Finally another post-worthy game. I found this little gem by accident when I was fixing a scrapped PC and found it installed after the recovery was done. Before now I’d never even heard
of the game, but boy do I wish I had known sooner.
Mount & Blade – Warband is a RPG like few others. You experience medieval warfare in gritty detail: pit fighting, tourneys, open field battles, village looting and even castle sieges. Here’s an extract from their website:
In Mount & Blade: Warband, you play as an adventurer in the medieval land of Calradia, a fictional land devoid of magic and high fantasy, instead bearing many similarities to our world in the Middle Ages.
The game offers you a great deal of freedom in this world. You may roam around the map visiting towns and villages, trading, pursuing various quests, taking part in tournaments, or trying out a myriad of other activities.
You will soon notice that the world itself is dynamic. Caravans travel between towns, sometimes being waylaid by bandits; villagers take their goods to markets; armies
assemble to move across the land, besieging towns or castles and raiding settlements. Instead of giving you a fixed path to follow,
Mount & Blade: Warband lets you freely adventure in this world. In time, you will be well known in many places as you make friends and enemies with other characters, which in turn will allow you to affect events in profound ways. You don’t need to remain a penniless adventurer, either. You may obtain great wealth and power, become one of the trusted vassals of a king; conquer and own villages, castles and towns; command armies, and if you like, even lead rebellions and replace kings with other claim holders.
And who knows? If you are great and cunning warrior you might one day become the Ruler of Calradia.
The game itself seems fairly simple. Recruit some soldiers, battle bandits and rival factions, capture castles and cities, take part in the dusty arena or the glorious tournaments, rinse and repeat. Warband takes this simple idea and turns it into a masterpiece. Every step of the way, even on the most basic settings, seems like a new challenge. You swear your allegiance to a king – he now wants you to fight for him during his war campaigns, but he does give you some income and may even grant you control of a few fiefs. Go at it alone and others will treat you like a bandit. Denounce your leaders and start a new kingdom and everyone will be at your throat, unless you can convince them to grant you a peace treaty.
Once you are a ruler, things get even tougher. You have to balance out warring other factions, improving your cities, keeping your vassals happy (which is a doozy) and a myriad of other things. And just when you think you have everything under control, expanding your territory at a nice pace, a vassal will denounce his loyalty to you to join your rivals. Of course he’s kind enough to take all the lands you gave to him with him, leaving a gaping hole in the defence you thought was air-tight.
To summarize - Warband came as a total surprise to me. The graphics may be outdated but the sandbox feel of the game, the constantly changing atmosphere and the total replayability makes it a nail-biter. Coming from unknown developers and an unknown publisher (although it is now available on Steam!), this game deserves much more credit that it has received. Even better is the fact that there’s a Song of Fire and Ice (think Game of Thrones) expansion out for it too.
For all you medieval RPG/strategy gamers I’d definitely recommend giving Warband a try. I give 4 out of 5 MisGuilded stars. Just the occasional wonky physics, strange graphic glitches and downright silly AI on sieges prevents this from getting a full score.