Have You Played… Mount and Blade: Warband — Napoleonic Wars?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

There’s some eras of warfare that seem impossible to recreate in a first-person shooter, and the idea of standing in rows and exchanging volleys with another group of gents also standing in rows seems like one of them. Yet, Napoleonic Wars [Steam page] is one of my favourite multiplayer shooter mods ever. See, while you’re free to just hop online and join in chaotic public matches, you’re much better served joining one of the many regiments that engage in historically-proper battles with loads of rules for what you can and can’t do at any given time. Raised your rifle or spoken out of turn without the captain’s orders? That’s a lashin’.

What I love about playing in a highly coordinated regiment is that Napoleonic Wars becomes more about discipline than accuracy or skill. You have little agency as a single soldier, instead, relying on your commander’s ability to position your unit properly to not get flanked by enemy maneuvers. But, for me, it’s those moments when we are flanked that are the absolute best.

If we break ranks and scatter to save our lives, we bring shame upon our regiment. Far better to charge forward into an overwhelming enemy force and die in glory than to be a coward. It’s a decision few shooters are complex enough to pose because there’s no way to really quantify bravery in multiplayer. Instead, it’s about the bonds you form with your unit and the reputation you build amongst your peers.

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13 Comments

  1. Abacus says:

    Napoleonic Wars is one of the greatest multiplayer experiences I have ever had with a game. In fact it is probably my favourite multiplayer game of all time.

    I have more hours in Napoleonic Wars than in Mount and Blade: Warband native. I still have a hell of a time playing on the Tropical Paradise server, one of the greatest deathmatch servers I’ve ever played on. Then there is the whole regiment side with an amazingly dedicated community… and there are even mods like North & South that take things even further.

    I really, REALLY hope Flying Squirrel Entertainment release a Napoleonic Wars 2 for Bannerlord.

    • Docm30 says:

      Considering the amount of shit FSE talked about Taleworlds, plus the fact that they’re working on their own game, I don’t see a follow-up happening.

      • Improper says:

        Wait, what happened between them? I tried my google-fu and found that Taleworlds didn’t release the source code to NW devs, is it related to that? Because that’s pretty stupid for Taleworlds to do that.

        • Nurdbot says:

          The head of the FSE group and the TaleWorlds PR guy had a major falling out is what I heard from a reliable source

          (former forum moderator).

          Some of the Warband mods hangers on were also incredibly disruptive on the TaleWorlds forums as well.

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      caff says:

      I totally agree with your comments – this gave me some of the finest roleplaying multiplayer like I’ve never experienced before (and it’s still going pretty strong, the RP server I played on held a steady 150+ players at weekends).

      Really hope they do an update alongside Bannerlord and release it fast! It’ll look great in the new engine.

  2. Veeskers says:

    The “commander mode” in the game is the best part of it, where each player commands their own little AI squad of their chosen unit type, and every player has a part in positioning and maneuvering their army, trying to overtake the opposing team with the best possible cooperation between muskets, rifles, cavalry, artillery… And the battles can get so big as to have 400 or 500 soldiers. It’s the closest thing to being on the ground experiencing the flow of a historical battle that a game has offered so far.
    The AI can be slightly janky in that mount&blade way, or sometimes get a little laggy, but that’s easily forgiven given the uniqueness of the experience.

    The “regiment battles” are very popular of course, but commander mode lets you play an active part in even larger battles without having to march around at the whims of an internet general who thinks hiking around the map edges every round is a brilliant flanking maneuver.

    Wonderful, unique game, really deserves a followup.

  3. BiggerTuna says:

    Did anyone ever play the Half Life/Half Life 2 mods Battlegrounds/Battleground 2? It was a similar idea to Napoleonic Wars but played out in first person. It was pretty good, but it never really caught on because it was pretty late to the whole Half Life modding scene.

    I have a few friends that like Mount and Blade and talk about it all the time, but I’ve never played it. Is it worth the time and do many people play it still?

    • Nurdbot says:

      If any of the more friendly open older clans are seeking fresh blood go for it, events aren’t what they once were.

      Due to the plunge of numbers and quality (these things are hosted for by volunteers on their free time) it might just be a line of dudes shooting another small line of dudes with muskets.

    • hungrycookpot says:

      I really love M&B. I’ve got a couple hundred hours playtime, just recently playing through a campaign in the new Viking Conquest Reforged DLC, it’s amazing. And I have never even touched the multiplayer.

    • kraftcheese says:

      I’ve really enjoyed my time with the single player game (especially with mods like Diplomacy) but I’ve never been able to get into the multiplayer…couldn’t git gud.

  4. Nurdbot says:

    It was great fun for the first two years after release but the aging game engine, half assed badly run community forum infested with trolls and overly entitled rascists and the usual slow decay you get with multiplayer games burned me and my clan out in the end.

    I urge some other developer to follow the example and make something along the same lines or even better. Hell, be extra creative and set it in a fantasy world to avoid the pesky balance issues that real history has.

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