For weeks, Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord's biggest threat hasn't been some rival army, amassing its forces. No, it's been the nature of the game itself - crashing and crumbling and splintering apart, bringing feudal campaigns to a frustratingly abrupt close. This weekend, developers TaleWorlds decided to strengthen Bannerlord's defences against this existential threat with two new test
It's no secret that, since Bannerlord's early access debut, TaleWorlds have been rushing to fix critical errors with patch after patch. To get ahead of the curve, Bannerlord's devs revealed plans to introduce a more structured approach to testing in an update posted this weekend.
"Since the release of Bannerlord, we have shared a number of hotfix patches with you to address some of the most prevalent challenges that players were experiencing. At this point, we want to begin establishing a more structured patch process to better support content changes that bear a greater risk for your gameplay experience.
"For this purpose, we intend to introduce 2 additional branches to Steam. Aside from our public branch, which players will use by default, we will also offer opt-in alpha and beta branches."
The alpha branch intends to be "as close to development as possible", testing new features as they happen with absolutely no guarantee of stability. You'll get to toy around with new ideas daily, but expect to crash constantly. Beta, meanwhile, will feature content that's gone through the team's internal testing, updated on a weekly cycle to let the wider player base tear the build apart.
These branches will be opt-in through Steam's beta system. Folks playing on the default, live version of the game might not notice many changes at first, but - if it works as intended - these testing grounds should give regular players more of a buffer against game-breaking issues.
The beta branch should now be live, will full patch notes for this update available over on the aforementioned update post. Once again, it fixes a good half-dozen hard crashes, along with countless smaller fixes to broken art assets, AI behaviour, and general balance tweaks.
Bannerlord has, at least, gotten itself into a state where Sin felt comfortable enough running the game to review it - if not a place where she feels comfortable recommending it. "There’s no question that TaleWorlds have the will and talent to tidy up these problems," she hopes in her Bannerlord review. "But Bannerlords, for all the good it does, just isn’t there yet. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it, but I’m confident that I will in time."
Hopefully, these branches help Bannerlord push forwards in its fight for stability.