The Banner Saga: Factions
The Banner Saga: Factions Overview
The Banner Saga: Factions, a turn-based strategy title based on the Kickstarter funded Banner Saga, lands on the shores of the free-to-play market without much warning, bringing players a nail-biting, intensely tactical experience with a fantasy Viking flavor. Create a vicious war band of over a dozen classes of hardy raiders and giants, customize them all the way down to their personal attributes, and then test them in the field against other players. Be warned, this is a highly competitive experience, and battles are won by a mix of careful team composition, wise field positioning and quick tactical thinking. Whether you’re tired of old fashioned MMORPGs or just plain miss the old days of Final Fantasy Tactics, Banner Saga: Factions is sure to keep you entertained (and addicted) for a surprisingly long while.
Raider – The lighter, faster type of combatants, but still able to hold their ground. They are able to form a shield wall when near other warriors, boosting theirs, and others’ defense. Can specialize into Thrashers (Offense), Backbiters (Speed) and Raidmaster (Defense).
Archer – Long-range and skirmishing specialists capable of finding the flaws in enemies’ defense, but vulnerable at close ranges. Their specializations are often focused around mind games, with Skystrikers (Traps), Siege Archers (Area Denial), and Bowmaster (Offense).
Warrior – Large offense specialists, Shieldbangers are giants capable of striking so hard that all foes surrounding their targets are hit. While their offense and movement is high, their armor is often below average. Can specialize into Warhawks (Targets multiple foes), Warleaders (Tacticians) and Warmasters (Area Damage).
Shieldbanger – Defenders and supporters, Shieldbangers boast high armor, but low movement speed and offense. Enemies who attack them (apart from archers) suffer damage to their armor. Can specialize into Provokers (Taunts), Shieldmasters (Retaliation) and Strongarms (Area Control).
The Banner Saga: Factions Screenshots
Single Player Version Screenshots:
The Banner Saga: Factions Featured Video
The Banner Saga: Factions – First Look
The Banner Saga: Factions Review
Banner Saga: Factions is definitely a fresh breath of air in the free-to-play market, boasting turn-based gameplay, beautiful 2D art, and Kickstarter funding. This might just showcase for good the serious desire for innovation by gamers. Developed by a trio of ex-Bioware members, the game is actually only a portion of the promised experience, with a full single-player campaign expected to be released for backers, and purchase by the public, with an increased focus on story, decision making and general RPG elements. That’s not to say it’s for everyone – with a strong focus on top-down turn-based tactic and party composition, MMORPG fans might face a bit of a learning curve. But who said that’s a bad thing?
Longboats On The Shores
When you start Banner Saga, it’s really hard to not just sit there and stare in awe at the 2D graphics and animation. This specific bit might strike a chord with some of us, as it’s actually reminiscent of traditional Disney animation, an intentional design choice. There is a lot to see here, and you’re treated to some top notch cinematics that could very easily be confused with in-game graphics. Not only that, but also does an excellent job of introducing you to the setting’s storyline (though vague) and the brutality of the city of Strand. All-in-all, it’s a thrilling introduction and a very good first impression. One somewhat significant downside is that many players seem to be reporting having graphic lag, even in the menu screen. This was also the case for this review, and our solution was to simply lower the resolution, though this is quite the downside. The sounds are crisp, the voices brutal (with tons of grunts and shouts), and the soundtrack fitting, though it does eventually feel a bit repetitive. For everything else technical, well, expect bugs and some incredibly frustrating connection issues, such as losing connection when a game ends, with your hard-earned renown points going up in smoke.
Blood & Thunder
The gameplay itself is short, and somewhat self-contained. It’s essentially restricted to one-on-one matches between players, in which they face their composed teams off against each other. The gameplay is simple, but not so easy to master, and the tutorials do a fairly good job of explaining the ins and outs. In short, you have 6 slots to fill with the classes seen in the overview, each of them having different roles, sizes, strengths and weaknesses.
There are some limits to each class, namely for Varls (Shieldbangers and Warriors), which are restricted to 2. The trick is to make the best of your select combination of classes. During a match, your team is placed on a square grid opposed to the enemy, with characters moving in order determined by your composition, and a bit of luck. The combat system consists of two meters, Armor and Power, with power being both the life bar in addition to the damage capacity, and the armor being the number subtracted from the enemy’s power to find out the damage your character takes. Don’t worry if it seems complicated now, it’s actually very simple. And as a system, it’s not bad at all. It forces you to make different tactical choices, as a wounded character will not hit as hard, though they can still damage an enemy’s armor. You’ll need to make wise decisions during battle, or become stuck with maimed characters.
Victory At Sea!
Characters each have stats that you can work on and customize using renown points earned during matches, giving them improved special abilities and new slots for stats. This is both a good, and a troublesome part of the system. While this lets you customize and workshop the individuals of your team to your heart’s content, it’s also unintentionally a difficulty system. The power of your team is used to match you against other similar powers, but leveling characters is quite time consuming. This means that if your team is high level, you’ll inevitably be matched against quite experienced players. This also means that if you purchase renown points in the store to upgrade your team, you’ll be matched against players that are much more powerful than you are, inevitably leading to a very frustrating experience. In any case, like in chess, other players will challenge you. Don’t get us wrong though, most games are a blast, and classes come together nicely in a many different ways that promote a variety of play styles. For players looking for an extra challenge, there is a ranked mode as well that makes use of an ELO system, matching players by performance in addition to team composition, and an expert mode that shortens turns.
Final Verdict: Good
Overall, this is a sharp, challenging, but short experience that focuses mostly on intense combat, character progression and team composition, rather than a truckload of content(though it could use a bit more of that). It’s a fresh breath of originality and innovation in an otherwise often repetitive market, and best of all it looks bloody’ good. If you enjoy Vikings, turn-based strategy, or just want to see how bloody’ good 2D art can get, then this is the game for you. There is literally no reason to not give this one a try – it’s simple, fun, and brutal. So go out there and bash some skulls!
The Banner Saga: Factions Videos
The Banner Saga: Factions – First Look
The Banner Saga: Factions Official Launch Trailer
The Banner Saga: Factions Official Announcement Trailer
The Banner Saga: Factions Links
Memory:512 MB RAM
Memory:1024 MB RAM
Other Requirements:Broadband Internet connection
The Banner Saga: Factions Articles
- Banner Saga: Localizations Now Available - Posted on June 26, 2014
Independent developer Stoic, in partnership with indie publisher Versus Evil, today announced that The Banner Saga has now been localized and is available in French, German, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish languages for PC and Mac.
- Versus Evil Announces Updates for Banner Saga/Dragons & Titans - Posted on June 25, 2014
Indie publisher, Versus Evil, has announced that the Banner Saga will be launching on mobile devices this summer, along with a vastly improved Dragons and Titans
- The Banner Saga wins award at Gameindustry.Biz Innovation Awards - Posted on May 8, 2014
Stoic, an independent game development company, today announced that at they won the Most Promising Start-up award at the Gamesindustry.biz Innovation Awards held at Game Horizon in Newcastle, United Kingdom on May 8th.
- Versus Evil Launches Indie Publishing Company - Posted on March 3, 2014
The publisher of The Banner Saga, Versus Evil, announces the start of its expanding video game publishing business.