Updated: Nov 19, 2020
A few years ago I stumbled on the computer version of Mount and Blade Warband while I was in the mood for a medieval sandbox RPG and was instantly hooked. I have played it on both PC and Mac, so when I heard it was on Game Pass for the Xbox, I just knew I had to give it a try. So of course, with this game being a port, the question is how comparable is it to the PC/Mac release on Steam? Well, luckily aside from the controls being different, it's much of the same when it comes to gameplay, if not slightly easier, I would say.
What is Mount & Blade: Warband?
For those who have not played this game, we must first ask what it is, what's it about,
and why you would care. Mount and Blade is a medieval simulator RPG sandbox game, where you can do whatever you want. You can become the most successful businessman in the land (my favorite choice), become a warlord for a king, or even start your own kingdom to try and conquer the lands. Anything and everything is up for grabs. You move around the world map, escorted by your merry men doing whatever you want to whomever you want. There is no point to the game except to do whatever you please. Classic sandbox RPG.
You start the game off with your character and assign him points to whatever skills you want. Over time you can build him/her up. It is both a fantastic game and an extremely frustrating one. In the end, it's all part of the game. Granted this game is not for everyone, but today we will be seeing how well this game ported over from the PC to console.
Let's talk about the graphics. Since this game has been out for quite some time before it was ported over, it's nice to say that there really isn't much difference between the two releases. I did notice that the graphics seemed to render a bit darker on my Xbox, and I did notice some pixelation on the ground textures on the world map, and the bump maps are turned up higher than I remember them being. But overall they are pretty comparable. The game is still beautiful in its own way.
Now we will move onto the controls, which obviously is biggest difference here. There were quite a few shortcuts and commands to memorize in the PC version, especially during combat when you are commanding your troops. At first it was a bit strange to get a hang of the control layout; even when going through the tutorial, it took a while to get a hang of it, but that's more of a personal problem, I suppose. The tutorial did an adequate job of explaining things for you. Once you get the hang of it, romping about the map almost becomes second nature.
The only real struggle I seemed to have was pausing my actions in the world map. For example, when you want to go to a specific place on the map, you hover your cursor over it, then hit Y or A and your player will run over to it. Along the way you may be chased by bandits, raiders, or various vagabonds wanting to extort you for gold. The problem is that when you select a location, your camera will fly back onto your character. During that time you may be attacked before your camera fixates itself on you, or you won't see the enemy until it's too late. The simple solution is to either only travel short distances at a time or hit B if you DO see an enemy. After that, you just change direction and bolt for the nearest city or wandering warband for protection. I'm still getting used to this. To compensate for my lack of stopping skill, I just wander around with a large amount of men...27 in total, when I counted once. I know it’s such a massive war party, right? After a while that number became insignificant due to the fact that my entire army consisted of farmers. Who knew that 56 peasants was enough for a king to personally invite you into his fold, but not enough to ward off 8 deserters?
One that aspect I was worried about was commanding your troops. Now, in combat, it is a really good idea to have a lot of troops at your command. You could just set them to do their own thing, sure, but the best path to victory is to command your army effectively. On the PC/Mac version, you use shortcuts. On the console version, you use the directional pad, and like with the rest of the controls, it’s strange at first, but extremely intuitive. However, it is a bit slower than the computer version, so it’s a good idea to stack up on your tactics skill to not only buy you more time to set up your troops, but to gain as much of a train advantage as possible. Still the computer version WILL be faster and easier to use, but this is a console release. They did a really good job here.
This could be an entire article in itself! There are so many ways to play this game. The character has access to a variety of skills for the player to indulge in. If you have played the computer version of this game, you have nothing to fear: it’s all here. For most people, the meat and potatoes of the game will be combat. Really, what is a medieval sandbox without combat? And what could be more fun than combat? Economics, my friends. Even in this world we need to make money. When I play on the computer version, I love to take over the world with money first, then with stealing, so let’s talk about that first.
Everything in this game revolves around money. If you don’t have money, you can't pay your troops, and if you can't pay your troops, they will leave. If they leave, you won't last very long on the battlefield. The same goes with food; no food means no soldiers, no soldiers means no fighting, and no fighting means no happy times. Oddly enough, the same logic applies to every faction and every character in the game, just like in the computer version. So most of my time has been spent making money; selling grain, figs, weapons and armor all around the map to buy up businesses to make even more money. Buying up multiple business is a sound strategy for financing any endeavor, be it war or socializing.
Now for combat. I have noticed a huge reduction in enemies wandering around on the map. I miss being arrayed by aggressors. Sometimes I like being a manhunter...so where are all the bad men to hunt? In the beginning, the land of the Nords and the deserts are still hot spots for bandit activity, but it felt emptier, and I will note that the world DID become more dangerous after a while of playing.
Controlling your troops is inherently slower than on computer due to the lesser amount of inputs, but it works well for the control scheme, and like in the original release, this game can be unfair at times. Sometimes there will be a large band of rogue solders that attack or demand things from you. If you are not prepared for a fight, be ready to lose gold or men. Either way, this game is not really designed for you to win, which makes it all the more satisfying when you smash open the skulls of your enemies with an axe.
To close, overall the game was ported to console very well in my opinion. The game runs well, it plays well, and no matter what platform you play it on, it is still a blast to romp about in this fatal world.
As of writing this review, it is currently on Xbox Game Pass, which you can get for $1, if you're new to the service. Why not download the game and give it a try?