Marching On: The Banner Saga 2

The Banner Saga arrived at the great RPS mead hall to a somewhat mixed reception. We appreciated the manner in which the beleaguered band of luminaries presented themselves but couldn’t help but yawn long before they’d finished telling us of the events that had brought them to our table. Whatever its flaws may be, The Banner Saga told an unusually bleak and believable tale of a world in its twilight years, and I’ll gladly cast aside my reservations to see the continuation of that tale. The video below doesn’t give a great deal away, but it confirms that the next chapter of the saga is incoming.

I remember the end of the game being impressive enough that I played through it a second time to show to a flatmate. Getting there really was a bit of a slog though. My refugees had suffered greatly on their journey, facing destruction and ruin, striving to survive and to find sanctuary. There had been many gruelling and somewhat repetitive turn-based battles, and despite the decisions their leaders had made along the way, I couldn’t help but feel the party’s path had been set by some higher power.

Despite all of that, I’m glad I went along on the journey. If the follow-up provides a greater sense of control during the movement and management sections, while varying the combat a little, it could be the classic that The Banner Saga carried within it all along. Even if it’s more of the same though, it’s rare to see a game that is so beautifully crafted, and the world and narrative might be strong enough to carry me through again.

The Banner Saga 2 will be out sometime next year.

31 Comments

  1. CloudPS says:

    “This video has been removed by the user.”

    I loved everything of TBS – the graphics, the music, the story, the combat. My game of the year!

  2. Hanban says:

    The Banner Saga may have been my GOT when it was released. I really loved it. There were obviously flaws with the game, particularly in the travelling mechanics, but the combat engrossed me more than most tactics games before it.

    Aside from the combat I really fell in love with how the visual elements and music came together to create a game that felt tonally consistent. There was this bleak sense of beauty throughout the whole experience. Really looking forward to the next chapter!

  3. Laurentius says:

    Yay! The Banner Saga is one of my favourite games of the 2014. Please though, I liked the story but I also liked tactical combat but there was simply not enough of it ! Ok I leveled up my characters, now some cool battles ahead me, nope just boss battle and the end, wait what ? Also SPOILER : I liked the end boss battle, it was a challanging tactical puzzle but still two phased battle with characters missing that can limit chances of beating it to zero if you set it up wrong is kinda bad design./ENDSPOILER

  4. karthink says:

    The following things are simultaneously true:

    1. The Banner Saga was moody and excellent; two of my most memorable gaming evenings this year.

    2. The Banner Saga was a frustrating mix of reasonably well done mechanics that refused to mesh with or affect each other.

    3. If there was a “Bestest best map of 2014” RPS award, Banner Saga would take the trophy, sew it into its banner and march across a desolate, apocalypse-in-progress landscape in celebration.

    —-

    The problem is the devs never acknowledged the problems with #2 to be problems. This tells me TBS 2 is going to be more of the same, for better or worse.

    • Hanban says:

      Out of curiosity, where did you find the mix of mechanics frustrating? Personally I found the combat mechanics to be pretty much perfect. The travelling and managing the resources, however, could be frustrating where you pretty much had to guess what option would be good.

      • Snargelfargen says:

        The way turns alternated between sides regardless of how many units were on the field was unintuitive and forced some very strange tactical choices. It was safer to whittle down the health of each enemy on the field and leave them near death, since actually killing them would just grant another unit an extra turn. This could turn even the lowliest dredge into a superhumanly fast threat.

        On the other hand, the system did encourage focusing on the most dangerous enemy first, and the extra turns made sure that the fights were tense and dangerous right up until the last stand, all of which was very effective from a narrative standpoint.

        Good idea, but it felt far too “gamey” and unnatural at times. Hopefully they can come up with a solution for the next game.

        • Hanban says:

          I totally get how people can feel that was unintuitive. I guess it’s a matter of taste there. I really liked that it sometimes was better to leave an enemy mortally wounded for that extra turn. It meant you sometimes had to consider whether or not it was worth leaving an enemy alive for the initiative, or risk him/her using a special ability.

          • Hex says:

            I’m not sure what the big deal about turn-order is. Checkers and chess have players taking turns, no matter how many pieces are left on the board. TBS does the same thing, except nerfs the losing player’s ability to keep overusing their last piece every other turn (assuming it’s still in good condition), by slowing down his turns once he’s solo.

            Best of both worlds.

        • Arren says:

          Exactly this.

        • Taerdin says:

          It’s only unintuitive because of the ‘gamey’ mechanics players have already grown accustomed to. Focusing down a weak opponent that is barely a threat doesn’t really make sense when greater threats loom close by.

          Also this mechanic serves to make the battle feel close every single time. It added strategic depth and made the combat more interesting. I can see the appeal of the standard ‘focus down until dead’ combat we’ve seen thousands of times previously, but personally I found The Banner Saga’s combat to be refreshing and very interesting. If they switched it to more conventional combat for the sequels I would be pretty disappointed, but luckily the art and sound design is so wonderful that I would still probably love it.

          The Banner Saga 2 is my most anticipated game, and if it’s more of the same I will love it tremendously. I just hope they don’t try to please people who refuse to learn new mechanics and end up ruining their game.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            Although I can’t speak from experience, an RPG where every fight is challenging and a threat sounds more stressful and tedious than fun. To each their own, I guess.

          • Hanban says:

            As you might be able to tell I am really biased towards the game. Exploring and learning the mechanics was such a huge joy. Sometimes it would be worth leaving mortally wounded enemies on the field, and sometimes killing them in one swoop could be a tactical decision as you could use the valour to fuel some special move. I always felt that the various mechanics worked well together and made for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

            @Universal Regarding the difficulty, I understand that it can be tedium for some, but considering the lack of games that offer a tactcal challenge in this way, I found it refreshing. I don’t think the game was ever unfair, except for maybe the last mission. Some tactical games spice their missions up by spawning in more enemies, which I really, really hate. The Banner Saga never did anything like that.

    • Frank says:

      I feel like the problem is that they tested the combat thoroughly with backers, but just went with their first iteration for the metagame/strategy layer/story side.

      @Folks who don’t like the combat: I’d be surprised if they changed it. Everything is built around the turn order in combat.

    • Ostymandias says:

      regarding the map: as a native Scandinavian[sic] speaker, the faux-old norse toponyms where really off-putting
      feels like the team didn’t really do their research there and broke the immersion for me a lot actually. ok you can make a point the game was just inspired by norse legend and took equal liberty with the pseudo-aztec stone robot invaders but anyway
      what I really would like is someone doing a properly Wagnerian game, something that is going completely national romanticism on the topic of viking stories and is honest about it, not going “inspired” at all. just pure aesthetic ripoff. also very bombastic or even cryptofascist in presentation (but contextualized in a way as not to be so in content)

  5. Asurmen says:

    Whatever happened to the Candy Crush Saga vs Banner Saga saga?

  6. NonCavemanDan says:

    YAY! The Horseborn *are* centaurs!

    I have to give the Banner Saga this: whatever you think of the game and what problems it does or doesn’t have, it is utterly gorgeous to look at.

    • pepperfez says:

      There are nowhere near enough playable centaurs in games today.

  7. statistx says:

    I loved it too, the only thing that I think is missing is some kind of Oregon trail style journey mode.
    Cast aside most of the story, give me a starting point and an endgoal and let me manage my caravan to reach its goal.

  8. Ysellian says:

    I was beginning to wonder if we would ever see a Banner Saga 2.

  9. Palle223 says:

    It was a great game, and it’s gonna be a great series. The only note i have on the game is, that i would love more of those great songs when the caravan is on the move, in stead of just when you are passing by a god stone, and then more voice acting. That would be great. Otherwise diffidently a major candidate for game of the year.

  10. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    I liked the first game, but it was too hard, and the system was filled with death-spiral type mechanics – if you do badly, then you can’t do the second-wave fights, which means you end up with less XP and money. Which means that it’s easy to be trapped in a spiral of failure, especially if you don’t initially know what you are doing.

    Hopefully they can tone done those elements in the sequel.

  11. Rolento says:

    Loved the first game. But I hope they sort out the caravan system as I managed to save loads of people at the cost of not upgrading my heroes and got nothing back – if you ignore the caravan/food/saving people, it actually makes the game easier as you can invest in your heroes!

    • Hex says:

      That’s kind of the point — there’s nothing to fix. You can “save” a lot of people at the cost of being able to defend them properly, or you can tell refugees to sod off while you keep your core starting village safe and well-fed…so long as you’re okay abandoning hundreds of poor souls to their doom.

      Or something in between.

  12. Discosauce says:

    I enjoyed the free to play multiplayer version (Factions) before the proper game came out, and then enjoyed the game itself even more. I played it through three times back to back to 100% the game, and that is simply something I do not normally do. Can’t wait for the the next installment! I only hope this time they are able to flesh it out a bit more with extra audio, animation, etc.

  13. somnolentsurfer says:

    I absolutely loved everything about the Banner Saga, but I got distracted somewhere and never quite finished it. I’m hoping I’ll manage to get to it over Christmas.

    Either way though, if there’s more Austin Wintory it (and the soundtrack) will be a day one purchase.

  14. AgoraphobicHobo says:

    I, for one, picked up the Banner Saga just for the character animation. It was purely an “ooh, pretty” buy. The turn-based strategy RPG on top of that was a bonus.

  15. aberdeenphoenix says:

    Ok, so I’m probably not going to buy the second part. Here’s why: I was expecting a complete story when I bought the game (I’m not alone in this: check the steam community page if the devs haven’t deleted the thread… again).

    The steam page said I was buying a saga. It never said I was buying part 1 of a saga. The devs have responded with sarcasm and rudeness to the fans who have been frustrated by this. That’s why I refuse to buy anything that they do anymore, even if it means missing out on a good game. I just refuse to support devs who act like jerks to their customers.

    • theRealComptroller says:

      …you are kidding right?

      the developers are at fault because you are under the mistaken impression that you bought a series of games?