Oh, man, was I excited when I got the chance to play the demo of Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord on the E3 Show held in Los Angeles this year. It all went quickly through my mind; how the original release in 2012 was an unpolished, but fantastic game. How the sequel was announced FIVE years ago, and TaleWorlds have been quiet about it ever since and how I expected a lot from their latest action RPG. The good news is that the demo kept up to my expectations, so let’s take a look at the way the developers presented epic medieval battles in Mount & Blade 2.
The First Demo Started a Bit Slow
We played a total of three different PC demos at E3, and the first one was there to heat things up a bit. It was nothing but a tutorial that explained us controls of the melee combat. We were put on a map and placed in a fight to the death with a bunch of other soldiers, while Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord explained us our moves.
The attacks that you can perform depend on the weapon you use. For example, you can slash your sword by dragging either left or right, do a stab by dragging down while pressing the left button of the mouse and dragging up will do an overhead strike. Depending on the weapon you choose you will have a different arsenal of moves. You don’t have to use only swords; for example, there are also spears in Mount & Blade 2.
Shields up If You Want to Protect Yourself
On the defensive end, you can use directional blocking, but the shields still do a better job of protecting you on the battlefield. Even if you happen to miss the direction in which you want to perform a block, you probably won’t get hurt at once, but your armor will suffer a bigger blow. That looks pretty realistic on the Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord battlefield.
The next thing we tried in the demo is throwing axes. That moved things from the close up to ranged combat, and it was very satisfying to inflict some damage from afar. It’s pretty simple to use the ax; you merely press the attack button when the reticle is located above your enemy. You should be careful when using your ax because the enemy can block it with a shield.
Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord Battle Runs Smooth
If you are a new M&B player, it might take some time until you adjust to the combat system. On the other hand, if you’ve played previous installments, you know what to expect. Once you get the grip of how things work, you will find yourself performing some cool moves, such as hitting two people at once with a slash right after you blocked an axe coming your way.
The controls are responsive, and everything works smoothly in Mount & Blade II. The thing I liked is that it’s not all about hacking and slashing, you also need a dose of tactics aside from insanely clicking the buttons. The damage system is improved, and it now considers different factors, such as weight distribution. That practically means that the same type of hit won’t inflict the same amount of damage to the opponent every time, but the results vary.
Let’s Take Things One Step Further
The next demo allowed us to see a truly epic medieval battle unfolding on the screen. We were placed in the shoes of a commander wielding a sword while leading his army to victory. Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord allows you to send your units wherever it fits your tactics, but it also places you right in the middle of the fight. It’s an incredible feeling when riding a horse and leading an army into a battle to the death. You are in the core of the combat, which is much better than other RPG games where you feel like you are sitting on the sidelines despite the fact you are commanding an army.
There is a bunch of different moves you can order your units to perform. You can split them into two groups or merge them, order a lighting attack or ask them to form a defensive shield wall. Mount & Blade 2 solves the controls in a nifty way, allowing you to directly perform those orders by clicking a single button to avoid it influencing your performance on the battlefield.
Do You Prefer to Command or Wield Your Sword?
M&B2: Bannerlord also gives you the option to allow your units make independent choices and focus on killing as many opponents as possible. Fortunately, the AI factor that comes into play here does an excellent job. The developers claimed that they analyzed some of the most famous battles in history to ensure that the behavior of the units on the battlefield is realistic.
One would imagine that wielding your sword and riding a horse at the same time is tricky and that is something that Mount & Blade 2 faithfully replicates. There’s so much you have to do; you need to slow down the pace of your horse, make sure to turn it properly to find the right angle and time the attack so that you actually inflict some damage to the enemy.
Unfortunately, riding a horse saw us feeling frustrated on more than one occasion. It seems that, even when you manage to land a hit, the opponent doesn’t suffer significant damage, which is why we soon focused on battling on foot. There’s still time for the developers to iron out this issue and we hope they will do that.
Control the Entire Army or Just a Portion of It
Aside from being the general commander, you can also control just a section of the army on the battlefield. That changes the things drastically because you need to follow the orders of the top command while making sure everything goes your way.
Unfortunately, this is the first time when AI messed up. We let the commands, and that led to many deaths of our soldiers because AI believed that the best tacticwas to attack the enemy at close range, leaving us pretty vulnerable.
We hope that the final version of Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord will solve these issues. On the bright side, we got to see archers in action, and they looked kind of cool with pointing out their arrows, despite the fact that the configuration only allowed them to shoot to their left.
Oh, My Lord! Lords Are There in Mount & Blade II
Aside from regular soldiers, you will notice that some of them wear special dresses. These are so-called Lords, which should represent figures of power worth respecting and keeping alive. We still don’t know for what reason because it remained unclear, but they should play a role in the final edition of Mount & Blade 2.
The Perfect Combo of Action and Strategy
Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord is shaping up to have everything that you can expect from an epic medieval battle. It combines the elements of action of dropping you right into the core of the combat with the strategy element of commanding your troops (or executing the commands of your superior). All in all, we expect a lot from the release.
Unfortunately, there is no set release date for Mount & Blade 2 yet. We are glad that the game is much more close to the final version that in 2012 when it was first announced and TaleWorlds should publish it soon. Our estimation is that the release of the full version will be by the end of 2017. Looking forward to it!