Suggestions About Difficulty, and a Couple Other Things

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I just got Bannerlord, and have been playing it nonstop the past few days (74 hours so far). I'm enjoying it a lot but I do have some feedback and suggestions. I know the game is in early access, this is meant to be constructive.

First of all, consider changing the "realistic" difficulty setting to "hard". I was excited when I saw it, but soon realized it's actually the opposite of realistic. At first, I thought I just had bad gear, but later on, I noticed many very unrealistic things about "realistic" settings. The first thing I noticed was that I could stab a completely unarmored looter in the back of the head with a spear from the back of a charging horse, chop him in the face with an axe, or nail him in the spine with a javelin, and he might just shrug it off and keep throwing rocks, especially in the early game. I don't need to tell anybody just how unrealistic that is. This applies to every weapon.
Later, after using a mod to get prisoners to talk to me, I captured an enemy general and took their armor, a full set of heavy lamellar armor with a chain hauberk underneath. Seeing how quickly I'd been dying on "realistic" with bad armor, I thought maybe this new armor would behave somewhat realistically. It does not. A few battles later, I was "killed" by a horizontal sword cut to the abdomen. Realistically, this would do NOTHING to steel lamellar. It might bend a plate or two, but the person beneath the armor would be entirely unharmed. In another battle, I was "killed" again by an arrow in the chest fired by a militiaman with a cheap short bow. While this is theoretically possible, the arrow would have to strike a gap between plates, pierce the chainmail beneath the breastplate, whatever clothing is under that, and penetrate deep enough to damage organs. Again, theoretically possible, but a one-in-a-million shot. Even with damage to the player lowered, the player still takes a remarkable amount of damage from attacks that would bounce off of armor in the real world. This is my biggest gripe with the game. I would absolutely love to see an actually realistic damage and armor system in the game.

At a close second, NPC's are stupid. Very stupid. I don't mean in combat, I mean in general. Enemies, be they bandit, mercenary, or general, almost never surrender before combat. Enemy generals, and even caravans, have refused to surrender even when outnumbered 10 to 1, but the most ridiculous example I've seen was a single looter refusing to surrender to me and the several dozen soldiers that just butchered the other 50 men in his group. This has happened several times. It's like everyone you encounter, even if they were running for their lives before you caught them, has a death wish.

Lastly and least importantly, studded leather armor. Studded leather armor is a fantasy trope. There's very little evidence of leather being used as the primary material of armor in history, let alone ever being fielded in actual combat. Leather was a valuable commodity in medieval times. It takes quite some time to produce, is easily damaged, and is difficult to repair, making it a particularly poor choice for armor when not covered in metal. Considering how realistic and historically accurate the devs made most of the other weapon and armor models in the game, leather armor, and especially studded leather armor sticks out like a sore thumb.

Devs, if you read this, I would recommend talking to YouTubers like Shadiversity, Skallagrim, Metatron, or Scholagladiatoria about how protective different armors should be, and how deadly different weapons and attacks would be against people in those armors. Side note, I'm sure Shad would love to have a chat about Bannerlord's castles, particularly their lack of machicolations.

With all that said, I absolutely love the game, I'm going to be playing it for the foreseeable future, and I can't wait to see how it turns out in the future.
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