Agree. I wonder the same thing. I can't help to compare it to Total War and Creative Assembly. Their first games made the best ever battles with historical focus, but somehow that was lost during their success and their focus became something completely different - something that alienated the core players that made their success in the first place. But, they make a ton of money on their games with a very different focus and target group, so it's not like I can blame them. They found out that the total war games were not battle simulator games first and foremost, it was.. well, what can you call the fantasy ones? I dunno, Hero Fantasy RTS Tower Defense games?
I was late to the party with M&B but I played it after a decade of total war games (RTW, M2, ETW) and being in the driver seat in the actual battles rather than some anonymous godlike entity, as I would be in a total war game, was really interesting. It was a unique combination, being the hero, but also commanding troops, having cities etc. Not as grand as a TW game, but fresh and unique. Being so late to M&B though I have few hours in it compared to most in this very forum, I assume.
In Bannerlord, if it's primarily a battle simulator, there lies a significant challenge. Comparing to a TW game might be silly to some of you, but in ie Rome Total War playing different factions meant each playthrough was rather unique. It was so different each playthrough wasn't very repetitive. At least not for me, I have probably thousands of hours of RTW (before Steam kept count). But if Bannerlord is primarily a battle sim it needs a massive overhaul of faction diversity and playstyles to keep being entertaining between playthroughs.
I played around 4-5 characters in BL in the first months of EA, maybe around 150 hours or so. I remember when I stopped playing, it was during a battanian playthrough focusing on battanian war styles, ie foot soldiers, archery, only recruiting battanian units etc, but even so it just felt very similar to my previous playthrough (vlandian), and the one before that. And the one before. I remember so well how I had to FIGHT my urge of getting up on a horse and just do the ol' horse archery schtick again since the running speed level up so incredibly slow and my level 1 peasant outran my level 20 warlord, hah! There isn't significant differences enough to warrant more than one playthrough. Perhaps that's what BL is at the end of the day? The first run was magnificent (khuzait, horse archer), the second was very good too (azerai, trader/horse archer/own kingdom), the third was.. ok? Vlandian heavy cav and cross bow, the fourth was battanian I think or maybe there was one in between. Matters not, what matters is there won't be a next one, there is no point as I know there will be no real change to the way I or the game plays out.