Mount & Blade: Warband Beta Impressions

After participating in the Mount & Blade: Warband beta test, the guys at Critical Gamer have kicked up their impressions of TaleWorlds' multiplayer expansion pack. This first paragraph concerns me:
To ease the passage of multiplayer into the game, developers Taleworlds have pretty much dispensed with the RPG trappings of the single player game. Gone are leveling, stats and skills, instead you simply pick a faction and a troop (read character class), with slightly different equip depending on the faction. For instance the Viking-influenced Nords, use throwing axes to devastating advantage, while the Mongol-esque Khergit have their intensely annoying signature horse archers. Earning gold from your kills, you can upgrade and customise your equipment once a battle has started, with plenty of shields, horses and upgraded weapons on offer.

Though the game is still in Beta and balance issues are being ironed out with a series of regular patches, the joyous essence of the game has survived the transition. The satisfaction of cutting down your foolish enemies has only increased, now that those foolish enemies are controlled by human counterparts, though you can't simply expect to wade into battle and cut everyone down. You can try of course, but chances are you'll be stabbed, poked, prodded, filled full of arrows then stabbed again, until your freshly made corpse resembles some kind of giant red hedgehog wearing a hat. A much more measured and team based approach is required for success in Warband, with cavalry charges, shield formations and well position ranged troops being the order of the day.