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Top tips for beginners to Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord

Essential tips and tricks for Bannerlord novices

Are you a new player looking for an essential Bannerlord walkthrough? Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord has finally left early access on PC, and is also available to our friends on consoles at long last!

If you're new to the world of this Mount & Blade sequel, or even dipping a toe into the franchise for the first time, then worry not! We've spent a lot of time globetrotting across every region in Bannerlord, battering skulls and taking land for the good of our kingdom. On this page, we'll teach you how to get significantly better at combat and amass an army that will have the local bandits and rival armies quivering in their boots.

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Bannerlord beginners tips

These tips are focussed on what you'll need to know in your first few hours playing Bannerlord, with a focus on two particular areas: combat and the world.

The tips for the combat section apply if you plan to participate in battles early on; while world tips are for how to build up your armies, improve your renown, and for keeping morale high.

A barbarian warrior in Bannerlord trudging through the snow.

Combat tips

Choose your skill focus early

Think about a few skills that you'd like to build your character around. You can build up skills later through gameplay, so you don't need to fully maximise a skill. You can check out our Bannerlord character creation guide for more details on how skills work.

Hone your skills regularly with Focus Points and perks

Use Focus Points gained through levels to increase your maximum skill level for that stat. You can check out the character skills in the character sheet at the bottom of the screen in the world map.

When you reach a certain proficiency in a skill by performing certain actions enough times (attacking enemies with one-handed swords to increase one-handed sword proficiency for example), one or two perks will be highlighted. Click the icon highlighted, then click the perk you want to choose to unlock that perk. Make sure you confirm with the button at the bottom of the screen to lock in the perk.

Practice makes perfect: use tutorials and training areas

Spend a lot of time practising in the tutorial area. This is how you can learn the ins and outs of firing arrows, striking enemies on horseback, and fighting soldiers in armed combat. You'll know when you're ready for ranged combat if you don't miss any targets while on horseback or firing arrows from the shooting range. If you beat the veteran soldier without getting hit, you're good enough for armed combat.

Try the arena as much as possible too for more real-world combat experience. Pick up items while you're fighting to replenish your arrows or javelins. Landing the final hit on an enemy will net you the kill, so poach easy targets when you can. You'll get a small amount of gold for achieving certain milestones per practice session.

Essential combat tips

Defending with swords and shields relies on you pointing your mouse in a certain direction by default. Since there is currently no auto-block, you're going to have to train in the training area a lot to get used to it.

When using bows, the reticle will shrink, then expand again if you hold it down too long. Try to time your shot as the reticle gets to its smallest point.

Make time for your most important relationship: your horse

Get used to riding a horse as soon as possible and learn how to use a lance. They're good for keeping distance in melee combat.

Double tap W to get a kick start when riding your horse, or double tap S to slow down faster.

While riding a horse with a lance, instead of using the left mouse button to attack, conch the lance with the X key and build up speed. You'll do much more damage.

Don't neglect your troops!

Don't charge into battle on your own. You have an army at your disposal, so make sure you use the function keys to command your troops.

Having some ranged troops and some melee troops in your entourage makes for the ideal balance.

Fighting in an arena team battle in Bannerlord.

World tips

Save often

You never know when you'll lose a fight and are held prisoner, losing all of your followers.

Pause for planning

While on the world map, the game will pause when you are not moving. You can use this paused state to plan ahead.

Be aware of the terrain

Movement on horseback through forests will be slower than on grassland. Don't waste too much time pursuing looters if your horses can't catch up to them. You'll just tire out your army and get no progress.

Keep morale high

Keep the morale of your party high by winning battles and maintaining food supplies. If you have low morale, your troops may desert you. Food variety directly affects your troop morale. Your army likes variety in their food, so don't just buy grain if you can afford it.

Take on quests for extra income and more benefits

Ask around in villages, towns, and castles for quests. They're a good source of income should you complete them. Building relations with villages and towns will increase the number of people they can permit for you to recruit to your army.

Sell your loot to get a small injection of cash. Look around for the best price on high-value goods.

Build relationships with key nobles

Lords are a particularly good source of income if you complete quests. Lords can occasionally be found in castles. Beating a lord at a game of Tablut will increase your renown by one point, but battles increase renown by much more if you slay larger armies.

Swear fealty to a lord's king as soon as you can or, y'know, pick someone trying to usurp a crown and gain favour with them instead.

Finally, if you want to find a certain character, press "N" to bring up the Encyclopedia and type their name. You can then track the settlement they were last spotted at. This is useful for if you're trying to find nobles.

Upgrade your army

Upgrading your armies is vital to making them strong. They gain experience in battles and you can spend gold to upgrade your army. Upgrading your troops when they have the necessary experience requirements will make them cost more to maintain, but they come with better equipment to use in battle.

Recruiting people to your army and looting horses from bandits increases your carry limit.

That's all for this whistle-stop tour of Bannerlord for new players! If you're after some more in-depth looks at some of the game's systems, check out our guide to Bannerlord sieges, or have a look at our dedicated page on Bannerlord combat.

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