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 residing, respiratory economic system, and a way of development so highly effective it may be onerous 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 Whole Conflict scale, underpinned by Skyrim’s RPG mechanics.
Out there on PC in early entry since 2020, Bannerlord has lastly seen a full 1.0 launch and made the bounce to console within the course of. It is the identical unimaginable recreation, and the place it counts (in fight), the transition to controller feels incredible. With the DualSense, you’re feeling the thunder of your horse’s hooves and the influence of the lance when it strikes dwelling, skewering whichever unlucky footman simply occurred to catch the enterprise finish.
Bannerlord is not the form of recreation you “end”; quite, it is the form of self-led exploration you may lose your self in, and one that’s uniquely ripe for medieval roleplay (when you’re into that form of factor). It ditches the fantastical setting of comparable titles, and there aren’t 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 anybody vocation. It is like choosing a beginning class in Darkish Souls in that regard; extra of a route than a directive. From there, you should 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 manner Bannerlord conveys info to the participant may very effectively be a dealbreaker for some.
As you roam across the overworld, you’ll encounter folks 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 nonetheless 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, kind your individual caravan, purchase low, promote excessive, and spend money on native companies with the intention to flip a revenue. Work as a mercenary, promoting your sword for gold and renown, and depart your scruples on the door. Or woo a rich girl (or lord), be part of the road of inheritance, and turn out to be an individual of means the old style manner.
No matter you do, you’ll rank up related abilities by partaking in that exercise in a really Skyrim style. Swinging swords will, in flip, make you higher at swinging swords, and you’ll earn highly effective perks at expertise milestones, lots of which might profit your complete get together. As you stage up and purchase fame and fortune, you may 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 interesting in ever-escalating skirmishes, preventing in pitched battles, and interesting in brutal sieges, you may turn out to be a lord in your individual proper, replete with your individual fortress 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 giant 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. Recreation of Thrones comparisons are trite however sadly apt on this case; suppose The Battle of the Bastards, the place the quarters are generally 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. Primarily, you may slash, stab, and strike with a given weapon (relying on the route you are shifting), kick an enemy to throw them off stability, or bash them together with your protect to offer 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 when you’re at a excessive stage, decked out within the best plate gold can purchase, a decided sufficient group of peasant spearmen can deliver you down via sheer weight of numbers, like a pack of wolves overwhelming a noble stag.
There’s a lot else we may go into, the numerous and myriad the reason 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 complicated 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 numerous and diverse totally different cultures, every with their very own unit varieties and kinds of fight — the listing goes on and on. By no means thoughts the jaw-on-the-floor moments you may end up in, like holding a hold with just a few trusted retainers whereas the hordes of enemies outdoors batter down the door, inadvertently recreating that ultimate 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 completely distinctive expertise on console and one that would conceivably hold you occupied for tons of, even hundreds 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 no less than strive.