Hey everyone, just another long time M&B vet here sharing their unwanted opinions around. I wanted to share some of my perspectives regarding why I am concerned about the future of MP judging from its current state.
I feel as though with this new installation, Taleworlds has forsaken some of the core essence of what made M&B feel unique especially in contrast to the dime a dozen other medieval era games we have now circulating in the genre. I feel without these aspects, M&B MP is going to wither away by rejection of vets by me, and by those that you made these changes for in the aim of accessibility; who will just see this as another generic addition and eventually lose interest without toting any unique characteristics to keep them.
Listed below are some; but not all aspects that are currently harming MP from my perspective as well as why it is problematic for longevity of the game:
1.) Lack of Battle and Duel.
While these modes might not be everyone's favorite flavor, or even one they frequent; they provide the community a core competitive and social dynamic that is not found in any other game mode. These modes are the premier experience where your name or your clan can become recognized in the community by your feats; as well as serve as a primordial soup for the evolution of individual skill, teamwork and strategy. I cannot describe to you how many names I recognize and remember from warband because of their feats of strength I spectated in wonder; after my life had perished for the round, as they single handedly took on 7 people against all odds. Not to mention this returns in kind for myself with people who remember me for the same things in my moments of glory.
No one likes being snuffed out early in the round to spectate for 5 minutes, but this frustrating feature provides depth to the community that is fundamentally impossible without its inclusion.
2.) Trading individual gearing for character classes.
This one sounds trivial in nature, and I understand the direction Taleworlds wanted to take with this system, but from my perspective it only serves to deteriorate the game and community. It isn't too far reaching to say the current system is pretty much a repackaged version of what we had omitting the nuance of selecting items individually. This provides accessibility to newer players who might not understand the nuances in selection, however this change 'takes away' instead of adding.
To add on top of this, it actually serves to obfuscate the system to newer players instead of bringing them in. Warband was elegant in that you had 3 options for the combat triad which was intuitive and satisfying; Infantry, Ranged, and Mounted. This game in contrast, has several classes where their strengths, weaknesses, and limitations are not immediately obvious unless you have prior experience.
Finally, it limits individual freedom and community recognition by forcing players to select a package that takes the power of individuality and style away from them.
3.) Privately hosted dedicated servers.
I am sure this will be fixed, I remember the server files not released until later during the warband beta as well; but I cannot stress how important it is that the server files come out quickly.
4.) Lack of coat of arms selection.
Again, this sounds trivial but it is a reoccurring theme where individuality has been snuffed out which will only do more harm than good to the community. Something as simple as seeing "Aww not that shield again" recognizing someone's shield coat that consistently beats you makes you pay attention to people rather than 'just another body in the way'.
I don't want to ramble on any further than I already have as I very easily could but the main point I wanted to illuminate was the loss of individuality, community and freedom that is a reoccurring theme in this iteration of Mount and Blade that I feel is problematic to the longevity and development of the community.
I am hopeful for the future as it is still early access but I am worried from prior experience of Taleworlds not listening very closely to the dedicated community's issues.
Since purchasing the game one year ago, I have clocked in a grand total of... 51 hours into Bannerlord. 51 hours into the newest installment of my favorite series, a series that's held me captive since I was in grade school. I have more tenure on the forums than I've had playing this new itteration.
This is in contrast to playing well over 100 hours of M&B Warband in the first week of closed beta. I admit some of my allure to Warband initially, was from my attraction to the game since M&B v0.632; with the prospect of multiplayer being the forbidden fruit. Joining one side of the split community on the issue, I advocated for for multiplayer's inclusion with everyone else, despite the nay-sayers; saying it couldn't be done, that M&B was only feasible for SP, that MP M&B would die immediately. So when it was finally a reality, I skipped school and binged it.
However, what kept me beyond the initial binge of Warband's multiplayer for thousands of hours more; was how captive the community was. The community was vibrant and healthy from beta; continuing even to this day, over 10 years later.
It cannot be understated how much of a role that the fantastic modding community held in Warband's outcome, hell they kept M&B SP alive even before warband; however, the module system and dedicated server files for Warband were not given out for a long period as well if you recall. I did not receive them until I requested them from Armagan, expressing the growing trend in deathmatch servers where people would raise their weapon to request a duel but persistently be interrupted by other players. Not to mention the entire lack of dedicated west coast NA servers. It had already been several months in the beta by this point and SP alpha was just beginning to be slowly distributed at personal request. It would be a long-time still, until significant multiplayer mods were created or even found popularity.
Warband's beta lasted 8 months and it was during that beta that the module system and dedicated server files were distributed; by-request and consideration. If you recall, a major issue during the period was not the lack of mods to fix present balance issues. Instead, the common issue was the lack of official servers for different regions; making it difficult to find a server with good latency depending on your region. This was the largest push for dedicated servers back then, not game modes, not mods; native stood strongly on its own and had a very strong player-base.
All of this to say, we have had Bannerlord out of beta, and sitting in open early access for over a year now and have neither received the dedicated server files nor the module system. We even have a native community to speak of anymore.
I expressed my concerns last year about what was going to cause the death of the native community and was supported by popular opinion. We are far beyond native at this point, very few even have faith in the ability of TW to address the issues of stability, poor mechanics, design issues, nor reviving the health of the community; we instead are looking towards mods as our messiah as is very observable with the immediate success of BLO.
Message to TaleWorlds if you are reading this: I don't know if you have acted autonomously regarding the vision of Bannerlord MP or have been pressured from 'higher-ups' to maintain this current course, despite popular rejection by the consumer. I get the impression of the latter; reading into comments by developers in the forums. If this is the case, I implore you to appeal our case to them; whatever metric they believe is going to result in higher profitability from MP. Be it through MTX or other monetization options... it is not going to work this way; you need a community to exist to push whatever plan you have.
Even if you perfectly tweaked MP right now at this point according to your vision, it simply will not revive enough of the community to make that position profitable, especially when the community disregards anything you want to try and monetize and instead moves to the modded community. Any hopes of monetizing native is dead the moment mods fix the poor design choices you've taken.
Perhaps this vain hope of monetizing a dead native is exactly why you haven't released them yet...