A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
There are thin threads of positive messaging in terms of maintaining familial legacies and protecting the innocent, but war is the underlying cause and effect necessary to keep certain systems running smoothly.
Positive Role Models
A few main characters are kind and benevolent, but they're outnumbered by all the raiders, thieves, and tyrants that make up the bulk of the in-game world.
You can create characters of varying body sizes and skin tones, and there are even different (fictional) cultures you can choose from to begin a campaign. But the game never really offers much in the way of exploring any one culture's unique qualities.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Ease of Play
The game contains many nuanced mechanics that may take a few hours to completely understand, from seizing and maintaining towns and castles, to keeping troops strong and content, to the many battle-specific tactics players can utilize against their foes.
Violence & Scariness
While the violence isn't necessarily gory, players can wage all-out war against other kingdoms – inevitably leading to a lot of bloodshed and dead bodies scattered across the battlefield. This involves a host of weapons, including swords, crossbows, javelins, maces, and warhammers, to name a few.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
One of the core mechanics is finding a spouse so you can maintain your family line for years to come, but players will never see anything obscene or inappropriate as a result.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Characters will occasionally swear with profanities such as "damn," "hell," "bastard," and "piss."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
A sequel to the 2008 Mount & Blade game.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Players can purchase beer and ale to drink in a tavern with other nearby intoxicated characters.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is a downloadable single-player/multiplayer action RPG (role-playing game)/strategy hybrid available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. This is a sequel to the 2008 game, Mount & Blade. Players will choose from one of six cultures and seek to become the greatest superpower in the world, using either wit and persuasion or war and violence to meet their goals. Inevitably, players will engage in many battles against other families or kingdoms with their armies, leading to bloodshed and dead bodies scattered across the battlefield. Some of the weapons involved include swords, crossbows, javelins, maces, and warhammers. With much of the game centered around violence, chaos, and deception, it's hard for any positive themes or role models to shine through. It will take players quite some time to understand the game's mechanics as they'll have to maintain their lands and families, expand their reach, and prepare to defend themselves against any who might oppose them. There's a surprising amount of diverse representation present through the (fictional) cultures within the game, comprised of varying body types and skin tones. Unfortunately, the game doesn't go beyond the surface with any potential cultural nuances. Drinking can be observed within taverns where characters are noticeably drunk, and players can even drink a beer or ale in celebration.
Is It Any Good?
Few things are as satisfying as watching your armies use their siege weapons to take down a castle that's been the bane of your existence for the past hour. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord may contain elements that have been done better in other games or franchises, but nothing has combined many tried-and-true action RPG (role-playing game) and strategy elements in as strong a package as this. You get to play the role of commander as you survey the battlefield, find the best places for your units, and watch as they clash with the opposition in a song comprised of battle cries and clanging steel. You also get to charge right alongside your men, throwing yourself directly into the chaos. There's something immensely gratifying about going into a battle knowing that your enemy has twice as many soldiers as you do – but using your wits to come out on top by way of hiding certain units within a nearby forest to overwhelm your foes when they least expect it. You have so many tactical options at your disposal that it can be overwhelming. This makes siege battles – where you're either taking a castle or town or defending it – breathtakingly thrilling. If you can imagine the most epic siege scenes depicted in a movie or TV show, this game will allow you the chance to be the conquering hero that uses battering rams and towers to overcome your adversaries.
Of course, you don't have to play the game that way. While the game's biggest strengths lie in its battles, that doesn't mean its other elements are anything to dismiss. You can earn influence and power in a much more subtle fashion – by doing favors for other kingdoms or persuading them that you're worthy of one of their "lesser" lands. You can walk around a town, talk to its inhabitants, and simply make yourself useful to whoever may need your help. There's a campaign mode present, but all the "stories" within it are largely superficial. This is a game that takes its hands off the wheel and tells players to forge their own way forward. If there's anything resembling a "flaw," it's that the game's battles are so grand, it makes everything else seem lesser by comparison. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord may not exactly be "reinventing the wheel" when it comes to what's being offered, but it's so tactful in how it makes all its systems work seamlessly as a whole, it's hard not to recommend this to gamers looking for something that turns the familiar into something utterly unique and refreshing.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Great Games That Teach Strategy
Role-Playing Games (RPGs) for Kids
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate