By Michael Prideaux
Mount&Blade: Warband developed by TaleWorlds is a medieval fighting simulator which blends genres. Warband is the successor to their previous game Mount&Blade, adding a plethora of new features and content.
Players start with an in depth checklist of their character’s family, gender and upbringing. These seemingly small choices greatly influence the player’s core skills and abilities. The player customises their character’s appearance through a healthy amount of hair, skin and facial structure sliders. The players are then proposed six different travel options where they decide where their starting area will be in the fictional land of Calradia.
Players are then confronted by a civilian in distress of an attacker who after a short fight starts you on the Warband’s first quest line. Each of the six areas is governed by a large faction with their own unique design and personality. The Nords and the Sarranid Sultanate (desert warriors) stand out from the other faction’s basic knights and archers. This diversity in starting location can have a large effect on how you play the game and experience the.
Warband offers a sandbox over world allowing players to freely travel in any direction they want. The map is filled with large cities, castles, villages and other miscellaneous locations, which all offer different reason to drop by. Players start off trying to recruit soldiers into their “warband” through henchmen for heir in taverns or restless villagers looking for a scrap. Travel causes time to flow allowing hours and days to pass as the player moves across the map; they are however obstructed by friendly and hostile “warbands” who roam the map in search of battle and plundering.
Quests are handed out from lords, kings and guild masters all with varying severity, reputation and gold. These range from tax collection to saving stolen princes, all of which are accompanied by a lengthy travel time (travel can be sped up but players can easily be ambushed by bandits when doing so).
When attacked players are offered tactical choices of fleeing, a quick number crunch or an attack. An attack launches you and your band of merry men charging through an open landscape to be eventually met by other opposing forces, players can control specific units giving them vague attack, move and defend commands. The core combat features directional attacks and parries which prevents button spammers in their tracks. Combat revolves around players attacking from a certain direction which must be blocked by using the same one.
After a fight looting and prisoners can be taken with some small experience gain to boot, adding to the players inventory and experience bar. Warband offers a large selection of stat choice: strength to charisma, Core stats; horse archery to trade, attribute; single handed to crossbow, weapon skills. Each gains their own stat pools to spend on the ones you desire, allowing a deeply personal character.
Players looking to avoid the atrocities of battle can obtain large amounts of gold from trading, which players can exploit through buying cheap and selling high. You can alternately gain reputation from forming relationships with lords and kings or marrying into power.
Warband adds a selection of multiplayer modes to its mix, with core death match and nice additions like castle sieges keeping players entertained for hours on end, as they improve their characters equipment from round to round. Players start with choosing combat classes like cavalry and archers, and then proceed to select equipment with gold which is gained through killing.
Warband is excellent game bolstering content left right and centre, however from the very start the game shows the lack of budget. The game while amazing sits awkwardly due to a horribly rough graphics, user interface and animation. Character models move stiffly across the barren landscapes during battles, all the while holding their sword bracing to attack. Combat works well but won’t give anything to players who associate with games that give you a high body count. Many fights leave you with only killing and handful of soldiers and awkward moments where you wish there was a counter attack. Tactical decisions are possible to take up most of the fight but lack any precision to be optional, causing most fights to be on large mob clashing into another. Multiplayers takes a similar stance to normal combat, however it includes long travel times after each death unless the aid of a horse is used.
The main downside to Warband is the presentation, the bad graphics and slow pace may put many off, and also a lack of narrative will cause many unmotivated players to stop playing. Warband sits above many other games with its unique play style, blend of genre and mountains of content. Warband dynamic and clumsy combat can lead to exhilarating situations of one versus one hundred, which will stick with a gamer for a long time to come; it’s an experience that should be tasted by all.
Warband sadly doesn’t lean that far from the original. Working more as a standalone expansion then a sequel, but any person new to the series or looking for more Mount&Blade content should feel pleased with the game.
Jagged and hideous models with stiff animations to top it off does nothing to appeal to players.
A lack of narrative leaves players searching for their own personal set goal
Exciting, clumsy and dynamic.
Creates epic moments and dramatic situations constantly online and offline.
Brimming with an unending wave of content to complete and so many ways to do it.
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