Turkish developer TaleWorlds released Mount&Blade back in September of 2008, bringing medieval swordplay down to earth with a realistic take on a fantasy world. Although the game was well received, it since has been criticised for its functional graphics and repetitious quests. In response, TaleWorlds has announced Warband, a significant expansion pack that will bring a whole host of improvements and features to the game. Multiplayer is the core inclusion allowing players to meet online in co-op mode and command a band of soldiers during sieges. They’re even adding a massive 32-player online mode that allows for custom rules, bolstered by smoother, more intuitive combat.
Mount&Blade’s visuals have also been addressed, with the forthcoming expansion providing superior graphical fidelity, boasting such flourishes as high dynamic range, bloom effects, bump mapping and a far greater level of detail than before. The improvements that Warband will bring to the overall Mount&Blade experience are substantial and can’t be overstated enough. TalesWorlds have looked closely at their game and examined every factor that wasn’t initially up to scratch, adding multiple enhancements accordingly. Promising user-friendly modding, better tutorials to make the game more accessible for new players and numerous enhancements to the combat mechanics, Warband will be an essential purchase for any judicious Mount&Blade fan.
We spoke to Mount&Blade’s producer, Cem Cimenbicer about the success of the game and the new expansion pack on its way this September.
Strategy Informer: Can you start by just telling us a bit about how Mount&Blade originally came about?
Cem Cimenbicer: Well, the game had been developed over the past seven years and only the last two and a half years I was there trying to help the game become better. The original creator, Armagan (Yavuz) played some games, read some books and the idea came into his mind of the kind of game I also love to play. Imaging a game that has realistic combat, medieval combat - I was thinking similar things before I knew about Mount&Blade, so I thought, well a similar game has already been made without me and so after I joined the development team (at TaleWorlds), I knew it would be very good for me.
Warband’s graphical improvements are immediately apparent. Far more detail has been afforded to every part of the game.
Galloping across the fields with your band of men in tow should be great fun in online co-op.
Strategy Informer: Do you think that Armagan Yavuz looked at the typical fantasy game and the fiction that comes with that and felt that maybe there was a gap in the market for something more realistic?
Cem Cimenbicer: Mount&Blade actually had some undead warriors at the beginning and we had bad criticism about those coming from the press. This was at a very early stage of the game, at the beta stage and the style of game that Mount&Blade has become is better now with a dose of reality. If they’re anything like me, people will enjoy playing the game in a fictional world that resembles the real world a lot and it’s quite a nice touch.
Strategy Informer: With that realism then, I’m assuming you have real world weapons and so on?
Cem Cimenbicer: Yeah. Everything comes from the real world. We have books that we take examples from and we are trying to make it as real as possible. For our example, our timeline is around 1000AD to the 13th Century and so if a weapon was available during the 14th Century, you won’t find it in Mount&Blade.
Strategy Informer: There’s a lot of realism in the physics and calculations in the game, which have been improved for the expansion. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Cem Cimenbicer: Especially in combat there is very deep physics. For example in archery when you aim and shoot your arrow the speed of the projectile is calculated and the damage according to that is dealt to the enemy. If you’re on top of a castle and you aim at the ground below the castle, you’ll deal more damage than the ground units can give back to you. And when you swing your sword towards the enemy, their physical experience will be calculated together with the sword’s physics and if they intersect with each other a hit will be counted otherwise a hit will not be counted. It’s not like an arcade game in that way and also when you swing your sword, the speed and way you swing it is taken into account. If the swing is slow, damage will be very low. If you’re mounted (on a horse) and riding at speed, then you’ll definitely deal a lot more damage to people.
Cem Cimenbicer, Producer for Mount & Blade
Mount & Blade: Warband promises to expand the map further as well as adding a variety of new modes.
Strategy Informer: With the Mount&Blade expansion pack, what is the most significant new feature you’re introducing?
Cem Cimenbicer: In my opinion – some people might think different – multiplayer is the main feature of the game. It will add a lot more longevity to Mount&Blade because you will never get bored of the game’s AI, as people will be playing with you. And if you like medieval combat, Mount&Blade will serve you at it’s best, because no other game has given you proper medieval combat in a multiplayer mode.
Strategy Informer: Are there any games that you acknowledge as competitors to Mount&Blade and if so, have you learnt anything from them?
Cem Cimenbicer: I don’t think we have many competitors. When I read comments from players, they always make comparisons with Oblivion or with Medieval: Total War. I think Total War is more like Mount&Blade and I actually like playing both Oblivion and Total War and I play them in my spare time, but I don’t count them as competitors because most people who play Medieval: Total War are likely to play Mount&Blade also. Total War gives them the feeling of battle, but they can’t participate in that battle because they’re commanding armies. When they see Mount&Blade and see that they’re able to control units on a smaller (more intimate) scale, they will want to buy our game.
Strategy Informer: Have you any other future expansions planned for Mount&Blade?
Cem Cimenbicer: We have hundreds of new features for this expansion such as more combat strategies that we had never thought of before and there may be more of these added in the future. There will also be some additions to the map and the campaign mode in which you’ll be able to travel across a larger map with more cities, more armies in a more active world with better AI. There are also small additions to the moments in the map that will be added on.
Strategy Informer: If Mount&Blade continues to enjoy the kind of success it’s currently having, can you see the franchise maybe moving onto consoles one day?
Cem Cimenbicer: Yeah, that might be the plan moving forward, but because we’re not producing anything for consoles at the moment, it may be a possibility after the expansion pack is released.
Combat has been vastly enhanced for Mount & Blade: Warband with better physics and calculations.
A castle siege in full swing. There’s support for 32 players online, so you’ll be able to plan your own full-scale sieges like this.
Strategy Informer: Has the reception given to Mount&Blade so far been a surprise or did the team at TaleWorlds know they had something special?
Cem Cimenbicer: We always hope for the best from our games, but when we saw the reception, it was a big surprise of course. Things are going well and there are a lot of features in the game, so now we’re just enjoying the success!