Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is an intricate feudal relationship simulator set in a dynamic sandbox world dominated by six medieval kingdoms roughly analogous to cultures from our personal. It options massive-scale battles, deep character customisation, action-based melee and ranged fight (on horseback or afoot), a dwelling, respiration financial system, and a way of development so highly effective it may be exhausting to place down. Translation: think about the Machiavellian interpersonal toy field of Crusader Kings mixed with the crunchy fight from Chivalry, with battles on a Complete Conflict scale, underpinned by Skyrim’s RPG mechanics.
Obtainable on PC in early entry since 2020, Bannerlord has lastly seen a full 1.0 launch and made the soar to console within the course of. It is the identical unimaginable recreation, and the place it counts (in fight), the transition to controller feels implausible. With the DualSense, you’re feeling the thunder of your horse’s hooves and the impression of the lance when it strikes residence, skewering whichever unlucky footman simply occurred to catch the enterprise finish.
Bannerlord is not the sort of recreation you “end”; slightly, it is the sort of self-led exploration you’ll be able to lose your self in, and one that’s uniquely ripe for medieval roleplay (in case you’re into that sort of factor). It ditches the fantastical setting of comparable titles, and there are not any goblins or elves to be discovered right here.
You start by creating a personality, deciding the place they got here from and what their upbringing was like, which has every kind of mechanical implications, none of which can lock you into anyone vocation. It is like selecting a beginning class in Darkish Souls in that regard; extra of a course than a directive. From there, you’ll have the chance to have interaction in a frankly lacklustre tutorial and have some exposition projected at you earlier than you might be let unfastened within the bigger world, with little or no to information you.
Instantly, you may be assailed by the sport’s UI, which is straight up simply actually unhealthy. The transition from PC could not have been simple, and the Mount & Blade sequence is very PC in its nature, spawning a cottage trade of fantastic mods in its personal proper. And whereas it is all manageable, and you set up with it, the convoluted approach Bannerlord conveys data to the participant might very effectively be a dealbreaker for some.
As you roam across the overworld, you’ll encounter individuals going about their lives; farmers taking produce to market, caravans transporting items between cities, lords patrolling with their retinues, and outlaws preying on the weak. You might be free to have interaction with all of them nevertheless you see match, however there are actual penalties to your actions, and you might be so very, very weak proper now.
Slaughter the farmers, take their items, push the bandits out and inhabit their haunts. Or, type your personal caravan, purchase low, promote excessive, and spend money on native companies with a purpose to flip a revenue. Work as a mercenary, promoting your sword for gold and renown, and go away your scruples on the door. Or woo a rich girl (or lord), be part of the road of inheritance, and grow to be an individual of means the old school approach.
No matter you do, you’ll rank up related abilities by participating in that exercise in a really Skyrim trend. Swinging swords will, in flip, make you higher at swinging swords, and you’ll earn highly effective perks at expertise milestones, a lot of which might profit your total occasion. As you stage up and purchase fame and fortune, you’ll be able to collect a retinue of warriors round you, recruited from any close by native village or bustling metropolis. By incomes renown on the gore-soaked battlefield and fascinating in ever-escalating skirmishes, combating in pitched battles, and fascinating in brutal sieges, you’ll be able to grow to be a lord in your personal proper, replete with your personal fort and feudal fief, and from there a king, and even emperor.
Whereas it is the strategic overworld we discovered to be most engrossing, what with the amassing and administration of our many lands, the bombastic, monstrously massive battles are positively the star of the present right here. Undeniably epic, they seize the exhilaration, claustrophobia, and confusion of a pre-gunpowder pitched battle higher than every other recreation we have ever performed. Sport of Thrones comparisons are trite however sadly apt on this case; assume The Battle of the Bastards, the place the quarters are typically so shut there is not even room to swing a weapon, and also you’re heading in the right direction.
Fight is easy however insanely satisfying. Basically, you’ll be able to slash, stab, and strike with a given weapon (relying on the course you are transferring), kick an enemy to throw them off steadiness, or bash them along with your defend to supply a gap, and that is actually it. The genius is that each AI opponent on the battlefield has the very same moveset, and each motion has actual weight. Which means even in case you’re at a excessive stage, decked out within the most interesting plate gold can purchase, a decided sufficient group of peasant spearmen can convey you down by means of sheer weight of numbers, like a pack of wolves overwhelming a noble stag.
There may be a lot else we might go into, the various and myriad the explanation why Bannerlord is addictive and why there actually is nothing else prefer it, however we would wish extra (digital) ink than there’s water within the sea. The advanced nature of feudal dues and obligations, the obscene selection in weapons and armour (every of which is uniquely modelled and represented in-game), the tactical side of commanding troops on the battlefield, the various and various completely different cultures, every with their very own unit sorts and kinds of fight — the checklist goes on and on. By no means thoughts the jaw-on-the-floor moments you may end up in, like holding a maintain with a couple of trusted retainers whereas the hordes of enemies outdoors batter down the door, inadvertently recreating that closing scene within the siege of Helms Deep, in these determined final moments earlier than Gandalf arrives with the cavalry.
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is an totally distinctive expertise on console and one that would conceivably maintain you occupied for a whole lot, even 1000’s of hours, relying by yourself creativity. It is tough across the edges, even ugly at occasions, however its scale and unmatched sense of development make it one thing each RPG fan owes to themselves to at the least strive.