After almost a decade of development, Tale Worlds Entertainment finally launched Mount & Blade II: Bannerlords on Steam Early Access. Considering this extended period of iteration, the game has a bunch of interesting features, but many are not covered in the tutorials and new players can feel lost if they don't know where to look. But here we have highlighted some important aspects of the game that you might not know when starting it up, hopefully stopping you from having to go through what we've been through by optimising your experience.
Call them tips, a beginner's guide, or whatever you like, but here are 12 things that can help you get started in Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord.
N is for Encyclopedia
The encyclopedia is a must-know feature for every Bannerlord player, as it provides important information about almost every aspect of the game, as well as the current condition of the factions involved. Strangely, it's not visible on the main screen (world map).
To access this essential resource, press N on your keyboard and you will enter the Encyclopedia. Mostly you'll use it when you want to find the whereabouts of a certain noble (particularly for the Neretzes' Folly quest, just you wait and see). The last seen location of a noble can be found in the top right corner of their profile and it will be updated regularly.
Learn Some Self Control
When you're on a horse, you can couch your lance to your side and make it deadlier on the battlefield by pressing X when an icon is visible above your health bar. This will make it unnecessary to time your thrust because when a lance is couched it will automatically damage an enemy that comes into contact with its pointy end. It will have enough speed bonus damage to kill almost everything, from recruits to nobles.
But not every lance can be couched. There are only a few polearms that can do that, and those are the ones with "couched" stats in the inventory menu. Also, it seems that you can't couch your lance when riding another soldier's horse, but we don't know if it's a bug or a feature, yet.
X can also be used on javelins. You can use them as melee weapons by pressing the button and then make them throwable again by pressing it again.
Another trick that might help you when riding into danger: you can accelerate by double-tapping W and stop by double-tapping and holding S. This is very useful when you hit a tree or get stuck in the middle of some enemy infantry. Braking is also great for turning attack into defence; you can make a quick turn and face your opponents.
You can also use Z to get off your horse. It's great when you're in a siege and want to quickly get to the frontline on horseback but then get under the safety of barricades as fast as you can.
Edit That Banner
Although not as important as the Encyclopedia, you can edit your banner anytime by pressing B. This is great if you want to have a distinctive banner and stand apart from other clans of the same kingdom, especially during battle.
There is also a site hosted by Tale Worlds that lets you design your own banner. Simply hit the link, copy your banner code, then Ctrl+V on the editor, and now you have your own customised in-game branding.
Create a Real Character
Are you bored with your character? Say no more! You can edit your main character anytime during the game by pressing the V button. You can also copy your creation (or your friend's) by pressing Ctrl+C in the Character Creation and store the code somewhere, then paste it to another by pressing Ctrl+V.
Get an Overview of the Battlefield
Alt is an invaluable button during battle (and in towns, but we will get to that). It will show enemy formations and types (infantry, ranged, or cavalry) and their distance from you. This is great information to know during an evenly contested battle or when you're up against it - your formation and positioning can change the tide.
The same button can be used to highlight items like weapons, shields, and more importantly arrows and bolts. If you are firing arrows in battle, then this is very useful. In fact, we usually find this handy when sieging or during long battles.
And you can also use hold Alt in towns to see its many locations and notable characters. Our suggestion: look everywhere as you'll find plenty of stuff off the beaten track.
Buy Low, Sell High
Trading in Bannerlord is more important and easier than ever. Making a profit can be done by buying cheap items in one town and selling them at a higher price in another. But where can we find good trade routes?
You can do that by talking to caravans on the map, chatting with townsfolks (a bit random but sometimes useful), and visiting the many towns. When you do that, you will notice that when you trade in a certain town, there will be a list of trade rumours for various goods. You can see where to sell certain items or where to buy them. The greyed text means that the rumour is a bit old so you can't rely on it too much, although it could still be a good estimation.
Workshop Your Way Up the Foodchain
Other than trading, you can also make money from buying workshops in towns or assembling caravans. You can buy workshops by visiting them in towns (remember the Alt tip we mentioned earlier?) and talk to the worker there before opting to buy the workshop, which can be picked up for around 13,000 to 15,000 gold. There are many kinds of workshop available so you must consider what the villages around the town produce. For example, grain-producing villages are good for brewery workshops, sheep are good for wool workshops, and so on. As for caravans, you can talk to the local merchants and buy caravans from them. You need to assign one of your companions as the leader of the caravan, though.
If you manage them well, you can have a steady income from these in-game enterprises.
Get Married and Make Babies
In Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, you can die of old age or even by the sword (if you tick the 'Enable Death' checkbox in the campaign options). That's why at one point in your adventure you may want to build a family and have some children. Families can also be invaluable party members, just like companions who can lead parties for you.
To get married, you must find a noble of the opposite sex and court them a couple of times. There will be charm skill checks and if you succeed, then you can marry that person. After that, you or your partner can get pregnant and have babies who can grow up and be your companions/vassals or your heir if you die. If you die without having an heir, then your spouse will take over your place and you will control them instead.
So, in the long term, it's important to have a family. The more the merrier!
Vassals Who Leave Home Get Penalties
If you've reached Clan Level 2, you can join a kingdom of your choice as a vassal. Different than being a mercenary, as a vassal, you can receive fiefs and more gold from your sovereign, and you can dive into the politics of the kingdom.
But beware, committing to becoming a vassal will cost you dearly if you want to leave the kingdom you swore your oath to, as it will be to the detriment of your relationships with the members of that kingdom and could make you an enemy of the state if you keep your fiefs.
So, if you want to build your own kingdom or change allegiances often, you may want to stick to being a mercenary.
A Kingdom For Your Horses
Movement speed is paramount when you're travelling the map. With more speed, you will spend less time travelling between locations, chase looters more easily, and run away from large armies.
There are several factors that influence your party speed, such as the number of infantry on foot, the number of prisoners you have, party morale, inventory weight, and the number of horses that you have. If you have more horses, then more infantry can get on them and they also extend your inventory cap, thus boosting your movement speed. But note that horses like mules and sumpter horses will not speed you up and can add a herd penalty, even if they are great at extending your inventory cap.
Gang Fighting in Town
One way to get money and meet people early in the game is via gang fights. You can do this by taking a walk through town and visiting places like waterfronts, clearings, and backstreets, and once there, talking to one of the thugs you meet. Simply choose the "I don't take orders from the likes of you" option, and then you'll be able to get into some fisticuffs.
Remember that in towns you only have your civilian clothing and weapons on so be careful and make sure you bring your companions with you. If you succeed, then you'll need to wait for some time and initiate another gang war in the streets. If you win this, you will get a positive relationship with other notables and nobles in the town (except the one you just beat, naturally), as well as some great loot and gold.
Escape for Tips
Here's something that is often overlooked by players, including us. If you press the Esc key, a menu will pop up. Here you can see tips on the left of the menu. Many unexplained features in the tutorial or encyclopedia are actually detailed here (including the Alt tip we mentioned before). So, before you play, it might be worth a look even if it does feel a bit random.
There you have, there's plenty of helpful things to get you started on your adventure in Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord. Do you have other hints or tips? Let us know in the comments below!