Mount&Blade: Warband – The Verdict
An interview by the universe
It’s been fucking five months.
Yeah, I noticed.
So – what the hell?
I was busy. Er. Playing Spelunky? You should play Spelunky.
Did you even get round to playing Warband?
What prompted you to finish it now?
It’s on sale on Steam, and you should buy it. You still have time!
Oh. So now that you’ve had lots of time to think about it, maybe you can at least tell us what it is first?
It’s an RPG about horses and hats, largely. And swords and arrows and ladies and mercenaries and honey and villages and kingdoms. Or khanates, if you are so inclined. Despite what I said about hats last time, here they’re a reasonable addition to the game, as they’re mainly made out of metal.
Ladies? There weren’t any ladies in the original game besides the useless wives of the lords.
It’s not just the original game with added multiplayer. They’ve redone almost everything to some extent, not to mention all the additions. They’ve gone to lengths such as redefining how much happiness a jar of butter inspires in your soldiers. If you’re used to the vanilla M&B, the changes in the most minute details will strike you at times. It’s not often you see how difficult it is to balance a single-player game.
This might be a good time to remind you that there’s absolutely no point in buying the vanilla version of the game. There’s not one area where the original is better. Everything feels like a better thought-out game and they’re also heavily supporting the game. New, large patches are sent out every few weeks, even though the game is quite old. And unlike with The Creative Assembly, the patches don’t meant that the underlying product is broken.
I want ladies, not game balancing.
But yeah, ladies. It’s perhaps one of the most prominent, if also one of the least useful additions. Wives can serve as a secretary of state of sorts, but that appears to be it. Strictly no sex. Hilariously, when I married my in-game wife, her relationship to me got a severe hit and stayed at -14 until the end of the game. I’m actually rather happy that they didn’t give women a more strategic part in the game, as you generally don’t want those kinds of distractions in M&B.
Then again, you can now play the game as a female character, and it’s more than a cosmetic change. The game warns you that it’s actually a (mildly) sexist bastard and will treat you differently if you choose against beards.
Ladies are more boring than I hoped. Any war stories instead?
How convenient that you’d ask that. Let me walk you through a short period of one of my kingdoms.
Only three nations remain. The Khanate does not count as they hold no cities and most lords have been captured. The Rhodoks, despite their majestic spears (pervert), pose a minor threat with three cities close together and no easy access to my territory. The Sarranids are a different matter as i have never actually fought them for long. Can they keep up with our war machine? How will their mamlukes fare against our knights? Do they have any considerable super units that i don’t know about?
A far-away land until recently, both our and their conquests have now bound the borders of our nations. Minor skirmishes by bored lords over looted villages and attacked caravans have been raising the tension for a while. Open war is near. It’s just a matter of who mans up first.
The Sarranids invade. I lose three cities on the first day of the war. Fortunately I’m a sore loser and end the game, so I don’t get to see how I’m utterly murdered, probably to death.
Mine, yeah. Gone are the days of simple rebellions and the other kingdoms take upstarts relatively seriously now. It’s as you’d expect of course, with huge territories being increasingly difficult to maintain and control. In the end, I was losing as many castles to treason and my knights deserting me as to direct enemy action. Unfortunately, the mood of your knights and lords has more to do with your interpersonal relationships than the success of your kingdom. There’s also an annoying see-saw effect: if you get along well with one of your lords – say you give him a village – your relationship with the rest of your subjects will suffer.
So I found myself in an idiotic position where I didn’t want to designate rulers for my lands as my relationships would suffer too much. Besides pillaging, lands are the best source of income, so I was struggling to raise anything but very basic armies.
Fortunately that brings me back to the good parts of the game, as they’ve actually greatly streamlined the way you actually gather money from your lands. It was really satisfying to see that it’s now automatic, so you don’t have to travel from one side of the map to the other to get money from a few poor villagers. Mount & Blade: Warband officially features automatic horrors of feudalism!
Actual war stories, as opposed to this strategy nonsense? I want to kill men with sharp objects.
As I’m sure you will. While the battles have improved, they’re still somewhat basic and get repetitive after some time. But not more than other in most other action games! I really think they’re excellent, but could be much better. As of this iteration, they don’t make for wonderful war stories. You tend to try to single out enemies, kill them during short dogfights and then turn to the next. The fighting mechanics are still really fucking good and that’s what the game originally shot to fame with. It just puts any other medieval/fantasy game to shame. I’ve been playing Oblivion lately and it’s just completely pathetic in this regard.
Right. And that extends to Multiplayer?
Yes, it’s got multiplayer.
Yeah, but, you know, talk about it. This is supposed to be a comprehensive review.
Nay. I specifically decided not to talk about it at all besides saying that in my opinion, it’s different and excellent. If you want the details, go read other blogs or reviews. It’s all the web is talking about.
I’m a terrible salesperson. CAN YOU SEE? Telling people to go read other resources online. Sorry Chris.
I’m also out of ideas on how to end the revi