Thoughts on the state of Bannerlord, as of 1.6.0

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Sidrath

Sergeant
At the risk of stating the obvious: a lengthy absence from the game is wholesome for your perspective on Bannerlord. Having only intermittently dabbled with the game for close to 6 months, 1.6.0 presented for me a (modestly) fresh re-entry point to experience its most recent changes. On balance, I've loved the improvements to the campaign, and hope the devs are aware: whenever they see vitriol for their game, it is not because Bannerlord is objectively bad (it really, really isn't), but only because it has so much potential... Arguably more potential than any single player game I've ever played.

After 2 full playthroughs on the 1.6.0 ruleset (the first as Merc->Vassal->split to form own Kingdom->conquer whole map as King, the second as Merc clan preserving the world's integrity forever), I have a few observations to share on the state of the game.

1. Snowballing: Kudos to the dev team, you've done a great job here. It is no longer the case that any one faction will consistently rule the roost (*cough* Khuzait *cough*). As an ambitious vassal vying for independent kingship someday (one of the most common 'paths' chosen in Mount&Blade games, I think), the player no longer feels pressed for time. It used to be the case that you needed to quickly assert yourself on the map and blockade a snowballing power before it could reach an undefeatable (or at the least, monumentally tiring to fight) critical mass. Calradia now evolves at a more reasonable timescale.

This isn't to say that snowballing doesn't occur. Eventually some factions shrink into oblivion - and past a certain point, are incapable of making a comeback. One could argue that by that point (typically 25 years into a playthrough), that run is in its endgame, with 3-4 superpowers left duking it out for supremacy. I would counter though that for a game that involves dynasties and political marriages as core mechanics, it's a shame that playthroughs become politically uninteresting at the 25-year mark, just as the player's offspring are about to enter the fray. I'd be curious to know how many of the superactive players of Bannerlord have done multi-generational playthroughs... I'd wager, not many. Even with 1.6.0 (+ prior patches) fixes to snowballing, too many kingdoms have fallen by the time your first child is ready to take up arms.

2. Diplomacy: The state of diplomacy in Bannerlord remains anemic, with Alliances and Non-Aggression Pacts missing. That said, given the small number of factions in game and the modest size of the map, Alliances/NAPs run a high risk of re-introducing snowballing (I suspect most player Kingdoms do exactly that: pay high tribute to one neighbour for peace, a Non-Aggression Pact of sorts, so you can focus on completely smashing another. War on 2+ fronts is how AI factions lose). The game needs any new diplomatic features to focus on helping the weak make a comeback, not enabling the strong to snowball faster.

In my King playthrough, I lamented my inability to help Vlandia, Sturgia, the Southern Empire and the Northern Empire get back on their feet. A few possible solutions for the 'endless playthrough':
  • Grant fief to another Kingdom: Perhaps ownership of a fief does not make any sense, culturally or geographically, for your Kingdom. You offer it to another ruler, in exchange for denar, or improved relations with their entire faction, or the promise of truce for X days (stacking). This would allow the lategame 'King' playthrough to engage in proxy wars, creating buffer states out of defunct ones, while also being fairly simple to implement (upon voting whom to grant a fief to, you'd have another option to grant it to another Kingdom, probably at a higher cost of Influence).

  • Liberate: Similar to the option above but simpler: the fief is returned to its original Culture/Owner, in exchange for improved relations with their entire faction.

  • Take a defeated Kingdom under your wing as a Protectorate: If a Kingdom has 1 fief or less, it would become amenable to becoming a Protectorate. Such Kingdoms can be granted fiefs by their Protector, and are forbidden from declaring War on their Protector (except as part of a Kingdom vote for a War of Independence). Admittedly, this third option would require more thorough development work.
3. Cultural Bonuses and Alternative Life Paths: I applaud the intentions behind the new Cultural Bonuses in 1.6.0, insofar as they encourage new ways to play the game. Unfortunately their current balancing doesn't go far enough in making some of the options appealing, with the regrettable side-effect that a formerly dominant Khuzait Cultural Bonus to speed has given way to a new dominant Battanian Cultural Bonus to speed (the Battanian reduction in Forest speed penalty is effectively just a situational speed bonus). I still like the idea of extremising the different benefits of Culture, so as a first pass, sticking to the themes outlined in 1.6.0, I'd suggest:

Aserai:
[Pro] Caravans are 30% cheaper to build. 10% less trade penalty. -> Caravans are 30% cheaper to build and move 25% faster on the map. Workshops you own produce 50% more goods. 20% less trade penalty.

Battania:
[Pro] 50% less speed penalty and 15% sight range bonus in forests -> 30% less speed penalty and 15% sight range bonus in forests.

Empire:
[Pro] 20% less garrison troop wages -> 25% more income from all fiefs.

Khuzait:
[Pro] Recruiting and upgrading mounted troops is 10% cheaper -> Recruiting and upgrading mounted troops is 25% cheaper. Upkeep of mounted troops in your party is reduced by 35%.

Sturgia:
[Pro] Recruiting and upgrading infantry troops is 25% cheaper -> Recruiting and upgrading infantry troops is 50% cheaper. Upkeep of infantry troops in your party is reduced by 50%.

Vlandia:
[Pro] 5% more renown from battles. 15% more income while serving as a mercenary -> 10% more renown and influence from battles. 50% more income while serving as a mercenary.

Each of these aims to make a particular playstyle dramatically more appealing, and broaden the field for what it means to 'play Bannerlord'. As a personal example: I've been playing as a Vlandian Mercenary lately (Clan Tier 5), and have gotten to the stage where my Clan can hotswap to whatever faction is starting to lose ground, help turn the tables for them and earn several hundred thousand denar in Influence fees and loot. Better yet, delivering captive Lords to your faction's Towns/Castles gives you tons of Relationship with that Town/Castle's owner (not sure when they added this?) on top of an adequate amount of Influence (with the Vlandian Cultural Bonus, almost as much money as using the ransom broker). So you become, in effect, a celebrated Mercenary Warlord, earning riches and the respect of your allies. There ought to be an exciting Trader life like that, an Imperial Overlord life, a Golden Horde life, an Infantry Captain life, etc. all enabled by these Cultural Bonuses and targeted additions to the skill trees. I for one would love to see an accessible Steward or Leadership perk that would allow Mercenaries to form Clan-only armies and more meaningfully reshape the map for their wealthy benefactors!

If some of these suggested bonuses seem too extreme, they could also be designed to scale with Clan Tier, capping out at the values above for Clan Tier 6. Also worth remembering that the Crossbow 250 Perk "Picked shots" reduces Upkeep for Tier 4+ ranged troops by 50%, so the code already exists to enable cheap, powerful ranged parties.

My apologies for the length of this post. I've been genuinely excited about revisiting Bannerlord in 1.6.0, and on balance very happy with the changes. The gaming industry is prey to a sea of negativity lately, some deserved but honestly some not. If you've gotten triple-digit (or for some perhaps, quadruple-digit!) hours of entertainment out of a single title... it's worth acknowledging the monumental achievement that game represents. Keep calm and carry on, Taleworlds.
 
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BigFat

Regular
I like some of the quality of life stuff added and appreciate the better performance. The three things I'm really craving are more immersive elements, a troop tree overhaul, and armor to protect better. Aside from those quality of life additions, I don't feel like my playthrough this patch is really any different from previous ones yet.
 
Haven't played in 11 months personally. I saw e1.6.0. I actually liked some of those features for once, and the modding stuff was looking pretty okay. So I want to play, but it's just I don't like playing without mods - easy to guess why. Not a big deal, I got a modpack of 50 mods that work well together for 1.5.9 and I'm going to add more.

All good? Edit: Yes.

Nobody cares but in response to my message earlier, I have decided that although e.1.6.0 is a solid patch with some cool features and does well for modding, it is a beta patch which means less mods will be updated to work with it. Less mods means less fun. It's not going to be worth sacrificing mod support for with what little 1.6.0 adds. I'm going to stick with 1.5.9 with a modpack until 1.6.0 goes stable then I'll take a peak at it.
 
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vonbalt

Sergeant Knight
WBNWVCM&B
1.6.0 was definitely a step in the right direction for the game especially optimization/modding in my opinion but i really really just want them to fix sieges, improve the armor formula and focus a bit on the immersion side of the game with more dialogues/things to do outside war time, i have made peace with the fact that they won't add anything too complex for... reasons so these are all my expectations for a well-rounded experience that can be considered a good successor to vanilla warband.
 

LDominating

Recruit
My thoughts:
They're going strong on updates,especially QoL updates.
Whilelist adding content such as items,quests and events.

I am,however,dissapointed that the community doesn't appreciate the A.I.
Either that or they ignore it,least 2 or 3 people complaining about.
Because it could use more improvements.
Awarness,unity and the usual that's worked on by @mexxico which are decision making.

Lemme break it down for the first 2 things previously mentioned.
1)Awarness for the A.I is to notice dangers and have self preservation.
It's not unusual to hit an Archer in sieges and him going for the poll to push the ladder.
Going berserk on the infantry and they ignore you,even if you hit them from behind or you decimate them they have this rude ignorance.

2)Unity is when the A.I don't take in calculations their fellow allies.
Spear infantry not staying behind when thrusting,getting stuck in allies while preparing a thrust.
Infantry not climbing siege towers in union is my worst nightmare,you see 1 dude climbing the tower and you know you're doomed for now that's the enemy's tower.
Unshielded units,usually recruits,not staying behind their shielded allies.

And that's all about my big complaints.

Loving everything else.
 

mexxico

Sergeant Knight
My thoughts:
They're going strong on updates,especially QoL updates.
Whilelist adding content such as items,quests and events.

I am,however,dissapointed that the community doesn't appreciate the A.I.
Either that or they ignore it,least 2 or 3 people complaining about.
Because it could use more improvements.
Awarness,unity and the usual that's worked on by @mexxico which are decision making.

Lemme break it down for the first 2 things previously mentioned.
1)Awarness for the A.I is to notice dangers and have self preservation.
It's not unusual to hit an Archer in sieges and him going for the poll to push the ladder.
Going berserk on the infantry and they ignore you,even if you hit them from behind or you decimate them they have this rude ignorance.

2)Unity is when the A.I don't take in calculations their fellow allies.
Spear infantry not staying behind when thrusting,getting stuck in allies while preparing a thrust.
Infantry not climbing siege towers in union is my worst nightmare,you see 1 dude climbing the tower and you know you're doomed for now that's the enemy's tower.
Unshielded units,usually recruits,not staying behind their shielded allies.

And that's all about my big complaints.

Loving everything else.
I am working on campaign AI not mission side (battle / siege / tournament) AI. These parts are responsibilities of other teams / devs.
 

Csatádi

Grandmaster Knight
@Op
All money-related advantages and disadvantages are irrelevant. The only exception is the Aserai trade bonus as a cultural trait for a trading gameplay.
 
1.6 is a good stepping stone especially for performance upgrades i just hope they use this as good foundation for some fresh content
 

LDominating

Recruit
I am working on campaign AI not mission side (battle / siege / tournament) AI. These parts are responsibilities of other teams / devs.
I know..
I said you are usually answering our complaints about A.I behaviour on the world map,and fixing them.
 

five bucks

Squire
It's a shame that playthroughs become politically uninteresting at the 25-year mark, just as the player's offspring are about to enter the fray. I'd be curious to know how many of the superactive players of Bannerlord have done multi-generational playthroughs... I'd wager, not many. Even with 1.6.0 (+ prior patches) fixes to snowballing, too many kingdoms have fallen by the time your first child is ready to take up arms.
I think a Civil Wars mechanic could be the solution. Make it so that when AI factions get too large, each year it becomes increasingly likely that a bunch of their lords take their territory and break away into a new faction.
 

Apocal

Grandmaster Knight
I'd be curious to know how many of the superactive players of Bannerlord have done multi-generational playthroughs... I'd wager, not many. Even with 1.6.0 (+ prior patches) fixes to snowballing, too many kingdoms have fallen by the time your first child is ready to take up arms.
I'm doing one now, explicitly to test some of the systems in the very long term. Up to 30 years and around 90 hours so far.
 

Apocal

Grandmaster Knight
Rrduh5A.jpg

Doesn't really contradict what @Sidrath said though. There really isn't much challenge left at this point -- maybe if both Vlandia and the Khuzaits declared war and went at me with four armies there would be some trouble (I'd likely lose Husn Fulq and Amprela) but right now I'm in the very comfortable position of not being the top dog faction (that's Vlandia, technically...) and the Khuzaits are burning themselves out via endless hellwar with basically everyone because Bortu Khan would rather watch his entire world burn than pay tribute. At any point I choose I can just wallop one or the other, take a few towns and peace out. They can't stop me because of my clan-only army, which is going to get even bigger once I get the fifth party up and running, easily crossing 1,000 troops with the majority of them Tier 3 or higher.

The continent is already conquered, it just doesn't know it yet.
 
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LDominating

Recruit
Rrduh5A.jpg

Doesn't really contradict what @Sidrath said though. There really isn't much challenge left at this point -- maybe if both Vlandia and the Khuzaits declared war and went at me with four armies there would be some trouble (I'd likely lose Husn Fulq and Amprela) but right now I'm in the very comfortable position of not being the top dog faction (that's Vlandia, technically...) and the Khuzaits are burning themselves out via endless hellwar with basically everyone because Bortu Khan would rather watch his entire world burn than pay tribute. At any point I choose I can just wallop one or the other, take a few towns and peace out. They can't stop me because of my clan-only army, which is going to get even bigger once I get the fifth party up and running, easily crossing 1,000 troops with the majority of them Tier 3 or higher.

The continent is already conquered, it just doesn't know it yet.
Good god.
These people are beign subjugated by you!
You..you monster!
 

Sidrath

Sergeant
Similar long-play King experience here to what @Apocal has shown.


37 years in, few factions are left. Granted, some of that is the result of the player's own actions (at least one kingdom will end up consumed by the player's efforts at attaining critical mass) - but much of it was the result of AI-on-AI warfare, with one side allowing itself to lose ground against multiple foes without sensing peril. In most King playthroughs, by the time the player's offspring are ready to join the action, there's none to be had.


By contrast, the Mercenary playthrough has proven both viable and thoroughly entertaining, with the map integrity still largely intact after 21 years. The clan's next generation will have plenty of gameplay options when their time comes. Ideally the faction-affiliated (Vassal or King) playthroughs should feel likewise durable - through civil war, heightened chances of rebellion in snowballing AI empires (especially in the culturally-unaffiliated settlements), or wars of liberation.
 

anoddhermit

Sergeant
Effectively chasing things down or moving town to town is the main source of every important resource and even with your changes Battania would remain the no-brainer pick for any play style if a person is being pragmatic.

Right now most of your money will be from smithing or from looting if you're dealing with the costs of late game garrisons and parties - that's all that makes enough to maintain them reliably. Map speed helps you get way more loot and way more money effectively due to this, but even if you're dinking around trading the map speed makes your trips faster. Not to mention more troop XP with the new and kind of overpowered Giving Hands and to a lesser extent Paid in Promise. Map speed also makes getting influence and renown easier for the same reasons.

Money effects are not the way to make culture bonuses engaging or balanced since buffs to how you get money will always be better than straight money, and money becomes a negligible impact in the late game. Unless they want to nerf loot and smithing to the ground it will not matter enough unless they went really extreme - you'd have to double the Aserai bonus you suggested, or something like that.

Being a dedicated trader is dead boring and something you may as well do on the side. And getting more money from money making doesn't impact the playstyle of being a trader it just speeds it up.

Cheaper troops is not making an infantry/cavalry/archer heavy playstyle interesting or appealing or even more powerful than just moving faster with any and all of these in your army. If you want to do that you have to buff the units themselves in some fashion.
 

JimmyCakes

Regular
The only thing I care about at this point is a fix for the horrible FPS stuttering that happens when you load up the game and it doesn't go away fully until at least 2 games have been played. Does anyone know if it's fixed in 1.6?
 

badman

Sergeant
i've come back to the game 3 times since release of EA and every time I'm amazed at how little has changed.
 
i've come back to the game 3 times since release of EA and every time I'm amazed at how little has changed.
Interesting! We've had a completely different experience then. I thought there were a huge amount of changes implemented from november 2020 till june 2021.
 

eddiemccandless

Knight at Arms
WBNWVC
Being a dedicated trader is dead boring and something you may as well do on the side.
AdeptDelectableGarpike-size_restricted.gif

Being a dedicated trader was the only real fun I had with the game. Of course that was immediately after release when that was a viable way to make money. Right now if you play that way you are intentionally gimping yourself so if that's what you meant I agree.
 
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