The medieval tactical RPG Mount and Blade II Bannerlord launched on March 30th with great success, hitting a peak concurrent player base of 228,071 on Steam, within the first 48 hours. Even though the game is on Early Access, it is still missing some features and contains some bugs (according to a developer post before launch), but fans were eager to get their hands on the long waited game.
However, Mount & Blade II Bannerlord can be a very challenging game, and there is a steep learning curve, especially at the beginning. Even players who are veterans of Mount and Blade: Warband may find themselves a bit overwhelmed, so we’ve decided to put together a guide showing you a few things that might just make getting started a bit easier for you.
Mount and Blade II Bannerlord: Getting Started Guide (Part 1)
While similar in some aspects to the previous game, Mount & Blade II Bannerlord, it offers numerous new features, and expands on others found in Warband. One of the very first things you’ll notice is a polished, expanded character creator, with so many details and skills to pick from.
Mount and Blade 2 Bannerlord occurs 210 years before the events of Mount & Blade: Warband, during the decline of the fictional Calradic Empire (somewhat similar to the Roman Empire) and take on the formation of the predecessors of the factions that appeared in Warband. In this era, there are six cultures, representing six Factions, each culture gives the player’s character specific unique bonuses that stay with the player the entire playthrough. Bannerlord’s cultures are reflections of real life cultures within the period of from 600 to 1100 A.D.
Vlandians: 20% More upgrade XP to troops from battles.
Sturgians: 20% Less speed penalty from snow.
Empire: Construction speed bonus to town projects, wall repairs, and siege engines.
Aserai: Caravans are 30% cheaper to build, 10% less trade penalty.
Khuzaits: 10% Extra speed bonus for horsemen on campaign map.
Battanians: Forests give 10% less speed penalty to parties.
It’s important that you pick and choose wisely and try to find a faction tha will compliment your playstyle, as well as goals for this playthrough. For example, if you plan to be a great leader and lead a group of elite warriors into battle, Vlandians might be your pick. Or if your troops are going to consist mainly of cavalry, you might benefit most from Khuzaits, as they are the equivalent of Mongols in Bannerlord, who are skilled horse archers. Or you could go with Aserai, as they make for good merchants, and so on.
Note that your chosen culture doesn’t affect where in the world you start your campaign, as of this version of the game.
Family, Early Childhood, Adolescence, Youth, Young Adulthood, and Story Background
The next six choices in the Character Creation process are life and background choices. They’re very important choices to make, not only for interesting storyline and roleplaying value but each give the following choices:
- 10 Skill level for two skills.
- 1 Focus point for same skills.
- 1 Attribute point to certain attributes.
This system offers deep customization, with countless Builds, and could be very confusing for newer players. The simplest way to exploit the system, is to level the mastery of your weapon of choice, as high as possible. This allows you to use at least one weapon proficiently from the very start, and unlock some precious weapon skills to help you to getting a strong start.
These choices also affect the starting Weapons you are granted, and whether you have a horse or not, so make sure to get a good amount of points in Riding as well as your weapon.
In Bannerlord you learn skills and raise character proficiency by using these skills, so shooting with a bow raises the bow skill, and fighting on foot raises Athletics. On top of that, Focus points affect the learning rate of your skills, and putting more focus points into a certain skill, will make you level that skill even faster. So with the right choices, you can start strong, and grow even stronger in early game which will be key to your success.
Good Skills Early On
Early on in the game there are some Skills that are more valuable than others, to give you a boost while learning all aspects of the game. Here’s some recommended skills to acquire at Character Creation, or from early game levels.
Bow skills have greatly improved in Bannerlord, with the addition of Skill Trees, you can now improve accuracy, projectile speed, range, draw speed, and damage of your Bow. You also have the advantage of range, and you can use bow while mounted for greater mobility. You will dish out a great amount of damage, making it much harder to get hit. The higher your Bow Skill, the better the bow you can equip, and high level bows have huge advantages in Bannerlord.
Riding is beneficial for most playstyles in Bannerlord, whether you use melee or ranged weapons, being able to fight on horseback is a huge advantage in battle, and while travelling in the campaign map. Higher level Riding will allow you to mount higher tier Mounts, with more hit points, charge damage, speed and maneuver. All are important stats for success.
There are situations where you will be forced to fight on your feet, like raiding bandit camps, fighting in a castle siege, or tournaments. In such situations you could stay ranged for as long as possible and perform greatly. But eventually enemies will begin to seek you out and come running to put an end to your threat. In such scenarios, you will need your melee weapon and shield, as it will help save your neck. It allows for a versatile playstyle with both offensive and defensive skills, so don’t skip it.
It’s more of an advanced skill, that helps you when you rule over your own settlement and army, or perhaps the entire kingdom. However, it’s a good idea to pick up early on in the game, as the requirement to level Steward up is very easy to maintain. You need to have High Morale for your party, and all you have to do for this is to win battles, as well as have a variety of food sources. You can either kill looters/bandits or trade a lot, to easily maintain a varied food supply. It’s far to easier to maintain high morale for a smaller party, that’s why we level up our Steward skill early while we have a small party. It will be very beneficial later in the game.
Trade can be one of the easiest ways to make money in Bannerlord, it requires a fair amount of investment before you can get caravans running, but you can also trade by picking up cheap goods from one city, and then selling them in another far away city. You will need to learn more trade rumors, have a fast horse, and party on the smaller side for quick travel. You can still make a profit as a merchant without shedding a drop of blood. Trade is a beneficial all-around skill, it’s reliable, if not the best skill to have in your arsenal.
This is mainly good for melee fights, especially in the arena which is a major aspect of Bannerlord. Winning tournaments earns you Wealth, Fame, and Favor with some nobles (or ladies). It can quickly be one of main activities you chose to take part in around the entire map, and you will fight most of the arena battles on foot.
Athletics’ first perk (+2 arrows at start of battle) is a great bonus early in the game. This will be used for a very specific mechanic which I’ll explain later on in this guide. Make sure you get at least some points here.
Note: Other skills are not necessarily bad to start with, on the contrary, some skills can be tailored for maximum profit if built properly. But these suggestions are the easiest skills to start with, and progress the game steadily for beginners.
What To Do After the Tutorial?
This is a major question for every Bannerlord player, what to do after the tutorial has ended? Now that character creation is done, and the tutorial is over, you are now left your devices, and alone in the world. You have a quest asking you to gather some men, money, and a companion to be ready for the next part of the campaign. But you are left with no indication of how to perform this feat. Don’t worry, we are here to help you.
Farm Looters for Quick Levels and Skills
This is the obvious choice, yet one that’s tricky for some. First of all, you need to know that looters are lowest tier of enemies in Bannerlord, so low that they have tier one bad weapons, bad rugs as armour, and their only ranged attack is throwing rocks. You will find lots of them running around villages, trying to find weak traders to prey upon. If you approach them a with large party, they will turn their tail and run, trying to avoid battle. They are fast with their small numbers, and chasing them could take a while. That’s why many people neglect them, opting to find stronger enemies. However, this wastes a great opportunity.
Here’s the first trick in tracking down looters to fight: don’t recruit anybody at all. In the previous game Warband, I’d say this is a pretty bad suggestion, because some manhunters could catch up with you and drag you into slavery if you traveled alone. However in Bannerlord, the starting area is quite safe and filled with only looters, which presents zero threat, if you know what to do. Be sure to avoid all other sorts of bandits while alone however.
How to Track Down Looters
Make sure you are mounted on a horse, have a bow, and a good bow skill. Carrying more arrows helps as well, as you will be able to shoot larger groups without being forced into melee. If you travel alone, looters instead of running away from you, will come at you at will, thinking you are a lone, easy target to pick off. Start attacking them, while doing this, run with your horse in circles around them, meanwhile aiming your bow in the middle if their travelling a group. Shoot them down while they chase you hopelessly. Try to aim for headshots, as these will do more damage and level your bow skill faster.
It will take some practice, but it’s a very simple tactic. If you can get them all down before your arrows runs out, then congratulations as you now have more renown, gained greater morale, a good chunk of money, some loot to sell, and some prisoners to hold ransom. At the same time you’ve also leveled your skills several times, and leveled your character in the process.
You can find some upgrades for your armour among the loot dropped, and sell the rest in markets at major cities. Be sure to post ransom for prisoners in the tavern district in cities as well. You will earn some good money, and now you will need to decide what to do with this money.
Upgrade Your Bow
Don’t go recruiting soldiers for your army just yet, don’t be tempted to spend your money on anything but your character. Make sure to focus on upgrading your gear first, and upgrading your weapon is where you start.
Save some money and get best Tier 3 or Tier 4 bows available at the market, it will upgrade all stats for your bow, and make aiming much easier on foot, or on top of your mount. You need to have a good bow skill level to equip higher tier bows, and that’s why it’s good to get your bow skills high during character creation.
You can upgrade your quiver as well, but only if you get a quiver with more arrow capacity than your current. Arrow number is more important than arrow damage at this stage.
Upgrade Your Mount
The next step is to get a better horse or camel. It will make you faster on the map and in battle, and enemies will have a much harder time bringing it down. Again, you can’t use higher tier horses until you get your Riding skill high enough, so make sure to invest in Riding.
I prefer balanced horses that have decent hit points as well as speed, rather than having only one strong aspect and be weak on the other. Remember you will use your mount all the time, so it needs to adapt to different situations.
Don’t sell your old horse, keep it in your inventory and it will increase your carrying capacity. That’s important for many reasons including trade.
Heal Yourself Between Battles, and Do Some Trade
Ideally, you shouldn’t get hit by looters, using the horse archery trick and running in circles. But in case you mess things up, or you get shot with a stone in the face accidentally, you can end the battle heavily wounded, with low hit points. In that case, entering another battle could prove dangerous so you need to heal up.
In Bannerlord the only way to heal your character is the passage of time, if you hover your mouse over your health in the lower panel, you will find the rate of your health regeneration. Such regeneration rate can be improved by Medicine Skill, or by having a companion with the Medicine skill. Neither options are available early on, so we only have to wait.
In major towns or castles, you will find the option to “Stay Here for Some Time”, this is the safest way to heal, with no fear of anything attacking you. However, I find that rather boring and unproductive, so I tend to do some trade instead while waiting for healing.
How to Do Basic Trading
Visiting more than one city, and having some points in Trade allows you to learn Trade Rumors, which can be learned by hovering over trade goods in markets. You will find something cheap in one city, and the rumor tells you that it can be sold for much more in another city. If the difference is big, then it’s potential profit.
If you have the money and inventory space, buy some of the cheap goods. Make sure you don’t buy too much because buying a lot makes buying prices go up, the same as selling a lot, which makes selling prices drop (typical supply and demand economy). Now you have your goods, and you know your destination, start immediately traveling towards the other city where rumors said your goods will be sold for a better price. Don’t let anything distract you, and avoid bandits on the way. You are alone, and on horse, so you are faster than anything else that moves on the map.
Once in the desired destination, look at selling prices, it might be a little less than the promised price, because some suppliers might have come before you and sold some. That’s fine, as long as there is still a profit and that’s why we pick up only goods with major difference in prices in the first place. Now sell your goods, and grow your funds.
This wraps up part 1 of our starter guide, and I hope this helps some people getting going with with the game. Stay tuned for more guides for Mount & Blade 2 Bannerlord, as we plan on sharing more in the upcoming weeks. In the mean time, be sure to drop by the Mount & Blade 2 Bannerlord wiki for all the latest info.