Review

Mount & Blade: Warband Review (PC)

The original Mount & Blade released in 2008 was a true testament to how a studio doesn't need a big budget to do great things. The debut title of a small band hailing from Turkey, Mount & Blade's refreshingly realistic game play and sandbox style world, for me, made it one of the more remarkable games of the year.

First announced in January 2009, Mount & Blade Warband is the sequel to Mount & Blade, and players once again find themselves returning to the war-torn realm of Calradia to make a name for themselves. The five major factions return, along with a sixth based off the medieval Islamic kingdoms. If ever there was a studio where you could never levy the charge of not listening to its fan base, it would be Taleworlds. Nearly every problem the original had seems to have been addressed, and a ton of new content has been added to make this one of the not-so silent stunners of 2010.


For king and country!
Mount & Blade 3: Having babies. You know you want to...

One of the front-runners of the new changes has to be the inclusion of a fully integrated online multiplayer, along with enhanced skirmish features. One of the main problems with the original game is that there was really only the main game, and that was it. Despite it being a sandbox title with many options, things could easily get stale for the less hardcore audiences, and so there was not much else to do. A limited skirmish mode was added later on, but that only had preset match types and so eventually those got old too.

In Warband, players can get stuck into 64-player multiplayer madness, with a range of map types and set ups. Provided your game isn't marred by any kind of connection troubles, these matches are a lot of fun. Think of all the joy a major pitched battle gives you in the main game, except that everyone is controlled by someone. Sure, it pretty much throws strategic thinking out of the window because no-one's in charge, but since you're all working towards the same thing, who cares?

At the start of each match you get to choose whether to be Infantry, Cavalry or Archer, and you get some starting money to kit yourself out in. As you defeat opponents, you get more money with which to buy better gear. The only thing that annoyed us was that, in some modes, when you die that's it - you have to wait for the next round. Kind of annoying if it happens straight away or the match happens to last forever... but I guess the moral of that story is not to suck, and you'll be fine!


Sieges are still fun, and still costly.
A diverse unit base allows for many tactics against your enemies.

Apart from the multiplayer mode, the rest of the changes have gone into single-player. The world map has been completely revamped to the point where it's not recognisable at all, and as mentioned above all the major players are back, plus a new nation with its own unit tree. Sadly, there's been no updates to the existing faction's unit trees, which would have been nice, but to be honest the adage 'if it isn't broke, don't fix it' applies pretty well there.

Asides from a graphical overhaul, the majority of improvements have gone into the meta-games and RPG elements. The 'political' nature of the world has been vastly improved, with an end-game feature of you creating your own faction and convincing lords to join you. There's also things like marriages, for both male and female avatars, and you can still topple the ruler of a faction, either through civil war or a coup. The dialogue has also been improved - it's less wooden and more intuitive, and sometimes it really pays off to pay attention to what people say. There's also a wider variety of quests, just about, but to be honest in a sandbox environment it can be hard to keep generating brand new things to do all the time, so there is still some slight repetition there.

The one thing that strikes me about this game though, is that it's essentially the same game, just improved. That seems a little bit obvious when said out loud, but remember that this has been touted as the sequel to Mount & Blade, and yet it doesn't really 'feel' like one. Perhaps it's the fact that you're essentially repeating the same story, or the fact that the game world itself hasn't really 'changed' in the sense that there's been a passage of time. Whatever it is, you get this strong nagging sense of déjà vu wherever you go because, really, you have played this game before, almost exactly this game.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing - but in all honesty this seems more like Mount & Blade 1.5 than a true sequel. Perhaps the PR went one bridge too far, but we think that it was a more fitting description to call it the 'stand-alone expansion' back when it was first announced. We would go as far to say that this is the game the original Mount & Blade should have been, and the only really negative thing about that is it pretty much invalidates the first game completely. Seriously, there's really no reason to play the original one now, as the two are so similar, and Warband is a clear improvement.


Mounted Combat is still at the forefront of this title.
Even the environments have been given an overhaul.

Like it's predecessor however, Warband still isn't perfect, although this game's flaws are a little more disappointing. Whilst the original game was merely 'limited' in the sense that it was from a small starting studio, the end product was actually fairly polished. Not so in this game - it's unfortunate, but sometimes you can't help but feel that the game was a bit 'rushed', as some of the bugs are so glaringly obvious. At one point, during a conversation between my avatar and two other people, there was a note embedded in the dialogue that said 'Camera panning not working at the moment', in order to explain why I could only see one person even though two were talking. We don't know about you, but that just seems a little off to me.

It's like we said in our preview - Warband is a huge improvement over the original game, but we'd have to wait for a sequel in order to see anything really new and exciting (aside from multiplayer I guess)... the only problem is though, is that this IS the sequel, apparently. It's slightly misleading, but then the description pretty much confirms it's the same game anyway. If you loved the original, you'll love this, and I'd recommend it to new audiences as well. A highly-addictive, realistic and immersive game for you to get involved with. Now all they need to do is fix the camera panning.

Top Game Moment:
Hard to say, both Multiplayer and Single player can have some really epic moments in them.

Comments

By Croulder (I just got here) on Apr 13, 2010
Croulder
Best game ever
By V4ndall (SI Veteran Member) on Apr 13, 2010
V4ndall
An epic triumph of independant game producion!
By steven101x1 (SI Member) on Apr 13, 2010
steven101x1
Decent game
By Nicolas19 (SI Core) on Apr 13, 2010
Nicolas19
Was a great game on it's own right, still is. Most of the improvements could be found in mods- sometimes better implemented than here. Some mechanics broken, some are fine, definitely needs a few months of patching. Single player was obviously neglected for the MP. A bit overrated at 9.1 (you shouldn't encourage unfinished games like that), but would recommend it to anyone nonetheless.
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on Apr 14, 2010
JustCommunication
Our score was actually 8.5/10.

The box seems to be a bit iffy at the moment, but basically the final score is a combination of our score, press scores (if any) and the user review score.

So in regards to "encouraging an unfinshed game", you have only yourselves to blame :P
By bodo008 (SI Newbie) on Aug 27, 2010
bodo008
I have play (few minutes) the first release but haven't addicted/catch me enough.
Is there any chance that this new release to give me the reason to play it for more?
I think, first, I will play much more Mount&Blade, giving the second chance before to take the decision to buy the Warband. Am I thinking right?
By jolie72 (SI Newbie) on Jan 14, 2014
jolie72
Top Gaming Website
http://www.icoregames.net