Mount & Blade Warband PC
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Developed by: TaleWorlds
The original Mount & Blade offered an original RPG experience when it was released back in 2008. Set in the fictional, medieval-style world of Calradia, the game offered an open-ended experience with a strong emphasis on combat and it has to be said that the combat was rather impressive. The game itself was a little rough around the edges however. There wasn’t a real storyline and most of the NPC’s you encountered seemed devoid of any personality. It was also difficult to gain a sense of direction due to the game leaving everything up to you. Finally, the graphics were way out of date by 2008’s standards. Problems aside, Mount & Blade was an appealing game and it’s great that the concept hasn’t been abandoned.
Mount & Blade Warband is a standalone game that manages to build upon the original Mount & Blade. Multiplayer is the main area of the game that has been improved but the single-player game is slightly better and even the graphics have received a small upgrade. There are a decent amount of multiplayer game types including: Siege, Conquest, Capture the Flag, Fight & Destroy, Battle, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. You’ll begin with choosing your faction and then spending your starting amount of gold on the equipment you want. During the course of game you’ll earn gold for kills and with this gold you can then purchase better armour and weapons and of course the weapon and armour types you can purchase depends on which faction you are aligned with and what role you are fulfilling. The multiplayer games can be hectic but very enjoyable when played with others who are willing to work as a team. The multiplayer maps are also nicely varied ranging from snow covered to hilly landscapes.
The highlight of Warband, as it was in Mount & Blade, is the combat. Whether you’re mounted or not, the combat manages to capture that mix of technique and sheer good fortune that you need when wielding a sword or firing a bow. The combat is really intense, probably more so than in any other RPG or action game for that matter. Probably the best part about it is that it feels so natural and the different weapons feel different and need practice to master. Combat whilst mounted on horseback can be difficult at first because of having to deal with the sensation of the horse’s movement but you also have the sense that this difficulty is what you would experience if you were really on horseback. The combat isn’t perfect however and there are times when it feels as though your strike doesn’t have quite the effect it should have but on the whole, the developers certainly deserve praise.
As enjoyable as Warband is, and it is a better game than the original Mount & Blade, there are still some problems with the single-player game. The game still lacks a sense of direction and still doesn’t offer a single-player experience that will keep you interested for long. The NPC’s don’t really have much in the way of personality and they may as well be notice boards. Your AI companions certainly aren’t the brightest of fellows and rather than helping you, at times can simply get in your way. If you’re expecting a rich storyline, something every RPG should have, you’ll be disappointed. There are more career and quest options in Warband which might entice some to spend more time in the single-player mode than in the one found in Mount & Blade and there’s a new Arab themed region to explore but on the whole it’s a mediocre single-player experience that just isn’t as enjoyable as the multiplayer side of the game.
Graphically speaking, Warband is an improvement on Mount & Blade Warband but the game still has a dated look. It’s far from being what you could call an ugly game however and it also has the advantage of being extremely light on your PC’s system resources. I was able to run the game at a rock solid 60fps in multiplayer games using a rather dated 8800 GT graphics card that only has 256MB RAM even at high resolutions. With most games today I would experience a slideshow with such a weak graphics card and I was impressed by the game’s performance. Whilst it’s not the prettiest of games then, you can easily play the game with anything resembling a decent PC.
All dialogue in Warband is text only and you'll always be fully aware of who is saying what. The tutorial is also text only meaning that you'll have no trouble in getting to grips with the game. All quest details are given in text and you can recall the quest details at any time. There aren't any captions, which for the most part doesn't cause any problems but it would have been good to have seen some included, if only to add to the ambience of the battlefield.
Mount & Blade Warband does offer a better experience and I would wholeheartedly recommend the game over the original Mount & Blade. The multiplayer experience here is worth the asking price alone and is almost good enough to allow the problems with the single-player game to be overlooked. However, whilst this is a unique RPG experience and for that the developers deserve praise, it has to be said that the bland single-player experience is disappointing and means that those who do not want to play the multiplayer portion of the game will certainly not get what all the fuss is about and that’s a real shame. If multiplayer gaming is your thing however, Mount & Blade Warband is certainly recommended.