I'd forgotten how dismal the beginning of Mount & Blade games can be. There's a lot of getting captured and having your stuff stolen before you finally get strong enough to defend yourself. But then, once you have a decent force under your command, you have to be on a constant lookout for new sources of income, because good soldiers don't come cheap. And that can be tricky when you're just starting out because if your band is large enough to safely get into battles, it is also probably large enough to scare away the enemy before the battle even begins.
The main thing I've noticed about this game, specifically, is how it is very much like the other games in the series. I guess that's just Mount & Blade's thing, expansion packs that make subtle, incremental changes to the game.
I'm not thrilled that "With Fire & Sword" took out the background questionnaire at the beginning of the game, but character advancement works exactly the same. The loss of the training yards is a mixed bag. On the one hand, they were a convenient way to turn your raw recruits into useful soldiers, but on the hand, now at least I don't feel obligated to do so. Less grinding is probably good, though I didn't mind it all that much.
The biggest single change, however, is the addition of guns. They are impressively powerful, but I feel like a jackass sitting through that excruciatingly long reload animation every time I miss a shot (it's also awkward after I hit, but in those cases I usually have a recent kill to console me). They've certainly changed the way I fight, though. Instead of charging around the battlefield like an idiot, swinging my sword at whatever happens to get in my way, I'm now sitting stock still like an idiot, more likely than not reloading my musket.
I have no definite plan for the future of my character. I'm finding that with each Mount & Blade game I play, my ambition cools just a little. I think, instead of uniting the kingdoms under my rule, all I really want to do is gain more personal experience and thus survive better in random combats. It's a modest goal, but I'm sure the world will have some way of pulling the rug out from under me.