Bannerlord came out in early access in March 2020. It’s been almost a year and the full release is yet to come out. That said, some players have ventured into the early access, while others have decided to wait for the full release.
If you have been keeping up with the news and Reddit discussions, you probably know that people’s opinions towards the game are very different depending on who you ask. It’s not clear if the Mount & Blade community believes Bannerlord is worth playing in 2021 or not. Rest easy, I’m going to analyze the current state of the game inside and out, and let you in on all the ups and downs of the early access.
First of all, let’s go over some of the good things about Bannerlord.
Marrying your family off
When the Bannerlord early access came out, a lot of the game’s features were disorganized or somewhat lacking, but with each patch and update, the game has gotten better and better. One of the biggest improvements came in the marriage system actually working now.
When you first start off the game, you are given a family: an older brother, Nathanos, and two younger siblings. Right when the early access came out, you could speak with lords and ladies and propose an alliance marriage with one of your family members, and they would either accept or refuse. Should they refuse, then the matter was settled, but the problem was when they accepted. You’d get a response from said lord or lady saying you should speak to the head of their family to formalize the wedding, but when you did it, there would be no option to wed your sibling or other family members.
Currently, you can do it, which is a considerable improvement, as you get new allies. And if you have no family, then know that Companions can also be married off to other people, on your command of course.
The realistic touch
Bannerlord has a feature that no previous franchise game had: your character can die. I do love realism in games. When I played Warband and saw that not even 10 arrows to the face could wipe me from the face of the earth, I felt a bit disappointed.
Thankfully, Bannerlord has fixed it. Players can choose whether they want the realistic feature activated or not, but I fully advise you to try it out, as the game is really well thought out in that regard.
How well thought out is it? Well, should you die in the game – whether it’s in battle, as a result of an execution, or just from even old age – your game will not be over. Instead, you will continue playing through your selected heir. Fair warning: whilst you are still alive, do produce heirs, otherwise you will have no one to play as after you bite it.
I don’t know about you guys, but I can never stick to just one character when playing a Mount & Blade game. I always have to have the Conqueror, as whom I would create my own kingdom and try and conquer all of Calradia; the Law abiding citizen, as whom I would join an existing faction and do my best to please the ruler of that faction; the Rogue, as whom I wouldn’t join any faction and simply do whatever I feel like doing. I know it’s crazy to run separate campaigns at the same time, but hey, I had a lot of free time on my hands.
Anyway, when the early access first came out, all your campaign saves would be mashed together. Nowadays, with the new patches and updates, all campaigns are kept separately, making my life a whole lot easier.
I am a lazy person and really don’t like having to scroll through my entire inventory or a store’s inventory just to find what I’m looking for. Thankfully, Bannerlord now allows you to search by tabs, meaning that if you’re interested in weapons, you need only click the weapon tab and no unnecessary items will show up.
Not only that, you no longer have to memorize your companions’ gear, as you can see it right away when you access the inventory. Overall, Bannerlord now has top notch inventory organization.
Giving away territories
Like I already mentioned, I like having a Conqueror character. I conquer settlements by force and also diplomacy. I speak to highly influential lords and ladies and recruit them to my kingdom. It’s my thing, and it went really well in the beginning, until I came across a certain problem: all settlements would be awarded to the ruler, a.k.a me, and I could never pass them off to my vassa
ls. Let’s just say that was not a good thing, since I would be left to defend and care for each and every settlement, plus my vassals wouldn’t be too happy about not having a home to themselves, as their ruler – involuntarily – kept everything to themselves.
Thankfully, that is no longer an issue and you can give away any settlements you have to your vassals. But there is still a downside: you can only give away the settlements you conquered after the new patch was put into action. In my case, I had a buttload of settlements and couldn’t pass them onto someone else even after the patch.
The formation options for troop units has always been an interesting feature of Mount & Blade, just not a very efficient one. Troops that were ordered to perform a shield wall would do so neatly, but if you ordered them to advance to a certain position, they’d completely mess up the shield wall formation.
With the latest patch, that was thankfully fixed. No more need for me to worry about where to place them, so they wouldn’t get slaughtered by the enemy’s archers.
Now that we’ve gone through the positive features and major improvements in Bannerlord, and before we decide whether the game is worth playing in 2021, let’s explore the things that have happened or are still in need for change.
I like the concept of minor clans in the game, but they are seriously nerfed. Every minor clan’s units are pretty pitiful and they have been that way ever since the 1.4.1 patch kicked in.
I think being able to recruit these minor clans would be an awesome feature for the game, but unfortunately the only way players can do so currently is through mods.
Caravans and workshops
At a glance you would think that caravans and workshops are a good income for the clan, and they should be. Personally, I researched the game encyclopedia and looked up the towns with highest prosperity and set up shop there. I even chose workshops which produced materials that were lacking and in high demand.
As for the caravans, I chose the best companions with the highest trading skills to lead caravans, so as to collect more profit.
Unfortunately, at this point in the game, workshops and caravans are very much hit and miss. From what I’ve noticed, the success of my workshops and caravans pretty much changes with each patch. With some patches, I get insane profit, others lead me to have a higher expense than income. This mechanic is either inherently chaotic, or just not properly finished yet.
So, is Bannerlord worth playing in 2021? Definitely yes.
It’s been almost a year since I started playing Bannerlord and despite all the bugs and annoying problems of the game, nothing has made me think that it is not worth playing. In fact, to see that the developers provide us with frequent patches that steadily improve various aspects of the game keeps me interested in playing it.
So if I were you, I’d definitely give it a try!