Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword is an action role-playing game focused on mounted combat. It is based on a Polish Novel “With Fire and Sword” by Nobel prize winner Henry Sienkiewicz from the Late 19th Century.
It takes place in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean that stretches from Sweden to the Ottoman Empire. All the major cities in the area are shown on the map and you can zoom in and out of each to learn more about the people that live there.
Behind the combat, there is a rather basic leveling system, where you can level up your character and put points into your attributes, skills (stuff that affects other aspects of the gameplay) and proficiencies (how well you can use different kinds of weapons).
You can recruit units from villages, and other places and they have their class tree where they’ll upgrade to stronger units. You can embark on a journey to write your own story, since it is an unscripted RPG. With Fire and Sword provides you with lot of options how you can play the game.
You can be a trader, you can sell prisoners that you capture in combat, you can become a lord in another one of the games factions, and later in the game you can start your own kingdom and conquer other ones.
It’s about as much of a sandbox as you can get in an RPG which in my book is a good thing.
A definite change in the setting from the previous titles. Not only is it set in historical Eastern Europe, but its storyline is also based on a novel of the same name. ‘With Fire and Sword’ makes it prominent that the game not only features traditional sword fights but also the weapons of the gun powder age. The introduction of firearms adds another dimension to the gameplay mechanics of the game.
Though there are few changes incorporated when compared to Warband, you can neither marry a noblewoman in order to become a noble, nor can you create your own kingdom.
The ability to play as female character is also gone. Instead of recruiting peasant from different villages and making the soldiers out of these, you can now recruit mercenaries in mercenary camps.
There about 5 camps in the game, each one for the major different factions in the game, and there is an endless supply of mercenaries coming from each of them. You can upgrade the mercenary specific equipment which costs a ton of money but any other mercenary you recruit of that type at that camp will have that bonus.
I feel like this feature should have been retained considering this is what has made Mount and Blade series fun and different. The mercenaries aren’t bad either, but still, either completely removing the ability to recruit villagers and training them into soldiers, the developers should have retained along with the option to recruit trained mercenaries.
Money is hard to earn, you will have to do whole lot of quests and side quests to be able to pay for your army or mercenaries and buy Talents to upgrade your mercenaries and your skills.
The visuals for the Mount & Blade series have always been rather mediocre but in exchange for that you have huge battles with hundreds of units with minimal lag. The customization system of character is highly detailed.
Multiplayer is also fun. There’s the basic deathmatch modes you can find in other mutliplayer games, but there’s also a good variety of other modes. The siege mode has a team defending a castle while the other team tries to take it from them. Captain Team Deathmatch mode lets two players fight each other with an army of AI bots at his/her command just like as in campaign mode.
Overall I think the game is a mixed bag with its mediocre visuals but terrific horseback gameplay, good fun which should be a must have for all Mount & Blade fans.