The Banner Saga's free-to-play multiplayer prologue released on Steam

Tom Sykes at

The Banner Saga, you'll recall, is an upcoming tactical RPG made by Stoic, a company comprised of former BioWare developers. The game's not expected until the middle of this year, but to whet our appetites in the meantime, Stoic have released Factions - a multiplayer, free-to-play prologue. The download, available on Steam, features an opening cutscene, a battle tutorial, and thereafter the option to engage your fellow internet Vikings in quick skirmishes or the occasional tournament.

I've just taken part in my first ever Factions battle, and I enjoyed myself despite inevitably suffering a nasty defeat. The animation is gorgeous, and the mechanics of the turn-based battles are incredibly easy to pick up. Your Norse warriors and giants level up (or earn 'renown') even if they die in humiliating circumstances, so there's no reason to feel too sore upon losing. If you're interested - and if you like tactical RPGs, you probably should be - have a watch of Factions' launch trailer, below.