Mount and Blade: Warband is about as fine a Mount and Blade game as I’ve played to date. I prefer it to With Fire and Sword but that may be partly because I’ve not really given the newer title a chance because I’m playing Warband with two lovely mods that I can’t imagine doing without. The first is the simplest of mods, all it takes is a rejigging of configuration files, so if you like flames to go with your swords, you’re in luck. The second is Prophesy of Pendor, which is far from simple and altogether brilliant.
Let's get the little one out of the way first, shall we? It’s a battle size modification that makes combat much more impressive by raising the number of people running around killing one another. I have to admit, when I first played Mount and Blade I didn’t think I wanted more people involved in the fights. It’s entirely possible to have large skirmishes in the base game, but once you’ve seen hundreds of tiny men flailing away at one another, it’s more natural to want more than less. The only problem is that computer’s don’t like tracking all those little men and, more importantly, all their little bodies once they’ve been killed. Thankfully, turning off corpses means you should be able to enjoy all the fun of the fight without worrying about stuttering graphics at all.
That’s a little mod to make things larger. The next and most important Warband mod is Prophesy of Pendor, which has been brought across and enhanced from the original Mount and Blade. I haven’t played the most recent version but that’s because it was updated less than a week ago. This isn’t some half-baked bunch of tweaks, it’s a total conversion that receives more care and attention than the majority of full-priced major studio releases. Install this and you get a whole new world with its own backstory, heroes, factions and equipment. Personally, I’d prefer something historical done with the same depth but I’ve not found anything of that sort to match Pendor’s quality.
All the work that’s gone into creating the world would be impressive enough, but there’s more. If you liked Warband, most of the things you enjoyed are now better. Events, quests and the economy have all been bulked up and the AI is much more fun to play with in battles.
It’s a complete package and has kept me playing Warband far longer than I otherwise might have done. The detailed backstory is hackneyed but you can ignore it if you want to, and hackneyed or not it makes Pendor a fully fleshed out world. The factions have history to them and the dialogue between NPCs reflects that.
If Prophesy of Pendor was a standalone RPG, I’d thoroughly recommend it. It’s taken more of my time than games I’ve paid full price for. As a mod, it’s an outstanding piece of work that must have taken a staggering amount of man-hours to bring to this state. And it’s still growing.
Next week, something more action-packed for the itchy trigger fingers among you.