With Fire and Sword First Look Preview

GDC 2011: We check out some of the changes coming to the Mount & Blade series in this new sequel.

The original Mount & Blade was an open-ended third-person action role-playing game with a lot of great ideas but not a lot of polish. Its sequel, With Fire and Sword, is based on the novel of the same name released in 1884 by Noble Prize-winning author Henry Sienkiewicz. It expands on Mount & Blade: Warband's combat and extensive choose-your-own-adventure-style gameplay. During our hands-off demo at this year's GDC, we got the chance to see some of these new additions in action. While Fire and Sword may not be the prettiest game, it has a lot to offer for those willing to give it a chance.

When you start the game, you're at the very bottom: a man with nothing more than the clothes on his back. Your playground is medieval Europe, which is locked in a five-way battle between Russia, the Ukraine, and three factions. You may choose to ally yourself with one of these factions or start your own; your destiny is in your hands, and the game wants you to play it the way you want. There are missions, and even a storyline, if you want them. If not, that's fine too. The game's world will keep on turning without you. The conflict will always be there, and it's up to you to decide your level of input.

The backbone to all of this is the character customization. Your character is broken down into four stats--strength, agility, intelligence, and charisma--as well as numerous skills and the items he has equipped. If you like crunching numbers instead of people's heads, then drop a few points in the trade skill. Soon you'll be sweet-talking your way from one trade caravan to the next. There's even an extensive banking system where you can invest your hard-earned money and make it work for you.

If you like being on the battlefield and get your kicks from being a leader of men, you're going to want to rank up the leadership skill instead to inspire your troops to greatness. During our demonstration, the main character rode out onto the battlefield and began issuing orders to his troops. By marking different areas with flags, his troops knew where and in what formation to set up. Then, to buy a little time, our fearless commander ran a few circles around the advancing enemies and fired his rifle wildly into the bunch. With enough planning, you could conceivably win a battle without ever drawing your sword.

However, this is often not the case. Combat in With Fire and Sword is skill based and in real time. When an enemy attacks, you must read and block his strike in one of four directions, and if you're really quick, you can parry his hit and go for a quick counterattack. To help demonstrate the combat, our guide loaded up a 200-bot skirmish, and we watched the chaos unfold. What we quickly found were the same hilarious antics you might see in a Battlefield game. Sometimes an archer would pull off a clean kill only to get immediately blindsided by a horse, or a rifleman who had run out of ammo would try to bludgeon his foes to death with his gun.

Our demonstration came to a close with a quick look at the new Captain multiplayer mode. In this mode, each player is given a squad of around 20 troops, which they can customize with different weapons and armor. Once the match started, our character had to quickly decide if he wanted to go on the offensive and send his men out to battle, or get into a defensive position and wait for the inevitable counterattack. Fire and Sword is showing a lot of potential and is one to look out for on the PC later this year.

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Discussion

23 comments
Bz7
Bz7

M&B is one of the most fun to play because of its open-ended world. Who cares if it’s not historically accurate, you make your history in this game. The fractions and units and such are based from the real world, but remember it’s a game. Just enjoy it! The towns and villages need to have more expansion. Making a village or town grow was a part of Warband, but I think when you build the buildings they should appear while walking around. Also the benefits should be a little better - such as the tweaks everyone uses to make the bonuses repeat for buildings. Or even just more soldiers, or even like some mods offered exclusive soldiers only offered at towns when belonging to a certain fraction. All-in-all I can't wait! If you have never played a M&B game try one, you will not be disappointed

gwailo2470
gwailo2470

@ verenti You have a point as far as accuracy is concerned in calling it medieval Europe, but the conditions in that neck of the woods was essentially medieval. They were a bit behind England in terms of social liberties. Except with the prevalence of gunpowder weapons, there wasn't that much difference socially speaking from the middle ages. That being said, I'm seriously looking forward to this. I really liked the visual style of the movie, hope it translates well into the game.

HuSSaR83
HuSSaR83

Polish Winged Hussar will be the strongest in this game :) I can see it already many of them in line with lances ready to shishkebab people :)

Samrat_Ashok
Samrat_Ashok

I'll get this one even if it costs a thousand bucks. M&B FTW!

Dorgoth12
Dorgoth12

i loved mount and blade, one of the things it lacked was a good story. so adding a half-decent storyline to the gameplay should be a winner.

ASSASSIN0009
ASSASSIN0009

The first Mount & Blade was'nt will crafted, but this one is intersted & 3 things will make play it: 1. The game's world will keep on turning with or without you 2. The new character customization system is great (u can be a warrior or merchant) 3. A big battefield with alot of choices

Magic_Panda92
Magic_Panda92

@Verenti....It doesn't tell you when the game is set. Is is BASED on the novel if you got the dates from that, not actually copying the book.

Verenti
Verenti

The person who wrote this should be never allowed to write on historical games EVER AGAIN.The 17th Century is not "medieval Europe". In 1647, when the game is set, most of the original American colonies had been established.

tiggerlu
tiggerlu

I hope this game has a lot more overall polish...loved first two games, but never felt quite complete unfortunately, especially in the" end game."

thingta42
thingta42

After i got banned on the forums for saying hi someone i refused to buy the expansion, and i refuse to buy this game. However much like Mount & Blade, this sequel? does look pretty fun, will keep an eye on it ofc to see how it pans out.

arun_pullat
arun_pullat

Every time they give us a better look, the game just seems to get more exciting!

Aceiman
Aceiman

singleplayer or multiplayer...?? or both maybe....

Baraq
Baraq

Nice, I loved warband. Lets hope this is just as awesome.

Gnarfouski
Gnarfouski

I hope they keep the basics from Warband, like marriages, conspiracies, and all the stuff that could alter the fighting game style =)

CommonFable
CommonFable

sweeet is the best word to describe this

JeffreyCor
JeffreyCor

Excited to see this one. Loved the previous 2

Krinnium
Krinnium

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Henoch
Henoch

Not Medieval but Renaissance, came after Medieval age about 15th century in many countries. Italians started it earlier in 14th century but rest of Europe had major history marks like: fall of Constantinople, Guttenbreg's printing press and discovery of new world as a beginning of Renaissance age and end of Middle ages. Sorry, I just had to say it.

Astro-Effect
Astro-Effect

it looks better this time...with sm interesting combats, plots n customizable chars it seems to have sm new ingredients for d sequel.;)