What do boulder-shouldered fantasy Vikings do for the holidays? It’s a question that I’ve pondered far more than I care to admit, but I’ve never been able to come up with a conclusive answer. Evidently, however, I just wasn’t looking in the right places. Instead of scouring their mead halls in search of wafting feast fumes and bawdy tunes, I should’ve headed straight for the most axe-strewn, arrow-speckled of battlefields. The Banner Saga’s Vikings, you see, continue to duke it out even as we speak, and a new Yuletide update’s trotted some formidable toys out to the frontline. Thanks, nasty, brutish Viking Santa!
The biggest change is that all 12 classes planned for Factions’ full release are now in place. Another 12, meanwhile, will apparently see the light of day once the single-player campaign launches. Also stewing away in warm cauldrons beneath, erm, Austin, Texas’ frigid wastes is a full-blown tutorial, but for now, Stoic’s added help tabs that give detailed descriptions of skills, abilities, stats, and things of the like.
The new endgame Pillage mode is also a welcome change, given that players with only one character left previously gained a disproportionately huge upper hand in turn order. Now, though, the system’s far less skewed.
There’s still plenty of potential for tide-turning, though. It just makes more sense now – by way of a magic horn, naturally. It can slowly build up a surplus of willpower points, which you can then bestow upon characters at a moment of your choosing. So then, want to gain an early upper hand with damage-boosted attacks? Or maybe you want to have a brute force failsafe in case your tactics prove to be hilariously inadequate. It’s your call.
Beyond that, Stoic’s also dropped in quite a number of interface and usability tweaks. Oh, and even if you didn’t kickstart The Banner Saga, you can now donate a mere $5 to its turn-based cause and jump right into Factions’ beta. So that’s good news. Unless you hate Vikings and turn-based battles of wits. But if that’s the case, well, what do you even like?