Saying Goodbye: Why the Mount and Blade: Warband Community Was One-of-a-Kind
The highly anticipated release of Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord is finally upon us. Though playable in its beta phase over the past several months for those lucky enough to get an invite, the game officially launched into Early Access on March 30.
It's a big moment for the Mount and Blade: Warband community, which has been waiting patiently (and sometimes impatiently) to experience the game's prequel since it was first announced in 2012. And if there is an absence of joy to be found in Bannerlord's release, it is found only in the nostalgic sadness of turning the page onto a new chapter.
Why the Community Makes Mount and Blade: Warband Still Playable 10 Years Later
It will be a long time before the number of players on the Warband servers dwindles to near zero, and as players leave, they will no doubt migrate to Bannerlord, finding new ways to enjoy the game through events, mods, and more.
Still, now is a time to reflect on what made Mount and Blade: Warband such a special game for a decade, and it all comes down to the game's creative and passionate community of players.
Warband Brought Players Together Under a Common Interest — and It Wasn't Gaming
The Mount and Blade series may not be for everyone, but that's one of the things that makes it so great. Games like Fortnite or Rocket League may have strong, long-lasting communities, but they aren't likely to bring people together under one common passion outside of gaming.
Though many Warband players may consider themselves avid gamers, it's rarely a love for gaming that brings these players together. Instead, it's an interest in history that threads through the Warband community, and this is, perhaps, exemplified most in the release of the game's Napoleonic Wars DLC.
This add-on content takes place outside of the medieval period and places players into the Napoleonic era, fighting with muskets rather than crossbows, all while dressed in period-accurate uniforms.
It's far from the only example of history in the franchise, however, with mods like The Deluge, Anno Domini 1257, Bellum Imperii, and many others all becoming popular downloads that transport players to new eras of history, whether it be ancient Rome or 17th century Europe.
Modder Creativity Extended the Game's Longevity
And we aren't just talking about a few mods here. The database of mods for Warband is massive, and this has a lot to do with the historical passions of the community leading to an enormous team of modders. Each shines their own light on the game, reflecting their particular era of historical interest.
This dedicated and extensive community of modders created diverse historical scenarios for both single-player campaigns and multiplayer servers. If players become bored with the vanilla game or simply want to experience the game in a different way, there is no shortage of options.
Even 10 years after the game's release, new mods and mod updates are still being released for Mount and Blade: Warband. Not only does this help foster a community of video-game-playing history buffs, but it also extends the game's re-playability. This creative community of modders has no doubt led to the game retaining its popularity for so many years.
Multiplayer Events with Actual Cooperation
One mod, in particular, that has contributed to this is the Full Invasion mod, the latest version being Full Invasion: Osiris. In this mod, players battle against waves of invading armies from a variety of factions, from Greek States to the Hordes of Mordor.
It's a mod that perfectly exhibits another special characteristic of the Mount and Blade: Warband community: the cooperation between players. In many multiplayer games, servers descend into mayhem, with players struggling to retain any cohesive, cooperative effort. Like barbarians, it's every player for themselves.
In many mods and game modes, players in Warband operate collectively, with the coordination and precision more akin to a Greek phalanx than a barbarian horde.
And sure, you'll find some chaos in Warband; every game has it. But when cooperation is necessary, players tend to band together more often than not. In a case such as fighting off hordes of bots in Full Invasion, this tends to happen naturally, with players establishing shield walls and setting fallback positions.
In the Napoleonic Wars DLC, this happens through structured events called line battles, where regiments are formed and fight using the rules of 18th- and 19th-century warfare, maneuvering and firing in tightly-ranked battle lines all for the unique opportunity to live out a historical fantasy.
Simply put, players band together in ways not often seen in the gaming world.
The release of Bannerlord is unlikely to mark the demise of Warband's strong and passionate community. In fact, it will hopefully be the opposite. But it should be recognized that as good of a game as Warband was, it thrived for 10 years thanks to the creativity and passion of its players.
If that same community follows the release of Bannerlord, we could be in for another decade of such a memorable gaming.