With the recent release of gameplay footage at PC Gamer’s Weekender event, the hype for Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord is growing and growing. That being said, it has been three years since the last full release of a Mount & Blade game so what can we ascertain from the latest video regarding the big changes to expect? Here’s our full breakdown.
Let’s start with the world map. While it only appeared in glimpses throughout the video, we did get a look at how the world map may appear upon full release. The old familiar font above towns and camps remains, but apart from that, everything looks much more detailed. There is a lot of foliage now, with the trees looking more realistic than in previous games. The rivers now resemble water too; in the previous Mount & Blade games, water looked like paint and was surprisingly angular, but in Bannerlord, it looks like it might actually be the liquid it claims to be.
The character models are also refurbished, although the animations for moving across the map still look oddly jerky. This isn’t a final build, though, so there is a good chance Taleworlds will change some of these little quirks before release.
The character creation element looks vastly improved upon by all accounts. In the previous Mount & Blade games, players chose from a selection of truly horrendous faces and hairstyles and there was some (but not much) flexibility in making your character look unique. However, in Bannerlord, there are a multitude of customization sliders, offering much freedom in creating a character.
One of the new features is facial animation, meaning characters will now be able to react and show emotion rather than being the static, uncaring, fish-eyed monsters of old. The video showed examples of how in-depth you can get with your characters by parading their attempts at making famous faces. Most were guessable (Putin and Einstein were pretty spot-on) although there were a few were less obvious. Still, it is a long way from the less than gorgeous characters of old Mount & Blade.
Towns (and what to do in them)
Towns have been changed up in parts but largely seem unchanged from what we’ve seen in previous games. The menu upon entering a town or settlement appears to be very similar in terms of options (tavern, visit a lord, etc.), so no hints there at any new content.
Walking around the towns themselves seems to be a lot livelier now, with NPCs actually seeming more individual rather than the previous Mount & Blades’ collective hive mind that could only answer as if reading from a fact sheet. The devs in the video mention ‘private enterprise’, which sounds like the option in Warband to build your own businesses in cities such as dyeworks and breweries.
Another new feature demonstrated was crime. Towns now have criminals who run parts of the area as their own. You can choose to kill them and take their place if you fancy yourself a crime lord, or you can simply clear them out and leave some trusted men behind to gain the respect and trust of the town and its lord.
The combat has always been one of Mount & Blade’s greatest strengths, and this does not look like changing come Bannerlord. Action looks very solid with the improvements made to the models’ ragdoll physics. Sword swings look hefty and hitting an enemy in the face with an axe gives a nice bit of blood spurt; it’s perfect for capturing that feeling of being on the ground and midst the chaos.
The AI has also seen a substantial upgrade, meaning the orders you give to your army are not as clunkily-enacted as they used to be. At one moment in the video, an enemy lord decides to move his troops to higher ground and remain there in response to the player’s larger army. This level of intelligence from the AI gives the combat a stronger tactical feel and will definitely be something to look out for come release time.
Overall then, it would seem Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord is bringing a host of improvements and new ideas to the table and it will be interesting to see more teased by the team at Taleworlds.
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This post was originally written by Robert Priest.