Friends, countrymen, flowing cloth aficionados, lend me your ears. OK, now put those away, because they're not very good for reading. The Banner Saga: Factions - the free-to-play intro to Stoic's world of handsomely bearded vikings and handsome-beard-stroking strategy (no word yet on an immersion-enhancing handsome beard peripheral) - will be out for everyone next week. Better still, it's open to some of everyone right now. Specifically, those who raised a hearty mug of monetary ale to Stoic's success on Kickstarter. But wait, what about that sprawling, vaguely Biowarian single-player epic you paid for? Well, the former Biowarers (sp?) at Stoic are calling Factions a necessary first step.
First up, here's the plan for Factions going forward. In short, backers get exclusive events and a neat green banner stone this week. After that, however, the floodgates open. So community manager Sean Dahlberg wrote in a forum post:
"The current characters, stats and rankings have been wiped for the last time and the game is essentially now LIVE, along with a fully functional tutorial. Later in the week we’ll be holding the first tournament exclusively for backers. Factions will be released to the public on Feb 25th. If you’ve been waiting for beta to end before trying the game, this is your week."
This release also serves as a mighty, avalanche-summoning horn blast from Stoic that Banner Saga's combat systems are tightly tuned and ready for prime time. So then, the next step(s)? Travel, conversation, and everything else its multi-chapter single-player story demands.
Which, from the sound of things, is quite a lot. And by "things," I mean this gargantuan chat we had with Stoic in Austin late last year. Originally, the plan was to have Chapter One out "early" in 2013, but it sounds like things might be moving slightly more slowly than initially anticipated. Mostly because that's right now. But then, these things are unavoidable sometimes - especially when your entire dev team can be counted on one hand. Thankfully, however, my patience tends to go up quite a ways when I can stitch flowing tapestries into soaring, silent, ever-enduring cultural odes. Oh, and I guess I like the viking fights too or whatever.