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Mount & Blade: Warband

30 March 2010
Mount & Blade: Warband - cover art
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3.94 / 5.0
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5.0
 
 
625 Ratings / 2 Reviews
#240 All-time
#10 for 2010
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one of the best games ever in terms of being a literal game with solid mechanics. there is little to distract you from your own path and storyline. you join a factor (or make your own) and conquer an entire continent. its like a grand strategy game with actual gameplay and lots of different situations and mechanics. boots on ground with amazing melee system and horseback combat, but then RTS overworld mechanics, great loot system, and items.

9/10
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darkrecollections 2020-09-03T22:56:52Z
2020-09-03T22:56:52Z
4.5
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Title
Warband is a game I've owned for around 7 years now, and one I return to pretty much every year. It's a somewhat bare bones game (I'd really recommend using the Floris mod it really fleshes things out) that drops you into the war torn world of Calradia. A fictional 13th country/continent/landmass thing that seems to be in a state of perpetual war between the kingdoms of Swadia, the Vaegirs, the Nords, the Rhodoks, the Khergit Khanate and the Sarranid Sultanate. The ultimate aim of the game is to become king of the entire map. A goal that I think very few players will really be able to achieve. I usually get to a point where I'm a bit bored then just retire to be honest.

You begin by creating a character and setting them loose on the world. You can choose your background, which will have effects on how people perceive you and what skills you have tagged. There are a whole bunch of skills from obvious combat related ones, to things like prisoner management and leadership. These are governed by attributes: strength, agility, intelligence and charisma. Thankfully the game tells you which attribute governs which skill. The most valuable are the less combat inclined ones such as surgery and leadership.

Let's actually look at the gameplay. The overworld map is populated with towns, cities and castles and you navigate by clicking around. Other people are running around too, lords, bandits, villagers, caravans and manhunters. You can decide to, or get unluckily run down by, any of these groups and initiate a fight. And here is where you find the meat of Warband. The battles are exhilarating and visceral. Each side starts on one side of a map, the terrain is determined by the sort of terrain you were near on the overworld. So it could be a forest, hills etc. you get the idea. The aim of the battle is to, obviously, kill or route the other guys. This will involve yourself and your guys throwing yourself into melee or ranged combat. Melee combat is a lot of fun, you block by click the right button and attack with the left. Like early Elder Scrolls game, the direction of blocks and attacks is determined by how you move your mouse. This adds a fun layer of trying to get around your enemy's defence, or just get a quick strike in when they drop their shields (shields being an omni-directional defence). Ranged combat has a fairly unique feel to it, you click and hold the left mouse button and release to fire. However, the longer you hold it down the less accurate it will be. Meaning you have to get good at picking shots quickly. You also have access to crossbows which take way longer to load but are far more accurate. Honestly, I've never been very good at ranged combat in this game. That's the Blade part, so now the Mount part. Horses are invaluable in open field battles. You'll want to be on one since it makes you essentially invincible once you master the horse. You can employ historically accurate hit and run tactics to jump in, take down 3 or 4 guys, then ride off before they know what's hit them. As you ride your horse, you deliver more damage the faster your going. You eventually get to the point where you'll one hit most enemies going full whack. If you have a lance, you can couch it, start riding and simply aim it at an enemy to impale them in what is almost always an instant kill. The game also offers a somewhat clumsy orders system. You can give a variety of orders to your guys, spread out, advance 10 paces, charge, follow me etc. you can split your troops into different groups to give specific instructions to certain types of troop. I only ever use this to set my cavalry to follow me so I can set a flanking charge. Trying to balance active combat with commanding troops gets a bit too much really. And I'd say that you are more valuable as a killing machine than an actual commander. The game also has seige battles for castles and cities. These involve you pushing a seige tower to the walls or climbing some ladders. To then watch yourself get mowed down. Offensive seige battles are just grim. As the game only offers one way to get on the walls you have to watch as everyone just gets fed into a meat grinder until you run out of troops or the enemy somehow cracks. You know when you balls up on Total War and you see all your guys just run into a wall of death? You now get to experience that up close! Because, combat is hard. This isn't a game where you can tank through any hit. No, two or three good hits will take you down. That applies to the whole game. In very unlucky circumstances you can have an arrow hit you right in the forehead as you charge in, or get lanced from behind while you fight. Some people may find this very annoying, but I find it really fun. You have to be constantly aware on Warband, and very careful. Getting yourself surrounded won't lead to an amazing Matrix style fight where you take on everyone around you and win. You'll get thunked in the back of the head with an axe and just fall like a sack of potatoes. This makes equipment very very valuable. A good suit of armour can protect your a lot better than rags. Upgrading your sword will make it a one hit kill. Investing in equipment is crucial.


Of course, there's the whole raising an army element. You can hire peasants from villages and train them up. This is where the faction differences come in. Each faction has different styles of troops. The Swandians focus on heavy cavalry, the Nords on heavy infantry, the Rhodoks are anti-cavalry with pikes and cross bows, the Khergits are all horse all the time and have access to really really annoying horse archers, the Vaegirs have very good archers and pretty good cavalry and the Sarranids are just a kind of jack of all trades. As each soldier gains experience, you can upgrade them down a certain tree. Of course this can take a while and lead to a lot of low level recruits dying horribly. But, end tree faction troops are incredibly strong. There is the option to hire mercenaries, which cost more to hire and demand higher pay, but are better from the off. It's generally up to you on how you compose your army and with the right tactics you can make anything work. Although it's generally a good idea to have a good mix of troop types. There are also companions you can recruit scattered around the world. These function as other characters you can equip and level up just like you. They come pre-loaded with skills allowing you to specialise them. One thing to note is that losing a battle in this game is absolutely brutal. It'll usually involve you losing all of your men and some of your money and equipment.

Let's move on to economy and politics. There are tonnes of ways to make money in Warband. complete side quests (such as hunting down bandits or protecting a carvan), become your own trade caravan, win the various tournaments going on, sell loot from defeated enemies. In the early game you'll mostly do bandit hunting really. The true fun begins when you gain enough renown to join a faction as a vassal. At this point, you will be awared a fief, with more to come if you get in good with the faction leader. This generally involves accompanying the marshal on campaigns, turning up to the many, many feasts, defeating enemy lords, helping other vassals in battle. Logical sort of stuff. As you gain more prestige and renown in the faction you will be more likely to be awarded castles and towns. This means you can garrison men in them, to act as insurance for yourself when you get beaten. It also, hopefully, allows you to build up a rolling income. Each week the tributes from fiefs will roll in and your men will be paid. Not paying soldiers tends to make them a little mad and more prone to just routing in battle or just straight up deserting. You must also keep your men fed or the same will happen.

The production values for this game aren't exactly great. The graphics look a bit, dated and simplistic. There can be a lot of men in one battle though with hardly any impact on your system. The music, while nice and reminiscent of Celtic style medieval music (a bit like the band Faun) it gets really quite repetitive after a while.

However, this is more than balanced out by the absolutely insane level of replay value this game has. It is incredibly addictive. There's always just one more battle you need to fight before you come off for the night. The battles are so much fun that you'll absolutely love them. Gradually seeing your goals get ever closer is another addictive aspect. The sheer variety in ways to play will keep you constantly restarting. You need to try out every faction, every different style of fighting. There's plenty in here to keep you occupied for years really. My most recent playthrough I probably spent close to 100 hours with over about 4 weeks.

Mount & Blade: Warband is a game for people who really enjoy games. There's no story, the production values are minimal but what Warband does have is a beautifully crafted system. The core features work amazingly well together. Get money, recruit guys, fight baddies, sell loot, upgrade guys rinse and repeat. The variety of goals available from becoming king of the map, to just king of a decent sized faction or even just a rich caravaneer means you'll never be out of options. I'd really recommend this game, there's just nothing else out there quite like it. It's a unique and fun experience. I would, however, like to say that it can feel a bit skeletal. The world feels a bit dull at times, with limited conversational options it can feel less like a living world and more like a static sandbox. I would like to also recommend the Floris mod. I don't have any connections to the people who made it, probably best to declare that. But I used it on my last playthrough and it really added to the game. I'd suggest vanilla first, but Floris expands troop trees, increases diplomatic options and generally fills things out a bit.
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I'm not the most devoted fan of Mount & Blade (not by a long shot) despite me having several hundred hours in the game, and that should be testimony enough as to this game's quality. It took me a while to get into, though. After finding it in my Steam library one day, I decided to give it a shot based solely on the fact that I had one friend that was absolutely obsessed with the game.

The first time I played it, I lasted 4 or 5 hours desperately trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing, failing miserably at doing anything before uninstalling the game. I forgot about it for a year or two before inexplicably getting lost in the TV Tropes page for the game, full of lines that seemed to suggest that you could do just about anything you wanted to in this game where I felt lost before exiting character creation.

This actually isn't far from the truth -- anything you could reasonably expect from a game simulating medieval warfare and politics can be done. In truth, you can do a little more, actually, because I wouldn't reasonably expect that I could own and manually supply a vineyard with grapes based on the region with the lowest prices at the moment. Politics and diplomatic features are tied to actual events in the world, creating more immersion than weapon jamming and procuring malaria pills ever could. And sure, these diplomatic options are not on the same level of complexity as your average grand strategy game, but they're passable and provide an impressive level of player freedom given that the devs released their first game just a year and a half earlier.

I could probably sing the praises of this game all day, but it's only fair to mention some of the drawbacks. Firstly, there is no hand-holding. It's nice after you've gotten used to the game, but when you first pick it up you are given one quest exactly, and that's it. Once you complete that in 10-15 minutes, you're on your own. The only things that give a shit about you at the start are bandits, so waiting for something to happen to you is not going to result in interesting gameplay. It should also be said that the game looks bad. At the time of this writing it's a 9 year old game, and it's still bad given that context. If games with dated visuals are hard to look past, you might want to pick up some mods or wait for Bannerlord to come out in 2053. Lastly, the AI is bad. The armies and faction AI are smart enough, but individual men (and a few women!) in battle just are not that bright. You can turn the difficulty up to make it harder, but nothing is going to change the fact that the hardest challenge in this game is walking up a siege ladder.

Once you figure out that you have to give yourself purpose, the game rapidly becomes clearer and more engaging. I admire it for being a super-sandbox game that respects you enough to let you make your own truly free decisions -- for being so confident in its own world that it is willing to let you do nothing but run a dyeworks if that's something you're interested in. It's the freedom of choice and the game responding to the ripples you make that give Warband's little pleasures a unique thrill: Raising Rhodok peasants to be world-class sharpshooters. Being given a village of your own by the King for your loyalty. Making it up a siege ladder on the first try.

Try this game. You can buy it for pennies just about anywhere, and maybe if we drum up enough purchases for Warband we can convince Taleworlds to release Bannerlord before I cash in my retirement plan.
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jobosno 2017-07-26T23:33:14Z
2017-07-26T23:33:14Z
10.0 /10
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Catalog

bleakage Mount & Blade: Warband 2022-08-12T09:45:31Z
2022-08-12T09:45:31Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
itsthea Mount & Blade: Warband 2022-08-10T20:49:52Z
2022-08-10T20:49:52Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Brock5575 Mount & Blade: Warband 2022-08-07T15:20:12Z
2022-08-07T15:20:12Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
SilentEDJ Mount & Blade: Warband 2022-08-02T14:28:11Z
2022-08-02T14:28:11Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Hajatu Mount & Blade: Warband 2022-07-31T21:48:23Z
2022-07-31T21:48:23Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
RedMorley Mount & Blade: Warband 2022-07-29T16:01:15Z
2022-07-29T16:01:15Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
DaBlackGoku Mount & Blade: Warband 2022-07-29T02:46:02Z
2022-07-29T02:46:02Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
RichardSweetly Mount & Blade: Warband 2022-07-28T18:46:52Z
2022-07-28T18:46:52Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Retrop Mount & Blade: Warband 2022-07-26T21:56:08Z
2022-07-26T21:56:08Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
SoninTendo Mount & Blade: Warband 2022-07-25T14:08:11Z
2022-07-25T14:08:11Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Goldoche Mount & Blade: Warband 2022-07-24T09:55:21Z
2022-07-24T09:55:21Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
jatamansi Mount & Blade: Warband 2022-07-23T07:02:05Z
2022-07-23T07:02:05Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
ESRB: T
Player modes
1-250 players
Media
1x DVD
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  • lowplacelikehome 2021-07-13 21:04:40.067016+00
    After awhile it feels like you get lost or just don't know what to do next. Needed some more guidance and coherence.
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  • ... 2021-07-20 02:36:10.92286+00
    the multiplayer is where it's at
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  • mouseypoo13 2021-08-17 11:52:39.213194+00
    i have this game but i have no idea what im supposed to do. seems interesting tho
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  • khaledo 2022-02-06 00:10:00.148857+00
    Holy shit the writing in this is amazing
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  • jatamansi 2022-08-12 06:56:07.395576+00
    Ponle Floris Expanded y la rompe, ojalá no fuera una mierda la parte técnica
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