Cheating Yourself Out Of Fun

Cheating in-game is as bad as stabbing your horse repeatedly with giant tooth picks

“I’ve made a mistake. I should never have cheated on you and ruined our relationship; I’m sorry.” What? Mark has cheated on his girlfriend? What a bastard! No reader, it’s worse than that. I cheated on Mount and Blade: Warband.

After reading a most excellent review of Mount and Blade: Fire and Sword, I decided that I would finally bite the bullet and pick up the Mount and Blade pack on Steam. I fell in love. For those of you who don’t know Mount and Blade, it is a sandbox game set in a medieval land of kings, lords and all kinds of swords-and-horsey type action you could possibly imagine. The player is dumped into the world and is pretty much left to their own devices, taking quests from the King, helping the Guild Master of the city with trade or escorting caravans, helping villagers defend themselves from bandits or chatting up the local princess. Despite it being somewhat lacking in the visual department, it is a solidly built and incredibly enjoyable game.

That being said, it is hard as hell. I’ve lost count of the number of characters I’ve created, how many times I’ve been chasing down a group of bandits only for day to turn to night and lose track of them. It is hard, and that’s before you even consider the multiplayer aspect with no lasting character customisation, no matchmaking, and none of the perk systems that you’ll find in modern games. This is old school – jump-in death matches with everyone killing each other, much like Wolfenstein or the original Call Of Duty. Online, the game can be intense and is surprisingly popular; I don’t think I’ve ever struggled to find a highly populated server, and when you see a two hundred man siege in full swing, believe me, it makes for an amazing time. Well, having an amazing time and dying a lot. A two hundred man game means that there are one hundred people out to kill you.

As with the best PC games, I’ve found that the shelf life of Mount and Blade: Warband was extended again by the huge number, and high quality, of mods created for the game. Right now, I am involved in a guild that plays in a mod called Mount and Musket, which allows the player to embark on two hundred player battles with the musket and bayonet as the weapons of choice. As you might imagine, there are those who take this a little too seriously, treating it more like a virtual civil war re-enactment, waiting patiently in line with their battle brothers for the commander to shout the order “Take aim. Fire!” rather than go for an all-out battle. Anything to avoid going outside, right?

So anyway, I made a mistake. When the game got tough, I decided that I’d get myself some cheat codes and attempt to level the playing field. A quick Google search and suddenly… oh that armour costs a billion gold, luckily my level two character has 80 billion safely tucked away. Ah, but the level two character is too inexperienced to wield the Sword of Ultimate Doom. Not to worry, my level two character is now level thirty. My character was suddenly the biggest, baddest warrior in all the land, with an army of the best troops at his back, and all in the space of a couple of minutes.

The only issue was that I had forgotten what makes a sandbox like this fun. It’s not the loot, or having the castles, or an army; it’s the struggle to get there, and I had taken that out of the game. Now my character could stride on to the battlefield and kill most foes merely by looking at them. That’s not fun; there’s no challenge in that, and as much as I thought it would be cool, it soon became apparent that it was not. A game that I had truly enjoyed had been ruined by my own petty cheating ways. There was no way to go back; I couldn’t play without the cheats, as everything took so long, but with them the game was even more boring.

Now, if only we could find a cheat code to remove these stupid hats...

So now, when my character rides in to battle on the biggest and fastest horse in the game, in armour so thick and shiny that archers are blinded and arrows just ping off, using my sword that will explode a man’s brain just through the sheer weight of its awesomeness, I’m not the conquering hero. I’m the guy with the cheat codes, and for that I am truly sorry. You deserved better, Mount and Blade.

Last five articles by Mark



  1. Richie richie says:

    I guess the problem with this sort of game is that everyone online is cheating and it’s hard to keep up.

    Still, as an act of contrition this article will suffice. You are forgiven. Now delete your saves and start again!

  2. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I know exactly how it feels to tinker with something to the point where it no longer becomes fun, but also know that if you go back to playing normally that it’ll be more shit. My current playthrough of Fallout 3 on the PC is exactly that – flicked open the Gamebryo command console and awarded my level one vault dweller with Lincoln’s Repeater and the Chinese Stealth Armour before they’d even stepped outside of the vault. Not because I wanted to cheat, but because I’d already completed the game legitimately and I just felt like breezing through it the way I wanted to enjoy it rather than building the character up from scratch.

    Gave me a slight advantage that first time I wandered in to the Super Duper Mart to take out all the raiders but, in all honesty, I don’t really feel like it’s THAT much easier than it was the first time I played through legitimately. I couldn’t possibly consider dropping my loot for whatever genuine armour and weaponry I should have had back then though, because I remember how difficult it was to build up and stay alive. For the purposes of this “fun” playthrough, I’ll stick to what you’d likely call cheating… but it’s just a bit of fun.

  3. Edward Edward says:

    I used to use loads of cheats in the playstation era, and I think it depended game by game whether or not it would ruin or enrich the experience. I know I ended up playing some games several times because the cheats would glitch the game and make certain sections impossible to progress, and I’d still do it. So reading this bought a lot of memories and I can completely emphathise with it.

    Great job, Zero :D

  4. Furie says:

    I think you’ve just identified a needed mod for older games that rebalances gameplay a bit. Something like an Experienced Players mod that speeds up the rate of advancement and eases the gameplay gently for when you want an easier time. Either that or the need for smaller cheats.

  5. Mark mark_s says:

    Thanks guys. Recently reinstalled, playing through without the cheats this time. Good fun.

  6. Lorna Lorna says:

    I tend to try and avoid cheats when I can as it ruins the ‘purity’ of the game as intended by the devs – wanky, I know, but I like the feeling of ‘doing it myself’ (oh er). That said, however, I have used them when there have been insanely stupidly hard games – mainly back in the days of the Speccy when there were no saves and frequently only three lives. For the Dizzy games (bastards for including at least one section per game which required you to jump over water, often resulting in several deaths during your constant to-ing and fro-ing) I always used an infinite lives cheat loaded up from a Your Sinclair cover tape. The game was still highly enjoyable, it just meant that you didn’t waste hours of hard work after snuffing it. If a game is made too easy, there is little enjoyment to be had, and almost no sense of satisfaction at having completed it.

    My sister had console cheat things like Game Genie, but I avoided them. In later years, I had to suffer in disgust as my father cheat coded his way through Commandos – a game that I had struggled with. He got himself infinite sniper bullets and safely shot his way through some of the hardest levels in the game. Bastard. Now I’d happily use them once I had completed a game, but not before.

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