Preview

Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword Preview (PC)

As great as Mount & Blade: Warband was as so-called 'sequel' (iffy) to the silent stunner that was the original Mount & Blade, it was really only an improved version of that base game, with a lot of elements remaining the same. TaleWorlds next game in the franchise however – With Fire and Sword, adds a whole lot of 'new' to the mix, along with an array of tweaks and enhancements that's shaping up to be another worthy addition to the series.

First off, It's important that you understand what Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword 'is'. Whilst it's got a few improvements over Warband, and a few extra little touches in terms of core mechanics, it's not strictly speaking a 'new' game in the franchise. With Fire and Sword was actually a spin off title made of the original Mount & Blade game, however that had only been released in Eastern Europe. Now, the same studio that made it (not TaleWorlds, incidentally, but they are involved), have brought the game into the Warband engine, touched it up a bit, and it's now being given a western European release.

 

It's important to keep this in mind, whilst there are many new elements to the game, a lot of things have remained the same, and a few things that Warband introduced are, in fact, absent. Marriages for example, are not present In this game, as are a few of the more intricate role-playing elements that Warband implemented. The danger With Fire & Sword, and indeed with the franchise as a whole now, is that the improvements are starting to come piecemeal and staggered, which diminishes the overall value of each individual title. But that's by no means happened yet, so there's still plenty of time for a Mount & Blade 2.

As we mentioned before, With Fire and Sword offers a brand new setting, this one based in history. Based off a popular Polish novel of the same name, this game actually takes place in Eastern Europe, with the playable factions being the Kingdom of Sweden, The Muscovite Tsardom (Russians), the Crimean Khanate, Poland itself, and a de facto 'rebel' Cossack faction fighting for its independence. Stretching from Moscow, to Warsaw, from Novgorod all the way down to the Crimea, the new location helps give off a feel that you're re-discovering the game all over again. TaleWorlds have added an actual element of story as well, with multiple 'endings' to a main quest line.

Aside from that, the basics are the same as ever. After a quick tutorial, you're dumped on a spot on the map and told to get on with it. Again, to help give you direction there's a number of starter quests you can do which introduce you to different aspects of the game, such as trade and combat, as well as sowing the seeds for future quests and plot lines.

There's some other changes to the game as well – mainly the way you recruit your army. Instead of being able to just go to any village and pick up peasants, you have to go to mercenary camps and recruit your units there. There's only a handful of them on the map, and they are located and themed upon the faction they're closest too. At these camps, not only can you hire what type of unit you want, you can also out-fit them with whatever weapons and armour you want, given you increased flexibility. You can also hire mercenaries in taverns much more cheaply, so between the two changes your armies can be more mixed and diverse.

Probably the biggest change though is the official inclusion of gunpowder weapons (Mods had previously included muskets and what have you in pat titles). These muzzle-loading muskets add a whole new dimension to the game play, which is not surprising given their historical impact on warfare, and you may even find getting used to the new weapons challenging, which is good. Firearms are given their own skill tree, and are harder to master than the bows and crossbows of the original game.

 

In addition to new weapons and tactics, the siege mechanics have also been improved. Whilst Ladders are still standard fair, you can also now blow big holes in the wall, or poison a stronghold's water supply. What's really going to make this game great though is the little things. Combat formations, improved multiplayer, the guns as we've already mentioned... even the fact that you can make a square mini-fort out of your wagons whilst on the move (Zulu-style), all these things add real character this version of the game, and help keep things interesting.

Thankfully, unlike Warband, this is not being priced as a full sequel, so there's added value to offset this incremental update to the franchise. As TaleWorlds gets more and more experienced, and hopefully get more and more money, this game is only going to get better and better. Sure, eventually they'll probably want to make something else, but until then, we look forward to With Fire and Sword and what the future holds.

Most Anticipated Feature: We've played some multiplayer, and we can't wait to play it again with more populated servers and matches.

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Comments

By Gyorn (SI Core) on Apr 06, 2011
Gyorn
Sounds interesting :)
However i find it strange they didnt include stuff present in Warbands like mariages. If the games using the same basic code it shouldnt be to hard to do...

I would also like to add that Warband was quite cheap, too. IIRC i got it for 30€ (im not sure how long after release).
By Nicolas19 (SI Core Veteran) on Apr 06, 2011
Nicolas19
My thoughts exactly. The added features of Warband will be missed in any upcoming instalment.
By BoneArc (SI Elite) on Apr 06, 2011
BoneArc
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTT

dude ive been waiting for this For AWHILE !

man im Still playing Mount and blade and Mount and blade warband , Both cause some mods require the Normal Version...
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Apr 07, 2011
SirRoderick
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTT

Damn, I thought I'd never see a western release!

And TBH, all those Warband things like marriages? Used them once. I don't care about that. I care about the fighting and the RPG elements.
By lacki2000 (SI Member) on Apr 11, 2011
lacki2000
OMG I want to see polish winged hussars in action!
By unsilviu (SI Core) on Apr 12, 2011
unsilviu
I've never played mount and blade, is it any good for an RPG wacko? That is, does it have dialogue/story/something of that ilk?
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Apr 12, 2011
SirRoderick
There is, but that's really not why you play it. While the statistics and skills side of the RPG coin is extremely well done, the story is nonexistent. You make your own story, that's the point of the game really.

You can join a number of kingdoms as a vassal or mercenary, you can build up a trade network, you can be a bandit/raider and hold up caravans, you can start your own kingdom........

The combat is absolutely fantastic and the best part of the game.

You can get a trial version here: http://www.taleworlds.com/

Try it and see for yourself, always the best idea. Also keep in mind that the game has dozens, nay, hundreds of mods. Which can be found on their forums.
http://forums.taleworlds.com/index.php

Give the trial a try and see if you like it!
By unsilviu (SI Core) on Apr 12, 2011
unsilviu
Thanks a lot for the input, SirRoderick.
By Gyorn (SI Core) on Apr 12, 2011
Gyorn
Its not your regular RPG, just like SirRoderick said theres no story (at least with Warband). Its a sandbox game, giving you all the posibilities without nudging you down a certain path. Kind of like the games developed by Paradox (EU, CK, HoI, Vic...) or maybe a bit like Minecraft. Theres no way to 'win'.
You should definately give it a try, i think its a great game :)
By Knave (SI Core) on Apr 12, 2011
Knave
I will add my voice to the chorus and say that Warband is one of my favourite games.

Was a beta tester for both the original Mount & Blade and Warband and am looking forward to playing this one as well.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Apr 12, 2011
SirRoderick
I only wish there was a decent gunpowder mod for Warband.
By Zvezdalina (SI Veteran Member) on Apr 14, 2011
Zvezdalina
This is quite an interesting supplement to the Mount & Blade serial. Only that they maintain the same quality, and the fans will be satisfied. :-)