Review: Bannerlord butters up expectations

New medieval game worth seven-year wait


Courtesy of ‎TaleWorlds Entertainment.

After being in development for more than seven years, the medieval open-world sandbox game developed by Taleworlds Entertainment finally hit Steam in early access. It brings the same nostalgia as the original Mount and Blade Warband that makes it mind-shakingly phenomenal. The game however does falter from having bugs as it is not officially released. Gamers will still find that the Calradia, the continent in which the game takes place in, they have known for so long is still ripe for the taking.

Unlike other games, the Mount and Blade series has no story. Players can be whoever they want to be in this world. Gamers can be a bandit leader constantly harassing villages or a poor peasant who goes from having meager earnings to becoming a vassal of the kingdoms and having fiefs of their own. Some even mention a potential reunion of the split empire that once ruled the entire continent; however, players have to work to that goal either with or against the kingdoms.

The setting of the Bannerlord is during the fall of the Calradic Empire, split up into three factions which take heavy inspiration from late Roman Empire designs. To the far south are the Aserai, desert merchants who specialize in camel cavalry and versatile soldiers. To the west is Vlandia and Battania, with Vlandia taking inspiration from early medieval culture and Battania having a druidic-celtic inspiration. In the north there is Sturgia, which resemble the Russian Boyars of Earth and lastly is the Khuzaits, a nomadic steppe people who are more like the Huns than the Mongols. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses, which can lead to some factions dominating over others, but the game does its best to make sure to generate different outcomes.

Abbas Alazawi
“Mount and Blade Bannerlord gets 3 out of 5 stars for being an excellent early access title but faltering due to lack of polish and some terrible city battle artificial intelligence.”

The gameplay in Bannerlord is the same as it was in Warband, as gamers use their mouse to direct their attacks in a compass rose attack system. Attacks now feel meaty and pack a punch, landing a hit against an enemy makes players feel like they jammed a greataxe into a bandit’s shoulder as both players and enemies are covered in blood. The assortment of weapons and armor to try out, from spears and greatswords to leather armor and full plate. A new feature that has never been in the game is the crafting system. Effectively, players can make any kind of weapons they desire using different parts with their crafting skill. The higher the skill, the better the quality gear gamers can make, thus making it an investment to acquire large sums of gold.

Musical fidelity was not something Warband was known for, having roughly three songs for three different situations: travel, city and battle. Mount and Blade Bannerlord, however, has a larger assortment of tracks that all have a fantasy feeling to them. Traveling through cities with a typical bard song sets the tone well and battles feel intense with the bombastic orchestra playing in the background. Graphics are also an integral part of the game and Bannerlord are very promising. However there is an issue with frame-rate and stutters, but because the game is in early access this can be forgiven.

Bannerlord is not a revival of a series but more of a resurgence of it. Mount and Blade has been a popular game in the last seven years and Bannerlord will also be a game that continues this torch as the community creates mods and develops the finished product. Mount and Blade Bannerlord gets 3 out of 5 stars for being an excellent early access title but faltering due to lack of polish and some terrible city battle artificial intelligence.