Having followed any and all news related to TaleWorlds' Mount & Blade sequel since its announcement over 10 years ago, it should come as no surprise that we've spent quite a bit of time with the medieval sandbox RPG during its Early Access stint and recent (full) release. And with that time invested, we're now ready to share our five-page critique:
Another major Bannerlord mechanic, the clan system, is now more robust compared to its original iteration. You can now have multiple parties of relatives roaming the map. Your younger siblings slowly grow up and develop into real characters. You can even die of old age and have your children take over, though by the time I completed my release version campaign, my character was 34 and his kids were still toddlers, so I guess it's more of a just-in-case feature.
Your clan members can now also get married to various NPC lords. Which presents a problem. After a few opening quests, you're reunited with your family and are tasked with discovering an ancient banner to then either restore or destroy the remnants of a fallen empire. That's if you're playing the game's campaign mode as opposed to the sandbox mode that has none of that banner stuff and just lets you roam the map without some big quest hanging over your head.
Either way, you have a clan. And immediately after unlocking it in my latest campaign, I got a notification that my brother got married and his new wife was now a part of our clan. Prior to that, she used to be a member of some noble NPC family. This means she enters your clan wearing high-end gear you wouldn't otherwise be able to afford until the late mid-game. You, of course, can take that gear, wear it yourself, and become unstoppable. And the game just throws that stuff at you when you're still mostly dealing with naked guys throwing rocks as the main enemy.