It's Out! What do you guys think about it so far?

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#1 Posted by Zalrus9 (107 posts) -

Hello All! In case you did't know, The Banner Saga, almost a year after the somewhat flawed free-to-play game came out, and I am loving it so far! Story is pretty good, and I like how your decisions make a difference in what happens, and sometimes you have to make some hard choices. I also like how people can and will die if certain things happen. I will admit I'm only a few hours into it, but it's pretty good! 2014 seems to be coming out swinging!

What do you all think about this game? What do you like about it, and what don't you like about it? I want to know!

#2 Posted by Delawa (13 posts) -

I just played 30 minutes or so but I'm pretty into it so far. A couple of annoyances that I have with it is that there aren't subtitles during the cut-scenes, the lack of voice acting while your'e in town and chatting and no manual saves or save slots. Other then that I'm pretty impressed with what I have seen, combat seems fun although I'm not quite sure how the levelling works.

#3 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11475 posts) -

I played like two hours of it, and it took a bit to figure out what was actually happening in the story. It sort of just dumps you there with zero exposition about anything. Other than that, the combat seems super neat and the choose-your-own-adventure decisions during the traversal stuff almost reminds me of King of Dragon Pass, right up to the frustratingly random consequences for any given decision. We'll see.

#4 Posted by Zalrus9 (107 posts) -

@delawa said:

I just played 30 minutes or so but I'm pretty into it so far. A couple of annoyances that I have with it is that there aren't subtitles during the cut-scenes, the lack of voice acting while your'e in town and chatting and no manual saves or save slots. Other then that I'm pretty impressed with what I have seen, combat seems fun although I'm not quite sure how the levelling works.

So, that's one of the things I don't quite like about this game is the leveling. In order to earn a promotion (which allows you to equip better items and increase your stats) you have to actually gain kills (two for the first level, five for the second, ect.) . However, that means that it's rather difficult to get some of the more support-oriented classes up to speed. However, you can choose your guy's turn order, so you can have your powerful dudes soften the enemies for the greenhorns. But, as I said, not perfect.

#5 Edited by Junkerman (253 posts) -

I've absolutely been in love with it so far... I've been waiting for a game like this for a long, long time. The art style is absolutely gorgeous, the music is haunting and melancholy and I've found the bleak story to be very interesting and touching so far. I've always been a big fan of morose, hopeless fiction and from what I've seen in the 3 or 4 hours I've played it looks to be exactly what I'm looking for. Its like the Oregon Trail meets the Black Company, and that is a harmony I find very appealing.

The combat is pretty interesting so far, I agree with other people about the actual leveling up of your dudes to be a bit of a pain since they need kills... but the improvements dont really make or break the combat either, everything can be overcome with proper strategizeing. Plus its kinda neat having my ranger 4 levels higher then everyone else and decimating everyone like a bad ass. All in all I think its the making of a very great system that is just a few steps short of being noteworthy and awesome; here is hoping its improved upon if they make enough dough for a sequel. Its lacking things like terrain influence on combat, obstacles like rocks, grass, deep snow, weather, water etc. Its more or less there to give some variety in between story sequences and the visual/audio treat that the rest of the game is.

Really impressive sound design. Incredibly so. Not what I was expecting out of a kickstarter game.

I think if you're down for a gentle, quiet, depressing, unique and powerful visual and emotional experience this game very much satisfies that. Its an adventure into a genuinely interesting world with just enough mystery to make each day your caravan is on the road an engaging curiosity to be sated.

A welcome treat in a time where its been a while since we've had a good rpg.

#6 Posted by Aetheldod (3511 posts) -

Im already finished it in the hard difficulty.... needless to say it was what I expected and the leveling is just like in Factions. (Except you cant relocate skill point so you better be certain when putting in those points). Took me around 12 hours to finish so it has a decent lenght. Really beutiful and all and the only thing I didnt like was that there was no subtitles , it is a bit hard to understand if you are not a english speaking person :/ but outside of that everything was fine. Also about the saves , the checkpoints are well placed so I dont see an issue with how it works , also it forces you to keep your choices which re quite awesome (also it made my survival quite precarious D: so I was on the edge ll the time ... magnificent)

#7 Edited by seamuspaxman (55 posts) -

About seven hours in. Really love the art style, bit underwhelmed with mostly everything else with it. The story is a little hard to follow and the conversations get confusing at times. I had to restart the beginning at least twice, just to somewhat wrap my head around what's going on.

They could do with some voice acting, take cues from the Persona series and have the static conversation portraits change based on a characters mood. It wouldn't be too hard, all they would have to do is draw a different expression on the faces. It's weird when a tragic event occurs and all i see on screen is this smiling woman who's clearly upset based on what she's saying.

Combat's alright for what it is. It's simple. I like the animation on the figures. Not sure what i was expecting, i didn't play factions.

I REALLY love the art in it, the world too, it's just sadly the only thing keeping me interested. Everything else is a little... Bland. The writing isn't very good, and the characters don't really stand out as interesting.

If time reversed and i was given the choice between buying the game again or buying some physical art of the game. Probably just go with buying some art.

The art is really good.

#8 Posted by Morningstar (2141 posts) -

Love it despite some minor stuff. I'm glad I'm not hearing impaired though, as I would have had to guess what was happening during the cut scenes. No subtitles are just a baffling oversight.

#9 Posted by Canteu (2821 posts) -

I love it so far even if there are some minor issues. Digging the art mostly.

#10 Posted by Veektarius (4595 posts) -

I put in about 3 hours. I'm pretty hooked, though my main issue is the lack of context in battle. If they just added some props or some unique conditions to engagements to tie what the game is throwing at you to what's going on, that'd go a long way to cutting down on the repetition.

#11 Posted by golguin (3843 posts) -

I had never heard about it till now. Art style looks nice and I'm really into SRPG so this might be the type of thing that interests me.

#12 Posted by bunnymud (717 posts) -

I'm kinda lost on the in the combats finer points, but I'm only past my 3rd battle.

#13 Posted by Zalrus9 (107 posts) -

Yeah, combat in this game can be rather hard, and it's interesting that when you all die in battle, the story goes on. I kind of like that. I will say that hitting strength lowers the attack of the unit, so be careful.

I've also found that I may be wasting my renown on supplies. and I'm always running out. Is there a better way to do this, or should I just deal with the constant loss of clansmen and focus on making better fighters?

#14 Posted by Tennmuerti (8003 posts) -

Gonna give it a whirl before the weekend, but probably not gonna post much thoughts until i really dig into it.

#15 Posted by TheMasterDS (2015 posts) -

@zalrus9 said:

@delawa said:

I just played 30 minutes or so but I'm pretty into it so far. A couple of annoyances that I have with it is that there aren't subtitles during the cut-scenes, the lack of voice acting while your'e in town and chatting and no manual saves or save slots. Other then that I'm pretty impressed with what I have seen, combat seems fun although I'm not quite sure how the levelling works.

So, that's one of the things I don't quite like about this game is the leveling. In order to earn a promotion (which allows you to equip better items and increase your stats) you have to actually gain kills (two for the first level, five for the second, ect.) . However, that means that it's rather difficult to get some of the more support-oriented classes up to speed. However, you can choose your guy's turn order, so you can have your powerful dudes soften the enemies for the greenhorns. But, as I said, not perfect.

So basically it has last hit?

#16 Edited by gike987 (1750 posts) -
@bunnymud said:

I'm kinda lost on the in the combats finer points, but I'm only past my 3rd battle.

I played some of the multiplayer and the big difference between this game and similar games is that because of how health is tied to how much damage a unit deal and that turns always alternate it's often better to focus on dealing damage to all enemy units instead of focusing on taking out one unit at a time.

#17 Posted by crusader8463 (14413 posts) -

Four crash to desktops and one complete lock up of my PC has kind of soured me on the game during the hour and a half I messed with it this morning. Just went back to playing TF2 after the hard lock up. From what I played I dislike how most of the game doesn't have any VO and so far the story hasn't grabbed me.

#18 Edited by deerokus (533 posts) -

Obviously it doesn't have much voice acting - that's extremely expensive. It's a kickstarted game and they didn't have the money for that.

I really like it thus far.

#19 Edited by Tennmuerti (8003 posts) -

Aw man, decided to try it out for a bit before sleep. Big mistake. It really hooked me in and time flew by instantly. Just like any good turn based strategy should. Which in my book makes it a good TBS game by default. :)

Really liking the art style as others have mentioned and being able to pan around the battlefield is neat.

The system they've done in this is really interesting, with the health doubling as attack at the same time. Just started the second caravan on the way out of town and I am already seeing the strategic possibilities multiplying exponentially. The choices you have to make with heavy armor units, protecting your own dudes by limiting enemy strength, loads of combo potential. Killing one of those heavily armored shield dredge on the second turn because it's armor was reduced enough on turn one, then doing a mark target and like 5 soldiers simultaneously ripping into him (including 2 stationary archers), the explosion of numbers was so so satisfying. If the abilities and combos keep expanding and the enemy variety keeps up, this really could be something pretty sweet.

The map descriptions are also a nice touch, instantly letting you fill in some of the lore of the world if you want to as much as you feel like, in very easily digestible bites.

Lack of VO doesn't bother me in the slightest. I'm used to the mostly silent RPGs and TBS games anyway. The leveling on kills is also a plus for me personally, it's just yet another strategic factor to consider and account for during battle.

#20 Edited by azrailx (242 posts) -

I'm really liking the whole package its a lot of fun.

oh btw heres a mild spoiler tip for all those new peeps

dont let onef in your party, your welcome

#21 Posted by GERALTITUDE (2918 posts) -

Five hours in so far here's what I like and dislike. For the record I played a good twenty-thirty hours of the multiplayer:

  • looks amazing, battle animations are awesome
  • combat still very addictive
  • slightly low level cap...
  • needing to kill enemies to level up seems obviously imbalanced; support classes get boned and you have to cheese the enemy to level them up
  • dialogue trees are intensely opaque - will turn off some gamers no doubt (often impossible to tell which choice is a good choice, which unfortunately makes it partly a memorization game - just as often all choices seem to be bad choices)
  • no save button: not a big deal, but sometimes you don't know when your progress was last saved and it becomes tense quitting
  • new classes and maps are very cool even if they don't always make sense (you sneak into a fort through a waterway and in the map you battle on two dozen armed men are just lazily watching. what?)
  • I like that you have different protagonists but so far the switching around has left me feeling a little aimless, like I'm not building *my* caravan, but somebodyelse's
  • Dialogue can be confusing. Should have used larger face icons to indicate who is talking
  • Some surprisingly funny dialogue here and there
#22 Posted by Sterling (2072 posts) -

I've only played a few ours, but I really dig it.

#23 Posted by YoThatLimp (1880 posts) -

God damn, some of the choices at the end of chapter 3, I dun goofed.

#24 Posted by markini6 (445 posts) -

I've not played too many SRPGs but after Fire Emblem and XCOM, I find the combat to be very dull and unsatisfying. Beautiful visual design though, shame about the game underneath.

#25 Posted by Aeonfell (18 posts) -

I loved this game. I finished this game. God damn this game.

#26 Posted by Xeiphyer (5594 posts) -

Its pretty painful that the tanky classes can't really block additional tiles, they get sidestepped by enemies constantly and then a squishy character eats 80-100% of their hp in a single attack. That's pretty annoying.

#27 Posted by Sterling (2072 posts) -

Squishy characters, lol.

#28 Posted by Turambar (6675 posts) -

It's simultaneously very simplistic and also counter-intuitive. There are not many options in how to go about attacking, and character upgrading is at a minimum. However, the way the turn system and the strength system works rewards bringing enemies down to low health but not killing them, something very much not the norm in the realm of SRPGs. While there is a plethora of different enemy types and playable classes, there is ultimately little that differentiates them. The combat scenarios is pretty much the same the entire way through with only one encounter in memory that seems to make use of terrain. Otherwise, it doesn't change at all from beginning to end.

I'm very much impressed with the visuals, albeit not the biggest fan of the general aesthetic style. General tone of it is properly bleak, but the story seems to keep setting up for something big and never gets there. Plenty of plot twists and revelations that go unexplained as well.

All in all, decent game, but not that great unless you really like everything outside of the combat a whole lot.

#29 Posted by FengShuiGod (1478 posts) -

I beat it in one sitting the day it came out. It was really great, until the ending. One of the worst endings ever. Basically, consider this the first part of a story kind of thing. Other than the ending all my gripes are relatively small. It's a fun game worth checking out, but be warned: closure's a thing that ain't gonna happen.

#30 Edited by Turambar (6675 posts) -
dialogue trees are intensely opaque - will turn off some gamers no doubt (often impossible to tell which choice is a good choice, which unfortunately makes it partly a memorization game - just as often all choices seem to be bad choices)

Opaque choices can work at times, but the fact there are actually optimal choices in this game makes it very annoying.

#31 Posted by GERALTITUDE (2918 posts) -

@turambar said:
@geraltitude said:
dialogue trees are intensely opaque - will turn off some gamers no doubt (often impossible to tell which choice is a good choice, which unfortunately makes it partly a memorization game - just as often all choices seem to be bad choices)

Opaque choices can work at times, but the fact there are actually optimal choices in this game makes it very annoying.

Yeah, you're totally right. The more I play this game the more I am really frustrated by the Choice Design. It's not just opaque, it's very arbitrary - the optimal choices aren't visible through any kind of logic, whether that's logic based on strategy or based on knowing the personality of your team members.

#32 Posted by RVonE (4603 posts) -

@xeiphyer said:

Its pretty painful that the tanky classes can't really block additional tiles, they get sidestepped by enemies constantly and then a squishy character eats 80-100% of their hp in a single attack. That's pretty annoying.

Yeah, overall I think I like the game but it needs to be said that the strategic component of the combat system leaves a lot to be desired.

#33 Edited by Brodehouse (9586 posts) -

@geraltitude: There is one part in particular where if you ask a character what they think about a situation, a second character (who you didn't ask) appears and gives a suggestion. If you ignore them and pick something else, they do it anyways. Unless you don't ask the first character, in which case the second character doesn't offer their suggestion, and doesn't go through with it. That's just arbitrary.

There's also a number of asking you to do X or Y, where there's one optimum answer, but there's nothing beforehand to lead you to deduce it out. It's like the choice is "Throw A Rock" or "Yell At Them" but there's absolutely no way to know which one you should do.

I do think it succeeds when the choices are more ethical in nature. But not when it asks the player for war strategy without teaching the player what strategies are effective in what situation and so on.

#34 Posted by EpicSteve (6471 posts) -

It's kind of annoying I have NO IDEA what's going on story wise.

#35 Posted by Ares42 (2573 posts) -

Decided to finally pick it up today, and after a good few hours of playing I'm just perplexed about the desicion to make the turns the way they are. It's literally a disadvantage to bring a full party to fights. Every time I've run into a fight I struggled with I've found that reloading and dropping a guy from my line-up makes it way easier. I get that it creates some tactics around bringing all the enemies down low or bursting down everyone but one, but even when you play it "right" you often end up just passing turns to get the setup right.

And (although I might be wrong about this) what makes it worse is that you probably need to level up guys as you go along. So you're either left with the choice of expanding your line-up (which can be devastating) or go in both outnumbered and outmatched.

Also, on a different note, it seems really strange to me that so much of the game is scripted (like where the fights are, what events happen when etc), but the battles themselves and loot rewards are random. Seems to me like the game would've been better if it was more like FTL, with a fully random campaign every time.

#36 Posted by Veektarius (4595 posts) -

@epicsteve: At what point in the story? It's not all that complicated, so it shouldn't be hard to explain.

#37 Posted by GERALTITUDE (2918 posts) -
@ares42 said:

Also, on a different note, it seems really strange to me that so much of the game is scripted (like where the fights are, what events happen when etc), but the battles themselves and loot rewards are random. Seems to me like the game would've been better if it was more like FTL, with a fully random campaign every time.

Yes. Very perplexing game in this way. I thought for sure when I reached a town I would be able to partake in some tournament fighting to grind out some levels, get some loot and renown, but nope.

I have to share an insanely frustrating end-game bug with you guys, so spoilers concerning the last battle of the game be abound:

  • When you begin the Bellower battle, make sure either Alette or Rook (whoever you chose in the pre-fight dialogue) actually has the Silver Arrow ability - BECAUSE THEY MIGHT NOT. Which sucks ultra hard and just dooms you to die. Had no idea what was going wrong my first time through and fought an hour trying not to die in vain.
  • Not a spoiler but it's mindblowing that if you tell Alette she can't shoot the arrow, she still is a mandatory party member in the battle, though no explanation is given. Did no one on the team actually play this scenario?
  • Sigh. Still a sweet game but what the heck. Such a sour way to end a game.
#38 Edited by ArbitraryWater (11475 posts) -

I finished it yesterday. That last combat encounter is way harder than anything else in the game, and it all leads up to an unsatisfying cliffhanger ending. I was liking the story quite a bit up to that point too. As for the rest of the game, I thought the combat was pretty neat, but I was already finding it a bit repetitive by the end. You're pretty much fighting slightly tougher variations of the same enemies the entire way through, and I think it could've done with a bit more nuance and variety. The core fundamentals, the dynamic between strength and armor, are sound, even if it doesn't quite hold up the entire game.

The other half of the game, the part where it's basically King of Dragon Pass, has a few too many random consequences for my tastes. By the end of the game most of my clansmen had died because random events took all of my supplies, and even then it doesn't really seem like there's much of a reason to keep them alive anyways. Renown is better spent on upgrading your dudes. I appreciate that there's an achievement for keeping Egil alive, since there are apparently no less than 3 separate opportunities for him to die throughout the game.

#39 Edited by EpicSteve (6471 posts) -

@epicsteve: At what point in the story? It's not all that complicated, so it shouldn't be hard to explain.

I played the first 40 minutes and had very little clue what was going on plot-wise.

#40 Edited by Tennmuerti (8003 posts) -

I assume I am pretty much at the end now, Chapter 7. So I might as well out down some final thoughts, besides those I've already mentioned. (great art, interesting turn based system)

The game's biggest sin to me is the lack of enemy variety, you are fighting basically the same 3-4 types over and over and over the entire time, with rarely any change. They have provided some variety in your own classes, but nothing for the enemy. It just gets super monotonous.

It's also been a bit annoying to read the patch notes today saying chapter 6 supplies and renown have been increased, having just gone past it :P But whatevs.

Overall I still enjoyed it quite a bit. In fact I think it's a great first entry. The combat system basis is new and robust enough that it can support much more variety. If they made a sequel like they seem to intend to, it would be great to expand on this system, more enemy types, more abilities, maybe branching and deeper hero leveling. Same goes for the over world stuff, it's a good start, tighten up the choices in terms of fairness and logic, but still leave them punishing, also less optimal ones and more tradeoffs. Even make the traveling non linear but with branches. All this and you would have one hell of a second game.

#41 Posted by Freshbandito (654 posts) -

Could someone drag me out of my ignorance on this as I thought the banner saga was a free to play viking themed turn based strategy game was it not?

#42 Posted by Ares42 (2573 posts) -

Could someone drag me out of my ignorance on this as I thought the banner saga was a free to play viking themed turn based strategy game was it not?

multiplayer is, campaign isn't.

#43 Posted by Veektarius (4595 posts) -

@epicsteve: Well, you're a tax collector who's been sent to collect taxes from this city called Strand. The city is dealing with internal strife and they co-opt you into helping resolve it. Then a Varl leadercomes and meets you, who is escorting a human prince to the Varl capital for what I believe is diplomatic negotiations between humans and Varl. Since you're going the same way, you go together.

#44 Posted by Freshbandito (654 posts) -

@ares42: ahh right thanks. Seems like an interesting way to go about things using a free to play multiplayer portion of the game to lay groundwork early and maybe help with funding the studio a bit before full release?

#45 Edited by Sin4profit (2907 posts) -

i feel like the first hour or two really drags on. Things i think they could have done better is to have more cutscenes at key points to establish the story or sense of place. For a game that appreciates it's 2d animation i was surprised to see so little of it.

After the first few hours, though, you establish your sense of purpose and the story really sinks in feeling more like history than fantasy, which i really appreciated.

Mechanically it took me awhile to figure out what was really going on between the strategic armor/strength relationship and early on i had the habit of clustering my units together limiting my movement options. The game seems to have a lot of communicational flaws such as not knowing which Varl were shield bearing when setting up my turn sequence. It took me awhile to realize leveling up was based on kill count and i didn't know what the green broken chain icon meant for the majority of the game. Also, having finished the game, i still have no idea how to apply points to your special ability (purple lightning icon)

My least favorite part was the ending. Without spoiling anything the story created a setup that lead to a predictable, and logically avoidable, end...which turned out to be THE end. The game seemed to close the book a little too prematurely. The predictability of the ending could have been saved by carrying on with the story but everything ground to a halt and left me feeling like the story was just unfinished.

#46 Posted by Ares42 (2573 posts) -

Also, having finished the game, i still have no idea how to apply points to your special ability (purple lightning icon)

You don't, you get them automatically at certain levels.

#47 Edited by Tennmuerti (8003 posts) -

Man that last fight was kind of a bitch. Not so much the first part which I handled quite fine, but the second part mostly because the game introduces a completely new broken enemy mechanic, which not knowing how it works made me have to replay that fight 3 times which also meant having to replay the first battle since there was no checkpoint between the two.

#48 Edited by StarvingGamer (7996 posts) -

That game was a lot of fun, but also really strange. I tried to play it like a traditional tactics RPG and ended up screwing myself pretty bad in the end. The funny thing is I'm pretty sure that knowing what I know now, if I were to replay the game on hard I would actually have an easier time of it, but I'll probably wait until someone writes up an in-depth wiki guide on all the different things that can happen with the different choices you make.

I can't wait for the next chapters.

#49 Posted by BisonHero (6169 posts) -

@geraltitude said:

@turambar said:
@geraltitude said:
dialogue trees are intensely opaque - will turn off some gamers no doubt (often impossible to tell which choice is a good choice, which unfortunately makes it partly a memorization game - just as often all choices seem to be bad choices)

Opaque choices can work at times, but the fact there are actually optimal choices in this game makes it very annoying.

Yeah, you're totally right. The more I play this game the more I am really frustrated by the Choice Design. It's not just opaque, it's very arbitrary - the optimal choices aren't visible through any kind of logic, whether that's logic based on strategy or based on knowing the personality of your team members.

Your complaint seems very strange to me.

Why should the player be able to intuit what the "good choice" is? If any astute player who wasn't born yesterday could just choose the Paragon option and make everybody happy and never lose supplies or have characters die, what fun would that be? Yeah, there's obviously some kind of optimal playthrough someone has probably pathed out where you choose all of the least harmful responses, but again, what fun is that? They're meant to be blind choices that let you role play how you think those situations should be handled on a moral/ethical level, and then you're stuck with the consequences. Yes, they have ramifications with your supplies/equippable items/clansmen/fighters/varl, and sometimes you get screwed by them, but hey man, that's how it goes.

The thing you guys seem to be asking for sounds incredibly dull and boring, because it removes all personal investment in your choices if you could always just obviously pick out whatever choice gives you the most resources.

#50 Posted by Turambar (6675 posts) -

@geraltitude said:

@turambar said:
@geraltitude said:
dialogue trees are intensely opaque - will turn off some gamers no doubt (often impossible to tell which choice is a good choice, which unfortunately makes it partly a memorization game - just as often all choices seem to be bad choices)

Opaque choices can work at times, but the fact there are actually optimal choices in this game makes it very annoying.

Yeah, you're totally right. The more I play this game the more I am really frustrated by the Choice Design. It's not just opaque, it's very arbitrary - the optimal choices aren't visible through any kind of logic, whether that's logic based on strategy or based on knowing the personality of your team members.

Your complaint seems very strange to me.

Why should the player be able to intuit what the "good choice" is? If any astute player who wasn't born yesterday could just choose the Paragon option and make everybody happy and never lose supplies or have characters die, what fun would that be? Yeah, there's obviously some kind of optimal playthrough someone has probably pathed out where you choose all of the least harmful responses, but again, what fun is that? They're meant to be blind choices that let you role play how you think those situations should be handled on a moral/ethical level, and then you're stuck with the consequences. Yes, they have ramifications with your supplies/equippable items/clansmen/fighters/varl, and sometimes you get screwed by them, but hey man, that's how it goes.

The thing you guys seem to be asking for sounds incredibly dull and boring, because it removes all personal investment in your choices if you could always just obviously pick out whatever choice gives you the most resources.

We're not talking about the morally good choice. We are talking about choices with an optimal route in terms of in-game mechanics such as time spent, supplies, fighters/clansmen, morale, etc.

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