Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord Developer Blog 11 - Some Context

Hello all!

As many of you may have noticed, we have been rather busy! Last week, we visited Cologne, Germany to attend Gamescom, the largest game conference in Europe. While there, we took appointments to demonstrate some Bannerlord gameplay to the world's media. Along with this, we released a few videos which were used as part of our presentation.

It has been great to see the excited response to the clips and we're very pleased that your feedback has been so positive! Of course, the game is still very much in development and so we had to make decisions about what to put in the videos and how it would be presented.

Here, we have compiled some of the highlights, along with a small smattering of new footage, which we want to present to you the community, along with a little explanation about some of the features.

Going through the video chronologically, we want to explain what you can see and why we have decided to include it.

Right at the start of the video, there is an extended segment demonstrating some of the siege weapons in the game. Actual sieges are undergoing a lot of work in development right now and we are aiming to give a full demonstration of a siege in the near future, once all of the pieces are in place. The clips here are intended to highlight the various siege engines we have created. We think it's a huge step forward for sieges in Mount & Blade to include multiple siege engines of different types. In the video, you can see the player pushing the battering ram. This hint was deliberately placed to signify that all siege weapons are fully usable by the player, as well as the AI.

Siege Weapons

One thing that we didn't show in the video, though, was our deployment screen. All of the siege weapons are placed freely by the players, so there is full control over how to assault the walls. Once the siege begins, the player can also order troops to change what they're doing on the fly, throughout the battle. Of course, these weapons need to be constructed first.

After this, we see a short clip of the world map and village management. Graphically, we have made huge strides here, to improve the look and feel of Calradia. Though there are also some significant gameplay changes evident here. Castles are now fully integrated with villages, which means that settlement produces goods and has economic impact. The four sides of a village can all be made into different types of production, with the unique option of turning one into a castle.

Map

A village with a castle is naturally much more defensible, but the slot is sacrificed that might have been used for something valuable like a salt mine. All of these are reflected on the world map as well, as can be seen in the video.

What's really interesting is that AI Lords start new projects and modify their villages over time, just like the player. So during a long playthrough, the face of the map and nature of various settlements can change significantly, in ways that are fully dependent on the current economic and political situation of the NPCs and their factions.

By assigning the work allocation of the village, you can adjust how fast projects are completed, as well as the tax and militia levy from villages. Though all of this has an effect on morale and neglecting your peasants can lead to serious complications in the long term.

Next is a clip of some combat from a small fight between the player's small party and some bandits. We have much more varied and interesting terrain for combat now, as well as much more advanced AI, that knows how to keep out the range of attacks, while moving closer to strike. Looters in the game don't pose too much of an obstacle for experienced, high level players with good equipment but by spreading out and trying to surround their opponents, it can still be dangerous to face multiple enemies at once. Though that is balanced by the power of larger, stronger weapons to hit more than one foe with a single swing!

The inventory screen demonstrates our improved UI, that offers the player much more intuitive and direct control. For instance, it's now much easier to switch between equipping the player and companions as all it takes is a simple click, from any place where the inventory screen is shown. Items can also be sorted and filtered really easily, which makes it much simpler to manage large numbers of items. There are also hotkey and buttons which make it simple to buy/loot/sell items with fewer clicks. Tooltips provide comparisons between equipped and selected items.

Party Screen

Next as the player enters the city, we have provided a glimpse of imperial culture and architecture, reflected by the style of the buildings and clothes of the citizens. The tavern seen here shows how lively and appealing scenes have become in Bannerlord, with NPCs sitting, drinking, interacting with one another and going about their business. In this tavern, there is a musician playing and a game host in the corner, with whom you can bet money on the custom board games which we have introduced. Each of the game's six cultures has their own boardgame, originally designed but inspired by real historical games. These can also be played with ladies and lords, as well as other NPCs in the game for role-playing and diplomatic purposes.

Board Game

Moving into the latter half of the video, there is a demonstration of seasons in the game. All scenes change dynamically according to the season, which is altered by a yearly cycle. This is also reflected on the world map by the advance and retreat of snow cover. The gameplay effects of this will also be felt by players who try to wage war in the winter, as troops will suffer greater losses to morale, demanding more food and fuel. One subtle but interesting benefit of the yearly cycle, which we have felt while play testing, is that it gives the player a much more innate connection to the advancement of the game world; feeling the steady flow of time as familiar places alter in appearance throughout each season.

Beyond this, we offer a look at another new feature in weapon crafting. This fits really well into the sandbox game, by not only providing players with a huge amount of freedom in and connection to the weapon they use but giving us an engine, with which to create unique weaponry in the game world. These items are used for quests and appear variously as significant objects like family heirlooms, to which certain characters may hold special attachment.

The logic of the crafting is simple in that weapons are separated into parts that can be exchanged, with any kind of combination. This also works for axes, polearms etc. One feature not shown in the video is length adjustment; it's actually possible to tweak the exact length of certain parts such as blades to get exactly the kind of weapon you want. All of these parts have physical properties, to which the power of the weapon is directly related. Some fairly serious calculations assess the centre of mass and balance of a weapon, which changes the speed and damage, as well as the timing of the animation itself. This contributes to a unique feel for each weapon, depending on the parts it uses. Naturally, we give the player freedom to name the weapon as well. One of the interesting results of this feature can actually be losing your prized sword and seeing it turn up in the possession of some bandits half way across Calradia!

Character

Lastly the video demonstrates our replay system. This is one of the newest features in the game, although it is something we have planned to include for a while. As developers, we are keen to respond to changing trends in gaming as a whole and in the past few years, it has become more and more important for players to share their experience with others. Let's play videos and machinima are already a pretty huge part of community culture for our existing games, so we really just wanted to provide a tool that would support and encourage the same. Any battle, single or multiplayer is saved directly and can be re-watched from any angle as well as slowed down. Lighting and other effects such as dynamic field-of-view adjustment can also be customised. In the video, one of our developers is actually creating a simple camera path which tracks some of the action, and at the end you can see the final result as a high quality render, exported directly from the game.

We really did reveal a lot over the past week! We hope this provides some context for the footage released. There is of course much much more of the game that we haven't talked about yet, but we're looking forward to doing so in the coming months.

From all of us at TaleWorlds, thanks to everyone for all of the support and nice comments. It has been a real boost to us, after a period of very hard work! :)

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