The horns sound, the ravens gather. An empire is torn by civil war. Beyond its borders, new kingdoms rise. Gird on your sword, don your armour, summon your followers and ride forth to win glory on the battlefields of Calradia. Establish your hegemony and create a new world out of the ashes of the old.
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March 15

Dev Blog 15/03/18

Greetings warriors of Calradia!

For many people, Mount & Blade: Warband is a singleplayer experience which lets them rise from the rank of a commoner up to the ruler of an entire kingdom, developing their character and fighting in epic sieges along the way.

For others, it is an opportunity to run around naked with a two-handed sword and test their combat skills against players from all around the world. In this week’s blog, we talk with the person responsible for making these equally epic (and sometimes silly) experiences a reality in Bannerlord: Korneel Guns.

Korneel Guns

East-Flanders, Belgium


Digital Arts and Entertainment (DAE), Howest

Gameplay Programmer

Most of the time I work on multiplayer features, optimisations and bug fixes. What I actually do varies from day to day, depending on what we're trying to achieve that week. Lately, I don't get to write much code at all and instead most of my time is spent preparing our internal playtests, monitoring the sessions, gathering feedback from the participants and planning for the next test.

There are many things…

Sometimes, I just open a custom battle, put the troop count into the many hundreds, give command over my troops to the AI, and just watch as the armies clash. There's something very special about seeing this many troops doing their thing.

Lately, I've also been trying my hands on the scene editor and I'm just blown away by how easily I can make something that looks pretty nice. I believe we're going to have a lot of mods with an amazing visual quality.

Look: If I can make this, anyone can make something nice.

But I have to say that I’m mostly excited for the multiplayer part of the game. Before joining TaleWorlds, I spent a lot of time playing Napoleonic Wars and I regularly attended line-battles. It was always such a thrill to be a part of these huge organised battles, with disciplined regiments moving around in formation (only to be struck down by a single cannonball), the smoke from the musket fire, the surprise cavalry charges… It was an amazing experience. I can’t wait to see what the modding scene comes up with for Bannerlord as the possibilities are much greater than they ever were for Warband.

One of the hardest moments was definitely when we were starting out with serious, regular playtests to check both the game modes and combat. At the time, we didn't have any of the automated tests we have now, so the game broke pretty regularly (and in many different ways).

Since I was organizing these playtests, I felt very responsible for the failure or success of these tests. We would get a dozen people to stop working and help us playtest, only to find out that the game wasn't playable anymore and it was a waste of everyone's time.

We've improved the stability a lot since then, with the help of the QA team in combination with automated testing. Soon after, I could finally hear the cries of people getting killed in-game throughout the office, which certainly made me feel a lot better.

Skirmish Playtest

I'm currently writing some extra tools that allow us to better monitor server network usage. We're aiming to have a potential maximum player limit that is well above Warband's, so it helps to be able to visualise data with real-time graphs and stats to find out about possible bottlenecks. We already have a very efficient networking system because of some great programmers on the team. I'm just making sure they can do their job even better!

I struggle to choose between Battania and Vlandia.

The Empire may be in decline and crumbling, but Battania has long lost its glory. Its castles and towns are old and ruinous and each visit to a settlement tells a story of a faction just desperately trying to stay relevant. I find it fun to become part of such a faction and help it to rise up. I guess my Belgian roots may have something to do with that.

And Vlandia, because it's just a classic done well: majestic and dominating castles, chivalric knights and, of course, the crossbowmen! Fighting at range is by far my favourite thing to do. Both Battania and Vlandia excel at this, but the crossbow is definitely the coolest.

We have a full Steam integration, so you'll easily be able to join friends' games, or invite them to your party.

We will still have the server list, just like we have in Warband. It will contain both official and unofficial (community-run) servers. On top of that, there is also a matchmaking system which ties in nicely with our more competitive game modes (see question below).

Siege has received a full overhaul. It is still all about attacking and defending an entire castle, but now with a full range of different kinds of siege weapons (ballistae, catapults, siege towers and battering rams).

Then, there are some game modes that are entirely new, such as Captain Battle: a team-based mode where each player gets command over a regiment of AI troops (just like in singleplayer). You win by either eliminating the other team, or by controlling the battlefield.

There is also Skirmish Battle, a more competitive game mode that is designed to be played 6 vs 6. You have multiple lives per round, but each troop has a different cost, which means you have to make a choice between fielding a greater number of poorly equipped troops or fewer more specialised ones. Good communication and managing your lives are key in this mode.

We also have a Duel Mode for those who want to test their skills in a more controlled environment.

The solutions to prevent camping are different for many games. For us, we realized it's a serious issue and we have designed our new game modes so that they make camping a bad choice: for Skirmish and Captain Battles, you have to be active and either fight the enemy, or move to different locations on the battlefield to control them. It's also not enough to just move to one location and hold it: you will constantly be encouraged to move and adapt until the very end of each round. We have noticed in our internal playtests that this is working out very well.

Discuss this blog post HERE


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March 8

Dev Blog 08/03/18

Greetings warriors of Calradia!

In this week’s blog, we would like to talk about the newly introduced engine version 1.4 which consists of many graphical improvements as well as a number of performance updates.

We develop engine features in separate branches with each one labelled as a version. This allows us to test new features extensively and efficiently without decreasing the stability for the gameplay programmers.

Global Illumination
We introduced a new global illumination system to the engine which can correctly illuminate both static and dynamic objects. It is based on a pre-baked system called "Precomputed Radiance Transfer". It is independent from the atmosphere, which is a must for a game like Bannerlord where you will enter a scene at different times of the day. The system saves the illumination data to probes inside a regular grid. We developed lots of automatic placement tools so that the work required by artists to bake the scenes is kept to a minimal. Modders will be able to bake GI to their scenes using these tools.

Compute Shader Skinning
By using profilers we have learnt that in large-scale battles the majority of the GPU time is spent on the skinning of agent meshes. Normally, the skinning process is repeated every time a mesh needs to be rendered (shadow pass, gBuffer pass, special passes for custom hair shading etc.). To combat this, skinning calculations of skeletal meshes have been moved from the vertex shader stage to a separate compute shader stage. Despite both stages running on the GPU, executing a separate stage for skinning and storing results in temporary memory enables us to do skinning calculations only once per frame and use special optimisation mechanisms that are exclusive to compute shaders. This results in the rendering time of skinning meshes being reduced by 60% which enables us to achieve 60FPS in huge battle scenes on a wide range of GPUs.

Particle Shading Atlas
Particles are now shaded in a separate compute shader stage. Each visible particle is assigned a rectangular region (2x2, 4x4, 8x8, 16x16 or 32x32) in a big global texture atlas according to its screen space size. Shading is done on these tiny quads with a compute shader stage. During the actual rendering, we just sample the lighting result from the atlas texture and skip any complex lighting computation. Separating shading and drawing stages enables us to reduce the fill rate costs of particles since the amount of shaded pixels are extremely reduced. This reduces the high GPU cost of the desert-like scenes. This technique also eliminates the sharp shadows on the particle quads, further increasing the visual quality of the already beautiful particles of Bannerlord!

At this point we feel it is important to stress the fact that while yes, we are still developing the engine and making new additions: this work is running entirely parallel to the development of Bannerlord. Our dedicated engine team are constantly striving to give us a better optimised engine which allows us to have larger battles, higher frame rates, greater visual fidelity and faster loading times. This work doesn’t hold back the development of the game in any way, shape or form and will ultimately improve the overall quality of the final product.

In next week’s blog we will be talking to Gameplay Programmer, Korneel Guns. Korneel’s main focus is on the multiplayer aspect of Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord. If you have any questions you would like to ask him please leave a reply in the comments and we will pick one out for him to answer!

Discuss this blog post HERE


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About This Game

The horns sound, the ravens gather. An empire is torn by civil war. Beyond its borders, new kingdoms rise. Gird on your sword, don your armour, summon your followers and ride forth to win glory on the battlefields of Calradia. Establish your hegemony and create a new world out of the ashes of the old.

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is the eagerly awaited sequel to the acclaimed medieval combat simulator and role-playing game Mount & Blade: Warband. Set 200 years before, it expands both the detailed fighting system and the world of Calradia. Bombard mountain fastnesses with siege engines, establish secret criminal empires in the back alleys of cities, or charge into the thick of chaotic battles in your quest for power.

Construct, position and fire a range of heavy machinery in sieges that will test your wits and skill like never before. Experience epic, sprawling combat across ramparts and rubble as you desperately hold on to your castle or seek to seize one from the enemy.

Historically authentic defensive structures offer the ultimate medieval warfare experience, as you batter a rival's gate with your ram or burn his siege tower to ashes. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord lets you live every moment of a chaotic battle through the eyes of a single soldier.

Engage in diplomacy, with meaningful consequences that impact the world. Strike historic peace deals that win land for your kingdom or free you to take on a new foe. An all-new barter system gives players flexibility in cementing deals, from marriage offers to treason pacts, offering all the options available to NPCs. Use a new influence system to direct your faction's energies or strangle the aspirations of a rival.

See the availability of goods ebb and flow in a simulated feudal economy, where the price of everything from incense to warhorses fluctuates with supply and demand. Invest in farms and workshops, or turn anarchy to your advantage by being the first to bring grain to a starving town after a siege or reopening a bandit-plagued caravan route.

Craft your own weapon, name it and carry it with you to the field of battle! A deep, physics-based system gives each weapon you create a unique set of attributes, strengths and weaknesses. Forge a finely-tuned killing machine to match your own prowess and complement your play-style, or take the sword of your enemy and brandish it as a trophy of war.

The engine and tools used to develop Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord are being made available to the community, so that modders can re-interpret Calradia or create their own worlds! Players can now combine different mods, making it easier than ever to play the game of your dreams.

An all-new tailor-made game engine, developed in-house to fulfill the unique needs of the series, offers the perfect balance of performance and graphical fidelity, scalable with the power of your hardware.

Experience Mount & Blade with richer, more beautiful graphics than ever, immersing you in the world of Calradia, rendering the game's magnificent battles with equally spectacular detail.

System Requirements

    • Processor: Intel i3-2100 / AMD FX-6300
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Intel HD 4600 / Nvidia GT730 / AMD R7 240
    • Storage: 40 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: These estimates may change during final release
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