Greetings all and thanks for making your way over to our 15th Development Blog. It’s been a little while since we updated the blog, but we’ve been hard at work on the game and we’re excited to talk a little about something we’ve been working on recently.
As many of you will know, this month we featured on the cover of PC Gamer Magazine! In addition to being a proud moment for the team, we also packed in some new screenshots, which you can see online, and spoke to Phil Savage about the game; the full write-up of which is featured in the April 2017 issue.
One aspect of Bannerlord that featured in the write-up is quests, which is what we’re discussing in this blog entry. As a sandbox game, the essential function of quests in Mount & Blade is different to that of a linear or story-based RPG. Our goal is to use quests as a way to encourage the player to interact with the sandbox, and help form the player’s relationships in the world.
As in Warband, completing quests for NPCs will increase your relation with that character. This however, takes on a new dimension in Bannerlord, as that relationship can have a more profound impact on your character, and the decisions you make. As an example, when you go to a town to recruit soldiers, instead of simply receiving a number of local recruits, the town’s NPCs act as recruiting agents, or middle men, through whom you receive a supply of troops. The higher your relation with a specific NPC, the greater the number of soldiers they will make available to you.
This places inherent value on your relationship with a specific NPC, giving you a reason to complete quests for them, and enhance your capacity to recruit soldiers quickly, from a single location. Consider, also, the way this invests you in an NPC’s safety and well-being; when that NPC is at risk, so too is your supply of soldiers. This link, between quests and the sandbox, is what provides interesting gameplay, as your character’s connection to the world grows, making allies and enemies. In this sense, the impact of a quest is often more significant than the reward it offers.
A crucial change, in the nature of the quests themselves, is that the majority of quests, in Bannerlord, have multiple potential outcomes. As an example, when a character in a town tasks you with clearing out some thugs, who are occupying a local alley, upon meeting the gang, you are presented with a counter offer: go back to the quest-giver, extort money out of them for questioning the gang’s authority and keep the profits for yourself. You can even clear out the thugs, as requested but instead of handing control back to the townsfolk, install your own men in the alley and begin a new criminal operation.
By offering these branching quests, Bannerlord gives you, as a player, the chance to define your relationship with different characters through a narrative. Instead of simply working to earn the favour of specific individuals, you are weighing the value of an NPC’s allegiance, against a short term reward. And since the NPCs themselves have their own rivalries and disputes, even taking what seems like the moral option can compromise your standing, with those who disapprove of your choice of friends.
Quests in Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord are designed to provide the basis for interesting, emergent interactions with the sandbox game world. While you might complete a single quest multiple times, the context within which you undertake the task, and the decisions you make, will mean the experience and the consequences can vary on each occasion.
We’re looking forward to giving you a chance to play the game, and try out the quests for yourselves! In the meantime, thanks for reading this Development Blog and stay tuned for more Bannerlord news on our website, Facebook and Twitter.