Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord Early Access Review

Article Index

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Independent
Developer:TaleWorlds
Release Date:2020-03-31
Genre:
  • Action,Role-Playing,Simulation,Strategy
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • First-Person,Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay

And if you consider that Bannerlord has an army system that, instead of just gathering a blob of lords that inevitably wander off to do their own thing, allows you to create unified armies, you realize that having your clansmen fight alongside you is way more fun than just some random AI nobles.

If you’re someone who likes to augment your gaming experience with mods, rest assured, Bannerlord already has plenty of those. At the moment they mostly rebalance things or add some minor neat features like dismemberment or fiery arrows, but I fully expect the big total conversion mods people seem to enjoy so much to start popping up soon.

Technical Information

This being an early access release, bugs are the big elephant in the room. Bannerlord has plenty of those. The aforementioned perks are only the tip of the iceberg. While playing, I’ve personally noticed missing textures, audio glitches and quest-related issues. Thankfully, most of these while annoying, are not game-breaking and can be usually fixed by a reload.

On the other hand, the siege AI is extremely limited right now, with units oftentimes deciding to just stand in a big pile and do nothing. Hopefully this particular issue can be sorted out within a reasonable timeframe, and if the current beta patch notes are to be believed, the developers are already working on it.

Then, there’s the question of crashes. Since going into early access, the game received a good number of patches. Each of them mentioned fixing various crashes. This might lead you to believe that the game is extremely unstable. And while this of course will vary from individual to individual, after playing the game for roughly 40 hours, it crashed on me only twice, which isn’t too bad.

Visually, the game is a definite improvement over its predecessors, which should of course be expected. But what I liked most about Bannerlord’s visuals is that while the game doesn’t look like some cutting-edge AAA release, seeing how it has to render battles with hundreds of participants at a time, the actual visual design is very aesthetically pleasing and detailed.

And when it comes to performance, the game is definitely prone to running at a sluggish pace whenever there’s too much stuff happening on the screen, but if you turn off dynamic shadows and limit the battle size to something like 400-500 men, you should be fine outside of sieges. Still, right now the game already runs better than Warband ever did, where I had to use DirectX 7 instead of 9 just to prevent things from slowing down to a crawl during big battles on a PC that greatly exceeded the recommended specs.

The game’s audio design is crisp and weighty, and its soundtrack is appropriately epic, with each of the game’s factions getting its own unique-sounding tunes. Unfortunately, at the moment the game has next to no voice acting, so if you were looking forward to hearing bandits threaten you with unparalleled clarity, you will have to wait for it a bit longer.

The save system is perfectly functional and features autosaves after battles, manual saves, and quick saves, so even if the game crashes at some point on you, you shouldn’t lose too much progress.

Conclusion

While usually I’m not one to play games before they’re complete, I made an exception for Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord and was definitely not disappointed. At the moment the game lacks some features and suffers from a number of bugs and undercooked systems, but it’s already extremely fun despite that.

If, like me, you’re someone who doesn’t like to use mods, then an opportunity to play a new Mount & Blade game that already offers countless quality of life improvements when compared to the previous installments in the series is invaluable. But if you’re someone who thrives on user-created content, you should be aware that according to the developers, Bannerlord is even more mod-friendly than Warband. And when it comes to mods, having a deeper and more robust baseline can only be seen as a great thing.