An ancient race of stoneclad golems known as The Dredge plague the southern countryside, leaving a bloody path through abandoned farmlands and half-starved bands of resistance. However, the Dredge are not the biggest threat to humanity. A far greater evil looms large behind this army. The earth rattles as this primeval force moves across the land. The world is ending; its inhabitants are just trying to survive.
Stoic’s original Banner Saga set up a trilogy of strategy titles that explore the state of a Norse fantasy world after all its gods have died. The company’s sophomore release continues this tragic tale while improving on its compelling strategy framework.
Like the original, The Banner Saga 2 propels players into a series of hard discussions, asking users to manage the safety and welfare of a caravan as it marches across the country looking for a safe place. Keeping everyone happy proves impossible, which leads to conflicts that result in bloody battlefields. Many players lost more than a few of their best warriors through the ordeals of the first game, so The Banner Saga 2 bolsters your army with a few new friendly faces.
“The Ravens are an elite mercenary force led by the last varl berserk, Bolverk Bloodaxe,” says Stoic co-founder and art director Arnie Jorgensen. “Bolverk swings wildly in battle and can maim both friend and foe, so give him a wide berth.
Killing an enemy can raise his lust for battle and give him another move. If played well, he can do this over and over. The Ravens come with a cadre of powerful fighters, including Folka, a stout, second-in-command melee fighter who can sacrifice her own armor to leave her opponents fully e xposed.”
In addition to these new heroes, The Banner Saga 2 introduces a new race called the horseborn. These centaurs live far to the south, part of a self-secluded nation that is ashamed of its past. Male horseborn are great hit-and-run tacticians who can boost their attack depending on how many squares they’ve traveled beforehand – Stoic’s idea of a run ning head start. Meanwhile, female horseborn are javelin experts who inflict bleed damage and can pin their targets to the ground.
The Banner Saga’s turn-based strategy has seen a few other small tweaks. Strength is still tied to a characters’ health, so as they take damage they slowly grow weary and their attacks become less effective. However, heroes can now have multiple abilities, which should keep them useful even near the end of a battle.
“Combat scenarios have a more tailored approach,” says Stoic cofounder and technical director John Watson. “This means when there are story reasons for doing so, the win and loss conditions for a combat scenario can vary. Cinematically, we’ve created designer-facing tools that allow us to do more storytelling in combat by having more scripted events and exposition. Now, the battlefield conditions can change mid-battle, and some of your heroes will participate in the battle semi-autonomously.”
The end of the first Banner Saga left fans with a heartbreaking cliffhanger, so we’re excited to continue that story even if we’re nervous to test our the capabilities in leading hundreds of people across rivers, over ancient sacred grounds, and through armies of mythological enemies.