I’ve been waiting 7 years for Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, the weird blend of action, strategy, and RPG from Turkish studio TaleWorlds. And Monday night, I wasn’t disappointed, as it hit Steam Early Access. I’ve played a few hours, long enough to build a tiny army, lose it in a battle with bandits, and rebuild it as I routed groups of hillmen and other ne'er-do-wells.
And it’s just as compelling as the 2008 original, 2010’s Warband, and 2011’s Fire and Sword. It’s sold over 7 million copies
. And that feeling the first time you unhorse a brigand from their horse is just as good, just as satisfying as the first time I pulled it off in Mount & Blade almost 12 years ago.
It is a bit clunky. Equipping arms and armor that you “liberate” from foes may stymie newcomers at first. I embraced this long ago, as did tens of thousands of others. Fortunately, I’m already seeing some videos explaining things. And part of the fun is figuring out these systems all on your own.
And so far, it doesn’t feel all that different than the old games. It sure looks nicer. And that’s a selling point for me … and it looks like for tens of thousands of others. As I’m writing this, Mount & Blade II has 228,662 concurrent players, No. 3 behind Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. And the best part of Mount & Blade isn’t what TaleWorlds makes – it’s what others do with this sandbox. Mods are popping up – the ModBD site has 37 listed already. I’m hoping the creators of my favorite Mount & Blade mod (Star Wars: Conquest
) comes to Mount & Blade II before the end of 2020.
I’m looking forward to how TaleWorlds adds to Mount & Blade II in the coming months, and how modders tinker with it. Mount & Blade II epitomizes what I love about PC gaming – openness and gameplay I can’t find on consoles.
–Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor