Mount & Blade takes place in the war-torn land of Calradia where players are thrown into the middle of one of five nations with only a horse and some manner of weapon (beginning inventory is dependent on the character creation questions). From there on, the player can choose their own fate whether they want to become a rich trader, knight and vassal to one of the kings, mercenary, or even help a nations rightful heir reclaim the throne. Eventually, characters can even be Lord or Lady of their own fiefs and castles. The world of Mount & Blade is very dynamic, trade is conducted and wars are fought with or without the players intervention. A player may lead his preferred faction to total domination of the world map. The game is entirely single-player, but multiplayer was eventually added in the Warband expansion pack.
The most unique aspect of Mount & Blade would have to be the combat system. Combat takes place primarily in the 3rd person perspective and the direction you swing or block with your weapon is dependent on the angle of the camera. For instance, angle down a little to stab, up to chop, left and right to swing from the respective side. Furthermore, the direction the player is moving while attacking affects the strength of the attack; walking backwards while attacking will reduce the damage inflicted, but while moving forwards will increase damage. It may sound a little odd but it does work surprisingly well, it also makes combat much more intense and requires a lot of concentration. The "R" key allows you to switch to a first person perspective, but this is less useful for combat than the default third person.
Horses are another key aspect to the combat system, giving riders tactical advantages in mobility, speed (thus affecting damage), and defense but decreasing their bow & arrow and throwing accuracy. Sword damage is increased by riding at speed when attacking. Players can also wield lances and with enough speed, will "couch" the lance; successfully landed blows while couched will deal several times their regular damage, often killing or incapacitating even heavily armoured enemies with one strike. This technique exemplifies the advantages mounted cavalry enjoyed during this time period.
Players can lead an entourage of heroes and recruits into battle. a player can lead a force of hundreds of units into combat, although engine limitations only permit up to one hundred units total to be on the field at once so reinforcements come in waves.. Using the 1-9 and F1-F11 keys, players can give rudimentary orders such as follow, hold, advance, fallback, etc. Heroes are NPCs that cannot die in combat. They have personalities so some will approve/disapprove of other heroes in your party or certain actions such as razing towns. Players control the attributes/skills growth and equipment of heroes. Recruits are generic NPCs hired from towns or converted from defeated enemies. They can level up but typically are individually weaker than heroes.
An amazing aspect of Mount & Blade has been the overwhelming support from the community in the form of mods. Literally hundreds of mods have been made and released for this game. Small interface changes, graphical enhancements, gameplay refinements, all the way to total conversions for the game have been released by the community. Some examples of these total game conversions include the Hundred Years War, Hegemony 268 B.C., 867 A.D. - Lords of War, and many more. Many of the more recent total conversion mods have upped their game, adding features that the original game didn't have such as firearms, custom quick battles and even converting the world map into a map of the galaxy.
As of the most recent patch, many of these mods are incompatible with the fully updated game, however, major mods continue to be released and older ones are updated to work with the new patch.
Kingdom of Vaegirs
Led by King Yaroglek, the Vaegirs are comparable to the east Slavic people. They control the frozen northwestern portion of the map and are one of two nations with a balanced troop tree, the Marksman archers and Vaegir Knights are their most powerful units.
Kingdom of Swadia
Led by King Harlus, the Swadians have been compared to medieval France and Germany. They hold a central position on the map and are the second nation with a balanced troop tree, They are the most vulnerable nation during a conflict to to their being surrounded by possible opponents on all sides. their strongest unit being the Knights.
Kingdom of Nords
King Ragnar and the Nords control the western coastal region of the map and are loosely based on the Scandanavian Vikings. Unlike the previous kingdoms the Nords troop tree contains no cavalry, instead they command the strongest infantry units of any nation. The Nord villages along the coast will often have Longboats moored offshore. This indicates origins as a seafaring people. The lands of the nords are also home to hordes of sea raiders, well armed bandits who group in large numbers. The strongest Nord unit is the Nord Huscarl. Their is some truth to the idea that the nords are the most aggressive faction, as their AI tends to be in more conflicts than any other faction. However this may be pure coincidence.
Kingdom of Rhodoks
King Graveth and the Rhodoks control the southeaster portion of the map. Similar to the Nords, the Rhodoks troop tree consists entirely on infantry and they are noted for their Spearmen. There is a lot of debate over the Rhodoks historic influence. Rhodok Sergeants are the most powerful unit in their army. They tend to be the weakest militarily simply due to their lack of strong close combat units (As appose to their sergeants, their spearmen cannot do much damage up close meaning once the distance is closed, they are easily overcome. However their empire is one of the largest in terms of villages, castles and cities.
Sanjar Khan controls northeastern Calradia with the elite cavalry units of the Khergit Khanate. The Khergits troop tree consists entirely of cavalry units, but unlike the heavily armored Swadian and Vaegir Knights, the Khergits prefer to use light fast horse archers and lancers to wear down their enemies much like the Mongols and Turks. Khanate was the mongol term for kingdom during the time of the Golden Horde and Genghis Khan so it can only be assumed that the Khergits are based on them. The Khergits tend to be constantly at war with many nations, and control a vast empire, which leads to them being very vulnerable to invasion. Also, their territory is filled with criminals known as steppe bandits, who's use of cavalry makes them formidible opponents even in relatively small numbers. Starting your game in a Khergit area is very tough when faced with these bandits who can outrun your party and run circles around you. Khergit Lancers are mounted knights and the most powerful unit of the Khanate.
In taverns all across Calradia, you can find named NPCs willing to join your army, sometimes for a small fee. They are unique in that you can choose their equipment and control their skill/attribute advancements (by talking to them through the party menu). The most beneficial aspect of having heroes around is their contribution via party skills. Any skill tagged as such in the menu derives its value from whoever in the party has the highest skill. Therefore, you can have your heroes learn the more passive skills such as Trade, Pathfinding, Tracking, First-Aid, and Engineering, saving your skill points for the Leader or Individual skills. Some heroes do not get along with each other, which can lead to morale issues if not handled properly and NPCs may leave your company as a result.
There exist claimants to the throne of each kingdom in the world, each with their own story regarding why they should rule. The player can join their faction with enough renown, and become their primary military officer. The result is a long, demanding quest series consisting of besieging castles and either defeating or convincing lords of your cause. If successful, you become the new regent's marshal, allowing you to determine fief allocation. As the King/Queen would not want one lord becoming too powerful, you are limited in the amount of benefits you can bestow upon yourself, but the pick of the land is a nice benefit. Claimants are never found within the land they wish to rule. They are found in the castles of major towns, and can be located by asking travelers occasionally seen in taverns.
Players have the option of participating in the sieges of castles and towns to add to their chosen nation's kingdom. There are two ways to initiate siege combat; the player can join after one of their nation's lords has already initiated a siege and begun an assault, or the player can initiate the siege themselves using the relevant option in the town menu. Sieges are generally long and drawn-out affairs, sometimes taking multiple battles to complete. A typical siege can include upwards of five hundred units, with (depending on the user's "battle size" settings) 50-on-50 skirmishes taking place until one side runs out. A player may also try and strave out the occupants of a castle, however this takes around 30 days to do for a normal castle, and around 100 days for a town during which time an enemy army can easily counterattack. If the player starves out the occupants they can ask the garrison of the castle to surrender. This may also be done if the player's force greatly outnumbers the garrison.
There are a lot of advantages to swearing your allegiance to a given nation in Mount & Blade, one of the most useful of which is land ownership. Being a vassal has its privileges; as your King gets to like you more and more, he will grant villages and castles in your name. Sometimes seizing a castle through a siege will be enough to gain it; sometimes he'll randomly pass them out based on your achievements for your nation.
Land ownership bestows certain privileges and responsibilities upon a player who owns it. First and foremost, they'll have to protect that village or castle from enemy armies and raiders. However, they can also collect taxes and tithes from villages, and garrison troops and captured prisoners in their castles.
In any village owned by the player, several improvements can be built that will benefit the player. Each improvement has a different effect.
Increases the wealth of a village over time, leading to increased profit from taxes.
Allows the player to spend the night in the village rather than just camping there.
Improves villager relationships with the player at a rate of 1 per month, this allows for increased numbers of volunteers, and profits from taxes.
Village will provide warning of incoming armies before they raid the village.
When enemies approach a village, a runner will send your party word of the impending horde.
Reduces the chance of enemy units escaping captivity from your castle.
If a player renounces his oath to his lord, he may keep hold of his villages and castles, they will then be turned red indicating they are a rebel faction, owned by the player. This will give all opposing factions the right to attack the player. If the player times his rebellion wrong, he will quickly find that nowhere is safe. The player may also turn lords over to his side and use them to rule any of the castles he chooses.
A player may be elected by the NPC lords to be marshal of his respetive faction, this permits the player to lead all the armies of that faction into war and begin campaigns against an opposing faction.
PC System Requirements
- OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista
- Memory: 512 MB of RAM
- Graphics: Graphics card with at least 64 MB memory
- Hard Drive: 700 MB of hard disk space.