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I hope this gets read, really great review. Would love to see some of these changes in the gameI have about 90 hours in Bannerlords. I have about 1000 hours in the Total War series. I picked this game up on a whim, I heard about the predecessor that it had a following and was around for a while but for some reason I thought it was more of an RPG, like Witcher except you have bodies of troops and you can yell orders at them. I don't know, some review gave me that impression I don't remember was long time ago. But recently I heard from someone it was more like TW except the campaign was RTS so here I am.
My thoughts in no particular order:
I don't like it that I'm making all this money off looting my enemies and that I can individually manage the looting of every bloody tunic. Why is the lord bothering with it? Lords are rewarded with land, titles and they extract money from their new fief. Soldiers keep the loot, it raises morale and keeps the lord alive.
Why do towns sell quantities of elite weapons to passing strangers? Shouldn't the local lord trust me a LOT before that? Because I might kill him with those weapons?
I like the little armies that harass your main army, keeping tabs on you and letting you know more are coming and soon there will be more of them so watch out.
The music is very very good. A little too much shouting though during the battles.
I need the icons in battle to tell troops apart but man are they annoying af.
I don't understand the caravan mechanic at all. I mean I do in terms of world economy and moving good around. But for me as a player it's basically a choice to make a random investment, right? I don't seem to have any control or way to influence it, it just makes me money for a random amount of time and then it dies and I don't really know if it paid for itself unless I take screenshots every day.
I like that rulers just do what they want. You take the castle, you spend the influence and get shafted. Yeah sorry it's going to the other guy. Also not sorry. That's awesome. I hate systems where I have enough resources early to basically impose my will.
Trading is way too easy. Two cities one day travel apart and I realize a 30% profit? It seems my limiting factor in the early game is simply the amount of pack animals I can buy. After a couple of days I'm transferring a third the city contents at a time to the next city. Way too much trading income. Shouldn't all that stuff be taxed into the ground? Didn't the local guilds take their pound of flesh?
Building stuff is omg fast. What's with all these 1 day build times? Everything should take months or weeks at least. I visit my new castle, click all the projects and go around the countryside to inspect my new fief clear some looters I come back four days later I have brand new place.
I really like that I can spend influence to get other people to send their troops into the meatgrinder for me. Just like in real life. Awesome.
I just hate the whole hideout mechanic. I have 800 soldiers. I know exactly where the hideout is. I have the whole hill surrounded and heavy cavalry ready to charge. I'm bringing a couple of randos with me it, let's go!
I don't like it that I can kite bodies of infantry. No human being on foot would ever chase a horseman with a bow. Ever. You hide, you run away, you look for something, you form a turtle, literally any other action is more beneficial. Lying down and playing dead is better.
Bandits and looters and other trash are annoying. There's too many of them and they move too fast for disorganized rabble. It's like you're trying to chase down these little hyper-aware Jeb Stuart's when it should just be some slow mob.
I like that you can form a party of one with your companion and they go off and hopefully not get captured while growing troops and doing quests and patrolling around. I like seeing their medical skills go up cause I know they're getting captured next or maybe they'll get away. It's very tense. Then I can call them for free to my army and steal all their guys and send them off again.
The siege process seems weird. We build some towers and a ram so that's good. Then we build some onager whatever, it fires once or twice and it's dead. So we build another and it's dead. The guys on the walls have four. So yeah, maybe we can build them out of range? Then move them in at once and fire all at one point? Can we do that Engineer-role guy?
I know perks are borked. I like the choices you have to make though between some.
The leveling system is weird and also kinda cool. It's nice how you have to be truly versed in many disciplines to rise in level. However, it's really easy to create a bottleneck where it's very difficult to accumulate enough points to get more focus.
You raise Engineering only by doing siege stuff? How many sieges do I have to be in? I mean omg it's just insane amount of sieges no?
Some skills seem impossible to raise for companions.
Maybe because I haven't had any very large towns yet, but Governors seem kind of a waste. Like I could have a free party for my army and tons of great relations or I could have a guy sit in a town and have a minor effect that can be situational?
I'm not sure but it seems like every castle and town have the same facilities? Like I can improve irrigation the same amount in a desert town that I can one the fertile temperate belt?
There are no tradeoffs to building stuff or changing defaults in towns and castles it seems. You just build everything limited by the available cash and click the thing for default you want and that's it. Seems like useless button clicking. Like you take a castle it should just assume you're improving everything and give you some messages your castellan improved the granary and then it's all done.
I really like that you can dress up all your crew with all these different styles. I like my banner on the shield.
Swinging a big polearm and just cleaving a guy in half is satisfying, so is a nice charge with the lance and stuff. I know people have a problem with the AI but I'm just learning combat stuff so I'm not worried yet. But the animations and sound effects and everything is good. There is no excessive rag-doll issue that I hate where they really go into all that flailing and stuff. Dead bodies just drop and lay there like sacks not go flying with limbs akimbo. There is just the right amount of blood on everything.
I can marry and have children. Awesome! Do I die of old age or am I some sort of vampire? I haven't got that far.
There should be a skill check for acquiring companions and if rejected they should reject you for months.
The encyclopedia should not tell me anyone's current location or their skills. I mean it's nice to know that but I shouldn't know that. I should have a generic description that they like to frequent this region and are very charming.
What's cohesion? My armies have it, it runs down and then it gets replenished magically. I join other armies, sometimes they fall apart because they lose it. Is there some button I press to get more I missed that part.
The taverns are done really well. All the interiors and towns and castles. Really like visiting villages and just riding around looking at all my happy peasants. Walking around my castle battlements. Town market with the vendors. It's totally unnecessary and great.
There doesn't seem to be any traditional alliances. Kingdoms are liable to attack pretty much any other kingdom. I do see they prefer border wars but then I see the Khuzaits warring on the Vlandians again and I'm like why? I'm not too up on the lore but there should be like ok these two kingdoms fight rarely and these guys just can't stop.
Territory seems to change too easily. A typical outcome should be a sacking, or a reduction in facilities representing a razing, but control change should be rarer. Typically leaders who didn't allow their army to sack the city didn't fare well in future security arrangements if you know what I mean.
I thought there would be functional roads.
The questing mechanic for improving relations is not appealing to me at all. Time spent for relation gained is not worth it for me. I'd rather send out companions in parties, they do the quests for me. I had some notable up to 86 before I knew what was happening.
There are two big navigable bodies of water in the middle of the continent with six coastal cities between them and another eight cities on the ocean coast and I can't take a boat anywhere. Oceans, seas, lakes and rivers seem to play no part of the game besides channeling land movement. I'm not asking for detailed naval combat, I just want to take a ship between two towns.
I like the seasons with the snow and everything, and the clock with the sun/moon that's nicely done too.
Generally the UI is good but there are too many elements placed way too far from each other. I have to click LOOT ALL in one corner of the screen, then travel down to DONE on the bottom. Why not right next to each other since that's all you do? Stuff like that. There should be more sorting on the columns. Can I transfer by type? Like all foot archers? I know I can click for one and something-click for 5 but can I click for all? So the UI could use some work in the UE department, but the presentation is nice and generally functional.
However, the text log is absolutely horrid. Stuff just disappears I don't know what's happening I can't scroll someone is captured they're all getting captured are there filters do I have any control does it keep a permanent log?
When I talk to people I can be nice or a jerk or whatever. But it doesn't seem to make a difference they always reply the same.
I have not had one single crash. I have a GTX 1060 in a Helios 300 laptop and it's all max setting all the way including battle size and I can't complain one bit. Well, for a couple of giant sieges I had to turn it down to medium I can't lie but otherwise it's maxed out. Not one single crash or hang.
A lot of equipment is wildly under or overpriced. I'm not worried cause there will be a mod for that. People love modding the economy so as long as the basics aren't too off I should be fine.
There should be a way to set stances for your army. Like reckless or cautious or ambush. Like there should be a way to ambush an army coming down the wide road without them immediately spotting you and running away at .01 more speed than you. I should be able to entrench maybe like in Agincourt.
People complain about the battle AI and I see what they mean. Lots of reckless cavalry charges and foot soldier clumping.
So the Tactics skill with the simulated battles bonus, that's awful. You should never make it more appealing to skip the battle. If you want to skip the battle cause it's not worthy of you, that's cool, but don't prod the player please. Don't make me feel guilty about enjoying the blade.
What's going on in that deploy screen on the siege battles? I just click autodeploy, whatever, does it make a difference?
My scrubs pushed a siege tower into a ditch and went askew and no one could climb it. Hilarious and just like irl. Two thumbs up. Should I have deployed it somewhere else maybe? Is that what's going on with that screen?
I think no one should be able to recruit out of my fief without my permission. You can't just ride in and take my military-age males from my lands what the hell are you thinking? I mean yeah if you're my liege but this is just anyone! I own those people. Not like in the modern corporate way, but literally they are all my property.
The whole movement speed thing is very opaque to me. Seems like a lot of factors influence it, so I just try to do the logical thing like faster horses less stuff more riders. More skilled riders. I hope it's working, it seems like it is.
I hope the starting point changes based on player culture. I mean it's fine for the Empire guy but as a Khuzait I prefer to start near a yurt. I don't know how the rest of you play but I spend a couple of days doing nothing but traveling to my homeland so I can start the game right.
I stopped reading the main quest like three NPC's in. I don't care about the battle. My parents are dead I have no family what do I care what some stranger did to another back in the day? Then it gets ridiculous I don't want to spoil anything but I don't need anyone's permission to usurp power I have a thousand loyal men and a fierce desire to rule. Just erasing the whole thing would make a better focused game.
What's the benefit of helping out that artisan? He's like here is almost nothing and everyone hates you now. I help him out again same thing. Screw that guy.
Can I set waypoints for my party?
The character generator seems really weird. Like you have all these sliders but there's this archetype you kinda can't get away from. It's hard to describe but for example all the females look a little Finnish to me. Like you can darken their skin and slap an afro on 'em and still something is off. I don't like that I have a million sliders for the head and one for the rest of the body. And the big doesn't even look like a big person. They look like a scaled up small person. Big people are...thicker, not like fat but just more bigger in certain places to support that extra mass. So not a good effort on the body mod.
The bow arc is too limited for an offside target when mounted. It's a minor quibble but a skilled horse archer can shoot quite a bit more offside than is represented here, especially with the short bow.
Armies travel on their stomach, why can't these guys bring enough food? The influence gain from feeding the army is nice but I should not have to leave the army to run ahead to the city to buy 150 grain and 100 cheese so everyone can eat.
Garrison troops train on their own, right? Why do I have to transfer them to my party to promote them now they're all comingled and I'm clicking lots of stuff.
Need way more variety in companion surnames. I had two "The Golden" in my army cause they were the best fighters I could get.
New companions spawn over time so that's awesome. I abandoned a start because the initial pool was so bad before I knew that. Like I mentioned before, that's not knowledge I should have.
Is it better to take crappy companions that you can level how you like? Cause I always take the most developed guys but then I'm stuck with what they got cause it's so hard to raise them.
Moving slower at night? Thumbs up.
No matter what formation I choose, if want to shoot a guy coming up on my eight, Mudlips the Golden will be right there on his fine Arab charger with my crosshair pointed right at his skull. And when I adjust my target to the next guy, Mudlips slows down a bit to get between that guy. I just whiz the arrow right by his ear, he can't be really killed. Maybe he knows so he just watches me dumbly as I hold the string.
Cavalry fights in snowy forests are the most awesome thing. You can't see a thing, can't tell who is who, everything just running crazy total panic and terror horses charging out of the fog. You see guys get stuck on a tree then out of nowhere bam impaled by a lance. Atmosphere plus one.
I stopped caring about the small relation adjustments during kingdom things. Laws, fiefs, what should we do with this what law do we pass. I take a hit with Lord Mxlptlk over his fief, he likes me better because we both support Hunting Rights, it evens out. There's so many little adjustments coming at you they stop mattering. After a couple years in I can see this guy hates me or this guy really loves me and I have no idea why I tried to be equally nice to both.
I'm in a kingdom now I have like 2k influence for my clan, that's more than than some but the top two clans are just insane. The number one guy has like 90k influence. Number two is at 70k. I'm not saying that's good or bad gamewise, but damn. These guys passed laws that favor the top over my dissent and I'll never catch up. I get like 200 influence and I see these guys go up by 2k. I guess I'll stick around until I can gather some more territory if these guys throw me some more crumbs. Otherwise it's my own kingdom time. I kinda wanted to work from the inside here but these guys protect their own and I'm the outsider. I like all that. These are choices TW never gave me outside of stilted scripted events. I'm making my own political destiny here. I wish there were more choices how to interact with the other lords though.
Anyways, that's all for now. Not gonna get too deep here yet since EA is just breaking and changing stuff every day, but I really like this concept and I like what I see so far. I'm really positive on the game even though it's mostly all complaints above because sparse praise is the best praise imo