Review: Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord (Early Access)

Release date set for 'Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord' - the Spectrum
Instant Gaming


The horns sound, the ravens gather. An empire is torn by civil war. Beyond its borders, new kingdoms rise. Gird on your sword, don your armour, summon your followers and ride forth to win glory on the battlefields of Calradia. Establish your hegemony and create a new world out of the ashes of the old.

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is the eagerly awaited sequel to the acclaimed medieval combat simulator and role-playing game Mount & Blade: Warband. Set 200 years before, it expands both the detailed fighting system and the world of Calradia. Bombard mountain fastnesses with siege engines, establish secret criminal empires in the back alleys of cities, or charge into the thick of chaotic battles in your quest for power.

Strategy / Action RPG
Explore, raid and conquer your way across the vast continent of Calradia, making friends and enemies along the way. Raise your own army and lead it into battle, commanding and fighting alongside your troops in the thick of the action.

Singleplayer Sandbox Campaign
Play the game the way you want to play it! Plot your own path to power in a dynamic sandbox adventure where no two playthroughs are the same.

Extensive Character Creation and Progression Systems
Create and develop your own character to match your playstyle. Progress skills by performing actions as you gain access to a selection of perks that represent your mastery of a talent.

Realistic Economy
See the availability of goods ebb and flow in a simulated feudal economy, where the price of everything from incense to warhorses fluctuates with supply and demand. Turn anarchy to your advantage by being the first to bring grain to a starving town after a siege or reopening a bandit-plagued caravan route.

Multiplayer Game Modes
Put your tactical prowess and combat skills to the test against players from all over the world in a variety of different multiplayer game modes, ranging from small-scale skirmishes up to huge and epic sieges with hundreds of players.

Skill-Based Directional Combat System
Vanquish your foes using the game’s deep and intuitive combat system that is easy to learn but difficult to master.

Breathtaking Battles
Take to the field of battle and experience the brutality of medieval combat in first or third person perspective with hundreds of on-screen units, each with their own detailed AI.

Extensive Modding Capabilities
Customise the game to experience an entirely different adventure of your own creation. The engine and tools used to develop Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord are being made available to the community, so that modders can re-interpret Calradia or create their own worlds!


Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord.

Please bear in mind I have not played the previous Mount and Blade, and am a new-comer to the franchise. All thoughts are just that. My opinion. Early Access means features of this game will be incomplete and are subject to change upon release. This is a sort of historical fantasy game based on the politics of the Byzantine World, featuring inspiration from Mongolia, the Arabic Tribes before the expansion of Islam, and the late Roman Empires, including the Norse and I believe a Medieval Kingdom. This is the successor to the famous Mount and Blade Warband which is currently £14.99 on Steam. This isn’t your typical Western Medieval fantasy game, but it is more Eastern European inspired. Which is a refreshing change. The combat is hard, it’s realistic, and dangerous. It takes time to get used to the combat and you will fail. A lot. But losing is practice. You will get better at the end.

When you start this game, you’ll get to see an epic art-screen of the factions you choose. The Aserai are what stuck out to me:

Look at the cute camel!
The Persian Lion forges his own journey!

What an amazing experience this game has been in early access. I’ve been playing the Aserai and I seriously love this faction. I love that you can ransom bandits in taverns. I love the art design of the cities and the great armours. If you play as the Aserai, you must ally yourselves with the Khanate or get your armour from them. Also note: You’ll get taken by bandits every so often once your troops get tired or desert. You must constantly buy food and you get a lot of income from ransom. Be sure to smelt your captured swords. You get the ability to escape, but build a large army so you can wipe out the bandits every so often. They’re free real estate. Also note: Quests are small, and they are repeated often. More quests will be added onto this.

The Khanate has the best armour, the best weapons. But the worst infantry so far being as they are based on the Mongols. This games put you in charge of a warrior, where you have the ability to create your own backstory through several different options of story. Eventually, you complete quests, build your army, and become King of the whole world.

So far, since this is in early access, I have not gone to that level yet as I want to enjoy everything the game throws at me. The developers are consistently releasing new patches and new features, and the mods for this game will be fantastic. As a result, here’s my warrior named Ariobarnzes who is inspired by the Persian General, Ariobarzanes of Persis, who gave Alexander the Great a tough time. He is one of the Last Persians so to say.

The game’s graphics are a beauty to behold. Please note this is an early access review. So things will change at the time of the release. What I love about the game:

Excellent graphics of the world

Did they take inspiration from the Byzantines? 🙂

Great twist to the cities – they feel different and everywhere you go there is an different story.

Currently this is in beta, so there’s no quest, but an awesome addition so far.

Great campaign map emulating the recent total wars.
Battles are fun:

See my clan? The Lion!!!

Now on what can be improved:

I have an idea that Bannerlord is trying to go for an Assassin Creed Odyessy RPG element meets Total War meets Elder Scrolls online. Its a lot and this game is very ambitious. It’s what Total War should have evolved into. Some of my nitpicks are the following:

The cities themselves especially for the Aserai do feel a bit copy and paste. I do want more unique Aserai cities and more unique Aserai Castles with tiers to besiege. So you could have 4 levels of walls to defeat. I want my Aserai cities and castles to be bigger.

Quest wise: What we have is actually good story-writing, although the quests are small and often repetitive. The main quest itself is not complete, but I would want it to end with the tying of the end-game result. I want more story quests that emulate historical periods. I want quests that make me emotional. I want this game to have a Witcher 3 quest style branch. Heck, have 200 story quests. I don’t know about the inns and outs of modding, but it would be nice to have a steam workshop and a feature that allows you to create your own stories. Allow the community to create your own stories. Allow us to have some magic in this world.

Voice acting: The game needs voice actors in my opinion, and Talesworlds is a highly capable company of hiring some of the best actors in the showbiz. I am sure they can do this. Get some real celebrities or get the cast of Vikings! The current voice acting for the battles is awesome. NPCs need very good voice actors like in Kingdom Come Deliverance.

Battle wise: I am not a fan of all the blobbing that goes on and would prefer that units fight in matched animation synced combat or allow a more fluid system of Assassin Creed Odyessy and Origin’s combat.

I would also like if it we can enter houses and view the cities and castles from up-top. It is a visual beauty. There must be a photo-mode that must be made as well.

I would also love to see monuments and temples dotted around the world so you can visit. One of the reasons that Origins and Odyessy’s world felt so alive was because you could visit the monuments of heroes and gods. You could visit Oracles and mighty temples. I want the religion to be separate, so it’s more of a tourist attraction so to say. I want to see statures dedicated to heroes that fought in battles especially in the Aserai lands. I’d love to see tombs of famous kings – that you can visit.

The bandit hideouts need a total overhaul in my opinion as they really need an overhaul. As of now, it’s simply wiping two-three bandits, and there needs to be levels of which you can take them on. In terms of combat, I feel my warrior, Ariobarnzes takes too much damage. If he’s wearing heavy armour, I believe he should not get damage from low-tier units. Only heavy infantry should be able to do that damage. That will upscale the difficulty on a much larger level.

We should also have the ability to create our own guilds, our own secret brotherhoods. I, as Ariobarnzes, should be able to form an Assassin Brotherhood. These Assassins are loyal to me, and I can create their own stories. You can send Assassins on missions across the world, burying themselves in the world of politics, where you hear interesting reports. You can even kill leaders when your influence is so high that you can manipulate people to do your bidding. The NPC faces need an overhaul, and the flag banner needs a lot more features.

We should have the ability to change the colour of our armour as well. This would add so much. We should also have a certain feature where if certain units have done well, we can give them names and change the colour of their armours and weapon. This kind of features will add a long way into the campaign. Talesworlds should hire authors of historical fiction to write their story quests. Christian Cameron, Bernard Cornwell, Robert Kane, Giles Kristian, Daniel Kelly, to name a few.

Overall, this is a 10/10 from me. Enjoyable medieval simulation, but it needs a lot more features to make it more playable in the mid-stages. Allow us to form a republic, and many other sorts of different political institutions. Add in a Pope, add in a cardinal system, add religion, allow us to have more politics. Allow us to have a family tree and create more backstory. Let us also have options to add our own story quests, or allow us to fill the backstory or something like that.

I have enjoyed this game so much, that it is worth it. It is worth everything. My review is not complete as of yet. There will be more features and more modding tools added over time. So watch out again for a full review!

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