Why did the knight stop using the internet? Because he was sick of chainmail. Wee medieval joke to get you warmed up there. Melee: Battlegrounds is a 13th Century multiplayer warfare romp being developed by the folks that brought you the cRPG mod for Mount & Blade: Warband. Or at least, it was . Following a failed Kickstarter, the game fled into the forests of the Unknown. But now it has rallied under the funding of Northern Ireland Screen and has returned to the field of battle with a new name – Of Kings And Men [official site]. There are also some fresh details, including plans to create a persistent online world in which you can explore the countryside and be battered to death with a mace. Oh, and it’s coming to Early Access this month.
That was a sample of the kind of murder and mayhem you’ll be throw into. There are two sides to this steely conflict, say developers Donkey Crew. The first is the ‘Battlegrounds’ side of the game. This is a bunch of game modes played on servers with up to 200 players. Team deathmatch is a small scale murder picture, Instant Battle is a much larger fight based on rounds and Conquest sees squads of soldiers fighting to control random regions of the map. It’s what these hardened modders know best, having worked so long on Mount & Blade. Anyway, it’s these modes which are expected to make it into the Early Access release on August 25.
The open world (called The Epic) is more of an ongoing war, and won’t be added until later. Multiple factions will be able to build outposts and “production facilities”, strengthening their control over parts of a huge map. Resources will appear in some places, leading to fights over who gets the good stuff. Over time, the battles and skirmishes that rage will earn combatants silver with which to fund the crafting of better equipment. Your character will also gain new skills, and weapons like polearms, bows, crossbows and all the other sharp things will be available to you. Then, after a few months, the Epic will reset, bringing everyone back to the dark ages. But “honor and achievements earned will carry over as part of the history of the world,” we are told.
There’s lots more details to read on the website. While the open world portion sounds a lot like Rust or Life Is Feudal, Donkey Crew insists it is “not a survival game.” To me it sounds like their original plans for a ‘Stronghold’ mode have adapted to bring in those interested in that genre, however. The Stronghold mode was supposed to be a fight in which each team constructed a fortress and then had to assault their enemy’s castle, according to an earlier Kickstarter video. It’s unclear how death will work in this muddy kingdom, though. Here’s hoping it is not quite as punishing as losing all your best rocks.
With Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord still not revealing its release date, some of us are starved for a sword fight. Maybe this will fill the hole. It’s been a while since I was knocked off a good battlement.