Published on March 12th, 2013 | by Jon Spengler0
Banner Saga: Factions
Banner Saga: Factions was the first game that I backed on Kickstarter. The intoxicating hand drawn graphics and tactical RPG gameplay was enough to brave the wild frontier of crowd sourcing. Now that it’s released, I couldn’t be more proud to have had a hand in funding this game. It delivers on its promise of clever multiplayer RPG skirmishes, team building, and lush graphics. Sporting a conscientious free to play model, you should probably just download it from Steam now. If you still need convincing, click to read more.
The core of Banner Saga is multiplayer Nordic fantasy RPG skirmishes complete with character advancement and team building. Much like a game of Chess, the complexity in Banner arises from the human element instead of the numbers. Instead of piling on races, classes, gear, talents, skill points, and other minutia, the game gives players meaningful choices without introducing too many elements. For example, the primarily difference between the four classes in the game are their special abilities, of which each will have one or (eventually) two. Gear is nowhere to be found, nor races. Despite the seeming simplicity, each twenty minute skirmish in Banner manages to be as visceral as it is cerebral. Each knock out and clutch decision will make you bite your nails just a little harder. There is almost no learning curve the mechanics in Banner, though learning how to best your human opponents might take some time.
Banner is also “free to play”, a term that carries far too much baggage nowadays. The game is not “pay to win”: the only items you can trade Real Bucks for are woefully boring skins for your characters and large amounts of the in-game currency you’d earn by playing. There are no bushels of premium crystals to turn in for extra experience points here, you’re only reducing the amount of grinding you’d have to do to purchase promotions for your characters. (And promotions still have to be earned through playing the game.) I hope they expand their store soon, given this game’s vivid look I can only imagine what badass premium skins will eventually be released.
With the promise of a campaign and future factions intertwining over three episodes, spending time with Banner Saga’s multiplayer now is an investment in future awesomeness. I can’t wait to see what this development team comes up with.
What made me fund this game was the art. The screenshots and concept art were amazing, but when I loaded up the game for the first time the graphics took my breath away. A screenshot couldn’t possibly capture how gorgeous this game is: the hand crafted animations make the game’s cold Nordic world spring to life. Each class drips with personality and the backgrounds are chock full of detail. This game deserves to be on anyone’s top five list of most best looking games.
The UI is also streamlined to perfection. A typical screenshot from a tactical RPG could look like a text book, but Banner presents you with all of the information you could possibly need to make smart decisions in intuitive ways. Clever use of colors and icons keep the screen neat and tidy while a simple mouse-driven interface will have you playing like a pro in minutes.
I’ve been waiting for a multiplayer Final Fantasy Tactics since I was in elementary school. Banner Saga Factions delivers exactly what I want from a light but extremely competitive tactical RPG. Then it goes the extra mile and delivers it with a Disney-quality polish. If going head to head in a beautiful game of fantasy Chess for zero dollars sounds like fun, then you need to download Banner Saga right away.