I’d like to take you back to a time of war and blood. To nobles and kings, warriors and heroes. Specifically, I’d like to take you to a very interesting game, named Mount and Blade: Warband Viking Conquest Reforged Edition. This (not so) little game is inspired by the dark ages of history. Where the only law was what local lords could enforce through the might of the sword.
Mount and Blade has been around for a good while, and seems to have become a rather popular yet oddly unheard of title.
Creating your character is the first step to conquering the world, as any game would be happy to teach you. Mount and Blade is no different tho it’s character creation brings to mind thoughts of old pen and paper dice games. Your ethnicity, age, gender, and height are all able to be selected and changed from various drop down menus. They add to this by letting you select personality, greatest virtue, your father’s occupation what your vocation is, as well as what you learnt as a child, they even have you select your character’s religion.
All these options affect your over all game play in some way. One example being is if you take the personality type Sanguine you’ll get options to try to persuade town leaders and others of import based off your “energetic and sociable” personality.
All of this gets written up in a short biography that attempts to help guide and inform you of the life that your character lead up till this point.
Once you are done with the drop down menus you are taken to a skill page which lists the various abilities and attributes your character possesses. (unless you are a noble who has to first choose his family’s crest, which will be carried into battle as his personal flag.) You get a hand full of points based off your previous choices and after spending them and putting in your name, you are taken to the final stage of character creation.
Here we get to the ever classical sliders of face sculpting. After as long, or as little, as a player spends on that, they’ll finally find themselves in the Dark Ages of history.
This is where the game really begins. Now of course there’s a tutorial that teaches one the basics of combat, but that is really all it teaches the you. The rest is left for you to explore and discover on your own, unless you play the base story which will slowly walk you through the systems.
Game play is rather solid. In combat where you position your camera is very important as it directly effects how your character fights. Looking slightly up as you prepare to strike will cause your warrior to strike from above, where looking left or right will cause the attack to come from one of the sides, pulling downwards will lead to a stab. Of course if you find this interesting system to difficult or bothersome one can simply switch it so it’s more like Elder Scrolls Morrowind, in how where you step will determine how you strike instead.
This same system is used when a player uses their weapon to parry. Tho a shield user just has to hold the hunk of wood up to absorb the damage in his stead.
But personal combat is only the tip of the iceberg that is this interesting, and rather crazy game. See as the player progresses they can recruit farmers and peasants (or local bandits) to form small groups that can grow into fully manned armies. How one chooses to go about controlling these armies will go a long way in affecting a battle’s conclusion.
There are basic orders “Hold position” “Charge” and the like. But those who love to micro manage will find their Nirvana on the battlefield. Having cavalry charge in only to retreat to draw the enemy into range of your archers being a simple yet satisfying way to bring ruin to your enemies.
You are not the only one who can gain strength in this world. The army you lead will level, soldiers gaining new titles and access to better gear. The lowly laborer may one day become your heavily armored Bodyguard. Keeping your troops alive becomes a priority for those who wish to groom an army of the highest power.
Outside of waging war, the player can enjoy a myriad of other options. Playing as a trader, buying in one city, to travel across the world to sell it for a better price elsewhere is a viable option for example. As is running around as a bandit looting any small town that you find undefended by it’s local lord. Tho most aim for the goal of becoming nobility or even royalty by marrying into the family, and then working their way into favor with the highest authorities.
How one gets around the world is done with a lack luster yet effective map interface. A 3D model of the character holding his flag (assuming he has one) walks where ever the player taps. Skills such as Path-finding and Athletics are able to affect how quickly they travel or how far they can see. Running into another group on the map opens a dialogue screen where you can choose to attack, or just speak to who ever you, and what ever find.
This all just explains one game mode in this game so far, and doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what all Mount and Blade has to offer.
There’s Story mode which takes you on the journey to become king over the warring nations.
Sandbox mode which is where I personally spend most my time in this wonderful ball of insanity.
There is also Multiplayer which has it’s own list of modes. Classics such as free for all Deathmatches are available. But they have a few modes which are unique to Mount and Blade as well.
Thor’s champion for example, plays a good deal like Juggernaut from a halo game. Kill the Champion to become the Champion, and as the champion kill other players to earn points.
Warlord battle, lets the two or more players wage true war on each other with an army of bots to back them up.
Raid mode, let players defend or attack villages. Villagers get a numerical advantage tho the invaders get better gear to keep things mostly fair.
Siege mode has the defenders working from a fortified position to defend their flag against the invaders, who respawn quicker than the defenders.
As well as others.
When all is said and done, Mount and Blade:Warband Viking Reforged edition is a great game for those who want a realistic war game set back in the Dark ages. It’s got it’s quirks in the form of chunky animations in places as well as graphics that are a little aged. But at it’s core it’s got all a gamer could hope for. Good game play, replay-ability, and a vast world to explore at your leisure. And with a community that has been and seems to be happy to keep on modding long into the future the game will keep feeling “new” so long as your hard drive has space for one more mod.