Mount and Blade is an absolutely brilliant game where players will lose track of time by immersing themselves in a vast open world of medieval Caldaria. The best way to describe Mount and Blade is to call it an Age of Empires like game with RPG aspects.
In Mount and Blade players control a certain character they make and try to build an army. Building an army consists of finding villagers, recruiting common folk, hiring mercenaries and/or veterans as well as finding companions to hire and fight alongside. Not every villager or soldier can be recruited immediately, however, as this is dependent on several factors including relationship status with different towns, as well as relationship with the king they serve and the character’s reputation. Players can also decide to join up with a particular kingdom to assist them with conquering the land, or, alternatively it is possible to create a new kingdom and take down all the others across Caldaria. Either way things become quite complicated, requiring the player to maintain a positive morale in the army which includes making sure there is enough food for the soldiers and that any disagreements between soldiers get snuffed out quickly.
Character customisation in this title is decent, but definitely not too extensive. It gives you the basic options of gender, ethnicity, religion and personality type. This game also attempts to be as authentic as possible with regards to the characters gender, which actually means that you may have a more difficult time playing as a female warrior, as she is required to prove herself more often than a male warrior would have to.
There are also several game styles available to the player. There is a story option where it begins with players travelling via boat with their mother, when they are attacked. The player then wakes up in a strange house, having been saved by someone they have never met. The main goal is to find the character’s mother and ensure her safety. There is also an option to start anywhere and make your own story as you wander around by yourself trying to build your army. And finally you have the option to start as part of a royal line, where you start with a lot of things like men and food and equipment, so you don’t have to work your way up.
One of the best things about this game is how complicated and specific things can get. Players actually have to communicate with rival leaders, build their reputation before they are granted audience with a king, and can trade prisoners they have captured.
Now from the very beginning it looks kind of like Age of Empires in that the main screen is a map where players move their units by clicking on various areas, towns or cities on the map. When entering a village or a battle begins, gameplay transitions into third person action. Fighting is where the RPG aspects take place. When fighting occurs it puts the player in control of their character with all of their troops next to them. From here the player now has to command their troops to attack the enemy in whatever fashion they want. This gives players the feel of being a real commander, do you try and take on a force with more numbers with specific tactics? Or do you overwhelm the enemy with superior numbers?
Mount and blade can be brutal. Many times whole armies have been lost leaving the player stranded on their own from one single battle. Also, getting captured is even worse, because then players will just get dragged around for days on end waiting for an opportunity to escape their captors. Mount and Blade is a game of strategy, patience and planning. The idea is create the largest army to take on and capture other nobles and possibly even kings, whilst rising to the top and becoming the ultimate ruler.
Reviewed by Dillon Van Der Putten