I had the opportunity to sit down and play a half hour of Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord. All of the thirty minutes was dedicated to combat, where I spent some time in the arena and on the battlefield. Where Warband could feel, at times, a bit clunky or plodding along, Bannerlord is faster paced and combat flows well. Keep an eye out for an interview we have with Taleworlds Entertainment CEO Armağan Yavuz, where we talk Bannerlord‘s combat!
What became immediately apparent while playing Bannerlord was the much more satisfying slashing, prodding, and clubbing as I clashed with my opponents. Animations were smooth, and the new ability to chain attacks together is both deadly and entertaining. You can slash one way with your sword and swing back the other way on the way back for another hit, ending with an overhead slash down. It all happens quick, makes sense, and lets you devastate opponents quickly if they mess up. The same goes for you, of course.
Bannerlord introduces a few simple additions that add great variety in the combat, one of which is that chaining of attacks. Stances are also introduced. You can have for right or left foot forward, where one is more defensive and one is better for attacks. Simple, but it offers some depth. Shields can bash people now, which is great for creating an opening to then get one of those chain attacks going.
To sum it up, Bannerlord feels immediately familiar as someone who has played a lot of Mount and Blade, just refined and improved.
Another thing that has seen a lot of love is the AI. Particularly in the battlefield the AI will react to what you do accordingly and can surprise you easily if you’re not paying attention. You may have your army engaged in one portion of the field to only have the enemy flank you out of nowhere on horseback. Not only that, they know to use the terrain by sticking to the high ground, staying in formations, harassing with horses while bowman stick back, and more. The challenge they offer is significantly more and makes the battlefield all the more interesting.
I’ll be honest, I never spent too much time while playing Mount and Blade messing around with the commands you can give troops in a battle. There are a ton of them in Bannerlord, which offers some interesting strategic gameplay when you combine the new AI. So those that are more interested in tactically approaching a battle, instead of getting in the thick of it, have an interesting option too.
All I can say is that this is all I really wanted from Bannerlord. It doesn’t need the combat that’s crazy complex and full of button mashes and combos; it’s all about the chaos of the battle and moving from one enemy to the next. This definitely seems to deliver.
Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord is still in the works, but Taleworlds Entertainment told me they hope to see it released soon—no date yet, though. The fact that I got to mess around with a big part of the game, combat, hands on, is a good sign of where development is at, though.
If you want to know more about this and other announcements happening at E3 then be sure to check out our E3 2017 Coverage Hub.