Mount & Blade: Warband Preview (PC)

Mount & Blade was one of the silent stunners of 2008. A quaint little game, the fantasy-based medieval sandbox title was a breath of fresh air. The fact that it also came from a little known indie developer gave off a ‘rags to riches’ feel that just made the game appealing to a fairly wide audience. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but considering its origins, it did a damn sight better then games from more high-profile studios.

Now the drums of war are stirring once again, and developer TaleWorlds has taken on board all of the feedback and criticism of the original, and packed it all into an expansion titled Mount & Blade: Warband. There are several new elements coming to the game that should enhance and improve gameplay. Whilst on the one hand these all look impressive, and are definitely needed to improve the game, there is little major new content here, so some of the more finicky amongst you may bemoan that fact.

The biggest update is the inclusion of a fully integrated multiplayer mode. This is something that was sorely lacking from the last game, and its inclusion is welcome. Similar to the skirmish mode that was available before; two teams simply battle it out for supremacy on a map, whether it be normal or a siege map. Teams can be up to 32 people, so this should lead to carnage on an epic scale. There are various game modes (battle, conquest, siege etc...) and there is a basic equip system where you earn gold to buy upgraded weapons and armour.

With any luck, this mode alone should garner new interest in the game, as there’s nothing we like more than massive scale online battles. Any ‘gaps’ on the rosters are filled by bots, and like the single player version, you should be able to give them commands. At the moment, the multiplayer is in a beta phase, and the AI still needs some work done to it, but it’s shaping up nicely. Something that’s being worked on for both single and multiplayer is combat, with a more streamlined system as well as new combat animations that TaleWorlds used motion capture technology to produce.

Speaking of single player, that mode is also getting some love. New factions, a larger map and more units will enhance the current gameplay. Politics and Conspiracies have also been given a revamp as part of the improved role-play section. They’ve even included a ‘marriage’ feature, whereby you can marry one of the noble women you see scattered about the land. Unfortunately, this is only working for male characters at present, as it may be too hard to implement for female avatars due to technical reasons. Your ‘wives’ will inhabit your halls, and will manage things whilst you are gone. Previously, you would have to visit the castle or towns you controlled every so often in order to continue their development, but now your spouse should be able to handle bits of that for you.

The previous criticism of ‘bland’ dialogue has also been addressed, with a wider range of responses and options, as well as a more intuitive system. You really have to pay attention to what people say, and the AI has been improved so that eventually things like ‘sweet talking’ will stop working, especially if you act differently to different people.

Probably the most important single player addition however is the ability to create and run your own faction. Previously it was up to the modders to include this feature, but now its being officially supported in the main game, and those of you who thirsted for the ultimate power will certainly be satisfied here.

Gameplay aside, the graphics are also getting a major overhaul. Improved textures and graphics, as well as the inclusion of HDR lighting will definitely give this game a more competitive edge when it comes to what’s available. Graphics was one of the main criticisms levied against this game, so it’s good to see that being worked on.

All in all, Warband is shaping up to be the game that Mount & Blade should have been all along. We’ll probably have to wait for a sequel in order to see anything truly new or extraordinary, but the current changes should prove enough to entertain us for a while yet. To be fair, this game was already decent despite its flaws, and with the enhanced features it can only get better.

Mount & Blade: Warband is due out for release sometime during Q1 of 2010.

Game advertisements by <a href="" target="_blank">Game Advertising Online</a> require iframes.


By moozaad (SI Newbie) on Oct 05, 2009
yay \o/
By Nicolas19 (SI Core Veteran) on Oct 07, 2009
Mount&Blade is one of the most original and engaging games of recent years, can't wait for the expansion!
By Dark_Templar (SI Veteran Newbie) on Oct 10, 2009
im looking forward to the expansion! :D
By desetnik15 (SI Member) on Oct 12, 2009
can't wait for expansion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
By pin70 (I just got here) on Nov 25, 2009
i cant wait for it!! i love this game, best war game simulator ever!!!!!!!!!!
By PipBoy3000_v2 (SI Core Member) on Nov 29, 2009
Me too!