The Mount & Blade games offer more freedom than your average RPG, allowing players to live all kinds of different lives within their sprawling open worlds. The price for that freedom, and those densely populated siege battles, is that the games are more clumsy and basic in terms of animation, physics and model detail. While watching this impressive trailer for Viking Conquest, a new expansion for M&B: Warband, it occurred to me that the lack of polish has the effect of also making the game seem more believable.
It's like how superhero films feel more realistic when they're depicted in "gritty" ways, as if earth tones and rain were innately more realistic than vibrant reds and yellows. I see the floating platforms bump alongside one another in Viking Conquest's naval battles, and the flimsy swinging of supposedly sharp swords, and I think, yeah, I bet that's what it was really like. I bet, in the past, everything was really a bit shit.
Of course, that rubbishness is becoming more and more slight over time. I remember when Mount & Blade felt empty and large battles were rare; the video above makes me realise that I desperately need to get back into the game. I might jest about its art budget, but it still looks incredible in many other ways.
This might even be your last chance to enjoy any measure of rubbishness when it comes to the series' look, as the straight sequel Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord has been announced and it's looking very fancy. There's no clue as to when it'll be released, but it's the main focus for developers TaleWorlds while the December-bound Viking Conquest is being built by the team previously resonsible for Warband mod Brytenwalda.
Are my feelings towards Warband's slight shoddiness in presentation a sign that we're in for a future of deliberately lo-fi reboots? Here's hoping for a Rocksteady Batman game that pilfers not just from Nolan's colour scheme but from M. Dickie's fighting system.