[Mega-Feedback] On recent versions 1.6.x - 1.7.0 beta

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kweassa

Sergeant at Arms
Overall Impression

Played from early access launch to 1.4.x, and then had a long hiatus. Decided to comeback with the announcement of 1.7.0 beta in many months. From that perspective, having properly distanced myself from the stream of marginal changes throughout the versions, and able to view and gauge the amount of change from a different scale, I think I can say with confidence that contrary to popular sentiment (which, unfortunately are often unfounded, exaggerated, or simply unfair) I think the game showed a steady pace of advancement. As of current, I'd say it's nearing the point of being at the "lower threshold to be considered a finished game." In other words, I surely would want and expect much more features to be added in, but if the decision from the devs is to release it largely in its current form, it'd still be at least "satisfactory."

The core idea of the M&B franchise -- the Medieval simulation/RPG with well-placed, selective elements of realism that first brought critical acclaim and devoted supporters -- is very much alive and available in a form which a full-length campaign may be executed for one's enjoyment (albeit, with numerous balancing and QOL issues). I would dearly love to see much more improvement, but the basics of what makes M&B are all there, in a much better form than what the first game provided.

In that sense, I've decided to compile a list of feedback after having played two full campaigns from start to finish, no use of mods, no use of cheats or 'cheat-like' abuses (ie. smithing millionaire), to mainly highlight QOL or balancing issues.


General
  • Can we do something about the lighting? I don't exactly expect state-of-the-art with this franchise, but the lighting.. is very, very, very outdated.
  • We need the option to switch around soldier's faction markers, so instead of turning up your soldier's faction markers, mark the enemies instead.

Character Customization
  • The ability to save previously created customizations, is still not here. After repeated playthroughs, in many cases player come to a certain type of external customization they most enjoy. Or, at times, one may come up with a customization they are extremely pleased with. It is a pain to have to "recreate" the results you seek.
  • Player clan banner emblems and patterns, colors are still greatly limited.
  • The "barbershop" function is an interesting change, but I'd say forcing someone to load into a settlement every time, was a bad idea. I would recommend making it possible to access the barber from the town interface in the same way you are able to access other notable.

Tutorial
  • It would be greatly helpful, to add in tutorials for advanced combat techniques that are not properly explained anywhere in the game. For example, for more than a year I've struggled to understand why chambering is so much more difficult in this game, than compared to the previous game. For the longest time, I thought it was maybe because the input timing was changed to be less forgiving. Only after watching a certain YouTube video on the topic, did I learn that an entire new element of stances was introduced. There's currently no where in the game that properly teaches you stuff like: chambering, active blocking(parrying), lance couching, spear bracing, switching weapon modes with X, handling the horse... and etc etc.. The tutorials for these functions, and a proper training/showcase regimen, should be optionally included in the tutorial phase.

Individual/Close Combat
  • The base combat AI of how the tutorial/training ground instructor functions, need to be expanded to all melee combatants in the game. Quite differently from how the AI functions in melee combat in the main game (a.k.a. "I don't care if I get impaled, I'll just bum rush you and smother you with zero consideration of combat distances" x number of enemies), surprisingly, the training ground instructor tends to try and keep his optimal distance for combat, and will move back when you advance, approach when you back off, at his own sword's length. Not, I cannot be certain if that's a result of an AI algorithm, or simply just a hard-coded functionality to maintain a set distance, but the end result is that the combat is more immersive, and makes sense when fighting with the instructor, than the hundreds and thousands of enemies you get to meet in the actual world. Now, the instructor's AI -- for training purposes no doubt -- is very passive. So what I would like to see, is a tendency for the melee combat AI to advance within the optimal distance of its own weapon when attacking, but try to move out from the player's weapon reach after the attack. The lone player with high athletics + long-reach weapon just "chipping away" at dozens of looters, is a result of the (over zealous) AI trying to just bum rush you.
  • The changes to chambering, are excessive, and makes it almost impractical for combat use. I would recommend simply reverting to the previous game's "solely-timing" method.

Arms and Armor

Thrusting Polearms

  • Thrusting polearms (spears), are still unsatisfactory in their handling, and remain an exception to the generally (more or less) adequate portrayal of melee weapons. A critical reason why it is so, is as explained above -- the combat AI's total disregard for personal safety, no fear of a long weapon's reach, and the tendency to want to bum rush you. This, hopefully, should be addressed via changes in the corresponding AI.
  • Another factor which exacerbates the problem, is that the spear has no "driving power." As in, even if the spear fails to fully penetrate the armor and fails to do damage, it is still a solid physical object of considerable length that's stopping you from moving forward. Any quality of hit from a spear, should drive the opponent back to the full reach of the spear.
  • The attack stance of two-handed spears should be changed. The grip should be much further back, with much more of the shaft's length protruded forward. The attack motion should be a bit faster. I've heard claims that the game is holding on to the current form because the devs are worried faster spear attacks would make it too OP. Unfortunately, if the devs are committed portraying realistic battles, there's a very real reason why the spear was king of the weapons. Spear troops are still largely considered notoriously weak, even with after the spear bracing changes.
Swinging Polearms
  • Effective "sweet spot" of the weapon should be made much more strict, otherwise all attacks simply resulting in blunt damage. Functionally, swinging polearms have the exact same disadvantages as thrusting polearms in real life. If someone whose penetrated the spear's range and came in close gives you a hard time in the game, the same problem should be there with swinging polearms as well. Unfortunately, the notoriety of swinging polearms in both single player and multiplayer, suggests the conditions are way too lenient for swinging polearms, whilst way to strict for thrusting polearms.
Rocks
  • The looter's signature weapon, and the terror of early game. While I disagree with the general sentiment that they're too OP, I do think the distance the rocks retain accuracy is a bit too long. The distance between a pitcher and a catcher in baseball, is 18.44 meters. Without some amount of training, it's very difficult for a normal person to throw a heavy mass accurately and enough to hurt someone over 20 meters. Yes, the looters make up for that with the amount of stones thrown, but in the game, you can actually see the looters sizing you up and the thrown rocks at a distance of over 30, and the incoming rock has a trajectory like how a MLB outfielder would throw the ball to the infield.
Equipment Prices
  • Tier6 equipment, particular armor, is just way too expensive. The price range ups at an unrealistically exponential rate.. from cheap ones to being several hundred gold, to mid-tier in thousands. Ok. That seems reasonable... but then it flips up to 50 thousand... then 100 thousand.,.. then suddenly ramp up to like 260 thousand.. 500 thousand.. these prices are punitive. Normally, without abusing smithing, that amount of money would come after many years of saving up money. This problem is also intrinsically linked with smithing and easy money.


Character Leveling and Skills, Perks
  • Contrary to popular belief, I think the pace of leveling up for the character is fine. Despite what people think, the game has always been a "life simulation." and it is natural to expect your character to reach peak performance only with decades of experience. Personally, I don't feel the need to see my character reach 275+ points in multiple skills in the first few years, and I'm totally fine with spending time with the "long game," from which a young man grows older, becomes an old man, and may even move on to the next generation. In that sense, the pace of XP gain and leveling itself seems to be fine.
  • There IS a problem, however, with XP gains and leveling for characters. None of the NPCs engage in heavy action that may increase their own character levels and skill levels, which is to be expected, since a player wants to hire new companions and see them grow with yourself -- rather than those characters gaining skills and leveling up "off screen," so to speak. However, even after hired, the amount of action a companion character partakes is grossly limited in comparison to the rate at which the player character gains XP and levels up. For example, you can "prepare" your next generation in all manner of ways, but by the time your main character dies and your son takes over, you'll be with a 40+ years-old age character that's got less than half of the skill level you were when you were just 35. IMO, there needs to be some kind of asymmetric XP boost that applies to specifically characters in your party.
  • Most of the skills and perks seem to be fleshed out to an adequate level, but some skills retain much too slow rate of increase, whereas others still gain level way too fast. For example, Stewardship is still much too easy to gain at a much too fast a rate, whereas others like Engineering, Medicine, and Trade greatly fall behind. Engineering tends to be slow due to the fact that actions that require engineering are relatively much more infrequent in-game. Same with Medicine: the conditions to raise Medicine, are actually counter-intuitive to the player's benefit, in that only heavy casualties will ever prompt a decent amount of increase in Medicine. Trade, is a result of the game's problem of under-representation. These need to be balanced out.
  • I would recommend switching out all the Governor perks and replacing them with Party Leader or Clan Leader perks, since these are currently redundant.

Economy and Trade
  • I have no qualms with how the economy is portrayed currently. The current economy is adequately flexible and fluctuates upon different circumstances, but at the same time, is much more resilient to the death spiral of recession that the early versions would so often display. So I think the current portrayal is adequate.
  • Much the same, personally, I like that in this game, there is only limited scope of player intervention in order to effect the economic reality of a settlement, Some games provide you all sorts of means to affect the economy, and those games do have their own charms, but I also like how the more realistic portrayal of how Bannerlord handles it. The economic changes only come in the long-term, and after will have effect only after years of maintaining certain policies or projects. It really feels good when you get your hands on a settlement that's in a region devastated by way, loyalty hanging by a thread, villages destroyed.. and then working long and hard to see that in 10 years your settlement has recovered, boasts high loyalty, with flourishing villages. I understand why some people don't like this, and want to be able to pour in money and people and just recover damage and become a super-rich town in a couple of years -- but I feel this way is better for this game. So no qualms her
Serious Problem with Trade
  • There is a real problem with trade. It is a well-known fact that despite the mercantile name, in reality, Trade is one of the worst ways to earn money in the game. Generally, the consensus of the players, is that the best way to earn money in-game is: Smithing (almost cheating) > Large amount of fiefs (duly earned) > War (mercenary wages) > War (selling prisoners and equipment) >>>>> Trade/Caravans/Workshops > Tournaments. Considering that profit from workshops and caravans were nerfed, so they're just there to provide the most basic level of economic basis for your start-up as a faction, Trade being considered on the same level, is quite humiliating for people with mercantile ambitions.
  • The problem of trade is caused by the fact that price fluctuations upon buying/selling products, is so much drastic to the level of being almost volatile.
  • Now, economy is always a difficult subject and I'm by no means an economist. But regardless, I can say that in most games that feature trade, the core element of trading lies with the concept of WHOLESALE, not RETAIL. Buying small amounts of a variety of different items create small profit, and it's the option to take when your economic base and capital investment is not big enough to trade large quantities. Usually, games portray the RETAIL phase of mercantile endeavors as the beginning phase -- from which the player moves on to wholesale. The player amasses a fortune enough to buy much larger quantities of products at a cheap rate, and sell those large quantities expensively to gain a much greater margin of profit. This is how things are in most game that feature merchant trading.
  • However, in this game, a fluctuation of even small quantities of products will easily shift the prices lower or higher buy hundreds of percent, so effectively, it's systematically impossible to make profit off large quantities of trading.
  • So the player is basically forced to roam around looking to buy small quantities of "greens" and sell them in "small quantities" as well. This results in a huge amount of time spent for a very low profit margin, often with unreliable trade rumors which has become incorrect by the time you've arrived at the target settlement. So profits are low, and experience gain is also low.
  • Some players have discovered that the price fluctuations of animals -- particularly horses -- are much less volatile, and the overflow of supply creates extremely cheap prices in some settlements, while extremely high prices at others. So as of current, horse trading in the hundreds, is basically the only real way to make any kind of real money with trading -- that is, IF you are willing to travel around everywhere at 1.0 speed.
  • These issues need to be remedied in order for "becoming a merchant" to be really considered a worthy role in this sand box game. If touching the base economic algorithms that govern price fluctuations is too risky, then I believe a very easy solution can come by introducing more lucrative merchant quests, in the form of contracts.
  • Another way, is to implement the concept of "wholesale contracts" with towns. Buy a license to handle a certain product in certain towns, with greatly suppressed price fluctuations.. etc etc.
  • The most popular method of solving this problem, would be to implement "regional goods" separate from the "general goods" that are universal in all settlements. High value items that are only produced in certain regions, with a high-enough demand and buying price that the profit would be worth the time and effort spent in the travel.

Tournaments
  • Tournaments and their prizes are fine for the early game, but after entering the mid game, both the prizes, and the content becomes redundant. There's a really easy "fix" for this as can be seen in other games, and that is to introduce higher-tier "leagues."
  • People still remember the "Gladiators" of the first game. The category of NPCs that devote themselves specifically to tournaments and nothing else. Hey, there's no reason why they shouldn't be in Bannerlord as well. Win the tournaments, take the No. 1 leaderboard, then move up to a higher league of "professionals" with much higher skill threshold, higher prize money, better loot.

Quest and Events
  • Most of the quests given in settlements take on an "either-or" format, which means you're forced to benefit one person with relationship bonuses, whilst antagonize someone else. While I don't think these quests are necessarily bad, I do think there need to be more quest types that result in positive effects, without always having to deal with an ensuing negative effect.

Armies and Wars

Army AI behavior

  • This is probably something the devs are already aware, and trying to fix... but the Army AI needs to be better. Particularly, there's a serious problem with how the AI-armies judge their current situation, and attempt to stop their current objectives/actions and simply retreat back to friendly territory. The problem with this behavior is that those armies will retreat and attempt to replenish soldiers and supplies as an entire army -- moving around slowly, tying up a large amount of forces for a long amount of time doing nothing, until ultimately runs out of cohesion and disbands. Observing the behavior, it seems to be that when the army runs under a certain set threshold of food or soldiers, it will enter that action without considering the possibility of finishing the task successfully.
  • For example, an army is besieging a settlement. The settlement has much lower number of defenders, and it is likely an assault -- when ready -- will take the settlement, succeeding in the army's current objective. However, without this consideration, the moment the threshold is crossed the army will just dump it's goal, and begin a slow march across a very long distance to retreat, moving from town to town to try to gather supplies -- but ending up using even more supplies during the travel. In this situation the AI, needs to be able to attempt to finish its job, and THEN retreat.
  • When the AI army feels like it cannot achieve the current objective, its default action should be to march out of enemy territory, and then immediately disband.
  • AI armies need to set their priorities to "annihilation of enemy field forces" over "taking a settlement."
Wars
  • A long-time request from many people, that I know the devs already heard of: The player/King, needs to be able to create AI armies. Set the army commander, pick out who will participate, and give Ai armies targets/actions. Create armies, send this army here, that army there, and you lead your army somewhere else. Give this army a target of that settlement, give that army a job of intercepting that enemy army, give that army a job of patrolling around there.. etc etc..
  • If direct control of army forces are not desirable, at the least above objects should be able to be set so an AI can decide by itself to fill the role or not.
  • While we're talking about objectives, the wars itself, needs a concept of "war objectives," and use THAT for judging whether it's good to end the war or not. This suggestion is pretty much on par with how Paradox handle the wars in their games: before the war starts, a council of lords is gathered to discuss the war, sets a set of objectives.. whether it is to inflict maximum damage any way one can to receive a tribute, whether to take certain settlements by force. The game already has the concept of war progression as can be seen in the final phase of the main quest: this concept of "progression" should be used to handle war objectives.
  • There's a problem with how the AI declares wars, not counting the Main Quest. It has something to do with just how/why the "Declare war to X" gains 100% support, but in the late-game, it seems everyone else just automatically has 100% support for declaring war against yu no matter the objective difference in power. When I am at 20 towns and 20k troops, that should be a strong deterrent from a country with 2 towns and 5k troops from ever reaching a 100% support on "Declare war on me."
  • The above problem applies EXACT SAME with your vassals as well. The vassals' AI only compares objective troop numbers, and demands to declare war on someone "weaker." Yes, 15,000 troops are stronger than 8,000. However, when you're fighting 2 wars with 8,000 troops each, and then declare a 3rd war, it's not 15,000 vs 8,000, is it. It's a 15,000 vs 16,000 turned into a 15,000 vs 24,000 with your forces spread thin all over. The AI needs to be able to calculate that.

Battles and Sieges

Sieges

  • The "click on the spots on the map to build stuff" feature, initially, seems to be interesting. But after much repetition it hardly adds anything to the game than just add in more unnecessary clicks in a bad UI design. Not to mention, in many of the settlements the "click spots" are obscured, hard to find, annoying to click, and etc.
  • Either ballistas build to quickly, or trebuchets fire too slowly.
Battles
  • Bug Kudos to the Battle Terrain System and the improved captains system. Makes the game a whole lot better
  • However, battle terrain or no, I'm sorry but any kind of battle that features armies, need to be fought on open terrain. I still remember the devs were boasting during development that the battle maps can no be theoretically maximum 15-kilometers x 15-kilometers in size. Where'd all that size go? Wider more open terrains, please.


Social and Character Relationships
  • I find it extremely funny, that I can easily make all the lords in the realm like me by helping them in battle or giving them gifts, or, support the underdog in a kingdom decision with large amount of influence, and see like +32 relationship increase at a single pop -- and yet, there's hardly anyway to be on good terms with my family members and companions. Let's just make it simple: companions and family in your party fight together, and increase relationships together.
  • I'd appreciate it if the lord I am talking with, would refrain from bringing up a 70-year-old granny as a potential mate for my 18-year-old son.
  • Feasts and noble tournaments, please
  • Marrying companions... when...??!
Bringing in Lords
  • It is good to see that in the recent versions, it's much easier to bring lords to your realm -- so long as that lord has no fiefs. However, the conditions that follow with the money, is very penalizing to the player. The problem here, is that you have to pay money... tens of thousands in the least, and up to million or more at the most. Under the current system, and that amount of money is very difficult to amass through normal means.
  • The problem is that the moment you raise your own kingdom's banner, there's a very short period of peace until someone decides to declare war, and you have to bring in as many lords as possible with many family members to secure an army strong enough to hold your ground and look forward to a future. That means you'll be spending easily 1~2 million gold in a short span of time, which means you need to have those millions ready before you create your own kingdom. So where does that money come from? By trading? Saving up for decades? Realistically, this is the main reason (aside from other advantages of being rich) that people rely so hard on smithing, and its ability to make money.
  • After a successful convincing, there needs to be different conditions a lord gives. Keep some of them asking for money. But have other conditions as well. Maybe some lord may want a settlement of certain culture. Maybe a certain lord will want a war with some country. Maybe someone will demand you go and defeat someone and capture him. Maybe someone would want 100 horses. Give conditions other than just money.

Diplomacy and Politics

Diplomacy

  • I imagine this topic is so self-evident that probably hardly anything needs to be said than just; "look at Diplomacy mod." Personally, I'm not a big fan of mods, but the Diplomacy mod would be a rare exception.
  • At the least, the most basic of functions such as: non-aggression pact, alliance, trade agreement (boosted effects of caravans between the two realms)... should be most welcome.
  • And... do I really need to look up the Encyclopedia and track down mercenary lords every time...?
Politics
  • More policies would be nice. Despite some people's misunderstandings, the policies are effective and powerful.


Game Flow: Early, Mid, Ende

Early and Midgame

  • Overall, I feel the early to midgame phase is very well rounded up. Starting from the tutorial to establishing your clan, the initial story line provides a compelling sense of purpose for the new player. Undoubtedly this phase of the game is the most fleshed-out part. The gradual progression from an adventurer, to a noble, to a king is a delightful process to pursue, and the main quest adds a nice flavor to it -- although I wish the main quest did not have a time limit. Still, the given time is more or less adequate, compared to how tight it felt in the earlier versions.
Endgame
  • Overall, for me, this is where the game fell apart.
  • The endgame phase, for most games with a strategy element, always harbors a certain amount of danger of falling into the "snowballing boredom." So it makes sense to add in a bit of sense of urgency and suspense to spice things up. However, I should really say how the game currently handles it, is not the right way.
  • The main quest, which provided a nice little narrative for your life's journey, became nothing but a source of constant frustration that did not do much but just bog down the game and constantly pull me away from my current objectives in the game.
  • For starters, conspiracy quests are too frequent. By the nature of this game, at the lategame~endgame phase most of the player's actions and objectives are centered on unifying the land, which will require long wars and large-scale assaults, particularly sieges that take days. However, the goddamned conspiracy pops up every so often that with every siege initiate, it calls me to go to a very, very, very far away place to handle a trivial threat that are just bandits, clearing 14~17 enemies from a bandit lair, or go cross-country the Calradian continent to stop an extremely time sensitive mission. Again, and again, and again, and again, disrupting player actions every time, with the same three missions, so frequently. Either that, or go war against 3 realms simultaneously on the spot.
  • Conspiracy quests, themselves are too repetitive, and feel too trivial. It needs to be less frequent, but feel more dangerous, so the player feels there's a reason to pull back from the current warring front, go all the way to somewhere else, so it doesn't feel like a WASTE OF TIME.
  • Near the endgame, as mentioned somewhere above, even when the conspiracy's final phase is not active, your kingdom is just constantly bombarded with war declarations.
  • To beat these conditions, empirically, a player needs around at least 15~20 towns and 20 different clans under one's belt, in which case there's a chance to enter all those clandestine and scripted wars and come out on top without all of your progress so far being bogged down or laid to waste. And this requires: (a) crazy amounts of money (= drives people into abusing smithing), and (b) constant save-load scumming to avoid absolutely ****ty war declarations and stupid conspiracy quests. I don't know how many times I had to reload a save to avoid the "Disrupt Supply lines" conspiracy quest so it gives me something less frustrating, or reload to avoid getting declared war from someone whom I've recently made peace with.

Additional Suggestions

"Career"

  • Generally, your career as a Medieval adventurer-turned-warlord is well represented in the game, true to the game's roots, in a much better fleshed-out form than the first game.
  • Unfortunately, options as something else than a warrior noble, is very poorly represented. For example, as a concept, what does the game offer you in option if you decide to take the root of a criminal or a bandit? Not very much, I'm, afraid. There's an "endgame" goal of becoming a king and unifying the lands if you take the path of a warrior noble, but there is no "objective" as bandit... or as a smith.. or as a merchant.. or etc. Adding in a "main quest" like dynamic into the game for many of the possible "careers," would be something that adds heavily into the experience.
  • For example, a bandit/criminal may actually have a system that works off the currently "shunned" execution system. You're a criminal, bandit king. You capture famous nobles and kill them. That may gain you fame among the shady and criminal elements of the land. Making gangs in cities more powerful. Inciting riots. etc..
  • If you want to become a merchant, then missions on quests for the merchant path.. becoming powerful and rich, and creating a "Republic" rather than a kingdom. Be the merchant princes -- rely on increased number of mercenaries for mainstay of your armies, gain better economy through beefed up caravans. Engage in economic warfare to pressure other kingdoms, or etc etc..
  • Become the king of the arena. Even in real history, there were knights almost entirely devoted to performing in tournaments and jousts. Achieve fame, earn money, win tournaments, gain recognition from kings and nobles, go on missions on quests as a hedge knight. Sound good?
  • The game offers you a lot of different character builds, and concepts you may play with, but currently only has one of those amounting up to anything. If the game can remedy that in the future, that'd be an amazing improvement.
"Achievements and Titles"
  • A relatively smaller but popular system in play with modern RPGs, make certain achievements and earn different titles to add small buffs you may use to your liking. For example, create X amount of master-grade weapons and earn the "Master Smith" title, which gives you slightly buffed stats to weapons you create. Win X amount of tournaments and become No. 1 on the leaderboard to become the "Tournament King," which title will increase your earnings and renown in tournaments... kill X amount of enemies with couched lances to become a "Master Lance" which increases the effective hit detection of your lances when couched... kill X enemies from over Y distance with bows to become a "Master Archer," which increases your zoom-in even more... become friends with X amount of nobles to be a "Smooth Talker", which will increase the probability of success and decrease the probability of failure in any convince dialogue... etc etc etc... These kind of titles to be introduced in the game are almost endless in the ease of their creation, and at the same time become like perks that you can choose flexibly. Small but nifty bit to increase the RPG fun.


Wrapping Up
I wouldn't say anything mentioned above is by itself, a problem so serious enough to devalue the game -- with the exception of the endgame flow part. That part, needs be rebalanced and fixed.


-fin.-
 

IJIN

Veteran
Interesting read. Thank you.
I think I agree with every single point made in the article although I only play sandbox so I don't really have an opinion on main quest matters..
I do hope the developers will take note of your ideas.

The ability to save previously created customizations, is still not here. After repeated playthroughs, in many cases player come to a certain type of external customization they most enjoy. Or, at times, one may come up with a customization they are extremely pleased with. It is a pain to have to "recreate" the results you seek.
SUGGESTION: As a temporary fix you could use Copy/paste from previous character (literally ctrl + c).
I personally have a favorite "archetype" that I just copy from one playthrough to another. I usually modify a bit after pasting though.
 
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Alot of good points. There are a few things I do not agree on.

I dont really want harder tournaments as such. I think it would be better if they provide better rewards but are less frequent in return. So more "yeah a tournament!" and less "another one, ohh well, I might as well".

I am perhaps the exception here but I actually do not find the early game well rounded. Personally, I think the pressure to move on to the Merc/lord hunting stage is much too great. Make it a bit more profitable just to "casually" ride around hunting bandits etc. and, obviously, massively reduce the price of gear so you have a, more or less reasonable, alternative goal other than building an army so you can move on.

In terms of the endgame I dont actually have a problem with the price of buying clans. Its an end game moneysink, I can live with that.
 

SaltyNacho

Recruit
A great read and a lot of good points here, and I agree with just about everything. One note I'd like to add about the Trading problem is that prices on goods will change as you are buying them. You're right about about how traders should focus on buying wholesale, but currently the game won't allow this because when you buy in bulk the price of goods increases before you even finish the transaction!

Normally when you buy in bulk the price of goods will decrease, the seller would rather sell 100 units now than slowly over time. But in Bannerlord the seller hikes up the price as you buy more, hurting your profit margins. And the same applies when you sell in bulk too; the price of goods decreases if you sell in large quantities. At the very least, the price of goods shouldn't change until after the transaction.
 

kweassa

Sergeant at Arms
A great read and a lot of good points here, and I agree with just about everything. One note I'd like to add about the Trading problem is that prices on goods will change as you are buying them. You're right about about how traders should focus on buying wholesale, but currently the game won't allow this because when you buy in bulk the price of goods increases before you even finish the transaction!

Normally when you buy in bulk the price of goods will decrease, the seller would rather sell 100 units now than slowly over time. But in Bannerlord the seller hikes up the price as you buy more, hurting your profit margins. And the same applies when you sell in bulk too; the price of goods decreases if you sell in large quantities. At the very least, the price of goods shouldn't change until after the transaction.

I've always thought using the Charm/Convince system was reasonable to solve that very problem. For example:
  • In any settlement, you have the ability to "negotiate prices" for max 3 times.
  • Go to the trade window, select an item, press a "negotiate" button, and without pulling you out of the trade window, in the middle will feature a small dialogue section which essentially functions the same way as convincing lords. You negotiate with the traders, select to negotiate either sell price or buy price, set an amount, and the more advantageous it is for you the chance to convince gets lower. Succeed in convincing, and you can buy/;sell stuff wholesale.
  • Perks in the trade skill can provide higher negotiation chances, or additional negotiations.
I mean, outside of talking to lords, where else would it make sense to have high charm? Negotiating for prices, right?
 

Rhykynok

Recruit
Alot of good points. There are a few things I do not agree on.

I dont really want harder tournaments as such. I think it would be better if they provide better rewards but are less frequent in return. So more "yeah a tournament!" and less "another one, ohh well, I might as well".

I am perhaps the exception here but I actually do not find the early game well rounded. Personally, I think the pressure to move on to the Merc/lord hunting stage is much too great. Make it a bit more profitable just to "casually" ride around hunting bandits etc. and, obviously, massively reduce the price of gear so you have a, more or less reasonable, alternative goal other than building an army so you can move on.

In terms of the endgame I dont actually have a problem with the price of buying clans. Its an end game moneysink, I can live with that.
How about something like this?
The tournament icons on the world map are colour coded for easy identification to, say, three tiers.

Tier 1 = Yellow icon (Vanilla icon)
This is the tournament that any rabble can join straight off the bat. They are the most abundantly occurring and let's say they're tournaments as they are now in vanilla, but only lords with the cruel trait will stoop so low as to beat on peasants and crush their dreams, meaning they're slightly easier on average. When you win enough tier 1 tournaments you receive membership into the second tier.

Tier 2 = Red icon
Half of the occurring tier 1 tournaments also host a tier 2, which is shown by the tournament icon changing to red. You can do both of them in order, skip the tier 1, or do the tier 1 and ignore the tier 2. almost all lords will participate in these melees, except honourable lords who know they're above the tier 2.
Things get a bit serious here and now every opponent is at least a tier 3 troop. The division of rounds in the tournament is structured to avoid cheesing any rounds (There are no 4v4v4v4 matches where you can ride around, avoiding blows till the end and get through by being killed last and in second place. Someone from your team has to win at the end, every fight, for you to progress).
The tier 2 isn't inherently much more difficult, as by the time you're in it you'll have accumulated tier 1 tournament rewards, plus any armour you've bought or killed for, and have better trained skills. You can play the tier 1 until it's too easy if you like, and only then do tier 2 for better rewards and roughly the same level of challenge that the tier 1 was when you started. Or you can rush to the tier 2 if you're a combat god who wins his first tournament and wants excess challenge. When you win enough tier 2 tournaments you're invited to join any tier 3s that occur.

Tier 3 = Purple icon
Half of the occurring tier 2 tournaments are eligible to host a tier 3, icon changes to purple. You can do any combination of the 3 tournaments, but in ascending order. i.e. 1>2, 2>3, 1>2>3, 1, 2, 3, and 1>3 (if you're weird).
Tier 3 follows the same kind of progression as tier 2. Every troop is tier 4 (or 5?) and above, every round has only two sides on it (Maybe the first round is a really big two sided melee for tournament diversity in mid-late game? Also means you have to be good at crowd control by this point so that their hard hitters don't wipe half your team, idk I'm not sure about that one but could be cool for late game diversity). The rewards are much better here also, but less common as the tier 3 occurs at 1/4th of the vanilla occurrence rate. All lords participate here except cowardly ones (think that's a two negative trait combo idk which two but TW does). This is the tier where you get cool **** like the Pernach mace or a Pureblood horse.

UX/UI suggestion since that's a difficulty for TW sometimes:
Rather than the "Join tournament" button, you now have three buttons stacked above each other on that left panel.
"Join *tier 1 name* Tournament (followed by "x/y wins" if you haven't unlocked the next tier)"
and the other two tier's entry buttons are below that, always there but greyed out when you cannot enter them yet. Hovering over the greyed out buttons opens a context tip box explaining that to enter you must win x more times at the lower tier.

Additional suggestion:
Tier 4 / Noble Tournaments. These occur when a king hosts a feast (assuming feasts will be implemented... shaking my fist at TW) and at least... 8?, or 12? idk this is a tricky one as it can't be too high in case the player arrives before the feast is up and running and has to wait days for enough lords to show up. You must be a highly renowned mercenary of the faction or a noble yourself to join. You fight only lords of your faction, or if that's too difficult, they're all top tier troops with as many lords as are present due to the feast summons (which could be a few or a lot depending on the player's patience)
 

Rhykynok

Recruit
I also agreed with this post like 98%. They have identified all the same, most important issues with the game that I have (except I'd ignore the lighting one, the engine is ancient by this point, it looks good enough, and I'd much rather processing goes to better/more simulation of gameplay mechanics than graphics) and almost all of the proposed solutions would solve these issues given they could be feasibly balanced without breaking ****.

In terms of prioritisation, the adventurer>merc>vassal>king route is the only way to play the game and get decent hours of enjoyment so making that complete should be the first port of call. Early/mid game is pretty good for now, but later on, as a king with a decently sized kingdom, it is a slog. ESPECIALLY THE CONSPIRACY QUESTS PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS GUY - Increase the amount of impact that the conspiracy quest completion/failure has on the conspiracy meter, decrease the frequency of conspiracy quests dramatically, 1/4th the current frequency is where I intuitively feel it should be when you're in constant late game wars, and increase the size of the forces you have to defeat when you decide to do the quests at minimum. But that is only for story mode which people aren't playing anymore until it gets fleshed out and said story has meaningful impacts beyond the near identical sandbox experience of building a kingdom.
As far as sandbox goes, the above "Wars and Armies" and "Diplomacy and Politics" feedback that OP posted should be treated as TW's in-house bible until something like them is integrated.

After that, TW should vary the NPC Lords' decisions using the established trait system, some of my following propositions could be light on balancing given the following preconditions:
As long as each trait value is redistributed among the lords of Calradia with an even, equal chance within each faction, and the effects of deviating either direction from the equilibrium (0 trait value) for each trait are inversely proportional to the opposing side of the equilibrium, thus making the statistically average lord's decision stay identical to the status quo, and given that the equilibrium for these values IS actually 0 (all traits atm are currently either from +1 to -2, or -1 to +2 so they would need to be changed to have an equal variance both positive and negative, i.e -2 to +2 or -1 to +1), and each trait score of 0 is set to be identical to existing vanilla lord behaviours, i.e. no change.

An example of a "light on balancing" change using this principle would be if the generosity trait could influence stinginess in barters by a percentage increase/decrease, including the cost of recruiting a clan to your faction. This is a "light on balancing" option as the negative would be directly inverse to the positive in every way, so you only have to balance for an acceptable amplitude of deviation. Say the vanilla average cost of recruiting a clan is 1 million denars, the trait system could either increase or decrease that cost by 15%. Assuming they are an equal number of generous and stingy lords, a player blindly buying whoever they can, acting how one does in 1.7.0, will pay the same amount of money through their playthrough, those who read the game mechanics info pages in the encyclopaedia will see that approx 1/3 of clans are gonna be cheaper to recruit, and their rise to influence can in advance be spent cosying up to a lord that doesn't want large sums of gold.

Considering that the relation system exists though, it would make sense that a generous lord who is also good friends with their liege would ask for MORE coin to join you, and a closefisted lord would be more "generous" to you, ironically asking for LESS money, IF they despise their liege - the implication being that they'd seek monetary gain from means (i.e. you) other than their current liege. So in the case of clan leader recruitment, an additional inverted relationship equation could be added for better in world context.

The honour variable could directly cause troop composition preferences, low honour decreases cavalry recruitment and increases archery recruitment, 0 is vanilla (which is normally just infantry dominant), and high honour is more cav, and fewer archers. This would create a tangible, and important differentiation between lords, yet each faction's total military force would be statistically balanced/holistically identical for overall troop type distribution.
I suppose there are actually multiple ways that balance could still be interfered with if either of those +/- ends are disproportionately stronger than each other when comparing individual parties, but there are multiple ways to tweak this so that whatever balance TW is going for could be maintained.
Percentages for these troop preferences could be adjusted, asymmetrically if needed (maybe archers are stronger than cav troop for troop so archer preference could increase by 20% while the opposing trait value's cav preference goes up to 30% extra) and if the average lord's strength is raised or lowered in the same direction by the +/- honour values, the preference for non-infantry troops at 0 honour could increase/decrease OR the average infantry total at the +/- ends could decrease as a counterweight to the specialisation preference.
I'm not sure how cav archers would be defined in terms of honour, but horse archers seem pretty dishonourable to me so I reckon they should count as archers for this equation.

When an ai army/lord is attacked by the player's side, a low 'calculating' trait score could give like a 20% chance of the enemy ignoring a defensive position and pushing right up to your forces to charge you because they've 'miscalculated'. There really is no easily determinable, equally opposing force for this equation to be "light on balancing" so the holistically identical approach doesn't work here, but at this point of the mount and blade series' long history of predictably identical tactics, I think ANY variance in ai battle behaviour would be a nice treat. So maybe a high calculating trait score also has a 20% chance to push up (so they're not next to the edge of the map), but for the purpose of actively trying to use as much of its ranged ammo at 80% of that ammo types maximum distance (Shooting from xbow distance, then bow distance, then closing in to like ~20m for throwing weapons, and when the ammo runs out, the enemy lord executes the retreat command (hence why they should push up first - to give you time to chase them down). The gameplay loop here would be trying to crush a force that is going to slowly move away from you while firing, eventually running away if you're too slow to entrap them with a killing blow. If the enemy lord escapes with their troops using this tactic, they will continue to use it repeatedly for all ensuing battles in the next 12 hours against the player, to prevent the player simply identifying that this strategy is being used and leaving the battle to start it again without the strategy engaged (as it's only a 20% chance of occurrence, in this example).
This means that outnumbered forces with a calculating general will use the same "shoot as much ammo as possible then press tab to retreat and restart the assault" tactic that the player can (and does) exploit frequently (A good additional change to that exploit btw would be to make the player have to retreat every troop to the border of the map as well - and only being possible after a couple minutes to allow the enemy a counter attack).
Alternatively to my suggestion, TW have backups of obsolete and inferior ai tactics from earlier game versions, and possibly some versions that are even more competent than in 1.7.0 so they might already have options to straight up implement dumb/smart ai tactics that could be tied to this calculating trait.

The Valour trait variable could sway ai lord's confidence in the balance of power, daring generals being more willing to engage in potentially tenuous engagements and cowardly generals only wanting to engage when the balance of power is more in their favour. You would only need to discover a suitable amplitude of deviation to balance this.

The mercy trait of a lord or even army leader could slightly sway strategic world map decisions, i.e. more tendencies for raiding villages, villagers, and caravans with a low mercy vs field engagements with the enemy's forces, besieging and (because the previous two are more productive than raiding) maybe releasing the occasional prisoner for mere relation gain (like the player can do after capturing enemies).

These changes would mean that enemy lords are not all equal, identical foes and the player could theoretically identify some of the traits of a lord without even checking the encyclopaedia, but just by fighting them a few times. It also gives long term strategic thinking to the player. Which personality types should I train up to grant land to? Who should I try to gain relations with? Which enemy lord poses a bigger threat to me and for what reasons? Their tactics or their army compositions? Their high cost of conversion? Should I cripple this honourable and generous lord's villages to stop them bringing cavalry against my archer focused army or take away their lands so they dislike their liege and drastically reduce the price of conversion?

After giving the lords some personality, I'd focus down the lack of RP options in your RPG game. Being able to conquer the world economically through mercantilism would be a major major selling point when in addition to military conquest, but seems difficult to suss out, the economy of Bannerlord seems to be the most fickle and unwieldly beast to manage.
Banditry options based on inciting unrest and riots so that you can take a faction's land without declaring war would be perfect and a basic version of that would be easy to prototype cause all the ingredients are already there. You have a conspiracy quest points system where roguery missions are presented to you at regular intervals. When enough points are gathered, you incite a rebellion in a castle or city, which you can already freely take without declaring war on a massive faction. Adding this would be an net improvement and what would you need? Three equivalent quests to the conspiracy quests, but focused on doing naughty things, then just follow the template you already have for the main story, but instead of triggering factions to declare war on you, a rebellion is triggered in a relevant area (maybe within your starting cultural boundaries?). Working it in as a functional narrative would take time but the prototype could be bing, bang, then boom!

To the extent that the early/mid game falls flat I think is mostly down to heaps of quests only being worth doing for their first time novelty. You get unavoidably punished to some degree for doing most of the quests - pretty much all of the ones that aren't "kill thing here", which you're doing anyway. This is very anti player, anti video game heuristics, and anti sense. When I accept a quest, then actually follow through with it, I can get an extra recruitment slot with the person I did the quest for, yet potentially lose two slots with the person (or sometimes, god forbid, multiple notables) I've just insulted. A small gold profit never makes up for losing recruitment power, ever. Stop thinking it does.

May be some errors in this, I'm very tired and will proofread later.
 
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