The announcement of Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord last September was curiously light on details but while we expected developer Taleworlds to dribble more out slowly, it instead went stone silent. On Friday, exactly one year later, it finally broke this to release a dozen screenshots. The game's still something of a mystery, though.
Somehow, we seem to have missed TaleWorlds' announcement of Mount & Blade II a couple of days a year ago, but we can't very well deny its existence now that it's spilling screenshots all over the place, can we? Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord is the sequel to Mount & Blade: Warband (wouldn't that make it M&B3...or even M&B4 if you count With Fire & Sword?), and so far we know...um, zip. Stick around for some rather lovely screenshots, however, and a trailer featuring GIANT WORDS coming out of the screen.
"The drums of battle will beat again. And swords will sing their grim song." And bows will make a nice whooshing sound, presumably. OK, so it's a teaser trailer, and therefore light on actual details - I do feel suitably teased though. How about you? I'd say it's telling that TaleWorlds are name-checking Warband on the site, rather than the original M&B or Fire & Sword - I'm also quite excited by the thought of a 'proper' M&B sequel, despite deciding that the original wasn't quite for me. The lure of medieval combat/eventual Game of Thrones mods is too strong to resist. (Speaking of which, you've read Chris Livingston's experiences with Warband's A Clash of Kings mod, right?)
You'll find some Mount & Blade II screenshots below (the rest are here on the official site). It looks quite a bit fancier than the original games, and features all the mounts and blades you were probably expecting. Also: bows, barefoot urchins, cities.
News travels slowly in the lands of medieval fantasy, which is why I've only just noticed this hiding out in the crowded mass of ModDB updates. Mount & Blade: Warband's obligatory Game of Thrones mod A Clash of Kings has (as of a couple of weeks ago) released its v1.0 build. This is just the sort of milestone that calls for some celebratory capons. And a news post.
What features were required to prompt the mod's makers to break out of beta? Highlights from the changelog include new lords, new castles, and new NPCs, including Lysa Tully, Catelyn Stark, Melisandre and Vargo Hoat. In addition, the Eastern continent has been re-done, more locations have been added, and new quests have been made available. Oh, and Jaime Lannister is now in there, too.
You can grab the mod from its ModDB page. To see why you should, have a read of Christopher Livingston's adventures in Westeros when he made it our Mod of the Week.
Community Announcements - Captain Lust [TaleWorlds]
Mount&Blade Warband has been patched to version 1.158
The changes for 1.158 and 1.157 are as follows. Steam should automatically update your game:
-Rebalanced in-game economy to encourage a range of propserity among towns (previously most towns became rich or very rich).
-Fixed bug with 'auto_select_weapon_mode' occurring too frequently.
-Fixed a visual error with attacks that are cancelled mid air.
-Fixed animation error with pikes.
-Fixed bug with shadows.
-Added new operations for modders and modified/fixed some existing operations.
-Fixed bug that caused slow movement in certain buildings and with certain scene props.
-Adjusted the way attack cancelling is handled while jumping.
-Added more options to module.ini.
-Bug fixed where throwing axe and throwing knife models would show on shields with the wrong rotations.
-Increased maximum number of different party member and prisoner stacks from 32 to 256.
-Changed netcode to fix a bug where animations would sometimes fail to load.
-Rebalanced Khergit multiplayer troops and added 'Khergit Infantry' class.
-Adjusted price of certain items in multiplayer based on faction (certain items now cost different amounts of gold depending on faction).
-Rebalanced several items to create proper price/quality progression balance in multiplayer.
-Other minor bug fixes.
-Adjusted equipment of Vaegir troops for balance.
-Adjusted stats of ranged troops for balance.
-Shortened string of server messages.
-Reduced cap on turn speed in multiplayer.
-All spears can now rear horses.
-Updated fonts.dss file to support the Lithuanian language characters.
-Fixed issue with multiplayer troop stat assignment. Values are now shown correctly in the module system with a workaround to prevent auto-assignment, at the same "real" values as 1157. With the exception that Vaegir and Sarranid Archers now have a riding skill of 1 instead of 2 and that Nord Huscarls have 0 Power Draw instead of 1.
-Resolved crashing when prop_instance_play_sound is used server side but not synced client side.
-Resolved issue where all spawned items play only blunt sounds in multiplayer.
-Fixed minor issue with Lend Companion quest.
-Fixed slow movement on certain scene props occurring after a fix in 1157.
Since Rich seems to be having fun with a Game of Thrones mod in Crusader Kings II, I thought I might try a GoT mod as well, but with a different game: Mount & Blade: Warband. Adding sea travel, naval battles, over a thousand new items, props, and textures, plus a massive map of Westeros and tons of characters based on the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Clash of Kings mod lets gamers step into a world ravaged by war as a handful of wealthy, entitled men violently quibble over who gets to sit on a big fancy chair.
While Rich's playthrough is focused on politics, intrigue, and poop-based assassination, I'm taking a slightly different approach with this mod (created by modder Cozur and a host of contributors). I want the experience that the Game of Thrones books and television show don't portray very often: the perspective of the commoners who are swept up in the drama, and moved around on the gaming board like so many checkers at the whim of would-be monarchs. Since George R. R. Martin often gives his characters slightly changed familiar names (Robb, Eddard, Tommen, Petyr, etc.) I went the same route. Meet my character, Keewristoffertt. As the son of a merchant and former street urchin, commoners don't come more common than Keewris.
His face got stuck mid-warg, apparently.
I begin the game in the city of Storm's End, with the world of Westeros already heading into the War of the Five Kings (which is the start of the second book, or the second season of the show). I'm eager to join up with a king, though even as a commoner, I'd like to do a little homework to decide which is the best king to align with. Unlike our own world, where we form our political opinions by listening to the paranoid rantings of spittle-spewing radio and television hosts, in Mount & Blade I can just walk right up to any old king and talk to him.
Under Barathocare, my hard-earned gold will go to leech treatments for peasants? I'm dubious.
I talk to King Renly Baratheon, who is polite and seems worth pledging my undying devotion to, then ride toward Lannisport to personally talk to Tywin Lannister, who is not technically a king but might as well be. Along the way, I'm intercepted by Ser Gregor Clegane, a Lannister knight. While trying to ask him where Tywin Lannister is, I accidentally click on a more threatening line of dialogue, which leads a rude reply from Clegane, which leads to a battle between me and 42 of Clegane's men, which leads to me getting slightly filled with arrows.
Um. I yield?
Okay! I think joining the Lannisters is out of the question. After I escape from Clegane, I ride back to Storm's End to pledge my sword to King Renly. Unfortunately, when I arrive, I'm told Renly has been imprisoned by his own brother, Stannis Baratheon, king of Dragonstone. Well, since Stannis is also at war with the Lannisters, I figure I might as well just join him. I head over to the island of Dragonstone (by boat!) and pledge my sword to King Stannis.
I have no honor, no friends, and the worst enemy EVER. Thanks for adding the jab about my reading habits.
As a conscript of Stannis, I follow him wherever he goes, and he's quite an active king. We ride patrols around his kingdom, fighting Forest Bandits, and patrol the seas, fighting, uh, Forest Bandits. Who are on boats. Okay. Naval combat is a lot like regular combat, only there are no horses and it takes place on boats connected by narrow planks, which can lead to a bit of a bottleneck. It takes me several minutes to even get off our boat, clogged as is with Dragonstone soldiers, and get into the fight, which promptly ends before I can even kill anyone.
I think I can see a Sea Bandit. Somewhere. Over there.
Even land battles tend to leave me out of the action. Since I don't have a horse, I get left behind during the attacks, and often the battles are over before I reach an enemy. Stannis, gracious king that he is, still sees my devotion and promotes me. After a few more weeks, King Stannis assembles a massive force of hundreds of men outside Driftmark, and we ride to Duskendale, a city under Lannister control. It's time for a siege! It's exciting as hell, though again, I'm stuck at the rear for most of the skirmish.
Follwing the seige of Duskendale, we move on to the city of Antlers (seat of House Buckwell in the Crownlands, according to the ASOIAF wiki). A little tired of being at the back of the crowd and only getting leftovers, I charge the ramp, bravely enter the city first, and yeah that was a terrible idea.
We lose the battle, and worse, King Stannis is captured and imprisoned. With Stannis imprisoned by the Lannisters and Renly imprisoned by Stannis, I seem to have run out of Baratheons to follow around. What's a commoner to do? Find a new king, I guess. I head to a likely sounding location.
Siege, or knock? Think I'll knock.
I join up with Ser Addam Marbrand, who despite following the Lannisters seems like a nice enough guy. Unfortunately, he may be too nice: he never leaves King's Landing. After doing nothing for a few weeks, I decide to desert Marbrand and look for a king who is a little more proactive. I even convince two other soldiers to come along with me, and we head for Highgarden, hoping to join up with Lord Mace Tyrell. Before we even get there we're taken captive by some of Tyrell's soldiers from The Reach, who view us as enemies. Apparently, word of my desertion has spread. Damn ravens! Stop delivering tiny scraps of paper that describe what disloyal soldier I am!
I think surrender is a fine tactical plan, actually.
I finally escape, abandoning the two companions I had with me. Sorry, guys! Enjoy prison for the remainder of the war. I head to Sunspear, capital city of Dorne, but they won't let me in, and I get captured by another Lord who also drags me around as a prisoner for a while. Eventually, I wind back up at Storm's End, where I run into King Renly, who has apparently escaped from prison (or perhaps was ransomed by Davos Seaworth). He doesn't trust me enough to let me serve in his army, but asks a favor: could I please spring his brother Stannis, my past king, from prison in the Westerlands? That seems unusual. First, why trust me, a guy you don't trust, with this task? Second, why free Stannis when he's the one who has kept you imprisoned all this time?
Still, the opportunity of freeing Stannis, my chosen king, is too good to pass up. I head to the city of Hornvale (seat of House Brax), disguise myself as a peasant (it's not hard since I essentially am a peasant), and slip into the courtyard. There I approach the lone prison guard and ask him who he's got in jail. He confirms it's Stannis, so I cleverly beat him to death with a big stick (politics!). I free Stannis, along with Ellery Vance and Lord Clement Piper, who are also being held captive, and we storm the courtyard, taking down a handful of guards and escaping. So much for just being a simple soldier, I guess: I've just had a major impact on the power structure of the world.
This escape came to be known as The Fist of the Bald Men.
After reuniting with Stannis at Dragonstone, we spend a few days in the castle and then ride out en masse, immediately clashing with... King Renly. It's the guy who asked me to free Stannis, and we're going to war with him again. Weird. Several minutes into the battle, I actually spot Renly slashing his way through Dragonstone soldiers. I hit him with my sword, and he collapses. I should point out that these two events are unrelated: the game log tells me I hit but did no damage and that it was some Elite Dragonstone Swordsman who actually felled the king. On the other hand, after we win the battle, I'm still pretty stoked to see I had better numbers than Renly.
See, this is why I just wanted to be a common soldier. Politics are weird and baffling. I just rescued a king for another king and then defeated the king while fighting for the king the king wanted rescued. I'm just confused. I guess I don't understand politics, and I definitely don't understand brothers.
Installation: It's not hard! Download the latest version of the mod. Find the Modules folder in your M&B Warband folder, and drop the downloaded file in there. Start the game, choose the mod from the drop-down, and get your Ice & Fire on.
Choosing the best thing out of a pile of really good things is always a tough decision, but hey, we're used to it. You too can participate in the careful choicemaking by voting for your favorite mod and indie game of the year over at Mod DB and Indie DB, where the top 100 nominations were just plucked from a gargantuan pool of over 9,000 mods and 5,500 indies.
With friendly vote buttons large and in charge until December 21, each database's 100 selections are sorted by genre and game for easy perusal. Numerous strong contenders vie for your mouse-click's thumbs-up, including noteworthy entries DayZ, The Dark Mod, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, and Natural Selection 2.
Current favorites leading the pack are Half-Life 2's powerful mod lineup—among which Black Mesa and our own 2011 Mod of the Year No More Room in Hell count themselves among the ranks—and role-playing indie games. You'll find Legend of Grimrock, Dear Esther, Mount & Blade: Warband, and others in the latter category. But like everyone's slowly expanding backlog of shame, plenty of other potentials yearn for your attention. Head to both award pages for the full lists.
You might remember developers Flying Squirrel from their work on the multiplayer Mount & Blade expansion Napoleonic Wars, but one look at their first standalone project, the brilliantly ambitious Battle Cry of Freedom, and that short sulky Frenchman will be forever banished from your mind. Like Assassin's Creed 3, it's set during the American Civil War, but not the American Civil War as imagined by a grumpy bartender lying in a sci-fi sunbed. Read on for details, including mention of the 500-player(!) battles.
Here it is: whoa, there's going to be 500-player battles. Actually, there's a '+' in there too, so the game may be capable of supporting even more. Other things we can expect: historically accurate maps, uniforms and weapons, a "completely destructible environment", 3D voice chat, 5X5 km big maps and, perhaps best of all, "special musician units with drums, fifes, fiddles or trumpets, able to play historically accurate tunes." It appears as if combat will be largely similar to that seen in Mount & Blade, but with a bigger focus on muskets, obviously.
Flying Squirrel are taking donations on their homepage via their own form of Kickstarter, and at the time of writing they've raised just over a grand of their surprisingly low 60,000 Euros goal. 20 Euros is the minimum donation needed to bag a digital copy on release (plus early beta access), though if you have a spare million, the developers promise to "personally fly over to you and host the most awesome party you have ever had in your life". Hey now - I've been to a roller disco. I'm not sure anything will ever compete with that.