As part of gamescom, TaleWorlds - the Turkish development team behind Mount & Blade 2 - welcomed us as a guest, allowed us to play single and multiplayer for 20 minutes (which is far too short for such an extensive game) and then we did as well answered some questions. To sum up the first impression in a few adjectives: big, beautiful, complex.
What a long wait the fans of Mount & Blade had to wait, all SEVEN !!! It took TaleWorlds years to announce the release date of Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord: the Early Access version appears in March 2020 onSteam.
The mutiplayer mode
In the public area of gamescom in Cologne, all fans of the medieval game - which, by the way, works completely without fantasy - can throw themselves into a multiplayer battle. The mode is reminiscent of EA's Battlefield, there are three flags on a map that must be captured and held. Two factions are fighting each other, the appearance of which is reminiscent of a European and an Oriental army. The players choose a class before the start of the fight (infantry, ranged or cavalry) and lead a group of NPCs into the field, these have the same class as the player. If you die, you can - if you still have some left - spawn again as an NPC from your troop. The computer-controlled players can be chased across the battlefield with all sorts of commands (both in single and in multiplayer). This ranges from simple “stop”, “go there”, “follow me” commands via various combat formations, including on the infamous “Shield Wall” to “attack at your own discretion” or “attack only on command”. After one faction has eliminated all of the other's soldiers, the battle is over and there is a winner. The multiplayer mode offers - instead of at least now - no real long-term motivation. There is no progression system, no loot or other mechanics similar to games like Mordhau, for example. This game mode seems to be a nice bonus, it shouldn't be in connection with the single player mode, to the disappointment of all co-op friends. The good news is, like in the first part, the game will have full mod support, so the eager community may come up with a co-op mod after release.
If the multiplayer battles have made you want more, you can apply for the closed beta here: beta.taleworlds.com
More of the proven in single player mode
As mentioned at the beginning, we were allowed to play the single player mode for a good 20 minutes in camera, which is of course far too short to show a comprehensive picture of the game, so here we give you a brief impression and some of the information given to you want to share.
The play-off session started roughly in midgame. We already had a few followers and weren't too badly equipped. On the map we started roughly in the middle of the continent Calradia, which is mentioned in passing huge is. The map turns 24! sometimes be bigger than the old one. Do not worry: the map will not remain empty, there are a bunch of new cities, factions, villages, production sites and also different climate zones. There are supposed to be icy mountains, sunny coasts, deserts and also swamp areas. The surroundings and the weather not only have an impact on the possible goods and productions in the regions, but also on you and your entourage. A character who comes from the north and is used to the cold will have a harder time in the desert than a warrior who grew up in a desert environment and vice versa. Unfortunately, although there is a sea, we will not be able to use ships. But back to the allusion. We were advised by the developers to besiege a fortress, after all, the new game mechanics of the sieges are great and offer many possibilities how I can take a fortress. With our army of a mere 71 soldiers, we are not particularly well positioned against a castle with more than 200 soldiers. So first of all reinforcements had to join our ranks and the next door is ideal for recruiting a few willing mercenaries. It's just stupid that my reputation with the gentlemen is in the negative range and they don't want to leave any of their mercenaries to me. What does a cruel ruler do with such an insult? Of course, he quickly raids the village where the mercenaries live. So it came to a fight between our 71 experienced warriors and the 64 rather inexperienced mercenaries. The infantry forward in the shield wall, the archers behind and less than 30 seconds later the mercenaries were on the ground. By the way: the cities look a lot nicer than in their predecessor. Now that we had defeated the enemy and plundered the village, we still didn't have a larger army, but at least we had more equipment to sell. Unfortunately, we didn't make it to a siege later either, the option to do so could unfortunately not be selected, why is not clear to us. In the end we were defeated by a huge force of the lord whose village we had robbed in battle, our hero was captured and unfortunately the time was over.
What else did we learn about the game, which was a lot of fun in the few minutes we were allowed to play? According to the developers, the so-called “Companions” play an important role in the course of the game. These are close allies who travel and fight with me. You can also assign them tasks that they then do for us, such as trade or combat missions. It will probably also be possible to finish the game without ever having fought in a fight yourself, money and influence make this possible. A way of playing as a dealer would make this possible. The economic system is dynamic, for example if you buy all the horses in a region, the price for them will rise dramatically and you can sell them again for expensive gold. There is of course something for everyone who likes to do quests: in addition to a tutorial campaign, you can do jobs for many people, which earns you money and influence. After the release there will be content DLC after a while, which will add more options to the game. Unfortunately, the developers did not want to tell us what this is.
So who is the game for and who should stay away from it? As you have probably already read, it is better not to play this game if you are looking for a straightforward story, we can recommend Kingdom Come: Deliverance to you, also a medieval RPG completely without fantasy, but with significantly fewer sandbox elements. For players who like to enjoy their freedom, want to try things out, sometimes someone who is good, sometimes someone who wants to play bad, who like to discover and want to express their creativity, it is exactly the right thing. In the first part alone you could easily sink 100 hours and more, which is probably much better in Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord, because it is even more complex, bigger and even more beautiful than its predecessor.
As mentioned at the beginning, you can use the multiplayer part on the gamescom play until August 24th.