It’s been five years since the announcement of Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord, and Taleworlds has been working non-stop to bring their game to the modern era. The Mount and Blade franchise places the player in an action-packed RPG sandbox in the medieval land of Calradia. Players can engage in the dynamic political system between various warring factions to either serve their lord or their own goals.
At E3 2017, I got to sit with Korneel Guns, a programmer at TaleWorlds, and asked him about three big changes that the game needed. Here is a taste of what to expect from Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord.
The AI in Bannerlord
“No longer can you just walk backwards and kill an entire army”
AI improvement was a high priority for Taleworlds to help upgrade Bannerlord‘s gameplay, and it clearly shows. The game looks better by reducing clumping of clashing armies, but the effects more than aesthetic. Previous iterations of the series had players interact with a simple-minded AI. Players were able to employ simple exploits and tricks to topple the mightiest opposition. The new AI is much more capable in fights, which allows for greater demand on how players control troops. This system also rewards players for deploying forces in optimal formation.
The AI updates trickles down into other aspects of the game as well. In Bannerlord it will be much harder to become a killing machine due to the aggressive and constantly adapting AI. If players are exposed from a poorly executed charge, automated adversaries will seek out and punish the mistake. Now there will be a clear difference between a well-timed flank versus charging head-on into a well prepared opponent.
Skills and Companions
TaleWorlds has revamped the simple skill system. Now leveling up gives characters focus points. As the player puts these points into a skill, said skill will level up faster as it’s used. This allows players to level up the abilities they actually use rather than distribute points to underutilized ones. Players will also see a perk system in Bannerlord. This will allow character customization that fits various playstyles, from dead-eye horse archers to armored knights.
Companions are a much more significant part of the game, and will be able to perform tasks and quests. Players can now have acquired heroes govern castles and cities while defending their lord or continuing a crusade. Companions will be an extension of the player that will be a pivotal part of management.
Experience of Battle
I was worried how the grand scale battles were going to perform with the emphasis on complex AI, beautiful graphics, and combat physics. Luckily, Bannerlord was built from the ground up to take advantage of powerful hardware. Currently, there is no definite unit cap, but the game runs smoothly with 600 soldiers on the battlefield.
While out conquering, players will be using rebuilt siege options in Bannerlord, and will have more tools at their disposal when choosing how to annihilate opponent’s castles. From trebuchets, battering rams, and player favorite siege towers, this game will give players the arsenal they’ve always wanted.
Continuing a Legacy
Reflecting on my short time at the Taleworlds booth, it’s clear to see they’ve been busy listening to what players want and implementing them in a way that captures the charm that first drew players into Mount and Blade. They have even been paying attention to mods and DLC to see what went well and what could be improved. All development tools will be available on release to support the mods that make this game series that much better.
I was grateful for their time and letting me interview them, and I am looking forward to more Bannerlord content.