The Banner Saga 3 PAX East Preview: Warped Enemies, Wave Combat, & New Playable Characters
It was recently announced that The Banner Saga series would be getting a Nintendo Switch release this Summer. With the fast-approaching arrival of the final chapter in the Viking-based RPG series, many fans are still left wondering what to expect as the story comes to a close. Luckily, we had a chance to play a demo of The Banner Saga 3 at PAX East 2018 and talk to the Producer, Zeb L. West, and Lead Designer, Matt Rhodes, about some new additions to the game.
Note: Light spoilers are ahead!
Changes to Enemies in The Banner Saga 3
Although warped enemies made a brief appearance in The Banner Saga 2, these types of enemies will play a much larger role in The Banner Saga 3. Their passive ability, Depraved, comes into play during explosions that follow after they’re defeated. This explosion damages nearby enemies, draining 1 Willpower. After the explosion, warped enemies leave behind a pile of ashes that will drain 1 Strength and 1 Willpower from anyone who walks over the residue.
Their active ability, Mind Devour, targets a single enemy anywhere on the map and drains their Willpower and Strength, resulting in an increase in the Warped enemy’s own Strength value.
New Playable Characters
We were surprised to find that once we hopped into combat during the demo that Juno is now a playable (and very powerful) character in The Banner Saga 3. We also found that we could command a Stonesinger Dredge, as well ... which could have interesting implications for the game's story(?).
New Character: Alfrun
During our demo, we also had a chance to use The Banner Saga's first true healer, Alfrun. A powerful ally best used in combat from a distance, Alfrun’s abilities have great range. Her first ability, Strength of Will, allows her to recover the Strength of her allies while her second ability, Force of Will, allows her to perform a melee attack on enemies before retreating.
The Banner Saga 3's New Combat System
Unlike other entries in The Banner Saga series, each battle in The Banner Saga 3 will now feature a turn counter that specifies the amount of time you have to defeat your enemies. If you complete the first wave of enemies before the timer runs out, you will be given the option to Fight or Flee. Continuing the battle will allow you to replace your current band of warriors with other characters from your roster before a new wave of enemies accompanied by a mini-boss will spawn on the map. Defeat the mini-boss and the enemies for awesome items and other rewards.
Another addition to the combat system in The Banner Saga 3 is the Valka Spear, which has taken the place of The Horn. The Valka Spear holds up to 3 charges and when used, casts an ability called Arc Lightning. Arc Lightning has the potential to hit multiple enemies in succession if they are positioned diagonally to one another. With each enemy hit by Arc Lightning, the stronger it gets. It can be used repeatedly until you run out of Valka Spear charges.
The Banner Saga 3's New Promotion System
The new promotion system in The Banner Saga 3 includes levels 11 through 15. Starting at Level 11, your hero will be written permanently into the Saga and earn something called a Heroic Title. Heroic Titles can enhance abilities, give you additional passives, and even increase base strength and armor stats. Heroic titles are leveled independently of character rank with each being completely unique. This means once a character dies, that Heroic Title is gone forever.
The Banner Saga 3 is expected to arrive July 24 for PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch for $24.99.
What's more, The Banner Saga Trilogy: Bonus Edition physical release will drop the same day and contain The Banner Saga, The Banner Saga 2, and The Banner Saga 3, as well as a few bonus items. That package will release for the PS4 and Xbox One and retail for $39.99.
We look forward to seeing more new and dramatic experiences the final chapter of this beloved RPG will bring. Let us know in the comments if you'll be picking up The Banner Saga 3 when it releases this summer!