Often developers release a game amidst a barrage of triple-A titles and as a result are overshadowed. The focus of most gaming media is on console gaming, meaning lots of PC games can go untouched by the media, despite having an avid community on steam.
This was the case in 2010 when Paradox Interactive, known for their historical strategy series Hearts of Iron, released Mount & Blade: Warband – an RPG-Strategy hybrid that allows you to create a character and build up your forces. It was not widely reported on or covered, but this game was, while not graphically impressive, arguably one of the best RPGs to come out of 2010, capable of standing alongside games like Fallout: New Vegas and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
Mount & Blade: Warband allows the player to control the life of their character in whatever way they want in a vast world full of different factions and kingdoms. You can pledge allegiance to the leader of a country, becoming their vassal and fighting in their name, you can form your own kingdom and expand your empire through combat. If you so desire, you can even resign yourself to a life of banditry, free from the claws of any nation, and attack caravans with your own ragtag group. You begin the game how you choose, too: you can start as an impoverished traveler with nary a penny to his name, or as the son of an established noble, giving you some power from the get-go.
There are no win conditions, and the world keeps progressing as you do; you can be exploring the world and find two opposing kings that you have never met waging war with massive armies against one another, and you could join in should you choose to do so. It is described as an RPG-Strategy hybrid because you can build up and manage your own army, but battles aren’t viewed in the typical top-down view you’d expect from a strategy game. You are the commander in the army and that means you are on the ground with your men fighting and directing from the front lines, and your actions sway the course of the battle.
One of the greatest things about this game is that, even though the game is not particularly popular, there is a fervent modding community, and mods have been brought out that improve the state of the game in radical ways, giving you even more freedom to do as you wish than before. ‘Mount and Blade: Warband’ is a fantastic take on the medieval-style RPG and at a mere £15 on steam, (and PC version currently £8 on Amazon: Mount and Blade: Warband) this game is well worth adding to your collection.
By Sammy Cooper