TMGR [11]: Mount & Blade Warband Multiplayer

This was a totally different night from my Napoleonic 20mins, but it doesn’t seem to make so much difference which night you play on the original vanilla game.

I loaded in and was browsing the multiplayer servers in under a minute. I chose the busiest server – it’s always a siege server where one group of plays defends a castle from another group of attacking players – and loaded in. Unfortunately, it was a server that uses custom maps, and big custom maps at that. Cue 2 mins wasted loading that map! That left me a bit miffed, but raring to get going once I was in.

This one was a round nearing its end. I joined the defenders and got stuck in.

To make the most of my small time I decided to go as infantry fighter. I generally like to warm up as an archer or crossbowman on Mount & Blade’s multiplayer, but infantry is where it gets really exciting, so I cut straight to the chase. Funnily enough, I never really play as cavalry online which is a bit ironic for a game called Mount & Blade!

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True to form, the infantry fight was intense. There was 4 mins left, where we were holding a gate from hordes of Nord (essentially Vikings) attacking players. I held it with basic armour but a big shield and long spear. It really did the job and I got a very respectable 4 or so kills for my one life. I find other players on the vanilla multiplayer aren’t so good against spears, which gives me a bit of an advantage as Napoleonic War’s muskets act like spears when you use them in melee. 

We held that gate, and that was awesome feeling when the timer hit 0. There we stood in the gate, undefeated like heroes.

A few seconds later, the next round loaded and it was a much more difficult map to defend. A sort of round village, with our flag to defend at the centre of a half walled square in the middle. The enemy all went as cavalry and trampled us. The first round was over in under a minute, they rushed us before we could even organise, which wasn’t so great.

Next round we were ready though, and I managed to take down 8 horsemen before I got caught by one of their lances. I was dead proud of that.

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Just then the timer went. That has to be the cruelest 20min ending timer yet. I really struggled to drag myself away, but that I did.

All in all, Mount & Blade Warband’s Multiplayer was great fun. Fighting as infantry was a great choice to get the excitement going fast. The only negative was how difficult it was to tear myself away, I wanted to go on for ages longer. For that, it loses a tiny half point, but for an awesome 20mins I’m happy to give it 4.5 out of 5. 

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Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

TMGR [10]: Mount & Blade Full Invasion 2

This is part 2 of my Mount & Blade series of reviews, after last week’s review of the Napoleonic Wars DLC. This week it’s the Full Invasion 2 mod.

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Full Invasion 2 (FI2) is a huge mod, and arguably one of the most popular of the wide variety of free ones out there. FI2 is the same gameplay, with the one mode of co-operatively holding out against increasingly difficult waves of bots.

The major difference between this and my favourite Napoleonic Wars server that I mentioned last week is that this takes place in all sorts of odd settings. You can hold out as the Spartans from the movie 300 against an invasion of anyone from the Persians to Modor from Lord of the Rings to modern army soldiers as just one example.

First things first, it took 5 mins 30secs to load this mod up.

FI2 is a massive mod of countless totally new textures and whatnots. In total its probably bigger than the original game it’s built on – and that hits the load time massively. It was incredibly frustrating waiting on that load-in screen with the time ticking down.

It wasn’t over there though. I picked the busiest server and loaded in. It was WW2 soldiers versus an invasion of skeleton bots. Sounded fun and nice and halloween-y. Trouble is, you only spawn in once a boss is killed, and a boss only spawns every 3 rounds. You guessed it – I loaded in just after they’d killed a boss.

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Partly because of my own bad timing, it wasn’t until 14 mins and 30secs into my 20mins that I actually spawned in to fight. That’s essentially ¾ of my time gone to loading and waiting. Not good! Even if you ignore that I was doing a TMGR, nearly 15mins from pressing play to actually playing just isn’t good enough for a game full stop!

Once I was in to the fight I was having great fun though. I picked to play as a German sniper and started dropping the skeletons. In just 5 mins I managed to kill 14 of them and got through about 4 rounds; we even got a boss kill in. It was great fun working together as a team once I was in, but the trouble was how long it took to get in.

The best game in the world would still be rubbish in practice with a massive load-in time. One of the Digital Salad rule of games design there! 

Sadly I’m going to have to give Full Invasion 2 a 2 out of 5. It pains me, because if the 5mins I had with it were spread to even just 15mins of the 20mins I had to give to it, it would’ve probably been a 4.5 out of 5. After all though, the whole point of these reviews is to be time limited, and Full Invasion 2, despite being awesome, isn’t kind to a time limited gamer.

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Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

TMGR [9]: Mount & Blade Napoleonic Wars

Onwards with the 20min game reviews – and this one will kick off a series of Mount & Blade themed 20mins. The game I often rave so much about, how does it stand up to the tough test of the 20min review?

Also, Happy Guy Fawkes Night!

I did this first 20mins on a Wednesday night as a quick disclaimer. As boring as this may sound, Wednesday night is the worst night to play on a public Napoleonic Wars server as it’s the night all the regiments do their training and that leaves the public servers pretty empty of excitement. Regiments aren’t my kind of gig, they’re way to serious for my liking, but whatever floats your boat I guess!

Anywho, I loaded into one of my favourite servers, the Roleplay server. Two teams of real players face off against each other on a battlefield. One life each, 200 players, and a strict set of rules that you have to follow officers and don’t kill musicians or surrenderers.

From pressing the play button I was into and playing in a round within a minute and a half. That’s damn quick, so extra kudos there, and it meant plenty of extra time to play! There was a bit of good luck on my part, as a round had just ended so I spawned straight in to the start of a new one.

I loaded in to a snowy map as an Austrian infantryman against the French. First round we were holding a church and got annihilated by some French cavalry which encircled us. That was mainly just 10 minutes of firing in the vague direction of a far away target and then being trampled by the overwhelming French cavalry – not the most fun. 10mins remained and I was starting to worry 20mins wouldn’t be enough to give the game I rave about so much justice!

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I got two more rounds in in the next 10mins though, which were quick and brutal wins for us Austrians holding the church – much more fun!

I think this 20min review highlighted the slight problem of Napoleonic Wars, and some other games. It can be really incredibly boring sometimes (actually, maybe more than 50% of the time if I’m honest), but those good rounds are so awesome you just want more. You’d be prepared to play for hours of the dull stuff for just 10mins of the awesome stuff. I got 10mins of the dull and 10mins of the good, which is a pretty good ratio.

Because of how addictive I used to find the pull of the good I’ve made a promise to myself to not play if I’m finding it dull. I only keep going if I’ve dropped in to one of those awesome rounds. I can afford to be a picky gamer when there’s so many games vying for my attention out there.

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I guess Napoleonic Wars was lucky in this 20mins that I got so much awesome gameplay in. That said, the score has to be based on the 20mins I had with the game, and aside from a slightly slow start I had great fun and at least 10mins of fantastic team based Napoleonic warfare. It was the Mount & Blade series at it’s best for that time, and for that I give it 4 out of 5.

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Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [23]

I feel kind of bad to re-visit it, but it’s the game I have by far the most screenshots of – and there’s so many I want to share! This week it’s a Mount & Blade screenshot again – sorry!

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I’d say that you should probably listen to this while looking at this screenshot to fully appreciate it. I think I was playing Scotland the Brave at the time, right in full view of the enemy’s guns and I didn’t give a damn. I didn’t die once – I don’t know if they were showing me mercy and not shooting at me or I just had some Scottish luck.

Its a perfect example of why I love Mount & Blade. I didn’t kill anyone on that round and it didn’t matter, I had all the fun I could ever want being a bagpiper inspiring my comrades on.

I really like this screenshot, I find it kinda inspirational – without wanting to overdo it! Here’s to standing up brave and strong for whatever you believe in.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [20]

Not much of a special milestone, but this week is my 20th weekly Saturday Screenshot. It’s my favourite thing to write and I always look forward to sharing one of my many screenshots – I just hope they’re just as fun to read about!

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I’m actually going back to Mount & Blade for this 20th screenshot. I’m sorry I revisit it so much, but I’ve spent so many hours on it, I’m sure you can believe that I have quite a few screenshots of it that I’d like to share!

This screenshot is from the popular and vibrant mod Full Invasion 2. It’s probably the best part of Mount & Blade – the developers have embraced the modding community warmly and given them the tools to go crazy. The community of modders this created is second only to the likes of Skyrim; and Full Invasion 2 is the best of the bunch.

This is a screenshot of one of the mod’s most popular servers – one that runs purely Lord Of The Rings maps. Now, there are some players who play these for hours and hours every day. If they enjoy it that much that’s awesome, but I’m admittedly not that dedicated. However, I sure do enjoy every couple of weeks or so jumping in the Battle for Minas Tirith, which you can see above.

At this point I was a horseman of Rohan and I’d been dismounted in a charge against a big bunch of orcs. I was lucky that the infantry was already carving in to this group, so I had chance to survive. We took most of them down no trouble – the little grunt orcs are notably weak but large in number, true to the world of Middle Earth.

One armoured troll was much tougher than your average orc. I was battered by this point, my shield half gone and my health starting to take knocks. It was me and two infantry backing me up taking this brute on, which can sometimes take a lot of killing. This screenshot reminds me of that epic fight for survival, which we thankfully won. This screenshot reminds me of the best that Mount & Blade can be.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Mount & Blade Challenge

You may have noticed I’m a bit of a Mount & Blade fan. In fact, I’m such a fan that the different versions I have on Steam clock in at nearly 30 days solid of game time – and that’s not including the original which I used to play offline before Warband came out!

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In all those many many hours of gameplay I’ve had fantastic fun – the vast majority of which has been online. I’ve played the multiplayer only Napoleonic DLC for Warband as my go-to game, and it’s probably one of my favourites of the series. Thing is, apart from the original Mount & Blade, which I played offline back in the day, I’ve never played the single player campaign without cheats on (I’m a bad person, I know).

What that means is that I only have just slightly over 50% of the achievements on Mount & Blade Warband, which is astounding when you think of the hours I’ve sunk into it over the years.

I’ve decided to change that though. I’m determined.

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I’ve decided to aim for 100% achievement completion. I want to complete Mount & Blade: Warband officially. I think I’m a pretty decent player of it, I just need to cement that with the 100% medal now.

I’ve made a start and done my research. First stop was an incredibly useful guide I found on the Steam community.

I enlisted the help of CakeBoxFox with my last two multiplayer achievements, which I was within grasp of. I needed to kill 5 more mounted real player horseman whilst I was infantry, as well as make roughly 15 real player kills on horseback with a lance. I encouraged CakeBoxFox onto a private multiplayer server, we both picked horsemen and we were away. Much fun ensued (it was far more fun when both of us were in absolutely no armour, making for quick and brutal fighting and many laughs). Me jumping up from the ground to sword slash Fox off her horse ended with me nursing a sword to the crotch – PAINFUL! DigitalSalad somehow survived that ruthless maiming and got both achievements in 30mins or so.

Smiting CakeBoxFox from her horse
Smiting CakeBoxFox from her horse

Next it was on to the singleplayer, and to make a start on the ~40% of achievements I had left to get there.

Mount & Blade Warband has a series of achievements for doing various things in the singleplayer campaign specifically as a female character. So the best advice for a new campaign is to start as a female – and that’s exactly what I did. Meet DigitalSaladette, with cheats absolutely turned off this time.

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So far I’ve been busy destroying parties of mountain bandits for an achievement to do with them. After that, I have factions to conquer and a continent to become Queen of – oh, and lords to insult the dignity of too! That’s gonna take a little bit of time, but it feels good to have made a good start towards my 100%. I’m determined to keep going, just like this real player infantry charge on a M&B Napoleonic DLC match recently.

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Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [17]

This week’s screenshot is back to an old favourite, but with a slight difference. It’s Mount & Blade: With Fire And Sword.

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With Fire And Sword was a strange sort of semi-sequel to the big name in the series – Mount & Blade: Warband. With Fire And Sword was more like a giant DLC of Warband, bringing it forward to the age of gunpowder in eastern Europe. Much more story driven, it was a different game built on the core of a game that is still one of my favourites.

With Fire And Sword always sat a bit oddly with me, as I think it does with anyone who’s played through the series. It doesn’t quite fit, and yet it is a Mount & Blade game. Recently though I’ve rediscovered the game and even realised that there’s still life in its always very desolate multiplayer.

Thing is, With Fire And Sword had some of the best multiplayer modes. The pretty much only surviving and living server to this date is one that runs my absolute favourite multiplayer game type on any Mount & Blade game. ‘Captain Co-op’ it’s called. The aim is to hold out against ever more difficult and larger waves of enemies with your allies – real players who each control their own set of troops.

Other Mount & Blades have co-op against bots and commander/captain battles, but only With Fire And Sword mix the two; and it’s great fun!

Here I am as a knight of Sweden, holding out in a castle with what was 30 real players at the time (each with 10 troops under our command). We funnelled the enemies into a courtyard where we could fire down on them and pin them with our infantry – and it carried on that way until we finally broke under their massive numbers. It’s my favourite multiplayer game mode ever, and one I’d really recommend. It’s certainly With Fire And Sword’s saving grace.

 Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Steam Statistics

I’m a bit boring, and I kinda like statistics. I mentioned the Steam annual statistics in a recent Saturday Screenshot, and they made for some interesting reading. If gaming statistics aren’t your kind of thing then I apologise!

In 2014/15 the game played most released on steam that year was Football Manager 2015. I wouldn’t of guessed that, but not all that surprising either. Many of the big names of the year didn’t feature all that highly on the hours sunk into them; with Dark Souls 2 doing the best of the lot at the 3rd most hours on average.

Hours played per game is a really interesting way to measure gaming satisfaction. We’re far more likely to buy a game based on a glowing recommendation from a friend than we are if we’re told that it’s a game with the ‘most hours played per player this year’. It doesn’t inspire you quite the same as a friend gushing about the awesomeness of their latest find. All the same, hours played is useful because it tells you how much gamers liked it in a really simple way. We only keep playing if we enjoy it!

Here’s some of my Steam statistics, just for interest to see what it says.

Digital Salad’s top 5 most played games:

Mount & Blade Warband – 734 hours (30.6 days)

Mount & Blade With Fire And Sword – 75 hours (3.1 days)

Empire Total War – 73 hours (3 days)

Rising Storm – 53 hours (2.2 days)

Prison Architect – 44 hours (1.8 days)

And because I’m sucker for punishment I thought I’d add all that up. My top 5 most played games have been played a total of 40.7 full days straight by me. Damn. I wished I’d not worked that out now.

They’re interesting results though. Aside from the Mount & Blade equivalent of a month dominating it, which was probably pretty predictable from me, the other results are not too surprising either. The games I would probably recommend most that I play on Steam right now are probably those 5 (although Empire I haven’t played in ages, so that’s probably the only one I’d hesitate with on that list). For me, at least, the hours played on a game definitely seems to correlate with enjoyment and whether I’d recommend it.

Rising Storm - not a recommended method of using a toilet
Rising Storm – not a recommended method of using a toilet

Least hours played, but installed:

Universe Sandbox at just 0.2 hours. I do really like Universe Sandbox, I just found it so very boring after I did the basics like crash the earth into the sun!

Most achievements:

This one’s actually a tie between Mount & Blade Warband and Democracy 3, both at 53%.

Democracy 3 - glorious election victory!
Democracy 3 – glorious election victory!

Top 6 Rarest Achievements:

Verdun – Manual Labour (0.19% of players) – make 10 melee kills

Verdun – Headhunter (0.25% of players) – make 100 headshots

Rising Storm – Al Capone’s Violin (0.43% of players) – unlock the level 50 Thompson machine gun

Mount & Blade Warband – Harassing Horseman (0.79% of players) – kill 100 players with mounted projectiles in multiplayer

Rising Storm – Last Man Standing (0.87% of players) – kill 10 enemies with the 1911A1 pistol in one round

Mount & Blade Warband – The Huscarl (1% of players) – kill 50 players with throwing axes in multiplayer

There’s some very rare achievements in there, but they all feel like cheats to be honest. The two Verdun achievements, although rare, aren’t difficult at all. I guess a lot of players just haven’t played much to mean that I’m in such a small percentage who have make 10 melee kills. The Mount & Blade ones were kind of a cheat as well if I’m honest, because I mostly play on servers where you co-op against bot hordes – and bots still count and kills towards those achievements. Bots are way easier to kill in exotic ways for the achievements; and for that matter the same is true of Rising Storm. All of my rarest achievements are pretty much cheated – now there’s an admission!

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Verdun – preparing the attack

Enough of swamping you with figures and stats though. I just hope those have been a little bit interesting. It definitely seems that playtime is a really useful way of determining the popularity of a game, and it can give you some surprising results (like football manager being the most played steam game in 2014/15). Achievements aren’t a useful way of looking into much at all though as far as I can see, but are interesting to see none the less.

What are your gaming statistics? Have a rarer achievement than I do? Share it with me in the comments.

 Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Screenshot Saturday [13]

This week I am breaking from strategy for my Saturday Screenshot. This week It’s back to an old favourite that I’ve already featured on the Saturday Screen a few times already; Mount and Blade Warband.

2015-02-23_00004This screenshot’s taken from the fantastic mod for the game: Full Invasion 2. I think I should probably title this picture “ouch”.

It sums up the craziness of Full Invasion 2 (FI2) brilliantly. I’m a Roman centurion, with a musket, fighting off hordes of Zulu warriors. Why? Because its damn fun, that’s why!! I have great fun with FI2 and it never fails to surprise.

I thought this week would be a good week to post a screenshot of Mount & Blade for another reason though, that is the 2014 financial year has ended. Yeah, not so exciting on its own, but it coincides with a bunch of statistics coming out – one of which has been Steam’s average hours per user per game.

For all games released before 2012 on steam; Mount & Blade: Warband comes a very respectable 7th place for the most hours played per owner. That’s just one place behind the venerable Skyrim!! Its nice to know that Mount & Blade’s still doing well and giving plenty of gamers hours of joy. Well done Mount & Blade and well done everyone on a successful 2014-15 gaming year!

That’s it now until next week though; keep having fun in the meantime.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Game Of The Year 2014

2014 is all over now, and it’s been an eventful year in all sorts of ways. This post is all about the video games of 2014, so lets get started!

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There’s been quite a few flops this year, for all sorts of reasons.

Without going into too much detail, the Salad official fail of the year is Assassins Creed Unity. A really good concept, but fell absolutely flat on its face in practice.

Mount & Blade: Warband’s latest DLC Viking Conquest definitely is guilty of the same crime, but as a DLC it doesn’t count for this year’s listings.

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The Salad official ‘meh’ of the year was a closer call. Watch Dogs disappointed me, as did Destiny and Titanfall. To a lesser extent Pokemon Alpha Sapphire has disappointed me a little as well. I loved Pokemon Y, but Pokemon AS makes changes that I’m not so comfortable with. Its still really good, but I’ve already become a comfy Poke-traditionalist.

My official ‘meh’ of the year, though, is Hyrule Warriors. CakeBoxFox was my sofa co-op friend on our Zelda adventure, and enjoyed it more than me. We’ve always been big Dynasty Warriors series fans, and the lore of Hyrule is glorious. Putting the two together is a good idea as well, but the implementation was just boring. It wasn’t badly done, just not inspired and incredibly dragged out.

Digital Salad official Game Of The Year for 2014 time.

Whilst I’ve loved the Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart latest instalments on our Wii U they didn’t quite win the day. Unfortunately, as awesome as they are they are a classic Nintendo reboot of an old old franchise. Bayonetta 2 looks fabulous as well, but I can’t justifying picking that as I haven’t actually played it!

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So, the Digital Salad Game Of The Year goes to Valiant Hearts. A game with a big heart, marking the centenary of the First World War. Unlike most games that are big on the feels, Valiant Hearts actually pulls off its gameplay really quite well as well. It is a good game at its core for all the feels around that.

So here’s to 2014 ending, 2015 beginning and the awesome little dog of Valiant Hearts.

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Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com