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Mount&Blade II: Bannerlord is a sandbox action-RPG strategy hybrid and the next installment in the Mount&Blade series by TaleWorlds, acting as a prequel to Mount&Blade: Warband.

The game released on Early Access March 30th, 2020.

Storyline

The events of Bannerlord take place 200 years before the start of Warband, witnessing the last years of the Calradic Empire and the rise of the kingdoms from which Swadians, Rhodoks, Nords, Vaegirs, Khergits and Sarranids all claim descent.

There are a number of quests in the game which allow the player to shape the storyline as well.

Kingdoms

Bannerlord Faction Map

Campaign map of the factions in Bannerlord, on release.

The kingdoms present in Bannerlord are ancestral to those of Warband and have some of their descendant kingdoms' traits. Each kingdom has several clans who rule and run their own towns and villages, and have their own castles. Additionally, there are lesser, minor factions akin to bandits and mercenaries for the player to interact with during their exploration of Imperial Calradia.

  • The Calradic Empire finds itself in civil war after Emperor Arenicos died without an heir.
    • The Southern Empire, lead by Empress Rhagaea, Arencios' wife. Rhagaea claims that Arenicos' daughter and only child Ira should rule.
    • The Northern Empire, led by the aristocrat and senator Lucon. Lucon claims that the Senate should have its ancient right to pick the new Emperor restored.
    • The Western Empire, lead by the war hero Garios. Garios wants the Empire's veterans to pick the new Emperor.
  • The Vlandians, led by the king Derthert, are a feudal state that specializes in heavy cavalry.
  • The Battanians, led by the king Caladog, are famed for their marksmanship as archers throughout Calradia.
  • The Sturgians, led by the prince Raganvad, inhabit the northern woodlands and are lethal axe-men and swordsmen.
  • The Khuzaits, led by the khan Monchug, are a steppe tribe confederacy and makes heavy use of horse archers.
  • The Aserai, led by the sultan Unqid, inhabit the southern desert lands of Calradia and combine footmen and horsemen in battle.

Changes from Warband

Taleworlds claims there will be "many exciting and highly requested new features" and that it will include "up-close and personal medieval combat on a huge scale, bigger, bloodier and more intense than ever before". They affirmed that they will implement what the fans want in Mount&Blade II: Bannerlord. Taleworlds will also be incorporating aspects from mods, such as the Diplomacy mod, to enhance gameplay. Companions are now generated based on a suffix rather than specific characters.

Gameplay

Gameplay related features have been improved with a new inventory interface and better artificial intelligence. The siege system is also being improved based on player feedback, with additional tactics made available for sieges. Each of the six factions will have its own board games that will be playable. There are also various other changed Concepts.

Settlements

Towns and villages will generally feel more alive. Taverns will have NPCs drinking and talking, and musicians playing music.[1]

Armor and Clothing

Clothing has also been changed, with the addition of pauldrons separate from armor, capes, horse armor separate from horse types, and other additional items.

Weapons and Combat

Bannerlord weapon stats

Inteface showing a weapon's stats

Weapon behavior has been updated to a more physics-based approach. The physical properties of a weapon are used to calculate stats like speed and damage. The main physical properties of a weapon are its length, mass, and distribution of weight. From these properties, the weapon's swing and thrust speeds are calculated using a simplified model.[2]

A model based on an article written by George Turner[3] is used to calculated damage. Damage is separated into three categories, blunt, pierce, and cut, with blunt being the most useful against armor and cutting being the least useful. A consequence of this more physics-based approach to damage is that the speed bonus from Warband is done away with; the difference in velocities of attacker and target are directly used in the damage model. The impact point between target and weapon is also used to calculate damage: getting too close to a target and hitting them with the grip of an axe instead of its head will deal far less damage. The distribution of a weapon's weight affects how fast that weapon can be swung as well as the "kickback" on its wielder after a successful strike. The kickback is modeled as a stun on the attacker, after successful hits, the attacker will be momentarily unable to attack again.[4]

Weapon crafting is a new feature. As the player progresses around the map, they will find weapons with unique parts that can then be applied to weapons, changing their statistics and appearance. For swords, the parts that can be changed are the blade, hilt, handle and pommel.[1]

Graphics

The game's graphics have been significantly improved from its predecessor, having better shading and higher detail models. The character animations are created utilizing motion capture technology, and the facial animations will also be updated to improve upon the portrayal of emotions.

The game engine has global illumination.[5]

Overland Map

The map of Calradia has been expanded to the south and east. Many towns and villages from Warband return in Bannerlord, some with slightly different names to represent how location names and language in general changes over time.
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Current Political map of Calradia, created by Vesper

Bannerlord Calradia Political map

Old political map of Calradia in Bannerlord from pre-Early Access


Modding

As with the previous games of the series, Bannerlord supports mods. TaleWorlds stated that modding was "a primary consideration when developing Bannerlord".

Various modding tools will be released alongside Bannerlord such as the scene, mesh, material, skeleton, replay, particle, atmosphere, cloth, and path editors as well as the model, animation, and resource viewers. A runtime performance tool will also be available.

Full Modding Support is said to be excluded from the Early Access period of Bannerlord, with tools set to be released with the full release of the game. [6]

Development

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord was officially announced 27 September 2012 with a teaser.[7][8]

TaleWorlds Entertainment attended E3 2016 and on 12 June 2016, as part of the PC Gaming Show, showed off siege gameplay.[9][10][11] The following year TaleWorlds Entertainment attended E3 2017 where hands-on demonstrations of Bannerlord were offered to press.[12] The new Sergeant game mode, where the player leads a single company of soldiers, was showed off.[13]

The development team of Bannerlord comprises of 60 people, as of August 2017.[14] There are five developers in the design team, with two of them being narrative designers.[14] Armagan Yavuz is the lead game designer as well as game director at TaleWorlds Entertainment.[15] Steve Negus is one of the designers.[16] There are 25 artists working across different tasks like concept art, modeling, user interface, and motion capture.[14] The team includes Özgür Saral as the lead artist[17], as well as Fatma Öçba[18], Gökalp Doğan[19], and Ümit Singil.[20] Twelve people responsible for gameplay-related programming such as AI, combat, and multiplayer.[14] This team includes Cem Çimenbiçer as lead programmer[21] as well as Koray Kıyakoğlu[22] and Korneel Guns.[23] Eight programmers are responsible for Bannerlord's game engine, including the editor, performance, cloth physics, and console porting.[14] This team includes Murat Türe as the lead programmer[24] as well as Gökhan Uras.[25] There are 5 programmers working on the campaign itself, including missions, sandbox mechanics, and the user interface.[14] Berat Üstündağ is the lead programmer of the campaign team.[26] Lastly, there are five quality assurance developers.[14] Meriç Neşeli is the lead of the quality assurance team.[27]

The development has continued up until the present. An early access release date had been announced for March 31st, 2020. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the date was brought a day earlier, March 30th 10am UTC, with an additional 10% discount for anyone who owned a previous Mount&Blade title on select digital stores.[28] The game is expected to be in Early Access "for around a year" according to the Bannerlord early access description on Steam.

Gallery

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord Developer Blog 11 - Some Context. TaleWorlds Entertainment (11 August 2015). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  2. Dev Blog - Weapon Physics. TaleWorlds Entertainment (2 November 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  3. George Turner. Sword Motions and Impacts - An Investigation and Analysis. Association for Renaissance Martial Arts. Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  4. Dev Blog - Weapon Physics. TaleWorlds Entertainment (16 November 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  5. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord Developer Blog - Engine 1.4. TaleWorlds Entertainment (8 March 2018). Retrieved on 8 March 2018.
  6. Dev Blog - Modding in Bannerlord. TaleWorlds Entertainment (21 September 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  7. Mount&Blade II: Bannerlord Announcement!. TaleWorlds Entertainment (27 September 2012). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  8. Mount&Blade II: Bannerlord - Announcement Teaser. TaleWorlds Entertainment (27 September 2012). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  9. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord at E3 2016. TaleWorlds Entertainment. Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  10. Bannerlord Sieges Revealed at E3. TaleWorlds Entertainment. Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  11. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord E3 2016 Siege Gameplay Extended. TaleWorlds Entertainment (13 June 2016). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  12. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord Playable At E3 2017. TaleWorlds Entertainment. Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  13. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord E3 2017 Cavalry Sergeant Gameplay. TaleWorlds Entertainment (12 June 2016). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 Dev Blog - Meet the TaleWorlds Team. TaleWorlds Entertainment (10 August 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  15. Dev Blog - Q&A with Armagan Yavuz. TaleWorlds Entertainment (24 August 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  16. Dev Blog - Q&A with Steve Negus. TaleWorlds Entertainment (18 January 2018). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  17. Dev Blog - Q&A with Özgür Saral. TaleWorlds Entertainment (1 February 2018). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  18. Dev Blog - Q&A with Fatma Nadide Öçba. TaleWorlds Entertainment (12 October 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  19. Dev Blog - Q&A with Gökalp Doğan. TaleWorlds Entertainment (26 October 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  20. Dev Blog - Q&A with Ümit Singil. TaleWorlds Entertainment (23 November 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  21. Dev Blog - Q&A with Cem Çimenbiçer. TaleWorlds Entertainment (21 December 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  22. Dev Blog - Q&A with Koray Kıyakoğlu. TaleWorlds Entertainment (7 December 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  23. Dev Blog - Q&A with Korneel Guns. TaleWorlds Entertainment (15 March 2018). Retrieved on 15 March 2018.
  24. Dev Blog - Q&A with Murat Türe. TaleWorlds Entertainment (14 September 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  25. Dev Blog - Q&A with Gökhan Uras. TaleWorlds Entertainment (22 February 2018). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  26. Dev Blog - Q&A with Berat Ceren Üstündağ. TaleWorlds Entertainment (7 September 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  27. Dev Blog - Q&A with Meriç Neşeli. TaleWorlds Entertainment (28 September 2017). Retrieved on 2 March 2018.
  28. News - Early Access Information. TaleWorlds Entertainment (27 March 2020). Retrieved on 29 March 2020.

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