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Preview: Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword

Greg Tito | 25 Jan 2011 21:00
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While some (myself included) might miss the fictional setting of Calradia, it seems that the community responds the most to the real-world accuracy of Warband. To that end, Yazbeck is busy adding features to the strategic level of play that will make With Fire and Sword seem more realistic. Instead of villages and towns just being places you go to "beg for babies" as what Yazbeck called recruiting soldiers, there will be structures you can build such as universities, smithies and even banks. Banks will be able to issue loans, which will come in handy for those who play the game as a complex economic sim. Don't welch on those loans though, the banks will post bounties on the heads of people who don't pay them back.

One of the problems that Warband had is that if you got attacked while traveling, there was very little you could do defensively. In With Fire and Sword, Yazbeck's answer to that is protected caravans, which surround your camp with a rectangle of wagons. Sure, marauders on foot can still "hop the fence," but it prevents cavalry from being overpowered. The mechanics of a siege on a castle will also provide more options than just storming over the wall. You can play out your dastardly fantasies by bribing a guard to let you in or poison the water supply. Failing that, a few mines will blow a hole in the wall that your forces can storm through.

What about the guns being overpowered? Will a force armed only with swords, axes and bows be quickly decimated? Not exactly. Firearms are definitely more powerful than standard weaponry, but they are limited in With Fire and Sword with a very slow reload time and crappy aim. So, if you're lucky, you can get a shot off at a charging knight in full armor, but if you miss, then his sword is still going to take your head off before you can reload. As well, a skilled marksman with a bow is going to hit his mark way more than an equally skilled guy with a pistol. As with all things in war, using guns is a tradeoff.

As I was getting the demonstration of the game from Yazbeck and trying my own hand at shooting some Cossacks, the CEO of Paradox Interactive, Fredrik Wester, walked by and asked a very important question: "When are you going to add a 'loot all' button?" Wester admitted that he loved Warband, but he complained that not being able to just take all of the loot from a defeated force with a single mouse click is frustrating, with which I heartily agree.

Yazbeck assured both me and Fred that the team is working on fixing that, and many of the other nagging oversights in the game's interface. It won't be a complete overhaul to the game engine, he's saving that for the inevitable sequel, but With Fire & Sword should be a much better game.

So wait, Yazbeck and the rest of the team at TaleWorlds is working on a true sequel to Mount & Blade: Warband? Well, yeah, duh. As Yazbeck pointed out, all you have to do is look at his Facebook page and read what he's working on under his employer info: "Currently designing Project Obvious: the sequel, exciting!"

Yep, once you think about it, it is pretty obvious.

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