When they weren't strutting around in their stupid spiky helmets or having a go at poor old Grendel, the Vikings loved nothing better than to gather in mead halls and beat each other to bloody pulps. We know this from the historical document The Banner Saga: Factions, the free-to-play multiplayer prologue to Stoic's upcoming single-player turn-based RPG. We weren't overly enamoured of that morsel, despite the high beard quotient, but maybe the full feast will taste better. The fully fledged Banner Saga has just been given a release date: 14th January 2014.
For a game primarily starring chubby Vikings, The Banner Saga isn’t half a looker. This turn-based tactical RPG is the PvP component of Stoic’s upcoming The Banner Saga project, released early on a free-to-play basis, and they’ve deliberately and effectively designed it to look like a ’60s Disney film.
The muted shades and warm tones impressively convey a sense of place. Which, unfortunately, only serves to make the mere OK-ish-ness of the underlying game seem even more underwhelming.
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.
An update to Stoic Studio's Banner Saga Kickstarter sheds some light on the RPG's conversation options and decision-making, which promise to have a significant effect on the game. In addition to your more standard conversation options, you'll have to make decisions on the road - including chance encounters and events - that "may affect the caravan's morale, size and supplies, and form a personal connection to the characters traveling in your party." The game's branching narrative is also detailed, with the diagrams to prove it.
The Banner Saga: Factions is the standalone multiplayer mode for the successfully Kickstarted fantasy RPG, The Banner Saga. It'll be free at launch, but you can pay $15 to gain access to the beta right now. Why the cost? "As our backers have already generously donated we feel that charging a small amount for access to non-backers would be the most fair solution," say Stoic. Those who pay the fee will get a couple of Steam keys and access to future multiplayer updates.
Factions will let you create a team of fantasy viking beefcakes, axemen and archers and level them up in combat against other viking beefcakes. The turn-based formula looks familiar, but there are many classes and an interesting combat system that ties health to power. As a warrior loses health, they grow weaker until they reach the stage where they realise they can no longer lift a tankard of mead and life's light fades from their sorrowful viking souls. See that and more in the latest video.
Stoic have released a video update for The Banner Saga, showing a bit of combat, music and animation from their upcoming indie Viking epic. I am a sucker for hand-drawn animation at the best of times and there is some quality work on show in the brief clips sprinkled into the latest update. Watch some cutscene work at 3:20, a gorgeous animated background at 5:05 and some combat at 6:56.
The Banner Saga Kickstarter project exceeded expectations, which means Stoic have the funds to record the soundtrack with a real orchestra. You can catch some of the soundtrack in the video below. It's fun to watch Kickstarter projects slowly come together.
Turn-based RPG, The Banner Saga, has been successfully funded through Kickstarter. The final figure of $723,886 broke all of the developers' targets, which means the team will be able to invest in a full orchestra, and create extra features like player-built cities.
Stoic updated the kickstarter page with this statement when the funding drive closed on Friday. "KABOOM. 700%. You did it. We didn't believe it could be done. We are in awe." Nice. Time to ride the warm fuzzy glow of satisfaction at seeing a small team of indie developers with an intriguing game catch a big break.
If you'd like to maintain that feeling, stop reading here. In other Kickstarter news, the promising-HEAT inspired cops vs robbers shooter, Police Warfare, has suddenly had its Kickstarter campaign cancelled without explanation.
This is our first look at The Banner Saga, a Viking adventure from an ex-Bioware indie team, Stoic. We got a few glimpses of that hand drawn artwork when the Banner Saga site went live recently, but it looks even better in motion. The turn based combat in particular looks livelier for that hand-drawn touch. Lovely stuff.
Stoic say that The Banner Saga will be made up of a series of mini-adventures. Expect lots of Vikings talking, Vikings walking and Vikings hitting knights with massive longswords. Have a look at the screenshots below for more Viking art, and a really, really big banner.
Stoic are a three man team of indie devs who have formerly worked for the likes of Sony, Ubisoft and, most recently, Bioware. They've left mainstream development to work on a new game in "a tiny shed behind a bar." It's called The Banner Saga, a "role-playing meets turn-based strategy" game about Vikings rendered with lovely, hand-drawn art.
Their tale will be told across a mini-series of adventures and, according to the Banner Saga website, is aimed at players with an appreciation for "art, story and strategy." There will be decisions, conversations and consequences, as you might expect from a team that's worked at Bioware. There will also be multiplayer. Free, multiplayer in fact, carefully deduced from the notice on the official site suggesting that "free multiplayer combat" is "coming soon." A Banner Saga trailer is due to be released soon as well, which will hopefully give us a good look at more of that artwork.