The Banner Saga Factions – First Impressions of Stoic’s new free-to-play tactical multiplayer game
I hate to be ‘that guy’ but I was skeptical when I first saw the Kickstarter campaign for Stoic Studio’s The Banner Saga. It looked to good, sounded too amazing. The hand-drawn art was stunning, but could they really produce the game? Well, the first signs are certainly promising. Stoic Studio has released the multiplayer component of The Banner Saga as The Banner Saga – Factions. It’s a free-to-play game and you get a basic army for nothing. The game itself is a tactical game played on a smallish battlefield where you move your units about a grid in order to eliminate your opponent’s units. If you want to change up what units you have available (You start off with a giant with a shield, a giant with a sword, two ax wielders, and two archers) you can either buy them through spending Renown that you earn in-game or buy with real cash money. Cosmetic changes and Renown boosts are also available in-game as are upgraded units, although I’ve found that it doesn’t take very long to get your units to gain a level (most of mine have or are close after a handful of games).
The Banner Saga – Factions is gorgeous, by the way. It’s all hand-drawn and the one cut scene I’ve seen is really quite pretty. The sound is good, although I wish my giant shield guy would stop hitting his shield so often. As the game just launched, I am rather forgiving of the sometimes irksome lag I have experienced, although it is certainly noticeable. The gameplay itself is pretty great. It is, as mentioned, a tactical game. It doesn’t have anything in the way of terrain, but there’s enough room to move around and your units health and damage are the same number, so the more damage you take the less you do. Units also have a defense number that is subtracted from the damage done, so when you attack you have to choose between lowering a unit’s attack/health or its defense so you can do more damage later. Units, as they level up, also gain special abilities and can use varying amounts of Willpower to boost the power of their attacks. There are plenty of interesting tactical decisions and, in the early going, I have found hurting the opponent’s archers early is really necessary since they can boost their attacks more than other units allowing them to do damage even to highly armored units. Getting into a game hasn’t been a problem (barring the couple of times it crashed on launch) and I’m certainly having fun with it. There are definitely things that you can buy with real money, but I don’t see that any of them are necessary. The units provide a satisfying mix of unit types and uses and I’m really looking forward to seeing what other units they come out with in the future. Beyond that, I am even more excited than before for the eventual singleplayer installment, which is still under development. In the meantime, you can check out The Banner Saga – Factions for free through Steam. You can also learn more directly through Stoic Studio.
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Michael is an enthusiast about a lot of things, including indie games, roleplaying games, board games, and comic books that wanted to help create a place where he could bring things to the attention of those with similar interests. Futile Position is a true labor of labor, which he hopes continues to grow through the support of the great readers who have come upon this page.