GC 2008: Mount & Blade Impressions

Leave the monsters and magic behind in this more realistic medieval combat game.

After being in beta for what seems like forever, the upcoming role-playing action game, Mount & Blade is due for release in September, bringing with it what seems to be a unique take on medieval combat. We had a chance to check the game out during a guided demo to see how it's shaping up just ahead of its release.

Unlike many games set in the days of brave knights and fair maidens, Mount & Blade forgoes the monsters and magic for a much more realistic take on combat in the Middle Ages. Here, you only fight against human beings, but the open nature of the gameplay means that the political intrigues in the world of Calradia will be constantly shifting. As a result, your allegiances will shift as well.

In Mount & Blade, you play as a warrior who's looking to make a name for himself. In the early goings, the game plays very much like a role-playing game, with you leveling up, earning new skills, and hiring soldiers from the nearby villages to help you with the many quests you can pick up during your travels. As the game progresses, however, there seems to be a strong strategy element that will develop, as different kingdoms vie for control and the political landscape continues to shift.

Your character will be able to carry and access a maximum of four weapons at a time (including a shield), though you'll have an inventory that will let you hold more stuff. You'll also be able to own and ride multiple horses; different mounts will have different attributes--some faster, some stronger--so it will be to your benefit to have different horses for different purposes. As you continue through the game, you'll earn experience that will let you level up, improving your personal and combat attributes.

As you make your way around the environments in Mount & Blade, sooner or later, you'll encounter enemies. Combat in Mount & Blade is all based on the physical direction and momentum of the players, as well as the weapon you're currently wielding. If you're charging on a horse against a static opponent and manage to blast him in the head with an axe, it will be a much more devastating attack than if you were merely standing still. You can fight both mounted and on the ground with a variety of weapons, including axes, swords, crossbows, and more.

You can hire soldiers and heroes to assist you in combat, resulting in some very large-scale battles (which can be tweaked with sliders, depending on the relative power of your PC rig). While basic soldiers are more or less cannon fodder, the various heroes that you'll meet in towns are a different matter. Not only are they more expensive, but they're also more effective in combat, and you'll need to keep track of each soldier's mood. One hero might look down on your insistence on looting towns and killing villagers; another might get grouchy if you forget to buy enough food for your latest mission. As your cadre of heroes grows, you'll have to constantly keep track of their different requirements to keep them happy and fighting on your side.

Its free-form nature might turn off players looking for some more structure to their fantasy gaming, but there's something to be said for the constantly shifting nature of the world in Mount & Blade that might appeal to those who are looking for something a bit more realistic in their medieval warfare. The game is due for release in September.

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Discussion

53 comments
pwndOo
pwndOo

lol many people forgot that this is more or less indie game...

OlharaK
OlharaK

The devs should've worked on it another year imo Game is pretty fun and addictive but it feels unfinished. The quests are weak, there should be more items and armor diversity, and even the combat needed more work. You can't really make good strategies like in TW for example. With the much needed work this game could easily go from average to awesome.

mrcrotch1989
mrcrotch1989

The game is defintaly better than the score it was given by Gamespot - sure the graphics arn't up to date, but gameplay > graphics.

mrcrotch1989
mrcrotch1989

The game is defintaly better than the score it was given by Gamespot - sure the graphics arn't up to date, but gameplay > graphics.

Demon-Draco
Demon-Draco

Been with it since .751, and bought it a week after playing that version for the first time. Long live M&B!

DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

Combat in this game is really fun and as for people completely ripping the graphics I have seen worse. I will say that people that like NWN2 and the Witcher are supporting games that are not even as good as this with their buggy combat and poor camera angles. Yes this game could have been better but at least you can play it unlike the torture that is the other two titles I listed. That alone should raise the review score. This game is a 7 game for sure.

IXIWhistIXI
IXIWhistIXI

All you need to know about this game is though it does have some frustrating things in it, it's overall quite fun and hopefully will help show these nextgen kids that graphics don't make the game. So what if you can't see tiny nicks in your sword, does that really make a game better for anything other than nice looking screencaps? I wish more people would create games on their own, with the internet now days, it's not very hard at all to sell your game yourself from your webpage. Obviously you'll have to do all the advertising work and the other stuff, but the end result is an actually fun game, not one that's just a copy of what made a lot of money the previous year.

RedRiver80
RedRiver80

Brian totally forgot to mention that a player can join a faction as a mercenary or a vasal... get his own fief and take castles/towns as well as join a rebelion against any faction... in the end it's all 'bout how ya wanna play the game. but if one wants to *win* it has to be by conquest.

thingta42
thingta42

The game isnt ment to have a storyline its ment to have Sanbox gameplay allowing you to do what you want. Although the land you play in does have quite a bit of back-story and so the the fractions. The grahpics are pretty good also. all in all 10/10 for the game

TA127
TA127

The only thing that bothers me is the lame graphics and the not- existing storyline. Besides that, the game looks amazing.

Corey_Larson
Corey_Larson

I cant wait for the full version, the beta is f**king sweet, and i cant wait to see the full game!!

Corey_Larson
Corey_Larson

I cant wait for the full version, the beta is f**king sweet, and i cant wait to see the full game!!

kweeni
kweeni

the game rocks and im only talking bout the beta, it might look simple and nothing special, which is what i thought at first, till you actually play it, its tons of fun! love the beta cant wait to get my hands on the full game! :D

madman23
madman23

No I guess the box art isn't really cruddy. It's well done technically. My gripe is the guy's expression is kinda indecipherable and if I had to categorize it, I'd say he looks very very very mildly amused. But you've given me pause, because that's exactly how I feel when I've lost everything in the game; especially my most recent battle, have been taken prisoner and escaped, my once-great army is dead on the battlefield or locked in the enemies Stone Lonely, and the bastards got my Warbow. My friends are scattered. So I guess the guy on the box art really looks like he's down on his luck. But don't count him out.

Gromul
Gromul

One of the best games EVER. And that's the beta we're talking about :D Can't wait for the final version...

SocEgalla
SocEgalla

Duuuuuuuuuuuuude. I played the demo for this so long ago, and it's rad as all hell. You honestly wouldn't expect it to be that cool, but for some strange reason, it's an insane ammount of fun. I've turned a lot of people onto this game and have been waiting to buy it since I first played the demo.

rockatanski
rockatanski

The cover art is not cruddy. It is suggestive and royal in my opinion. The best independent game ever made.

madman23
madman23

The cover artwork on the box is really cruddy. That's the only knock I have against this game. It's easily the best game I've ever played - you really need skill just to play it, but when you feel competent with the myriad weapons you actually feel quite accomplished and they are all very nuanced. The in-game artwork for the load screens is MASTERFUL and should have been used for the box art. Oh well. Mount&Blade is a Big Bad Warhorse.

Demon-Draco
Demon-Draco

Bought it back when it was .751 Must try.

jazilla
jazilla

I am absolutely hooked on the beta. it needs some balancing and some stuff done to the dialogue for it to make sense, but it is a fantastic game. can't wait to get the full version when it comes out.

jazilla
jazilla

I am absolutely hooked on the beta. it needs some balancing and some stuff done to the dialogue for it to make sense, but it is a fantastic game. can't wait to get the full version when it comes out.

spgmaple
spgmaple

This game is brilliant, with some balancing (ehm swadia, rhodoks) it could be one of my top games of the year. I only hope it doesnt go TOO mainstream, resulting in a sequal (crosses fingers) that is dumbed down for the general public.

eclarkdog
eclarkdog

I've been playing this game for years in beta. M&B already had a huge and growing modding community. I'm very interested to see what the final product will be with enhanced story and plot. No question, there's just nothing that compares to the combat in the game. You really feel the movement of the horse and the impact of sword or axe against bone. As for archery, I've never played a game near as realistic in this weapon type. The graphics are not great, but then this is really an independent game that was just picked up by a publisher. I think they hold their own especially given all the amazing things to like about this game. Once these developers finally earn some real cash, I'm sure they will upgrade the M&B engine at some point.

liam72
liam72

Exceptional game. I forget about poor graphic as soon as I get in a fight. Only little problem is that some factions are stronger because they have horsemen. Swadia, Vaegirs and the other I don't remember. But damn... It's so fun when your army of knight horsemen attack a hord of tribesmen lol!

lathan94
lathan94

This game is not crappy. Ive been playing the game for months not in beta for and i consider it one of my favorite games of all time. So for the people who think the game is going to be crappy obviously didnt read the user reviews for it.

tanocapo
tanocapo

I'm playing beta from a very long time. Best game ever!! I'm bored of the same graphic card eaters crapy games like Crysis and so on! This game is realistic, original, and very fun!! Well done Taleworlds!!

Poordevil
Poordevil

If your not a graphics whore and can deal with slightly dated ones, its the best game ever. Plus their are and will be mods to improve them.

Hesam_Titan
Hesam_Titan

hi. yeeeeeeeeees i think this game is very good i want play......

AviticusDSS
AviticusDSS

Definately one of the best games ever made!

shawgdawg
shawgdawg

I've been playing the beta myself, and I would rank it as one of the best games I have played. And if what Guiltfeeder said is true, it's going to be on everybody's list.

eno32
eno32

Definitely one of my all time favorite games...which is a pretty high honor for a game that isn't even finished yet!

themaelstorm
themaelstorm

I'd like to add, if people are not aware. There are LOADS of VERY good mods for this game and the modding tools allow you to change many, many things in the game. Check their website at www.taleworlds.net and browse their forums. You can find more there.

firo999
firo999

ive also got the beta version it is one of the best games i have ever played i use the battlesizer and put it on 1000 i would have massive battles the only downfall is the graphics

firemyth
firemyth

@Darknight Um.. indie developers are probably NOT going to be getting help from ppl like betheseda... That being said, this game is definatly one of my favorite free-form rpg games...

icantspelldawg
icantspelldawg

Sick game - I've been loving it in beta for months.

rohanspear345
rohanspear345

the user mods are awesome as well the hundred years war mod is great mbrepository.com

Guiltfeeder566
Guiltfeeder566

The dev is going to upgrade the graphics before release.

DarkknightFXR
DarkknightFXR

If they got help from Bethesda to use models from Oblivion, or maybe a little more updated Oblivion-type models, I wonder how much more this game could be, not saying it sucks but it's already awesome just maybe better textures and detail wouldn't hurt it

Tomahawk22
Tomahawk22

the combat is the best in an RPG style game ever imho

centuryslayer
centuryslayer

one of my favoruite pc games ever. easily my personal GOTY ^^

krazilec
krazilec

This is one of the greatest games I ever played.

c_mcafee
c_mcafee

I have been playing the beta for years now, and most every new verson of the beta released was like a new game. I will miss new releases of the beta every couple months, but the final version will be great. watching this game grow with the rest of the M+B community has been a real pleasure. If you have ever imagined charging down your foes along with your calvery of lancers this game is for you. thenewau, the game was never freeware, the demo was free and you could pay for the beta version, which included every new verson of the beta and the final version when complete.

Alastes
Alastes

This game is excellent, I've been playing the beta for over a year and it has steadily got better and better. The combat system is top notch, easily the best melee combat of any game I have ever played. This game is a winner

Uhero41
Uhero41

man I played a bit of the demo and it was awesome, I can't wait for the full version!

ele975
ele975

I have played this game for some short time now, when i first sat down and played. I could not stop, the addictiveness of this game is very large. Although, some Healing Potions wouldn't hurt!

thenewau25
thenewau25

i dont get it it was a freeware game but no leveling after 3 without buying now its in the stores?