M&B:Warband is a 3rd/1st person battleground simulator by TaleWorlds centered around medieval combat (or other time periods depending on what mod you use as this is a very mod driven game) which has a flint and steel arsenal of melee weapons. I panned the Mount & Blade series until now since the graphics were nothing exciting to look at and the combat system seemed uninteresting. Now that I’ve actually tried it out I can give a more honest opinion.
The game is naive in its development and does not cover all of its bases. The best example is that friendly fire is enabled on most servers to attempt realism but this just causes griefers to join and start team killing people. Friendly fire should definitely be a feature in the game but there should also be a feature implemented to prevent constant griefing with it. There is a vote kick feature but it takes forever to get someone kicked and it only kicks the player off the server for the round so they can immediately come back. Their griefing efforts are only mildly hindered by a short wait and there is no way to ban them through voting. This is not how you deal with griefers; Any gamer experienced with multiplayer titles will tell you that. There also isn’t any feature to auto kick or ban people who have a certain amount of team kills which is sort of a no-brainer for this kind of thing. There is no reason for the developers to have not put in more sufficient griefer protection and now their game is heavily suffering because of it. I am not going to blame the incompetency of the game in this area on the griefers themselves because there will always be griefers and there are things the developers could have done to minimize this.
The weapon mechanics are accurate and great for this style of combat but it feels very clunky and doesn’t leave room for much skill as much as it does luck. There are indeed some players who are very good at this game though, and I have no idea how but they always manage to get the amount of kills they do in every match. A cover system would have been great for a game like this but you are limited to either crouching or standing. The running is also terribly slow and leaves the gameplay feeling sluggish overall.
There’s some odd stuff with the game like crouch being mapped to Q by default and the battle cry mapped to C. Why not have C be crouch and Q be the battle cry? You use crouch far more often as it actually has a purpose and C is not only the first letter in crouch but it has been a universal crouch key in games for many years now. There is no reason to deviate from that especially when you map a command like battle cry (which has no real purpose except for roleplaying purposes) to ‘C’ instead. Whenever I start a game for the first time and haven’t looked thoroughly at the controls I should be able to follow a basic template of what the controls are most likely. The only consistency this game has with other games is the use of WASD and left and right mouse for defense and attack. I can ignore this though since the bindings are easily changed. It just displays my attitude towards TalesWorlds as it seems they have never played a game before.
What is actually inexcusable are the games graphics. There’s HDR and filtering thrown on top to make it look good but at its core it really is an ugly game. This title was released in 2010 and I can list several games released in 2000 that had graphics superior to this. I understand that it isn’t trying to look good but it has to meet some kind of modern standard and look halfway decent. The animations for reloading guns or running seem like they were thrown together in five minutes. I do not require games to look great to consider them good, but I do require them to not look bad. If you are going to create a game and charge $30 for it you must make a product that is worth 30 dollars. Killing Floor is a pretty decent looking game and it was only $20. M&B:W is mod quality at best.
Overall the game is still unique, supports a very large number of players at once and is fun if you can find a server that isn’t filled with team killers and griefers but if you are looking for an epic realism shooter you can pass on this one. This is purely strategic fun. I do enjoy that from time to time and as much as I don’t like having paid 30 dollars for this level of quality, I will definitely find myself playing it again and again in the future. If you want a full experience I suggest you go somewhere like /r/RedditBrigade that organizes large scale battles with actual ranking and commanding involved.