Mount & Blade
|Mount & Blade|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing game|
Mount & Blade is a medieval action role-playing game for Microsoft Windows, developed by the Turkish company TaleWorlds, and published by the Swedish company Paradox Interactive. Its retail version was released on September 16, 2007, in North America, and three days later in Europe.
Reception of Mount & Blade has been positive overall. Reviewers praised the game for its innovative combat mechanics, complex character skill system, and large modding community, but also criticized it for its repetitive quests, dialogues, and locations, as well as low graphics quality.
A sequel, Mount & Blade: Warband, was released in March 2010, and a spin-off stand-alone expansion, Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword, based on the historical novel With Fire and Sword, was released in May 2011.
Mount & Blade is a single-player, action-oriented role-playing game without any fantasy elements, which takes place in a medieval land named Calradia. The game features a sandbox gameplay style, in which there is no storyline present. The player is able to join one of the five battling factions, fight as a mercenary, assume the role of an outlaw, or take a neutral side.
At the start of the game, the player is offered a set of options to customize the character. The player selects the desired gender and facial features, then answers a series of multiple-choice questions about the character's past, which generate the character's initial attributes.
Traveling to other locations, or interacting with other parties is done by point-and-clicking the desired destination. Upon encountering enemy parties, the player can try to avoid a conflict, or can engage in a battle with them. In Mount & Blade each battle is attributed a renown value, according to the number and power of the members of each party. The player gains the renown if he or she wins the battle. With increased renown, the player achieves higher standing in the game and may be offered vassalage by the leaders of one of the five factions. By becoming a vassal, the player is given control over a certain fief, which he or she can manage and collect taxes from. By solving quests or defeating opponents the player is awarded experience points, which can be used to improve attributes, skills, and weapon proficiencies to further develop the character. Weapon proficiencies can also be improved over time by inflicting damage on other opponents.
There are four main areas where battles take place: on the open map when two or more hostile parties meet, in tournaments organized in town arenas, in siege combat where the player is either defending or attacking a fortification, or in settlements after a triggering event (village is infested by bandits, guards catch the player sneaking in, the player is ambushed, villagers rebel while the player is collecting taxes or the player plunders a village). The number of soldiers each party can hold is limited by the "leadership" skill and the renown of the leader. Participants in a battle can be either mounted or on foot. The player has to indicate the direction in which he or she wants to swing by moving the mouse accordingly, unless they have changed the options so that the game automatically chooses it for them. Aiming with a ranged weapon is also done by using the mouse.
Damage is dealt depending on multiple factors. Aside from each weapon's quality, its effectiveness is also influenced by the character's skill with that type of weapon, and the speed of the player relative to the target: for example, a javelin thrown while running or riding a horse will be potentially more damaging than a javelin thrown while standing still. Further, weapons have certain ranges where they are minimally and maximally effective, which gives the different weapon types different playing styles. A spear, for instance, will do minimal damage when used on an enemy very close to the player, where a hammer could cause maximum damage.
Mount & Blade has a very minimal plot, most of which is up to the player. Although certain things are constant, such as towns and kings, the player's own story is chosen at character creation, where the player can be, for example, a child of an impoverished noble or a street urchin. This has little impact besides starting skills and dialogue (e.g. a lord may treat the player better if they are a nobleman rather than a steppe child.) Player choices also make an impact on dialogue; if the player spends time raiding caravans, a lord may treat them as criminals, as opposed to a player who spends time doing tasks for a king or trading items. There is no overarching storyline, however, so the player is left to their own devices.
The game originated as an independent project of Armağan Yavuz, founder of TaleWorlds, and his wife, İpek Yavuz. According to Armağan Yavuz, the game's inspirations include Sid Meier's Pirates!, The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, Frontier: Elite II, and older Koei strategy video games such as Genghis Khan, as well as historical fiction novels, particularly those by Bernard Cornwell.
Paradox Interactive lost the Mount & Blade license on January 31, 2014.
Reception on Mount & Blade has been generally positive; the game was awarded an aggregated score of 72/100 from Metacritic and 73% from GameRankings. Reviewers acknowledged the game's potential, but also said it suffers from poor production values. GameSpot concluded that the game "feels more underdeveloped than it does flat-out bad", and Eurogamer made a similar review, saying that Mount & Blade has "foundations [...] for something really quite special, but in its current state the game is nowhere close to delivering on its promises". The game also received more positive reviews, IGN saying that it may be "the best game about medieval life ever made", while PC Advisor called it "the first, great medieval role-playing game".
Combat has been one of the game's most widely appreciated elements. Critics like Eurogamer, GameSpot, IGN and PC Advisor praised it, describing it as one of the best implementations of medieval combat ever created. Not all reviewers agreed on the quality of the combat system; PC Zone criticized it, claiming that melee combat feels random in its effectiveness on both foot and horseback. The complexity and thoroughness of the character skill system was also well received.
Mount & Blade has received negative reception from critics for its repetitive quests, dialogues, and locations, as well as poor graphics quality. Eurogamer said the graphics engine "does little to entice you deep enough", and GameSpot said that conversations with NPCs feel more like "consulting a travel guidebook for Calradia than actually speaking to a human being".
The fandom has received positive attention from both developers and critics. During an interview, TaleWorlds declared itself to be "most proud" of its community, considering that "Mount & Blade has arguably some of the best mods developed for a computer game". Reviewers such as GamePro and Game Industry News also admired the number of mods made available for the beta versions even before the game's official retail release.
Sequels and spin-offs
Paradox produced a sequel for the game, titled Mount & Blade: Warband, which includes multiplayer support with up to 250 players as well as improved diplomacy, graphics and artificial intelligence. Warband also has an updated map and a sixth faction. The expansion was set to be released in Q3 2009, but was delayed until March 2010. Closed beta testing began on August 2009, and became open in February 2010, before the sequel's release on March 30, 2010.
Paradox released a spin-off titled Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword, based on the historical novel With Fire and Sword (Polish: Ogniem i Mieczem) by Henryk Sienkiewicz, developed by Snowberry Connection, Sich Studio, and TaleWorlds Entertainment. The game is set in Eastern Europe, and includes the playable factions Poland–Lithuania, Cossack Hetmanate, Russia, Sweden and the Crimean Khanate. The game was released on May 4, 2011.
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is an upcoming sequel. In an interview with PC Gamer, a TaleWorlds producer confirmed that there would be a prequel to the original game Mount & Blade. A Turkish documentary featured footage of what would be seen as early alpha footage of the upgraded engine. Over time, Taleworlds has released Work in Progress screenshots of Bannerlord. During an interview on the website reddit.com, Paradox has stated they will not be publishing Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord.
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