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Posted on Sep 20, 2010 in Electronic Games

Mount and Blade: Warband – PC Game Review

By Paul Glasser

Mount & Blade: Warband. PC Game. TaleWorlds Entertainment. $30.

Passed inspection: New multiplayer function

Failed Basic: Little improvement in graphics

Many players choose to focus on mounted combat because they enjoy the thrill of crashing into enemy hordes.

Mount & Blade: Warband gives players the long-awaited chance to test their mettle against other heroes.

For those unfamiliar with award-winning independent game, Mount & Blade and the new Warband expansion focus on the fictional medieval world of Calradia. Players can align themselves with several different historically inspired factions such as the Nords (Vikings), Sarranid Sultanate (Arabs) and Khergit Khanate (Mongols), and others. The different factions make war with each other, negotiate truces and engage in trade. Keep an eye on the ever-changing balance of power—don’t attack an allied caravan by mistake!


In single-player mode, players receive a “birds-eye view” of the world of Calradia, complete with vast deserts, snow-covered mountains and lush forests. The player can navigate throughout the world map and encounter a vast ensemble of other NPC groups such as peasants, deserters, friendly warbands and hostile raiders.

The original game offered players a “sandbox” style environment without any main storyline and quest. That’s been improved somewhat and players can now pursue marriage for love or power, manage estates and seek political alliances.

But battle is the main attraction. Players can recruit volunteers, hire mercenaries and persuade heroes to join forces with them. As you fight more battles, if your allies survive, you can train them to become a wide variety of veteran troops, including knights, foot soldiers, archers or skirmishers.

When you encounter another group on the world map a dialogue screen pops up that includes a few simple discussion options (no lines are voiced). Some are benign while others will lead to confrontation.

If you do choose to engage in battle, players are presented with a few basic tactical options. You can lead your party into battle yourself, order your men to fight without your leadership (a risky move) or leave a rearguard behind while your main forces try and escape.

When you choose to lead your men in battle, your forces will be sent to a third-person, “over-the-shoulder” view of the battle area. Many players choose to focus on mounted combat because they enjoy the thrill of crashing into enemy hordes and hacking down their opponents, but you can also choose to fight on foot.

Enemy forces deploy on opposite sides of the battle area and immediately begin to maneuver for position. You can give simple orders to your troops, such as hold position or charge, in order to gain the best tactical advantage.

When the melee begins, players and their allies begin hacking and slashing away with a vast array of swords, clubs, pole arms, javelins and bows. You’ll also need armor to protect yourself; choose among many different types of light, medium and heavy armor, including helmets, boots and gloves.

Although mounted soldiers can easily trample individual enemies, a wall of pikes or a shower of arrows can quickly stop a charging knight.

Players can also equip shields but they aren’t an invincible force field—too many hits from a big axe will shatter even the stoutest defense.

If you do decide to fight upon a trusty steed you need to make sure you have enough skill to ride the toughest and fastest horse available. Many heroes will charge into battle with a lance because it has the potential to do devastating damage. If you ride fast enough the lance will automatically be braced, and a single hit will kill even the most heavily armored opponent.

If the two armies engaged in combat are large enough they will receive reinforcements throughout the battle. It may also take several bouts to completely crush the enemy. If you are wounded or lose too many troops, you can choose to retreat or disengage.

But if you succeed in whittling down the enemy, you’ll receive gold, experience and equipment as your reward. You can elect to take none, some or all of the weapons and armor your men retrieve from the field of battle. If there’s something you want, simply drag it into your inventory. If you’re out of room, you can swap out something less valuable.

At any time before or after battle, you can also access your party management screen in order to view the relative strengths and weaknesses of your forces. You can give some troops higher priority than others so they will be the first to fight. You also need to keep your troops fed and maintain their morale; otherwise you won’t move as fast on the world screen. You can also re-equip any heroes fighting for you and improve their skills once they “level up.”

Outside of battle, you can visit—or burn to the ground—a number of different towns, cities and castles. You can buy arms and goods at friendly cities and attack hostile or neutral villages. Players can also lay siege to enemy castles and try to overwhelm the defenders. Players can even build their own fief by taking over villages and making improvements, if they show enough loyalty to their lord.

Some multiplayer modes are similar to the single player “sandbox” environment with strategic goals. However, most players choose to test their mettle against other heroes.

Players can face off on a number of servers that offer several different combat modes including:

  • traditional death match, team death match and capture-the-flag options
  • battle mode, akin to a “last man standing” contest
  • siege contests, where defenders try to prevent attackers from capturing the keep until time runs out
  • fight & destroy, where one team must defend plump targets from attacking raiders
  • conquest, where teams must take and hold targets on the world map

The most popular multiplayer formats include the deathmatch and siege contests where players fight in large melees. There are no NPC characters. To ensure fairness, you can’t take your high-level knight into battle against a horde of helpless “newbie” adventurers. Instead, each player selects from a different type of basic soldier and selects the armor and arms that best fit his style of play. From there, the combat is very similar to that found in single-player mode.

Players in multiplayer severs often use voice chat programs like Teamspeak to coordinate attacks and form guilds to fight together. In addition, 19 teams from around the world recently participated in a round-robin multiplayer tournament that included players from England, France, Germany, Italy and many others.

However, the new expansion retains most of the original elements of the original Mount & Blade game aside from the multiplayer aspect.

Other small improvements have been made in combat. Players can now see the relative health of their mount and can more easily distinguish their own allies while in combat.

The player community is still very active and has contributed a number of home-grown additions including a role-playing-heavy multiplayer mode, a Napoleonic era firearms version, diplomacy and intrigue options, and other programs that add new weapons, armor and troops.

Some veteran players may question the $30 price-point, which is as much as the original Mount & Blade sold for. Although Warband adds a lot in terms of multiplayer functions, it still suffers from many of the drawbacks of the original game, such as low production value and sub-par graphics. There’s no voice acting and the game is technically unimpressive. However, if you enjoyed the original and would love to face off against other heroes, Warband may be just what you’ve been waiting for.

As with the original, Warband offers a free demo up to level 7 but locks access to the multiplayer portion until you buy a full license.

Armchair General Rating: 83%

Paul Glasser is a newspaper reporter in Frankfort, Ky. He enjoys traveling, miniature war games and role-playing.


  1. It should be noted that this game requires STEAM. A lot of gamers, myself included, won’t buy STEAM games.

    • Steam is only required if you want to download the game off steam or buy a physical copy. If like me you don’t like steam you can buy a cd key from the tale worlds website and download the game 😀 Note that the key from the website is smaller than one youd get from steam, so you cant use a taleworlds game on warband running through steam or vice versa

  2. You guys really need to get a decent rig to review these games on, you’re not doing them any justice while testing with stone-age hardware.
    M&B’s graphics are hardly state of the art, but they’re a lot better than what you’ve posted. This is both misleading to the reader, and perhaps to the reviewer themselves as they are not getting the full experience whilst playtesting.
    Either post from official screenshots, or use a proper rig. If you’re really stuck give me a shout, a nice 1080p screen + HD4890 should do the job for you nicely.


  3. Steam is only in the retail (boxed) version of the game. The digital download on the TaleWorlds website does not contain or require Steam. In fact, the Steam API was removed some time ago from the downloadable version of Warband in a recent patch.

  4. @Guy with Steam. Steam is not even required. All you need to do is add it to steam, right click it on steam, get the real CD-Key download the executable on the site and use the real CD-Key you got. Easy wasn’t it? Do some more research before you even type.

  5. I would suggest interested buyers read the forum thread called ‘Forced to Run Steam- Not Amused’ on the Taleworld website first, It will indicate how to avoid the STEAM version, otherwise you are liable to get it from most sellers.

  6. “I would suggest interested buyers read the forum thread called ‘Forced to Run Steam- Not Amused’ on the Taleworld website first, It will indicate how to avoid the STEAM version, otherwise you are liable to get it from most sellers.”

    Better yet… buy it directly from the website. Voila. Simple, neh?

  7. M&B Warband also has a great modding community. It’s definitely a must buy.

  8. The actual game is very good and has a great medieval combat system.What makes this game worth buying is the modding community which is very active and has already developed many great mods on both singleplayer and multiplayer.

    There is no game that simulates medieval combat better then mount and blade.Charging into a 120 player army (120 each side) is simply epic.

  9. This game does NOT require Steam. Just don’t buy it via steam. Buy it from the Taleworlds homepage and you won’t have the Steam problem.

  10. Bullshit!

    The game can be buyed by steam, internet banking and otter.
    In some countrtys its also buyable on cd.

    So do not talk about things you do not know!

  11. why would you hate steam?!?!?!? its a free service that makes buying games and communicating with friends easy

  12. I played this game for 3 months . I was very satisfied with this game and I suggest everyone. It is very cheap .
    Just try…

  13. Haha lol at screenshots. These are surely made on almost the lowest possible settings of the game. Battles look much better even on my laptop xD

  14. Just a note on the part about “small graphical improvements”: they did not improve the graphics that much, but they seem to have improved the performance of the graphics. The last version of Mount and Blade that I played would chug with only a battle size setting of 70 if I had HDR and effects enabled. The current version of Mount and Blade: Warband runs well on my computer with the full 150 battle size and all effects enabled. It’s a huge improvement in performance.

  15. 456881

  16. get this game then get C-RPG mod we need more peasents to knock around

  17. iyi

  18. Note that most of the DVD versions bought are in fact the Steam version.
    I couldn’t believe the publisher of the DVD version (Paradox) did that nasty trick, such an awesome gaming experience incredibly replayable and you’re forced to use that Steam software if you buy the DVD in a store.

    I was going to buy it but when i saw the mention of the steam requirement on the DVD box in store, i just walked away.

    Fortunately on the developer board thread is a very good solution to be able to play that game, even if you bought the DVD box, without anything steam if you’re not willing to buy it online on the Taleworlds website :,105171.msg2597527.html

    After reading that and having the confimation it worked, i bought the DVD box finally.
    It works very well and like everyone not willing to go the Steam way, i was able to enjoy that game.

    A pity Paradox did that nasty stunt on the DVD box, it certainly put lots of people interested away.
    But the game is just fabulous, something far from all the fast food you get from modern gaming.

  19. I am glad to be one of several visitants on this great internet site (:, thanks for putting up.

  20. My stupid fault – I bought this game at a store that sells the STEAM version. Now I’m potentially out $30 for a copy of the game that I can’t play – because I absolutely refuse to put STEAM on my computer.

    I’m going to try the method the site you quoted suggested – download the trial version of the game from Taleworlds directly and install, then use the CD Key from the game I bought to activate the full version. Hope this works.


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