The Banner Saga Factions

Turn-based Viking adventure The Banner Saga out in January

Tom Sykes at

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 We know this from the historical document The Banner Saga: Factions, the free-to-play multiplayer prologue to Stoic's upcoming single-player turn-based RPG.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.

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.

The Banner Saga: Factions beta access available for $15, video shows viking barney

Tom Senior at

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.