IntroductionMount & Blade: Warband is an action sandbox RPG for players to come up in a world of medieval warfare and unequal social statuses. The land is yours for the taking; there are more than 100 unique locations (villages, castles, and towns) and multiple ways to carve out your spot in society. Carry out your adventures as a lonesome traveler (perhaps a thief?), or hire soldiers to build a battalion, feed and equip them, progress them along skill managements, and lead them into giant battles. You can even jump compete in violent online multiplayer matches. The game was previously released for PC 6 years ago, but it has finally made its way to consoles. You can buy it on Steam, PlayStation Store, or Xbox Marketplace for $19.99.
GameplayThe game is packed with diversity and areas to sink hours of your life into. To spell it all out would mean less of a review and more of a guide, but I'lll do the best I can to depict its true potential and some of the key features. As mentioned before, the game is a sandbox medieval war-torn land. Half a dozen factions divide the playable area, each with their own grown empire. When you begin your game, you'll choose from many options in an attempt to build a backstory that either represents your play style or that sound interesting to you.
Keeping true to the era, women sit near the bottom of the social status pyramid, so if chosen, you'll essentially be choosing a tougher difficulty to build your character out of. Dually, choosing your father's backstory, your childhood upbringing, role in society, and the emotional fuel for your destined cause will shape many aspects of the game. The reasons for your drive to succeed in combat and empire building can be: personal revenge, the loss of a loved one, wanderlust, being forced out of your home, or lust for money and power. You'll be able to play the game in combat as an archer, a one handed swordsman with a shield, two-handed swordsman, or horseback slashing.
One of the most important aspects of the game is the combat, and it is as exciting as it should be. You'll be able to control your troops as their general; give them dozens of commands like hold position, charge, retreat, etc. One satisfying note: you'll be able to carry out wars in first person or third person. The most exciting part about this is the voice commands. Yelling "archers hold position" or "cavalry charge" as you see fit, and they listen to you brings pure immersion. You'll gain an attachment to your battalion as you progress through the game. You'll hire them (paying them a weekly allowance), you'll upgrade them as they receive their respective points via warfare, and you'll deck them out in the finest equipment and weaponry you can.
You'll have the ability to control 64 units in total, and some of them can be special named NPC with a starting advantage over the rest. War size can be adjusted in the settings prior to beginning your game in order for there to be massive battles or to have them shrunk down (who would ever choose anything but the max, though?). The computer AI, as well as your character, can be scaled for damage dealing as well. It'll be up to you to determine how difficult you wish for the game to be. You'll also need to keep your men fed as to avoid rebellion and defaults on their assigned positions in your ranks.
The environments will play a role in the battles as well; desert terrain will slow everyone down some, hills will be hard to climb, and if pursuing a siege-based war, the walls and anti-siege. When in combat youI haven't dived too far into the multiplayer features the game provides, but what I have seen of it is a complete joy. You'll create a character completely different from your main one and ultimately level him/her up on their own skill progressions. You can play matches with a cap of 32 players, in modes that include: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Conquest, Battle, and Siege.
Sound and GraphicsAnybody who has seen a movie or game with sword combat involved will know what to expect regarding sound effects. The clashing of metal from weaponry and armor will fill the battlefield, yells from soldiers, the neighing of horses, the sound of your own voice screaming out orders; they all completely immerse you into the action. There's not much in the form of voice acting throughout the game, but the game doesn't suffer too much when you consider the limitless possibilities it offers and how hard it would be to script everything out for voice actors.
I'm sure a lot of people will be initially turned off at first glance of the game and I'll humbly admit I was too, but it actually isn't as terrible as some screenshots may lead you to believe. The gameplay and diversity in this sandbox overshadow the faults of the game lacking AAA quality graphics. It gets the job done and it does it well. When everything is in motion, you'll find it to be smooth and very easy on the eyes.
ConclusionMount & Blade: Warband is a wonderful experience, especially if the medieval times or general larger scaled battles are your cup of tea. The sandbox gameplay of it is fun if you're interested in that as well but it does also require you to be strategic when situations call for it. You are able to progress through the game as you see most enjoyable; solo or with a large band of war soldiers at your disposal. Finish hundreds of possible quests, build your reputation throughout the land...literally, do what you want in this game. The freedom is amazing. The graphics, while not over the top amazing, support the great gameplay sufficiently, which I know many would argue is the most important part of a game. It's one of those games that, if you like how it runs and controls, you'll love to sink hours into because everything else around it is captivating.
|+ Intense combat and commanding of troops||- Tutorials could be a little more helpful|
|+ Sandbox to build your own story||- Yelling commands can be trial and error|
|+ Diversity in gameplay and strategy||- Controls need to be practiced to be perfected|
|+ Good supporting soundtrack|
GAME SCORE: 8.5/10