It's harvest time again! Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord has been thundering for a while in a mounted assault by the steam servers, excites players with terrible bugs and offers first-class early medieval entertainment. Who played the predecessor should feel at home, because TaleWorld's first trip to Calradia started in 2008 as a completely bulky but world-wide open-world bonanza. Even if the Turkish developer studio started as a love project of a committed developer couple, it now follows a more traditional company structure. Fortunately, because most of Bannerlord's bugs have been fixed by TaleWorld's solid work. However, Bannerlord does not stand alone.
It also has to stand up to its brothers: "Mount & Blade" was the brilliant start of the series, "Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword" is often forgotten by the community and "Mount & Blade: Napoleonic Wars" was above all a multiplayer hit. The real star of the series is "Mount & Blade: Warband", which is mainly due to the large amount of high quality mods. Even if Bannerlord is hugely successful, Warband's popularity has not decreased in the meantime. However, I will explain to you here why Bannerlord is so far ahead of his little brother that even hardcore warband fans should take a look right now. I go even further: Bannerlord wipes the floor with warband.
Murder and homicide for everyone!
First things first: The battles in Mount & Blade 2: Banner Lord (buy now for € 49.99) are so superior to the wars of Warband that you can't even see the cloud of dust on the horizon. This is not only due to the graphics, which have improved significantly compared to the predecessor, but above all to the epic size of the battles. Where Warband already pointed out the impending collapse with three hundred wildly waving soldiers, with Bannerlord there are more than a thousand warriors thrashing wildly on the battlefield. Of course, you should also hurry to win the battle in this case before your memory goes up in flames with a fateful whine – but without stuttering and stuttering it would not be a real Mount & Blade. The charming bumper car look of the old horses gives way to scenes that could also be played in Braveheart or the Lord of the Rings: dust, chaos and shoulder-to-shoulder troops that roar the soul out of your body as you fight your way through the crowd pushes and keeps bloody harvest. In comparison, Warband looks like an accident in a puppet workshop. And yes: good graphics simply make a game better.
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/04/Lernt_Neue_Leute_ Bäumen_01-buffed.jpg" alt = "Do what you want: Conquer your own throne, take over an existing country or live in Forest and eat squirrels – there is no "best" style of play.
One of the best features of Mount & Blade, and the only real way to play the series, is of course the Permadeath mode. Where your own character survived the worst accidents in Warband and only the recruited troops had to believe in it It is a much better option for Bannerlord: If you click on the "Allow death" option in the options menu, you must always expect that your own character, or painstakingly pumped up NPCs at your side, will die a violent death. Correct, this also means your steady companions – everyone can (and probably will) die in a banner lord permadeath run! The best is yet to come, however, because if your character doesn't die by the sword, then he will be carried away by the ravages of time. Anyone who has no heirs in old age ends his run peacefully on his deathbed. Along with managing your own kingdom, there is almost a little Crusader-Kings feeling. If you shrink from Bannerlord at the thought of a preset "time limit" for your own character, I can reassure you: Losing is an integral part of the Mount & Blade series. Dying is fun, because behind every death there is a little story and banner lord decorates these dramas with a pinch of Game of Thrones. Someone killed your family patriarch?
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His daughter takes the sword and leads a bloody crusade against the murderers! Do villages represent freshly set dining tables for you and you see only unused capital in farmers? No problem either. Even if you have absolutely no desire to take a single step towards your own kingdom, Bannerlord is a lot of fun, because your clan can just as well consist of slave-hunting murderers. Bannerlord takes the freedom from Warband and garnishes it with the right pinch of murder and homicide, because all NPCs play according to the same rules as you. Merchants have to cart their goods from city to city and other lords recruit their troops from the same villages as your personal dynasty. Every step on the political stage must also be planned very carefully by your enemies. Who needs large-scale Mass Effect style stories if you can write your own epic as well? There are a lot of games that use the term "open world", but in Bannerlord you can literally shape or conquer the world according to your wishes. How is it up to you?
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/04/Taktik_01-buffed.jpg" alt = "The correct use of your troops is extremely important: Anyone who counters mounted archers with heavy infantry has for example no chance.
(Un) controlled chaos
The almost exhilarating feeling of escalation is pushed to the extreme in Bannerlord's multiplayer battles. If you don't believe me, take part in one of the siege battles and try to survive to the end: one hundred players who crowd in a castle gate and try desperately not to land in the dirt provide an impressive backdrop for your first outing Sure, the organization of the siege battles is like trying to line up a horde of panicked wild cats armed with spears in the queue of a supermarket checkout – but Bannerlord gives the feeling of being in a real battle with other players in a first-class way. If you compare the whole thing with Warband, the grandfather of Bannerlord still does well, of course. But conveying the enormous force of a siege battle is very difficult if the animation of your own soldiers is limited to the demotivated swinging up and down of the sword arm.
The chaos of the battlefield attracts you, but your strategic brain craves order? If you are hungry for competition and expect measurable success criteria from multiplayer battles, you are in good hands in captain mode. Here you lead a group of farmers, knights or heavy infantrymen into the field. Each comrade leads his own small NPC squad and leads it against the generals on the opposite side. The crux of the matter, however, is that once killed, soldiers remain dead throughout the match. The result is a strategic dance that requires a lot of coordination: large-scale thinking, battlefield overview and the implementation of tactics agreed in advance are crucial to the game and outdo heroic solo efforts at all times. However, this is not to say that there is no room for heroes, because you yourself are one of the greatest dangers on the battlefield. Moments when your move is countered by a brilliantly fighting enemy or showdowns during which you are in the midst of a raging Battle dueled with another player remain unforgettable. Bannerlord never lets you catch your breath because you can never be sure whether you are facing a player or an NPC.
<img src = "https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/1020x/2020/04/Thron_01-buffed.jpg" alt = "The diplomatic and political system complements Bannerlord, compared to Warband, with a solid feature, which fits the game perfectly.
There are no markings to mark an enemy commander, so you have to rely on your judgment and always be vigilant – as soon as you cross the swords with a soldier, you know who you're dealing with. All of this makes Captain Mode an absolute gem among the countless medieval melee simulators in the style of Mordhau or Chivalry. As soon as the captain mode players have set up an esports league, I will be the first to not miss a match. I go even further and claim that Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord would also be interesting for viewers who are not gaming. If we take League of Legends as an example, no newcomer understands why a Master Yi counters a Jax. However, even a completely ignorant spectator can understand why it is a stupid idea to rattle your cavalry into a spear wall unchecked. Even the effectiveness of the armor can be assessed in a matter of seconds; Pop cultural knowledge about the Middle Ages is completely sufficient. Nothing is quick here, nothing is stylized – Bannerlord represents the principle "what you see you get, too."
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The better version of an excellent game
Finally the question was answered, what happens when Mount & Blade turns all controls to the limit. Because Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord is not a really new game. On the contrary, it is only warband with better graphics and a few additional features. However, the occasional new functions and some slightly drilled variants of existing features make Bannerlord a dream game for fans of the series. More drama, more battle, more screen death: Bannerlord represents the current non plus ultra of open medieval worlds – at least for players with a high pain tolerance.
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