The State of Immersion: Bannerlord Edition
While playing through Bannerlord, I really feel like it's lacking a lot of the immersion and cohesion (features working in conjunction) that I find in Warband. That's not to say that I feel the game is bad, it's still good but it has so much more potential that I'm sure will come with time. Let me get straight in to it.
If any of the things I mentioned down below are already in the game, and I haven't noticed already let me know. Also reply with your own opinions or thoughts. I apologize in advance if these points have already been mentioned before or are in someway incorrect.
- Offer of vassalage
- In Warband, if you earned a decent amount of renown and didn't belong to a Kingdom already, there was a chance you would receive a letter offering you a place as a vassal in x Kingdom. While I doubt it was a route many players took, it was there and it added a decision for you to make, one that could completely change the direction of your playthrough. As far as I know, this doesn't exist in Bannerlord.
- Lords defecting to your Kingdom
- I could be wrong on this one, but it feels like Clans don't defect to your own Kingdom? In Warband it felt pretty good to see a Lord leave their Kingdom and sit in your capital, for them to ASK YOU to join your Kingdom, once again adding choices to your playthrough and allowing you to grow your Kingdom without passing a bunch of skill checks and always having to make the first move.
- Companions, companions, companions!
- In Warband, each companion felt, looked and behaved uniquely. Companions had their backstories, base skills and personality types that would lead them to quarrel with each other. Yet again, adding choices to which companions you choose as you don't want them all hating each other, leading them to hate being apart of your party and ultimately ditching you. Doing certain actions such as raiding or failing quests would upset some companions but not others. Right now, they just feel like named soldiers that'll go along with anything, I barely care about who I pickup as long as they can fulfill a clan role that isn't occupied already.
- It was a meme, but now that they're gone, I miss them. They were an easy way to introduce yourself to all of the Lords in your (or another) Kingdom, get quests and meet ladies (Dedicating a Tournament victory to them also). Tournaments would be held when feasts were on-going, and thus allowed you to fight against Lords and not just a random pool of soldiers. Tournaments were a slightly more rare occurrence than what they are in Bannerlord, I feel like there is an abundance of Tournaments going on at any given time, allowing players to quickly rack up gold and items that you couldn't otherwise get so quickly. A Tournament in Warband felt like a great opportunity to get that extra income and renown, now it just feels like what I should be doing all the time making the gameplay loop quite repetitive, especially early-game. It just feels cheap. Feasts would also be good distraction for Lords, and allows for some tactics to be had, you could strike when the enemy was most vulnerable.
- Armour Effectiveness/Feel
- For context, I play with all realistic settings. I couldn't help but feel like as I acquired better and better armor, that it really didn't make much of a difference. Looters were throwing pebbles at me, taking a sizable chunk of my health with some of the most top-tier pieces of armor in the game. The game feels like it caters more towards quantity rather than quality when it comes to armies. In Warband, if I had a small band of elite tier troops, you bet your ass I could take on more enemies than usual. You could feel the difference so much more in Warband as you acquired better gear or upgraded your troops to the higher tiers. Armor also feels quite same-y, when you strike someone in full plate, it feels exactly the same as when I hit someone in leather. In Warband, when you try to swing a sword at full plate, they feel tanky and clanky.
- Personality Types / Traits
- In Bannerlord, there is suppose to be different traits people can have, though it doesn't feel like it's integrated into anything. All of the NPCs feel exactly the same and I don't feel as though I'm treated any differently based on how much Valor/Honor/Dishonesty/any other trait I may or may not have. The trait system doesn't feel cohesive with the rest of the game at all. I never get told when I receive a trait, and there's no indicators of how making a certain choice or choosing a certain dialog option will effect my traits. I feel the system could be great once it's implemented properly. Warband had a much simpler system of an Honor Rating for the player, and the NPCs had certain personality types that would react differently based on the players honor, relation and previous actions. I feel as though the Bannerlord system has much more potential than Warbands, but right now it seems useless.
- Marshals and Marshalship
- I can only describe having Marshals in Warband as being cool. It added another layer to the hierarchy in the factions, giving one Lord that extra bit of power and respect over the others, allowing them to call upon all the other Lords of the realm to go on a campaign. This feels so much more immersive than "Lord x has made an army, join it if you want, if not no worries, decisions don't matter". In Warband, you were SUMMONED by your Marshal, and if you didn't follow through then there were consequences. Furthermore, being offered Marshalship felt rewarding, it also felt risky as you now had a lot of responsibility. Now it just feels like: "okay let me spend this arbitrary number (influence) to force some NPCs to follow me".
- Tavern NPCs
- Ransom Brokers
- Right now, you can sell prisoners to any city, some might consider this an improvement, but personally I liked that you weren't guaranteed to be able to sell your prisoners. It made storing prisoners in dungeons an actual useful thing, so you could sell them later when a ransom broker was closer to your fief. Not always being able to sell prisoners also encourages you to venture out to the world to find them, getting you in all kinds of trouble.
- Wandering Minstrels
- In Warband, these fine men could teach you poems, which you could later use to help woo a certain lady. This would help alot in Bannerlord because there is literally nothing you can do to boost relations lol.
- Book Merchants
- Book Merchants added another layer of depth to Warband, allowing you to read books to gain permanent or passive bonuses to your attributes. These would become very useful late game.
- These NPCs helped you find all of the above NPCs, plus your companions if they were captured or lost somehow. Right now everything is readily available in your encyclopedia, as if you have telepathic knowledge of everyone's location, nothing is less immersion breaking than that. I'm sure people don't mind it, but it would be cool to at-least have a realism option for this kind of stuff.
- Quest NPCs
- Occasionally in Warband you would find a farmer in a city tavern looking for someone to help his village that is infested with bandits. Adding more hidden away Quest NPCs in Taverns could add a lot to immersion and encourage exploration.
I'm sure there's plenty of more things that seem missing in Bannerlord that Warband had, and maybe not all of them are good and maybe even some of the points I mentioned above aren't good for Bannerlord, but the absence of all of them combined leaves me with an experience that is nowhere near as immersive as Warband. I look forward to the improvements that will come in the upcoming patches.