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TaleWorlds Entertainment's sandbox RPG Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord will be launching into Steam Early Access sometime around March 2020, and if you'd like to get in on the action before that happens, you can try signing up for the game's closed multiplayer beta. With that in mind, the latest Bannerlord developer blog answers a good deal of community questions regarding the beta and the upcoming early access release. But before we get to those, let's check out this sample bit of Skirmish gameplay, courtesy of IGN:
And here's the Q&A:
Greetings warriors of Calradia!
Last week, we asked for questions from you, our community, regarding Bannerlord's multiplayer closed beta and the early access phase that the game will transition through on its way to a full release. We decided to answer a few more than we originally anticipated, and so, we thought it would be best to save the campaign gameplay video until next week's blog instead (our apologies if that is what you are here for!). We hope that these direct and honest answers will give you an insight into what is happening with the beta and a greater understanding of what to expect from early access. So, without further ado, let's get to it, shall we?
The way of reporting feedback is the first question that comes to mind if I join open beta, would I be able to report feedback/issues with ease, and how?
We have a beta section on our official forums which has been segmented in a way to allow players to provide feedback about specific points while making that information easily accessible by our development team. (the forums are hidden right now, but they will be opened up and accessible next week alongside the first wave of beta invites!). In addition to this, we send out regular feedback forms via email to gather players thoughts on different aspects of the game. We also use automated tools as part of the process which allows us to gather data on a number of different things. One such example is our analytics tool on our servers. This allows us to track events in each multiplayer match to aid us in balancing the game. Another tool is our crash reporter, which automatically sends a crash report to us for review in the event of a game crash.
What criteria are you basing the waves of invites for the beta on? I’m assuming computer specs mostly.
We have identified several key groups and we’ll be allocating quotas for different groups according to the kind of feedback we need at each specific stage of beta testing. For example, at one stage we may invite old M&B MP players because we are particularly interested in how they will adjust to a certain mechanic. At another stage, we may invite players with low-end PCs because our engine team needs to see how the game runs on their hardware.
Will the beta expand to include other game modes? I would love to get a look at captain mode, and possibly some multiplayer sieges, etc.
Of course! To give you an idea of how this will progress, when we started the beta, we launched with Skirmish Mode, two factions and one map. Over time we introduced Captain Mode, Team Deathmatch, a selection of maps, and the remaining 4 factions. At times, such is the case right now with Captain Mode, we will disable some content so that it can be worked on and improved before being reintroduced. Moving forward we hope to introduce more content, including siege as a game mode. However, we should say that people shouldn’t expect new content with every patch. Sometimes the patches will be focused entirely on balancing and bug fixing.
Will you give a chance to SP players to try MP and hear their opinion or will your first choice be MP players for the Beta?
We are interested in hearing the thoughts of people from a wide range of gaming preferences and backgrounds. Bannerlord’s singleplayer and multiplayer share a lot of core systems, in particular, the combat system, which means that changes we make based on the feedback from our beta testers has a knock-on effect with single-player. It is for this reason that won’t strictly select people who prefer MP over SP.
Will beta be ongoing until (or very close to) the launch of EA? If not, when will it close?
For now we plan to run the beta up until the launch of EA, however, there may be times when we decide to close the servers down for certain periods while we make adjustments and improvements. It is also possible that our plans may change as we close in on the start of EA, but if they do, we will let you all know!
How long is it planned to be in early access?
We have some internal estimates of how long the game will stay in EA before making it to full-release, however, at this moment in time, we would prefer not to share those. We are more focused on creating a game that players will enjoy and can keep coming back to and playing well into the future. This means that our estimates could change depending on how happy we are with the state of the game and whether we feel it is ready for a full release or not.
Will the price change upon full release?
We will be sharing more information about the price of the game closer to the start of EA, and whether or not this will differ from the full release price.
Roughly what percentage of single-player features and gameplay mechanics will be in-game upon early access release? Many of the blog posts make it seem as though it will be nearly feature complete, while some suggest otherwise.
Most of the basic features will be there and we can say that it will be possible to play a campaign from start to end with 100+ hours of gameplay. However, some features may be missing or turned off if they are not in the state that we would like to present yet. We encourage players who want a complete and fully polished experience to hold off on buying the game until full release.
Will we be able to host dedicated servers in early access?
This probably won’t be possible at the very beginning of EA.
Which languages will be available in early access?
We will only support English at the beginning of the early access period. We do plan to offer the game in quite a few languages at the full release.
There was a noticeable absence of banners in the battles shown at Gamescom. Have these been removed? Or was it just a temporary measure?
Banners and banner bearers will definitely come back as even better and more polished than before.
On cloth physics: is this feature still in the game? Can we expect any kind of human hair physics?
Cloth physics is in the game, it works and is used in many places. Hair physics wasn’t a priority since it is difficult to get right and you are usually wearing a helmet anyway. However, it is something we can look into if we can find the time.
I didn't notice the pommel bashing in any Gamescom / beta video so far, is it still a thing?
Yes, you can still very much bash someone in the face with the pommel of your sword. The animation is different depending on your weapon type, which might explain why you didn't notice it, but regardless, it is still there!
In earlier instalments of M&B it was always bothering me that I had to choose a flag that has already been used by a lord. I don't know how this will go in Bannerlord, but since it has the word BANNER in it, will we be able to choose our very own unique banner? Or even better, create one without modding tools? I think this would be a small yet great addition to the game!
We were planning to offer a banner editor, however, we eventually decided to limit it such that each clan has a specific charge with the colour scheme of the banner being determined by the kingdom. This has the advantage that it gives clans within a kingdom a more uniform look while retaining their character. Having said that, we already have quite a variety of different charge designs and it is a great idea to let the player select from unique ones that are not used by any existing clan!