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September 2018

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Developer: TaleWorlds Entertainment
Release Date: 2018

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on July 5, 2016 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is a sandbox action-RPG strategy hybrid that takes players on a journey into a fictional world of up-close and personal medieval combat on a huge scale - bigger, bloodier and more intense than ever before.

One of my final appointments for E3 2016 was to check out Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord, the long-awaited sequel to the earlier Mount and Blade games. The title has been in development for some time now, and fans are finally getting more details on what has changed since the older games. For the purposes of my appointment, the focus was on sieging castles and all of the changes that go with that.

In the previous game, the siege mechanic was relatively simple: Siege a city with your army, wait for some time to pass, and the battle is triggered with the castle already set up for the siege. In Bannerlord, you must first spend the time outside of the siege to build your siege equipment, which includes ballista, catapults, ladder towers, trebuchets, rams, and others. You must decide which pieces of equipment to build, since there are pros and cons to each. Building equipment makes a siege easier, but it also takes more time, so you're exposed to any reinforcements that come to assist the castle.

Once the equipment is constructed, you don't need to immediately jump into the siege battle. As the siege continues, your equipment can damage castle walls and whittle down the defender's numbers. There's also a food system for your army and the castle, and both are shown as the number of days. It is possible to starve an enemy during a siege; it may prevent a battle from ever taking place, but it's also the riskiest due to the time that it takes.

For the most part, the battle is going to be the result of a castle siege. First, you can choose where to place your troops and your siege equipment. Once the battle starts, you can choose to man the equipment, so you can be the guy aiming and firing the catapult or simply the guy who loads it. Otherwise, your soldiers take over for all of the equipment that you place, and they use them to fight the enemy on the castle walls.

In the previous title, the battlements were the near-impenetrable bastion of defensive archers but not anymore. Siege equipment can break apart battlements, leaving the archers behind them completely exposed. That's not to say that archers haven't gotten some new things; due to the effects of gravity, an archer firing downward from an elevated position will now do more damage.

As the battering ram destroyed the exterior castle doors, the attacking force was able to make its way inside, but there was a second set of interior doors blocking further progress. The ram couldn't make it into these tight quarters, so the forces had to resort to using melee weapons to slowly break down the door. Above them was a murder hole, where archers and defenders with flaming pots awaited.

The player character hoisted one of the ladders to scale the castle wall. At this point, the Warband-style combat was on full display, with the player clashing against defenders with his broadsword, which becomes less useful in the tight quarters of the castle wall. After clearing the murder hole above the forces, all made their way to the courtyard. This time around, the AI was capable of making smart tactical choices, such as retreating forces into the castle keep. However, the keep battle wasn't shown, so I didn't get to see the result of this decision.

We also touched on other new aspects of Bannerlord. The after-action screen not only shows how many units on each side were killed but also how many kills per unit type, etc. Diplomacy has been expanded to allow for diplomacy options, such as trading a settlement with another vassal to marry his daughter or offering someone gold to betray their king. Such options will undoubtedly add much more depth to the title when compared to the previous games.

Finally, I asked about mod support. The new engine has been completely rewritten for Bannerlord, and one of the goals was to make mod support easier. Additionally, TaleWorlds will be releasing the same tools that it used to develop the game to the public, either simultaneously or within a couple months of the game's release. Most interestingly, they will also be releasing the game's source code. Between all of these, the mod community will have a lot to sink their teeth into.

There were a lot of things that the presentation didn't go over about Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord, such as the new map or factions. However, the improvements to siege battles alone are a significant improvement for the game, as are the new diplomacy options. Additionally, the mod support will be significantly improved. For fans of the original games, Mount and Blade 2 is shaping up to be well worth the wait.

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