Mount & Blade: Warband review
A stand-alone expansion to last year’s Mount & Blade, Warband continues the original’s universe by putting you into the fictional world of Caldaria as another warrior tasked with bringing balance to the land.
Many gamers will immediately notice that Mount & Blade is not the prettiest game on the market. The graphics look like something that you would’ve seen on PCs five- or six-years ago, doing very little to push the added processing power of most modern gaming rigs. The game runs admirably on most systems as a result, but the lack of an impressive-looking world to explore might turn off players looking for a beautiful immersive world like those in other RPGs, like Oblivion or Dragon Age.
However, what it lacks in graphical prowess, it makes up for in compelling gameplay. The game is very open-ended, allowing the player to access the world from the very beginning, with several side quests to keep you busy, similar to other well-known titles like Morrowind. The game does very little handholding when throwing you into the world of Caldaria, instead encouraging players to get out into the world and forge their own path.
Unfortunately, the other side of the coin is that the game is very overwhelming, as this amount of depth comes with a very steep learning curve. It will take you a while to acclimate yourself with the game’s mechanics, and the game’s complexity may turn away a lot of gamers looking for a quick and easy way to get into the action.
The combat is one of the main ways that Mount & Blade: Warband separates itself from the competition. There are myriad factors that will determine the strength and success of your melee attack, including whether or not you are on horseback, whether or not you’re moving, or the timing of the attack. This is a great way to move beyond the simple point-and-click mechanic employed in a lot of action-RPGs, and adds a great amount of depth to the overall package.
One of the key main features on offer from the expansion is the inclusion of multiplayer. Players can now take the battle online, staging fights with up to 63 other players in a variety of different standard multiplayer game modes, including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and so on. You’re also able to play as a number of different classes in the online portion, including warriors, mounted knights, and other types. The deep combat comes into play very nicely here, allowing for battles to be fought on horseback, with the natural elements coming into play weighing very heavily on your chances of success. The game’s sense of fluidity plays out nicely in large-scale online skirmishes, and feels very unique compared to other fantasy games on the market.
Unfortunately, while the new multiplayer is a fine inclusion to Mount & Blade, Warband does very little to bump up the single-player campaign. While the expansion offers up a brand new faction with the medieval Arabian-inspired Sarranid Sultanate as well as a new territory to explore, Caldaria looks and feels just as it did in the original game. The environments are still fairly drab and the gameplay still does very little to foster newcomers into the fray.
If you were a fan of the original Mount & Blade, then Warband might be worth a look if only for the solid multiplayer. However, if multiplayer isn’t your concern, Warband does little to expand the Mount & Blade universe, offering few upgrades over the original. The mechanics are still very complex and tough to master for newcomers, making it pretty tough to get into. Also, if you’re looking for a pretty action-RPG to show off your gaming rig, then your best bet is still Dragon Age: Origins. That said, Warband does a fine job of carrying the tradition of the original Mount & Blade, offering a great level of depth and complexity for hardcore fans of the RPG genre.