Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord is being developed by the studio TaleWorlds, which is based in Turkey and, in addition to the Mount & Blade series, has no high-profile projects under its belt. Nevertheless, such a small Turkish studio was able to create one of the most famous series of games, which has won a huge number of fans around the world and was highly praised by the gaming media. What is the reason for this success and why the sequel in the face of Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord is so much anticipated?
A little about the series and its history
The first part of the series, Mount & Blade, appeared on the shelves back in 2008 and became a pleasant discovery for many gamers, although it had a number of drawbacks. The game had a bad visual part (even by the standards of 10 years ago), the combat system was also lame, and it’s not worth talking about the plot, since there is no plot – there is no talk about it. However, with all this, the game won recognition and became an example of how you can make a good project without huge financial resources available.
Why did the game become successful? Even with all the aforementioned drawbacks, Mount & Blade had a lot of advantages. It is worth starting with the battles on horseback. Horseback fighting became one of the key features of the game, which was implemented at the highest level. The battles were atmospheric and the horses handled well. Another strong point of the game was its gorgeous open world. It amazed with its diversity, both in terms of locations: forests, fields, large cities and villages, deserts, etc., and in terms of internal life. Villages and cities were attacked both by invaders from other countries, and ordinary bandits, lords and kings constantly participated in various conflicts, caravans, armies and ordinary people walked across the lands and it was possible to talk to everyone and learn something new, or even get a task and build a system of relationships. In short, the game was full of life and variety, and this is a key factor in the success of any open world project. And if we talk about the key to the success of the original game, then we can say that the harsh and diverse world of Mount & Blade greatly liked the players, which is why the project was waiting for success and recognition.
In 2010, an independent add-on Mount & Blade: Warband was released, in which numerous adjustments were made and some of the disadvantages of the original game were removed (in particular, changes were made to the combat system and AI behavior). And in 2011, another addition, Mount & Blade, was released: with fire and sword, the action of which took place in Western Europe and modern Russia, which added to the fan audience of the series also many gamers from Russia and the CIS countries.
What about the new part now?
Alas, 7 years have passed since the release of the last add-on, and it is still unknown when the sequel will finally be released. The first rumors about the second part arose in 2012, and in September of the same year, the developers from TaleWorlds showed a small teaser for the new part and officially confirmed the development of the sequel. The sequel was subtitled Bannerlord and since then there has been less and less information about the game from the developers. Many skeptics began to argue that the game was frozen for an indefinite period or it was completely closed. However, things are not so bad. The game is still being developed, and the studio was able to expand significantly. While only 5 developers worked on the original, 25 people are already working on the sequel.
What changes are coming in the sequel
What can Bannerlord boast about? The Turks considered it foolish to change the already working and successful game mechanics, because of which the fans fell in love with the game. The sequel is a kind of development of the original ideas. Such a period of time in the creation of a project can be explained by the fact that, although all the features of the game have remained the same, they are either reworked or created again from scratch. The second part will have a new graphics engine that supports DirectX 11, taking into account any aspects, both graphics and game optimization. But the key changes in the sequel did not stop there. The interface in the game has also been completely redesigned, making it more user-friendly and understandable. The inventory is many times more convenient and has different categories. The trade menu has also been updated in the game, and your horse’s armor has received a separate slot in the menu. Equipping your companions with weapons and items has also become much easier. Before that, in order to give a companion a spear or a sword on the road, it was necessary to go through a long procedure of dialogue and select the desired item. This phenomenon greatly spoiled the impression of the game and became very annoying over time. Now you just need to make a couple of clicks and you’re done. However, this does not mean at all that now you will not be able to chat with your companions during dangerous travels or joint vacations. Each of them will find something to tell you and will be able to pour out their souls in conversation.
If we talk about the graphics in the game, then Bannerlord is unlikely to be able to compete in terms of graphics with many modern games, but the obvious progress since the release of the last add-on is quite obvious. In general terms, in terms of graphics, the sequel looks better than the original and additions, but it still looks pretty mediocre at the modern level. But in defense of the creators of the game, I would like to note that the Mount & Blade series has never focused on the visual component. Gameplay is the most important thing in the game. This aspect will be subdivided into two key components: numerous quests in the game (including battles, capture and siege of castles and tournaments) and travel through the open world. The concept of an open world and a global map has already changed 3 times during the creation of the sequel. TaleWorlds doesn’t share much information on this part of the game, but some information has been leaked. The main events of the game will still take place in the kingdom of Calradia (its prototype is medieval Western Europe and the Middle East). But the developers, along with this, plan to make us look at this world from a different angle. For example, in the sequel, we are not driven into the framework of a certain medieval period. Other game mechanics are also being developed that make the game better. For example, the changes affected AI. The rulers will be more reasonable in their actions, which will be influenced by a whole list of factors: their own desires, relations with other factions, obligations, etc. The AI will also learn new tactics. For example, commanders will be able to make troops for a more successful attack or siege, but other factions (the same bandits) will have similar skills. So, if you have only a small detachment, then there is a high probability of being surrounded by bandits or being ambushed.
Very strong adjustments will affect the missions themselves. The animation of actions is carried out using motion capture, which implies their greater realism and smoothness. The combat system has also changed. In the original, there were all four types of blows (right, left, top and stabbing) and, accordingly, they were blocked by four types of blocks. The creators of the game note that in the original the fights were too schematic and in Bannerlord this aspect will be changed. Many blows will not be blockable and can only be dodged or deflected. The developers are tasked with leaving the key aspects of the conduct of battles unchanged, but making the fights more realistic and varied. The siege of castles has also improved, now this business requires good tactics and thoughtfulness of each step. Increased “points” of penetration into the castle of the enemy. Attack directions are no longer limited to just one staircase and siege tower. In the original, the storming of the fortresses was interesting, but over time it could get bored because of its monotony. Hopefully, in the sequel, this aspect of the game will be improved, and each siege will be perceived in its own way and will require different paths to successfully capture the castle.
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is still moving towards its exit, albeit very slowly. However, the game is on the right track. Even if the project does not claim to make any major changes, and even more so to revolutionize the genre, the developers are not faced with such a goal. After all, this series already has its own interesting game mechanics, which helped it gain recognition and conquer a large fan audience.