Mount and Blade 2 Bannerlord Review

The long awaited revamp of the Mount and Blade series, Mount and Blade 2 Bannerlord promised to revitalise the 11 year old Mount and Blade Warband title which provided fans with thousands of hours of epic medieval warfare and feudal lifestyle.

New Features

Bannerlord added many features which brought the medieval theme of the world to fruition. Proper siege engines, new command controls, new siege mechanics, more capable AI, and more.

Changes Being Covered

  • Larger battles
  • More unit controls
  • Better, more immersive towns with evident culture and themes
  • Gangs
  • Bartering
  • Weapon forging and recycling
  • Clan management
  • UI overhaul
  • Player owned Caravans
  • Siege weapons
  • New inventory system
  • Early Access Bugs

Larger Battles

In the previous titles large battles were something that could only be achieved by going into the config files yourself and changing the value. Let me tell you it didn’t really satisfy. Mostly because of the incredibly basic unit controls which we will get into in a bit.

The default battle size is 500 troops which is plenty in most situations. The largest battle I have ever been a part of in the campaign was a whopping 800 troops on the field at a time. Let me tell you something. It was awesome.

The sheer scale of the battle with volleys of javelins and arrows raining on the enemy and your friendly troops was amazing. It was truly a spectacle. Seeing as how battles and conflict are one of the major aspects of the game it is only fitting that this title would offer such large scale battles not to mention the next improvement, unit control.

Unit Control

In the previous title Warband which preceded Bannerlord by over a decade the controls for your units were minimal. The extent of the controls were go here, follow me, spread out, stand closer, and charge. Seems like alot but it really wasn’t. Upon the start of the battle all of your troops would charge out not allowing you time to assess the terrain for the best possible avenue of attack or defense. This gave minimal control over your troops on the battlefield.

With Bannerlord, you have all of the features that were in Warband and then some! The added facing command allows you to properly align your troops to an incoming attack, taking the brunt of a cavalry charge and so forth. Along with the basic movement commands there are now formation commands which allow even more tactical and advantageous deployment of your troops.

Your troops can now form into different formation types in order to combat different foes.

Line: your default formation where troops will for a line of different ranks depending on unit size.

Shield Wall: Troops will hold shields and form a tight line to defend against incoming arrows or to hold the line.

Circle: Troops form a circle of different rows depending on unit size. Great for defending against mounted cavalry.

Square: Another defensive troop formation which offers protection on all sides. Primarily for cavalry defense.

Skein: A cavalry formation wherein horses form a “V” shape to maximise the effects of their charge.

Column: A great mobility formation which allows rapid formation of a square in the event enemy cavalry is encountered.

Loose: Troops will spread out to minimize chances of being hit by enemy missiles. Not effective against enemy infantry or cavalry.

These formation additions are a very welcome addition to the Mount and Blade series and if I were to go back to the previous versions of the game they would be desperately missed. It satisfies my love of battle and tactics and troop management.

Better Towns

The towns in previous releases of the Mount and Blade series were bland and uninteresting. Now towns are lively and rich with culture and atmosphere.

Tavern keeper overseeing his guests.

Cities offer insight into the local culture. In the taverns you can hear the local music and can tell the difference between the different kingdoms.

A musician plays the local cultural music in the tavern hoping to get lucky with the two enchanted women watching.
The city of Onora under the Kingdom of Sturgia. Notice how the city traverses on the mountain top.

The beautiful landscape of the cities and how the buildings are designed in them makes this even more entertaining and immersive than previous game releases.

To add to that fire there are gangs and crime.

Gangs

In the cities all over Calradia you will come across gangs which control different parts of the cities. These gangs are criminals and tend to make things a little sour in the towns and cities they occupy.

A cave in Onora which this group of gang members calls home.

It is up to you if you want to take these boyos out and claim the territory for yourself. After you successfully claim it and defend it you could then impose your own gang, leaving behind one of your companions to watch over things.

A brilliant touch to the game which only elevates the complexity of the worlds economy and not to mention the effects of your actions. Because if you go about taking gang territory the leader of that gang will not be to happy with you.

Bartering

This mechanic is purely awesome. You can now go to any lord or party and barter for goods, horses you name it! Whatever the lord has in their inventory you could very well offer money or other goods to trade for them. Not only that but the barters system also can save your head.

Looters and other nasty parties might just spare you your life and not drink from your skull if you offer enough coin. You could be a cheeky little devil and offer a rival lord all of the goods in your inventory in exchange for their gold.

If they accept, they won’t have money, they won’t be able to pay their troops wages, they will leave, and you will be able to take out the small party that is left.

Weapon Forging

You can craft weapons! The system doesn’t lend itself to readily however. You can begin crafting weapons immediately but you will only have access to a limited amount of pieces. As you smelt weapons you collect from battles down you unlock more pieces allowing more diverse and different combinations of weapons.

The weapons can be modified by using the size slider which in turn changes the stats below. A larger blad will do more cut damage but in exchange for handling or swing speed. You will also need to gather necessary resources in order to craft such weapons which you can see on the bottom.

The red numbers above the item show how much of that resource will be used when forging the weapon. The refine tab on top allows you to take raw materials and make them into better materials. For example refining hardwood into charcoal and iron ore into crude iron and so on.

Your smithing skill will increase as you do these operations and that will also change the final product for better or for worse.

Clan Management

I find the clan management to be exceptional. In the window you can see the different followers or companions. You can see your expenditures and your income. You can see the tier that your clan is which is very important.

The Clan tab. This is my streaming character which I stream live on twitch.

This menu not only shows in my opinion the improved UI that they have made but also the details you can get. Member tab shows you the members,

The parties tab will display active parties. At Clan tier 2 you are able to make another party which is in command of one of your companions. They will gather more troops and go around defeating looters for you. Essentially a medieval cleaning service to get rid of all of the undesirables.

Fiefs tab shows you all of the towns, castles, cities and villages you own. This character at the moment does not own any yet.

The Other tab shows information regarding income. You will see the list of shops and caravans you own and you can also see how much each one is making. This also allows you to sell the workshop or change what it is producing without having to go to the location which might very well be on the other side of Calradia.

UI Overhaul

They vastly improved the ui in my opinion. Information is readily available at a glance and offers quick and easy insight into how you are doing.

The UI when entering a town.

This UI above shows detailed information about the town you are visiting. At the top you can see the NPC’s which might offer quests. Going to the keep and tavern will show similar information of people who are there. No longer are the days where you have to go to the keep to see if a noble person is there or not. Just take a peek and go.

Not only that but you can even click on them directly and choose to talk to them instead of having to walk the entire way in order to complete a quest or just get information.

Player Owned Caravans

Talking to one of the merchants in the towns will allow you to create a caravan at the expense of 15,000 denars. Once created you send one of your companions to lead it on its trade gathering and hopefully lucrative journey. The caravans have the opportunity to be quite lucrative however it takes a bit of time.

As they go around gathering information about the trades, they will then begin to show profits which can fluctuate depending on local markets. I am going off of presumption that if they caravan leader has a good trade skill you will see better returns. Can’t forget you also need to pay the wages of the caravan gaurds.

Siege Weapons!

Yes yes yes yes yes yes. Siege weapons. Catapults, onagers, trebuchets, ballistas and battering rams. All of them. Not to mention the siege towers.

When you go to siege a town or castle you can choose to build different siege engines which take time to build. Firstly you have to build the siege camp which takes time and then the building of the different weapons comes. However during this time the enemy is also building siege weapons which in turn can attack your siege weapons before the battle even starts.

I have had the problem of building a siege camp but by the time I am able to make a catapult the enemy castle has already built two ballistas which demolish my catapult or trebuchet before I can even use it. Tragic.

I suppose one way would to lead an assault the moment it is finished. However the siege weapons aren’t used without consequence. Any damage done to the city or castle has to be repaired.

The controls of the weapons are not very evident. Whether or not you hold down the left mouse button for further targets, I have no idea as it isn’t readily available in the game. Just letting the AI operate the siege weapons seems to do the trick nicely.

New Inventory System

Finally. Instead of the unrealistic slot inventory system inventory is now based on weight. Soldiers and spare mounts provide more and more carry weight. Not to mention more horses and spare mounts will improve your parties movement speed.

There really isn’t much else to say about the inventory system other than it is one of my favourite changes.

Early Access Bugs

Its EA and we can be kind of forgiving. The game upon release was full of exploits like not having to pay for troop upgrades by switching menus after upgrading instead of hitting done. Things like that have been patched since then and frankly its a good thing.

In a couple of months I guarantee that some of these mechanics won’t be the same. That’s how EA goes. With an increased sample size of thousands if not millions of people going to play the game and send their feedback and bug reports the game will change. Hopefully for the better. I am confident it will be for the better.

Unlike No Mans Sky which did not deliver on its promises, Bannerlord in my opinion has. The features they said were going to be in actually made it into the game.

Let me know what you think about the game. And if you are keen on watching some live gameplay check out my live stream here.

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