Waving A Flag For Turn-Based Combat: The Banner Saga

By John Walker on February 29th, 2012 at 4:08 pm.

The only type of strategy I like! Grids!

The ex-BioWare bods, Stoic, with their offices in a goat shed have released a trailer for the intriguing The Banner Saga. Revealing the traditional animation style, as well as the ye-olde-school grid-based turn-based combat, along with RPG-like dialogue options, it gives you an idea of the tone being aimed at, if not how it will feel to play. We’ve also got some rather lovely screenshots that we’ll even let you look at. If you’re good.

According to the accompanying info, “Players take control of a large cast of dynamic characters as they make their attempt to survive what could be the end of everything.” It seems it’s a battle to destroy enemies from the past, as the time goes a bit screwy while the world falls apart. Says Stoic’s creative director, Alex Thomas,

“Our first priority has always been to create a compelling story and gameplay that complements this. We want players to really care about what happens to the people they meet, and have no idea what’s going to happen next.”

Take a look:

They’re aiming to release a free multiplayer version of the game via the usual digital suspects this Summer, with the single-player campaign coming “soon after”. That solo version will apparently offer greater focus on the story and roleplaying, while still featuring the turn-based combat. And it looks like this:

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69 Comments »

  1. caddyB says:

    King of the Dragon Pass with tactical combat? Please?

  2. DogKiller says:

    It needs more shieldwalls.

    • Njordsk says:

      Fan of Cornwell’ saxon saga? Tons of shieldwall there

    • Blackcompany says:

      +1 for the Cornwells novels and Shieldwalls. Read the most recent one in 3 days time. Didn’t even play Skyrim until I was done with that book.
      .
      Then I missed me some Shield Walls.

  3. Valvarexart says:

    Please tell me this was made in flash.

  4. Drayk says:

    Love the graphics. Can’t wait to find out more about this game.

  5. Meat Circus says:

    It’s a beauty.

  6. Taverius says:

    Gosh, that was quite wonderful :D

  7. Hanban says:

    Those pictures for some reason remind me of Myth: The Fallen Lords. Odd!

    • JackDandy says:

      Oh dang, you’re right. Man, that game had some cool cutscenes…

      This is looking very interesting, will keep my eyes on this.

    • RadioactiveMan says:

      I agree absolutely. Myth was my first thought as well.

      To my mind, the Myth: The Fallen Lords is one of the very best games for evoking emotion from the cutscenes, mission intros, and backstory. Stepping into the losing side of a war that is entering its final phases, the coming of winter, and the sense of despair and weariness in the narrator’s voice. Its powerful stuff! The animated scenes in Myth always seemed to fit nicely with this tone, for some reason. The only game I can think of that did better is Homeworld.

    • Reapy says:

      I still have some myth sound tracks on my playlist with the narrator reading the mission briefs. It’s a shame all that talent got stuck being pointed at halo for so long.

  8. vodka and cookies says:

    Looks fantastic, I love the art style.

  9. DaftPunk says:

    Looks really good.

  10. Jimbo says:

    I’m into it. Very vikingy indeed.

    Calling it right now though that I think that dude is wrong about the gods being dead not being the problem. I bet that is the problem, what with the sun stopping in the sky n all.

  11. LockjawNightvision says:

    Oh my. Yes, please.

  12. Khemm says:

    That’s pretty awesome, TB combat is a huuge selling point for me, animation is great, only those lame ME-like dialogue options bother me.
    I wonder what exploration looks like. You won’t be able to wander around freely, will you?

    • sneetch says:

      It’s just multiple choice dialogue options the same as in Planescape, Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights or countless other games.

    • Khemm says:

      @sneetch
      Actually no, ME gave you just a rough idea of what will be said. That often led to hilarious situations when the tone of the sentence or the sentence itself didn’t match the description.

    • Wizardry says:

      Dialogue trees suck.

    • sneetch says:

      @Khemm

      Ah, I know what you mean, it was so much fun when you think you’re giving a polite refusal and Shepard acts like a complete dick.

      I’m hoping this is more like the old style of game that the words I’ve selected will be all that the character will say, that he won’t ramble on for a minute insulting Alette and everyone else in the caravan after I’ve selected “I don’t know”.

    • Premium User Badge

      Screwie says:

      Yeah… I find the “summary” method BioWare uses for its dialogue wheel annoying to the point that I just can’t play their games anymore. The disconnect is jarring, immersion-breaking and it feels like I’m not even in control of my character or that the game tricked me. I’d be less upset with no choices at all.

      Hopefully this game won’t go down that route, because it’s awful pretty.

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      Bioware dialogue is the best argument for quicksaves in my opinion. I have no problem with the consequences of my actions being different than I anticipated – indeed it’s pretty much essential for game stories to be worthwhile – but I don’t deal well with my actions being different than I intended.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      @Wizardry Dialogue trees can be pretty crappy, especially when they just provide crappy expository dialogue (Where can I find merchants, tell me more about the ancient kingdom of zzrtbrtz, etc…).

      That said, attempts to reinvent the (conversation)wheel can be worse. At least the example in the screenshot shows three choices that appear to advance the plot efficiently.

      @Khemm I’m probably in the minority here, but I played through ME as a giant asshole, and I found the conversation options to be perfect and hilarious. It was a lot harder to consistently be nice to people.

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      Dialogue trees are a pretty bad solution – except for all the other ways of dealing with dialogue. Every system has its faults.

      Anyway, I’m pretty okay with the Mass Effect wheel overall. The issue is implementation – writing the labels to be not misleading. The previous method of ‘your option text is everything the character says’ runs into the problem of making it difficult to do natural seeming dialogue, leading to lots of ‘options’ where you have only one choice, simply to break up the impression the other character is monologuing at you.

  13. Grape says:

    Wow. That certainly looked… old-school.

    Pretty, rotoscoped animations, though.

  14. TsunamiWombat says:

    When I saw that animation I got a serious Rankin and Bass flashback.

    Judging by the voice over, this is a nordic saga taking place in the time period after Ragnarok, when all the gods have been slain and the giants have been driven back to Jotunheim in terror. Lore says that the children of Thor inherit the earth after this, note the girl calling lightning.

    Total nerderection right now.

  15. deadly.by.design says:

    Intriguing project, underwhelming musical theme at the end.

    Definitely looking forward to some tile-based tactics, though!

  16. The Hammer says:

    Looks a bit like a snowy, land-lubbing Curse of Monkey Island to me!

    EDIT: Uh, that being the art-style…

  17. Wizardry says:

    I don’t want to “take control of a large cast of dynamic characters”. I want to create my own party.

    • Khemm says:

      “ex-Bioware”

    • NathanH says:

      The best Bioware games gave you the option of creating the entire party yourself. Some of their members and ex-members would do well to remember what their best games were.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Then play a different game. Jeez.

      @NathanH Which games with those be? Besides Baldur’s Gate single person multiplayer.

    • marcusfell says:

      To me it looks like you’re leading an entire people. It might be hard to make all of that yourself. They might go they the way of the Fire Emblem series and make every soldier unique, which would not be bad.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      @NathanH:

      Wait, Jade Empire let you create your own party? Where was that feature in the version I played?

      ;)

    • TCM says:

      I want to create my own party of faceless generic robots who have nothing to say beyond what I tell them to say, no abilities beyond what I define, no interactions with each other that could provide interesting moments outside of external forces, and no role in the world outside of “band of adventurers who got involved in whatever the frig is going on”.

      Do I have it right, Wizardry? You are actually arguing that games should have LESS narrative, LESS character development, and LESS potentially interesting conflicts (conflict within the group, etc), and gain nothing but the ability to set up exactly the numbers you want to min/max the game?

      Are you sure you like “Role Playing”?

    • pipman3000 says:

      role playing is for nubs real gamers only care about making numbers go higher

    • D3xter says:

      *What TCM said, just a little harsher*

    • Wizardry says:

      Sorry TCM but watching pre-made characters talk to one another is not role-playing. And character development? You get more character development out of player created characters. Also, you get more conflicts too. Less narrative? Why would it have less narrative? Have you ever played a pen and paper RPG?

      In other words, are you sure you like games?

    • Xeen says:

      @TCM
      In games with player created parties I like to use a little something called “my imagination.” You see, I’ll come up with interesting backstories or personalities for all the characters I create, then over the course of the game I’ll “pretend” to be them (or “role-play”). It’s actually quite fun.

    • Aradalf says:

      @TCM

      What you describe is not “role-playing”, it’s called following a pre-made narrative with pre-made characters.

  18. InternetBatman says:

    Are these the people who made the flash game for the first Dragon Age? That was pretty fun.

  19. wodin says:

    Came across this a couple of weeks ago. I even joined the website. Quite excited about this one.

  20. PleasingFungus says:

    For a trailer with almost no gameplay, that was really lovely.

    Before, I had essentially no interest in the game; now I’m kind of excited. They managed to paint a really involving scenario with just a few words!

  21. Wrathchild says:

    Looks promising.
    Starring Keanu Reeves.

  22. Woodwork says:

    http://www.thebannersaga.com
    Not quite sure why a flag would need an expensive oven.

  23. Premium User Badge

    thedavehooker says:

    I can watch this trailer all day, it’s beautiful.

  24. Nick Ahlhelm says:

    I hope Ralph Bakshi got paid something for this.

  25. El Mariachi says:

    strange, adblock usually catches banner ads

    • wearedevo says:

      This pun has gone unacknowledged for too long. I won’t stand for it.

  26. Velvetmeds says:

    My mind wishlisted this.

  27. Furtled says:

    Massive Ralph Bakshi vibe coming off that animation style – looks fab.

  28. Deviija says:

    The animation looks beautiful. The art style is nice. I am interested in what they are saying the game will be — party-focused, turn-based, dialogue trees, etc. What I am worried about, however, is the lack of diversity. Where are the warrior women? Passive damsel NPCs or casters/healer units do not count. Shieldmaidens? Valkyrie? I hope we see more of that in the future, and that not everyone is a white dude with massive beard. That’s not all Norse and Viking history and lore is about.

    • wodin says:

      I’m sure a three minute video only shows a small part of the game. I very much doubt thats all we’ll get.

      Gamers seem to be getting very quick to judge these days, maybe it’s the culture we live in, everything is now and if it doesn’t have an instant huge impact it’s either pulled apart or bypassed.

    • pipman3000 says:

      maybe he’s assuming the rest of the game will be nothing but bearded white dudes and daintly staff chicks based on the trailer is because 99% it’s true? they might have a shieldmaiden hidden away somewhere in the game if you look for her but it’s like chiding someone for assuming a game of thrones* or the hobbit is nothing but white dudes based on their trailers.

      fantasy is not exactly an inclusive genre

      *i didn’t watch the game of thrones tv show so maybe a woman does get to do something cool before being raped to death for leaving the kitchen

  29. MistyMike says:

    “Our first priority has always been to create a compelling story and gameplay that complements this.”

    I really wish it was the other way around.

  30. malkav11 says:

    Looks intriguing. My only concern is that it also looks like it’s made in Flash and/or Air, which is a really bad idea.

  31. crinkles esq. says:

    Well ole boy, it looks…intriguing, but I need to see more of the combat mechanics. And dear chaps, I must say it’s bloody hard to look at the character animation and not feel like I’m watching a nordic-themed Sealab 2021 episode. Which ruins the mood a bit.

  32. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    This looks great, I’m so looking forward to some tactical turn based combat (Age of Decadence, Wasteland, Dead State)…

    >That solo version will apparently offer greater focus on the story and roleplaying, while still featuring the turn-based combat.

    Single player it is then.

  33. RegisteredUser says:

    Awesome. Now make it TBS not about small fields like HOMM, add a near infinite amount of guns, set it within environments, make it fun to play..

    Well basically just make something other than THIS. But make more terrific turn based strategy again goshdarnit!