This little gem has been hiding on me. I just recently got into this game on the advice from the addicts on Reddit and I have to say it has been well worth the pick up.
Granted, I'm not a big fan of games that take too long to get to the good stuff and Warband definitely has those moments but it entirely dependent on how you like to play the game.
Based on a fictional medieval realm where kingdoms clash seemingly at random, you are a young upstart who has just arrived seeking your fortune. The great thing about this game is that it has a lot of roleplaying that doesn't force you to imagine and go outside the game to formulate your backstory, character and goals. How your character was raised plays a big factor in how you will play the game. Nobles have a lot easier time than streeturchins claiming throne and fiefs.
What strikes my chords in this game is not any one thing. In fact, it has the watermarks of an inexperienced development team; choppy animations, non-fantastical weapon models, and interesting AI. However, none of that takes away from the game. Tale Worlds, the developer, is at that plateau where they are just about to bust through to the next level in quality (Unfortunately, their new standalone With Fire and Sword, seems to have angered many of their long-time fans. I haven't personally dropped the cash to buy it, so take it for what it's worth). What I really enjoy about this game is that I feel part of the story and history. The random events draw you into the game. Join a kingdom, and you'll get requests to join in on a siege or to do certain tasks during wartime.
My only complaint in this game is that sometimes there doesn't seem like much to do. I found myself thinking, "Well, now what?" during peace time. Wandering around, killing bandits. I realized, however, that this game is what you make it. Go pillage a random village and your kingdom can be drawn into another war. Conspire with another noble/count to incite war, woo maidens and challenge those who dare try to steal her! There is so much subplot in this game to keep you going. Open avenues include becoming a merchant, owning shops and setting up your companions in fiefs. Eventually break off from a nation and become king of your own. The options really are limitless
You don't see many games these days that aren't extremes of each other. It's either you get a incredibly shallow big budget corridor shooter, or an epic, frustratingly long RPS/strategy/simulation. Warband seems to fit nicely between the two, which is more than a lot of games can say. If you want a good comparison to see if you'll like this game, think Total War series and Space Rangers 2. The theater, theme and battles (albeit smaller) of Total War, and the random, side/subplots and alive world of Space Rangers.
Multiplayer is great and surprisingly well-polished with many people playing. It can take some time to get used to the change from guns to arrows/swords but it's great fun. Definitely could be better, but for what it is it works.
My Rating: A
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