Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord at E3 2017 – Our Thoughts

Greetings all Bannerlord watchers and curious visitors! With this blog we hope to talk about our experience at E3, what we demonstrated and our reasons for attending. We may still be considered newcomers at E3, with this being our second year at the event, but each visit has provided us with a wealth of experience and knowledge which will help us to pursue bigger and more ambitious goals in the future!

E3 2017 - Booth

Our focus for E3 was on giving hands-on demonstrations of battles in Bannerlord - the first time the game has been available to play outside of our studio. We decided battles would be a great way to show off a core feature of the game and something which has received a lot of attention during development.

Our booth was larger than last year’s, which allowed us to have a small lobby area where people could get an idea of the game from a video, and a short explanation from a member of our team while they waited for the previous session to end. The benefit of this was giving people as much time with the game as possible. The four computers we had inside barely went unused for a minute during the three days of E3; we really got the most out of our time there!

E3 2017 - Booth

11 of our team attended in total, including our CEO and Founder Armağan Yavuz who was there to lead our presentation team and ensure attendees had a fantastic experience playing the game!

The demo itself revolved around the two battle scenarios we published as videos at the start of E3: “Horse Archer Sergeant Gameplay” and “Cavalry Sergeant Gameplay”. “Sergeant” here is referring to the fact that in these scenarios, we are controlling a single formation while receiving orders from our commander - essentially acting as a sub-commander. The idea is that when multiple parties enter a battle on the same side, the senior ranking leader will take overall command and designate individual formations as they wish. The player can fit in at any level of this system, just like the AI, and so depending on their company and individual progress can expect to be commanding part or all of the army in Bannerlord.

This allows players to be part of larger battles at an earlier stage in the game, giving them a taste of command without being too overwhelming. It also serves as a reward for progress, connects the player more closely to their AI peers and adds variety to the battle gameplay. In our system, we also allow the player to designate control to the AI at any time, so while you have the option to design and execute a specific strategy, you can also just get stuck in and focus on your own personal combat.

In addition to the battles, we allowed attendees to warm up in Bannerlord’s version of the “arena-brawls” (essentially what the tournament master offers you to do if there isn’t currently a tournament in town). We also used this as a way of highlighting some of our new combat features, all of which you can spot in the videos. We think the Directional Shield Blocking, Shield Bash and Attack Chaining are all natural additions which fit into Mount & Blade’s combat system very comfortably, maintaining the intuitive nature of the combat while adding some depth and variety. It was great to see how quickly players of the previous games got to grips with the bashing and chaining, working it into their fighting style. They aren’t the only new combat features in Bannerlord but we are still finalising the system and are looking forward to talking more about it in future!

You can read our full press release, with details of the battle and combat features highlighted in our E3 demo right here:

We took bookings during the weeks leading up to E3 but made sure to keep some slots free so that we could accommodate passers-by and additional requests during the event. This worked out brilliantly!

We brought in as many people as possible - including many players who dropped by on the day! People were really enthusiastic about the game and generally reacted very well to the demo. It is always exciting to see the games we make inspire such reactions and to see them directly was a real privilege.

Coverage in the media has also been generally very positive - we’ve highlighted a few examples you might find interesting here:

Of course, we understand a lot of you are looking to hear a release date and more details on the politics and campaign side of single player. In our opinion, the most important thing is to deliver a great game, worthy of our efforts and your expectations. We have so far avoided giving a release date thinking it would distract us from our attention to quality. The campaign is something we can definitely show off more and we’re looking at the best way to do it justice, and present it with the clarity and depth that it deserves.

During our announcement we found that there was a lot of confusion and many people weren’t able to find our extended gameplay videos and written information easily. We took this as a lesson and will try to plan accordingly in future to make sure our announcements come off as clearly as possible. In other news, we would like to introduce our new Community Manager, Callum, who will work alongside Frank and help improve our direct communication with you, the community! He has already made a huge impact organising the Steam forums and we expect he will continue to keep up the great work in the future.

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