & Blade that appeared, but there are two fundamental changes that have a name: interface and user experience.
This can be extended to the entire game: the user experience is improved exponentially compared to previous chapters of the saga, thanks above all to a completely redesigned user interface that makes the game feel more user-friendly, more enjoyable to the view. It is noted that from TaleWorlds they have put special care in that the game is not only good, but also seems so in the face of a first impression.
But a good gaming experience is not only achieved by a beautiful interface, it also has to be functional. And in Bannerlord it is, giving the possibility to speak to people of interest in a city quickly, for example.
In addition to the interface, the game has also undergone a huge graphical leap, adapting it to modern times. We are warning that it is not a wonder in this sense, yes, but enough to offer us spectacular battles and sieges, with up to 1000 fighters in the fray. Graphics have probably had to be sacrificed in order to get such a number of NPCs on the screen without the performance suffering too much.
Because yes, we are going to fight a lot. And we are going to have a great time.
We can talk about the great battle system of Chivalry, the great battle system of Mordhau, even part of the Kingdom Come: Deliverance battle system. They all have one thing in common: They inherit, when not copied, the Mount & Blade battle system. And it is that, if so many people have hooked this saga, it is because it can boast of having a complex, dense battle system, where the weight of each weapon is felt, and where each decision counts.
Each attack is directional, being able to attack from above, below or from the sides. Similarly, the defense will also be directional, so that if you defend in the same direction from which you are attacked, you will stop the blow, even if your only defense tool is a sword. With a shield it will be much easier, obviously. From there, dances and choreographies of attacks and defenses will be created in which both the player's ability, as well as the character's ability, and the type of weapon, will count for the blows dealt and the damage done. We will have different types of weapons, swords, maces, spears, axes... And also ranged weapons, of course, such as bows or javelins.
Also, in case of having a horse, we will have the advantage of mounted attacks, which in open spaces will be lethal for enemies, but in reduced spaces it will be for the player. In general, in each duel there will be many variables to control.
But we are commanders, and therefore we have to command. And Mount & Blade offers us the tools for this: We can give different orders to each of our platoons to carry out strategies that allow us to finish off the enemy. And it will be necessary to do it, especially at the highest levels of difficulty.
Here we have another novelty of this Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, which I personally really liked: A hierarchy system has been created within each battle, and just as the player can give orders to his subordinates, he will also receive orders from his superior. So if we have been commissioned to command the cavalry, they may ask us to attack the enemy's right flank and we will have to give the pertinent orders for it.
In addition to the open field battles themselves, we will have sieges. And this is one of the parts where Bannerlord really shines the most. Seeing 700 people face each other, while fireballs launched by the catapults fly through the air and destroy walls is really a joy. You have to live it.
And it is that Bannerlord does not live only from battles. When we are not battling, we will have the entire Calradia map available to roam it. We can enter the different towns or cities where we can recruit people, market, forge weapons, or participate in tournaments. Each action will allow us to gain notoriety and influence, and we will see that, where before we only saw contempt when introducing ourselves and saying our name, we will go to see admiration while our adventures and misadventures are sung throughout the region. This will be a double-edged sword since, obviously, we will not be able to enter - at least open-faced - cities where they have a special hatred for us, either because we are at war with his kingdom, for example.
So diplomacy will be essential. One of the great virtues of Mount & Blade is that we are no one special in the world, and at the same time as we wander the map, the various kingdoms will go to war, sign peace, achieve conquests, kings will fall and the laws. Another of Bannerlord's novelties is that we will be able to found our own kingdom, something that in Warband was only available through mods. And having our kingdom, it will be necessary to negotiate the different alliances that we may need, or to give the orders that are deemed convenient for war.
Speaking of mods, it must be said that in Mount & Blade the modder community was essential for the triumph of the game. And in Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord it will continue to be, since throughout Early Access the tools for it will be released and, even before the game was officially released, there were already modders working with them. I have no nails to see if something similar to the first part is achieved, where there were mods that changed the setting of the game to The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, or even Star Wars.
We can also get married and have children, which will happen to us in the future, although the latter is not yet implemented in this Early Access. Early Access that, according to TaleWorlds, they plan to maintain for about a year. During which the Spanish language will be added, by the way, since right now the game only comes in English, although the first unofficial translations are already appearing.
In addition to the single player campaign, at Bannerlord we have different modalities for those who prefer a competitive multiplayer. We can play sieges of 60 players against another 60, control NPC troops against other players in Captain mode, or directly battle them in Skirmish mode. In the first installments, the multiplayer from Mount & Blade already stood out within the competitive scene, and I have no doubt that the same will happen again.
We are facing one of these games that we like to highlight in 33bits as story generators, where each game will be different from the previous one, and where the experiences of a player will resemble those of the player next door. A game in Early Access that, yes, also comes with some bugs -none important in our games- but it is seen worked with care. Not surprisingly, in the 10 days elapsed since the game's departure until the time of writing these lines, 8 patches have already been published. We are eager to see how the already enormous possibilities that the game offers to the player who wants to immerse himself in it are expanded. Whoever does it will not regret it.