Mount & Blade Expansion Impressions

The first expansion to Mount & Blade has been unveiled and aims to improve the graphics and add online multiplayer to the action role-playing game.

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Mount & Blade was only released at the end of last year, but already developer TaleWorlds is well into development on the expansion. At a recent event in Sweden, the team told us about its main objectives for the project: to update the graphical look of the game with the latest technology and to add online multiplayer. We got to see a new demo of the game to find out how well these promises are being delivered on.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the developer is going to consciously defy some of the criticism it has faced from fans. The sandbox elements of the original got mixed reviews, with some people wanting a more structured storyline. However, the open-style gameplay will remain exactly the same in the expansion, but this shouldn't be too much of a problem for the people who enjoyed its combat system and overall realistic approach.

In terms of upgrades, the graphics have been given a major technical overhaul. They'll now feature high dynamic range lighting and bloom effects, as well as dynamic contrast and bump-mapping on the soldiers' armour. As for the multiplayer, the game will now support up to 32 players online, which TaleWorlds promises will keep the lag to what it deems acceptable at 100 milliseconds. The online code is in the early stages of development, so it has not yet been fully tested, but the developers have incorporated test systems to replicate online latency across their own local area network. There will be new multiplayer challenges to take part in, while modders can create customisable rules so that combat can take place only on foot or while mounted.

As well as the major improvements, there will be plenty of tweaks to the Mount & Blade engine. The developers promise improved AI, enhanced combat, and easier modding tools for those who want to adapt the game. It's still early days for the Mount & Blade expansion, and there are plenty of questions yet to be answered, but we're promised a closed beta of the game in the next three months. We'll do our darnedest to get in on the beta and bring you more impressions of the expansion soon.

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