Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
E3 Preview
"TaleWorlds promises a full arsenal of medieval weaponry, and they strive to make combat as realistic as possible."

During my initial foray onto the E3 2016 showfloor, I took some time to talk to Taleworlds Entertainment about their upcoming prequel to the popular Mount & Blade: Warband, entitled Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord. Like its predecessors, Bannerlord is an action-RPG with strategy elements, alternating between an overworld map and real-time battles that put players into the shoes of a soldier in a medieval army, but TaleWorlds is committed to their goal of providing the realistic fantasy experience their fans crave, and have greatly expanded the game's scope in almost every way.

In addition to the series' previous features, TaleWorlds has included more strategic options to make battles more realistic and give their audience more options. The big takeaway from the demo TaleWorlds presented was an increased emphasis on siege warfare. After a brief trailer that consisted of actual in-engine gameplay footage, the developers explained that the siege mechanics were far more in-depth than in past Mount & Blade expansions, and that players will be able to directly assume control of catapults, battering rams, and more when besieging an enemy stronghold. The player will be able to place soldiers and siege weapons during the "Deployment" phase prior to each battle, but the developers stressed that the game's AI would be able to take care of setup should the player choose to jump straight into the fray.

Things escalate quickly, as they are wont to do when two groups of heavily armored soldiers are attempting to murder each other with sharp pieces of metal. TaleWorlds promises a full arsenal of medieval weaponry, and they strive to make combat as realistic as possible (arrows, for example, will drop when fired, and this must be taken into account when aiming). We got to see Bannerlord's new destructible environments when a catapult destroyed part of a tower and exposed the archers lurking behind the battlements, and there was another sequence where a battering ram succeeded in breaking down the castle gate, and upon entry the attacking force came under assault from above by stone-throwing enemy soldiers. To counter this, the player character climbed a siege tower and began to attack the higher levels of the castle, which served to divert their adversaries. This is another example of the game's dynamic AI, which will react to what occurs in battle. According to the developers, the AI is more than capable of carrying on each aspect of battle, leaving the player free to choose where they will engage. A new feature introduced in Bannerlord, in fact, will have the battle continue to play out when the player character is defeated, leaving the outcome of the battle entirely in the AI's hands.

With a new engine capable of depicting the 500-person battle we witnessed in the demo, and a whole slew of additional upgrades and strategic options to take advantage, Mount & Blade fans will likely not want to miss Bannerlord. The game will be released sometime later in 2016, and TaleWorlds promises more updates about the game's multiplayer functionality in the near future.

© 2016 TaleWorlds Entertainment. All rights reserved.

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