I've been playing this game for weeks now. For some reason it's got me hooked.
Don't get me wrong, it's not perfect by a long chalk, but at it's heart is a great game that rewards patience and leaves it up to you how you play.
This is my current player character, with his troops.
You start the game with some beaten up gear and a horse and make your way from there. Experience allows you to build up skills like a role-playing game, but at it's heart it's all about the combat.
There are various factions you can recruit from and they war and battle with each other regardless of what you're up to. You can join a faction if you like, do quests to win favour with the lords and the king as well as the towns and villages doted about the map.
Each faction has a different fighting speciality, some rely on infantry, some on cavalry or mounted archers and fighting each type posesses it's own set of challenges. You can recruit from all types of faction, so if you wanted you could pick the best types of troop from each faction, but they're expensive to maintain and some take a long time to train.
The more experience and reknown you have, the bigger the armies you can field, taking on bigger enemies and capturing towns and castles.
Helping some farmers with a nasty bandit problem.
To start with, there are bands of looters or bandits to defeat, which is also a good way of gaining experience for your troops (providing they survive). Tactics in battle are vital. You can order your troops to charge, for example, or get your archers into a good firing position. After the battle, you can loot the defeated army and sell their stuff and ransom any prisoners you have taken.
Some dead horses and stuff at the tail end of a battle.
There are some aspects that don't work as well or aren't fully explored and some of the quests you can take on get a bit repetitive, but there are tournaments and trading and the challenge of defeating your opponents for control of the land. That said, it's kept me playing 'til stupid hours of the morning so it must be doing something right.