Mount & Blade: Warband is one of the most beloved entries in the Mount & Blade game series, but it is also over a decade old at this point. With the genre swelling with so many other new games, is it really worth revisiting the past and playing Mount & Blade: Warband in 2022? Let’s find out, by evaluating every key part and mechanic in the game.
Warband is engaging right from the start. You begin the game alone with very crappy equipment and have no Renown – an important stat that guides your progression. It is up to you to make a name for yourself.
You have to work your ass off to get to where you want and, just like in real life, it will take time. You’ll have to do missions for lords and other NPCs and in exchange, you will get Renown, money, items, and sometimes followers, though they are very weak at the start.
The world of Mount & Blade: Warband is full of outlaws, so you need to watch where you are going and keep an eye out for possible escape routes when you encounter a bandit party that heavily outnumbers yours. It is either escape, or lose all of your equipment and then escape.
Becoming a politician
Once you finally get a grip on things – a.k.a. decent equipment and at least half-decent troops – you can finally join in on the politics of the world. You can choose to join an existing faction and attack its enemies or simply attack castles and fiefs of a specific land you like and declare them as yours, consequently starting a war with the kingdom to which that fief belonged.
I highly advise you not to choose the latter until you have a massive army, otherwise, you will get squashed by the enemy armies.
Courtship and noble connections
In real life, marriage was very important to keep oneself relevant and improve relationships with opposing kingdoms or score new lands. The same thing cannot be said of Warband. You could marry the most influential person in all of the kingdom and it wouldn’t benefit you in the slightest.
I find it to be a bit disappointing, considering it is a strategy game and every decision you make should influence the outcome. The effects of marriages in Warband are especially weak considering they take forever to complete. First, you need to talk to your desired partner and begin courtship. Then you have to visit them, either with approval or in secret, and read poems at them and so on. Only after a long period of time are you allowed to propose.
Fighting and Sieges
Eventually, you will possess a large, skilled army, and a couple of fiefs. You can decide whether to become a conqueror in the name of your king or a conqueror on your own. Either way, you will have to master the engineering skill or have a companion that is pretty good at it. Why? Well, becoming a conqueror means doing a lot of sieges and it will make your life a lot easier that way.
But how good are the siege battles in Warband in 2022? Well, pretty bad, to be honest. Ladders and ramps will cluster so badly, no one will be able to climb them, ultimately defeating the purpose of the ladders.
The same applies to battles in the field. Your army and your enemies’ army clash and then run around in mobs with no specific direction, which defeats the purpose of spending a lot of money on skilled troops. As for the cavalry, the troops seem to enjoy chasing each other around the map.
In terms of general combat, it is quite interesting when small parties are involved, but on a greater scale, not so much.
Mods and DLCs
A plus side to playing Mount & Blade: Warband in 2022 is that there are a lot of excellent and up-to-date mods you can add, to make the game more interesting and to make the game work better in general.
Aside from that, you have official DLCs that are quite interesting. My favorite is Napoleonic Wars, but there is also the Clash of Kings and quite a few others. You’ll get new questlines, a ton of new weapons, and gear.
Mount & Blade: Warband is quite interesting, and it can provide hundreds of hours of fun, but when you take into account all the newer games we have access to, I personally wouldn’t go back to Warband. It is not that the game is bad, but it is lacking a lot in some key systems, and the battle mechanics for large-scale battles are somewhat disappointing. And if you love the Warband gameplay, you can always try out Bannerlord, which is the sequel and has many of the same cool features, executed better.
If Bannerlord didn’t pique your interest – seeing as it is still in early access – you can always try Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Medieval Dynasty, or even Crusader Kings 3. All are good options and you are bound to have fun with all of them.