Introduction Warband, originally released in 2010 by TaleWorlds

Introduction With the global technological advancement in recent years, the standardsfor visuals and technical performance in video games have been raised higherthan ever before. In order to meet the newly set quality benchmark, gameproduction is becoming a widely upscale effort.

However, there are still games being developed that have their creativeresources focused on elements other than production value. For the creators of suchgames, the intended end product is typically a story-driven game with emotionallyengaging gameplay that counterpoises the less impressive graphics. Mount &Blade: Warband, originally released in 2010 by TaleWorlds Entertainment, standsas one of the more recent examples of such a game.The aim of this report is to provide insight into the game’s keycomponents, as well as to examine and reflect on the reasons for its successfulrun. The text first goes over the general setting and the recurring themes ofthe game. Later, it delves into the essence of the narrative structure and its attributes.Subsequently, a more elaborate look into the combat system is introduced.

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Furthermore,the role of the non-playable characters is analysed. Finally, the reporttackles the impact of the multiplayer mode, and explores the efficiency of the gamegraphics.  Mount & Blade: Warband, an analysisSettingThe game is set in the fictional land ofCalradia: a medieval continent where five factions arelocked in a struggle for influence and sovereignty over a batch of disputed territories. The overworld map provides an overview of all fiefs thatmake up a faction’s region (as illustrated in Figure 1), providing the playerwith input on their character’s current location as well as updated informationon a fief’s owner and political vassalage. The game offers a realistic representation of lifeduring the Middle Ages as it is bereft of fantasy elements and instead spotlightstrue-to-life warfare and politics (Ford, 2017). Each kingdom is free to wagewar, forge alliances or sign an armistice with their neighbouring countries.

Thekingdoms are populated by a host of non-playable characters that act as monarchs,claimants, nobles, deserters, traders, villagers and bandits alike. They each havetheir own agendas and are made to act independently from the player, thusinjecting the world with a sense of dynamics and progression as the state ofaffairs is affected by more than the player’s actions. The conflict provides abackdrop tension and framework for the player’s adventures.NarrativeMount & Blade: Warband is a sandbox game. “Sandbox” sometimes challenges traditionalnarrative, but it always puts something new in its place.

— Thus, it does notremove the narrative, but rather transforms predetermined narrative intodynamic, responsive narrative. In other words, the sandbox game distinguisheditself by making the responses more significant and meaningful (Breslin, 2009).CombatThe combat system of Mount & Blade: Warband requiresplayers to take many factors, such as real-world physics laws intoconsideration, but its initial complexity does not draw away from the immersiveexperience (Kolan, 2010). Combat is witnessed from a first– or third-personperspective. It involves mastering an elaborate set of controls that nonethelessfeels natural to the player after a short period of adjustment, as observed byHughes (2016). One-on-one combat features a variety of weapons such as one-handedswords, two-handed swords, axes, shields, maces, staves, lances, crossbows andthrown objects. Their impact changes drastically depending on the power anddirection of swinging, the adjacency of the enemy, and whether the player’scharacter is fighting on horseback or on foot.

Proficiency in different types of arsenal can be developed overtime through the character skills tree, enabling the player to specialize inone or two weapons, thus building their own unique fighting style and preferences.In large-scale battles, the game calls for awarenessof the position, number, and health status of friendly and adversary troops atall times, as depicted in Figure 2. Assigning battle formations is possible, aswell as giving direct movement and damage type orders to nearby units. Walker notesin his 2016 review that assembling an army and coming up with various battletactics is essential to surviving encounters with foes whose forces outnumberor outgear the player’s. 

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