The Banner Saga 3 Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com The Banner Saga 3 RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network The Banner Saga 3: Waves Combat Tips Guide https://www.gameskinny.com/p6r5t/the-banner-saga-3-waves-combat-tips-guide https://www.gameskinny.com/p6r5t/the-banner-saga-3-waves-combat-tips-guide Thu, 26 Jul 2018 09:00:01 -0400 Emily (Pokeflute)

The one big new addition in The Banner Saga 3 is waves combat, which is a sort of quasi-endless battle. Enemies come in waves: after fighting a mandatory first wave, you choose whether you want to stay and fight additional waves or flee with what you have. Fighting through all the waves earns you more renown (the game's currency) and a rare item.

Wave combat really exemplifies the risk vs reward philosophy of the series, and it's a great addition to the game. Here are a few tips on using waves combat battles to your advantage.

Minor spoilers for The Banner Saga 3 follow.

General Tips

Before each round, you’re given the opportunity to arrange your heroes on the battlefield. Placing your varl in front and forming a shield around your weaker units allows them more protection when the enemies come in. If you have ranged units, they can still attack from behind the varl when enemies get close.

Because of their extraordinary blocking abilities, varl are the most important allies to keep alive. They're capable of taking the most hits and dealing the most damage, so they're invaluable when trying to fend off large enemy waves.

While you may want to try to fight as many waves as you can, it’s important to remember that any units that fall in combat will be injured until you get another chance to rest. This holds especially true in the Darkness journey chapters, where you’re never sure where you’ll get your next opportunity to rest. It’s a good idea to use characters you don’t normally use, so if they become injured, your best fighters aren’t affected.

When you have a chance to bring in reinforcements, think about your strategy for the previous round and how it went. If your units were getting killed too easily, swap in a few varl for more tank power. If the enemies seemed to be focusing on your units’ shields, including a mender would also be a good idea.

The most important thing is to learn from the previous round and adjust your strategy for the rounds to come. Allies that remain on the battlefield do not heal between rounds, so that’s another reason to include a mender in the second round if you hadn’t already.

In these battles, willpower is best used for attacks and abilities. Using it to move farther may put a unit at risk to be surrounded, which can result in a quick loss.

Save your willpower for tearing down enemies’ shields and strength. It is restored each round depending on your units’ morale, but be mindful of using it all during the first round if you plan to use the same units in later rounds.

Health and strength are one combined stat. Because enemies’ strength decreases as their health decreases, it can be a good idea to attack several different enemies and get their health/strength down a little bit rather than focusing on one enemy. Focusing on one enemy leaves you vulnerable to other units whose health/strength you haven’t whittled down yet.

It might be tempting to fight your way through wave combat battles as soon as they become available, but it’s a good idea to wait until you have a better idea of how your units work and which are best for your fighting style. This also gives you a chance to promote them and give them new titles, which provide perks that can be used in these battles.

Take into consideration the size and shape of the battlefield as well as environmental hazards during a wave combat battle. While varl are good fighters and excellent tanks, it’s difficult to maneuver them through small and narrow battlefields, particularly when environmental hazards are present. In that case, it’s better to have smaller and more nimble units, like horseborn, in your party.

You won’t know a battle is wave combat until you defeat all the enemies in the first round. This makes things difficult, because if you intend to continue to fight waves, it’s important to play defensively and preserve your units’ strength and shields.

A good way to tell if a battle is wave combat is if the enemies seem a little easier than the ones you’ve fought in other battles. Since waves combat battles have multiple rounds, the enemies in each round are a little weaker to make up for there being more of them. If the enemies seem a decent bit weaker, there’s a good chance you’re in a waves combat battle.

Story-Specific Tips

Arberrang

You can be a little more daring in wave combat battles during the Arberrang chapters because you have more units to choose from, which means there’s less of an issue if some of your units are injured. You also have easier access to items at Arberrang’s marketplace, making the items you may win here less important; you're also more likely to get a chance to rest, which means that unit injury isn't as big of a deal as it is in the Darkness chapters.

Using allies' abilities effectively is key to succeeding in wave combat battles; they can help rearrange enemies or deal extra damage. Gudmundr's Bloody Flail ability is an excellent choice for the Arberrang battles because it cuts down enemy armor and strength at the same time. It's good to use when he's near death because its power isn't affected by his current strength.

Willpower flows more freely in Arberrang wave combat thanks to the ability to restore one willpower to a unit following a kill. Enemies certainly won't be conservative with their willpower, so feel free to use yours to strike back just as hard. Willpower can also be used effectively with abilities, and they pack more punch if you use more willpower.

The Darkness

If you’re fighting a wave battle in the Darkness chapters, Juno is always a good choice. Not only does she act as a pseudo-tank by absorbing damage with her willpower, but she can also revive herself if she’s killed. She doesn’t do a lot of damage, but having a character that can come back to life repeatedly is extremely useful.

Warped bears should be priority targets in the Darkness chapters’. They’re almost more tanky than varl and have a lot of strength available to them. Use your willpower to enable abilities to confuse them or deal extra damage to ensure they don’t run behind your tanks and destroy your weaker units.

A good unit ability to use in Darkness battles is Apostate's Umbrage. It takes time to cast but grants all alive allies at least 3 strength (depending on the amount of willpower used during the cast). It also subtracts armor from allies, so there's a trade-off, but it's useful for granting your units additional last-minute strength to fight through a battle.

---

Juggling wave battles with the other needs of your party can be difficult, especially in a game like The Banner Saga where resource and unit management is paramount to victory.

You may not do so well in your first battle or two, but by the time the late game rolls around, you'll be much more comfortable with the strengths and weaknesses of your units and the risks you can take in these battles. Hang in there, and good luck with The Banner Saga 3!

]]>
The Banner Saga 3 Review: A Final Stand Against The Darkness https://www.gameskinny.com/hjbhj/the-banner-saga-3-review-a-final-stand-against-the-darkness https://www.gameskinny.com/hjbhj/the-banner-saga-3-review-a-final-stand-against-the-darkness Thu, 26 Jul 2018 09:15:02 -0400 Emily (Pokeflute)

Every day, the darkness grows closer to the walls of humanity's final stronghold. I have three days of supplies left. My units are hurt and tired, and they're starting to fight among themselves. A rebel leader is threatening to take over the city if we don't meet his demands. I'm given three choices: reason with him, imprison him, or try to kill him.

This is the world of The Banner Saga 3, where few things ever seem to go right.

In the first game of the series, a mysterious darkness emerged and began to swallow the world. Humanity was forced to continually retreat as the darkness warped and twisted everything in its path. Those heroes who set out to defeat it, alongside their band of allies, have been fleeing from this force for the span of two games, not knowing what caused the darkness or if there's anything they can do to stop it.

The Banner Saga 3 is the conclusion to the series' dramatic narrative and the denouement of the trilogy. And despite a few frustrations, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.

Note: Minor spoilers for The Banner Saga 3 follow.

Painting a Beautiful Picture

When you first boot up the game, the game's beautiful art and engrossing animation are immediately apparent. The game's colors are striking and vibrant, and the environments are extremely detailed; when walking through the streets of Arberrang, you can see little stick-figure-versions of each of the game's different races, creating a unique look at a thriving, if endangered city. Add to that the game's entrancing animated sequences, and The Banner Saga 3 stands as one of the prettiest entries in the series.

Despite its beauty, the world of The Banner Saga 3 is undeniably dark, and all of the game's artistic aspects reinforce that vibe. Landscapes frequently dwarf the characters, making you feel small in comparison to everything that's happening.

And that's reinforced by the game's dynamic sound effects, which rise, fall, and change based on dialogue and the soundtrack; it makes the game feel very cohesive, especially when you consider the voice acting is also excellent. In short, the game's tone is fully realized: the dark mood is relentless and definitely puts you in the shoes of a doomed group travelers fighting for the salvation of the world.

However, while I enjoyed the sound effects, I wasn't so enthused with the game's music. While the orchestral suite can often feel grandiose, music is often recycled (particularly in battles), and obvious loop points get annoying after a while.

Music was a high point in the previous two games, and I wish that feeling carried over to The Banner Saga 3 -- but it just didn't strike me as much as other orchestral game soundtracks.

Telling a Story That Keeps You Invested

My favorite part of TBS3 would hands down be the story. The scope is huge and the characters are engaging and unique. The game's many dialogue choices and action options make the game feel as though you are truly directing this caravan of refugees on their journey. With plenty of twists and turns, it's heartening that the game's big plot twists aren't obvious. 

However, while the story keeps you entertained, it can be a little obtuse if you haven't played the first two games. Honestly, I wish it was a little more ingratiating and perhaps contained a glossary with important terms and histories that could easily help both the newcomer and the veteran catch up on before diving in. 

Without giving anything away, the amount of choice I had in the game's ending was much more than I thought it would be. Everything that happens makes you feel as though you are impacting the climax in a meaningful and demonstrable way. Not all of the game's choices are clear-cut, and although it sometimes feels unfair being penalized by a "bad" choice, your choices carry substantial weight, making things all the more interesting. 

The Banner Saga 3 is one of the few games that truly gives the impression that what happens at the end of its story is because of you, even if some of its story elements can feel a bit long-winded and in some places, generic. 



Moving Men (And Women)

Despite having such a strong story, The Banner Saga 3 struggles a little bit when it comes to its gameplay. The usual mix of RPG-style stats and upgrades and turn-based strategy gameplay is present here, and it's mostly unchanged from the previous two games. Small touches, like asking for confirmation when moving, acting, and ending a turn, are really helpful; they make the relatively difficult combat feel a little more forgiving. 

However, this game is clearly not meant for newcomers, and that shows in the combat. The tutorial is effective but not comprehensive, and there are few explanations as to how to use items and techniques effectively. In other words, unless you want to be a wee bit lost, you really need to play the first two games before playing this one.

One helpful aspect of The Banner Saga 3 dulls that throw-you-in-the-deep-end feeling: the game continues even if you lose a battle, which ensures that you never get bogged down or stuck. That doesn’t mean there aren’t repercussions for losing — your units are all injured and you don’t get as much renown — but as someone who gets frustrated easily when stuck in games, it’s a welcome feature.

The maps themselves are interesting, and many have unique layouts and situations, while environmental hazards add a strategic layer to battles and contribute to the dark atmosphere (it often felt as though the map itself was after my party). In the darkness chapters, environmental hazards can also help the enemy, adding yet another layer of challenge. 

The one big new addition is waves combat, which is a sort of quasi-endless battle mode. As the name implies, enemies come in waves and you choose whether you want to stay and fight another wave or flee with what you have. Fighting through all the waves earns you more renown (the game's currency) and a rare item. Waves combat really exemplifies the risk vs reward philosophy of the series, and I enjoyed deciding when to fight and when to flee.

Besides its endless mode, there aren’t a lot of totally new features in TBS3. There's little doubt focus was placed on making an effective conclusion to the trilogy and including fans’ favorite aspects of the series. 

Daunting Difficulty

Even playing on Normal, this game is tough. Though the AI sometimes ignores an obvious move (particularly during the Arberrang chapters). the combat is unforgiving. You have to use everything at your disposal to emerge with minimal losses. In many ways, the combat steers clear of hero or power fantasies. In fact, his is exactly the opposite, a simulation in a complete lack of power.

There’s a difficulty spike in the chapters that focus on the journey into the darkness, and it’s really apparent. I know it’s done to emphasize the difference between the game's two groups, but it feels a little unfair at times. I didn’t like feeling like I was set up to fail in a battle.

Because of this, the hopelessness of the story bleeds into the mechanics, which is both a positive and a negative. It makes the game's atmosphere feel very cohesive, but it also leads to frustration when you know the game is hard just to make you lose faith in your party.

The difficulty gets enhanced by the game's innate unit control, which can get a little shaky at times as some units get hidden behind others, making it difficult to accurately command them. I wish there was an option to rotate the battlefield or reduce the opacity of enemy units to enable easier movement. On top of that, I would have also like to see more quality of life changes, like the option to toggle an overlay with all enemies’ available move and action areas highlighted, similar to Fire Emblem.

Final Verdict

The Banner Saga 3 is a great game. I loved the game's art, sound effects, and story, all of which contributed to a beautiful package. The game is very effective as a dramatic conclusion to the trilogy, and any fan who loved the two previous games will find a lot to love here.

However, I wasn't impressed with the combat; it could have used a little bit of difficulty tweaking and polish. I also wish there was more to help newcomers, though I understand that they aren't the target audience of this game.

The Banner Saga 3 told a story that I won't soon forget, and I can't wait to see what Stoic does next.

The Banner Saga 3 is available for PC/Mac, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch, with a mobile version coming at a later date.

[Note: The developer provided the copy of The Banner Saga 3 used in this preview.]

]]>
The Banner Saga 3 Preview: Act 3 of a Long, Heroic Journey https://www.gameskinny.com/j0y76/the-banner-saga-3-preview-act-3-of-a-long-heroic-journey https://www.gameskinny.com/j0y76/the-banner-saga-3-preview-act-3-of-a-long-heroic-journey Wed, 27 Jun 2018 09:00:01 -0400 Emily (Pokeflute)

There’s no doubt The Banner Saga is one of the most well-received indie RPGs in recent memory. It's a fantastic franchise that uses great gameplay to support a deep story.

There's also no doubt that series fans are eagerly awaiting the series' third installment, The Banner Saga 3. Allegedly the final act to indie turn-based strategy series, there's a lot riding on the shoulders of The Banner Saga 3 -- especially for series loyalists.

Building upon the intriguing mythological Norse narrative of the first two games, this entry puts players back into a rich, embattled world full of nefarious dark forces bent on its destruction. Whether the final product wraps the story together in neat bundle remains to be seen, but thanks to developer Stoic, we were able to get a glimpse of the game's first three chapters.

Here's what we saw.

*Some minor spoilers follow, so read on at your own risk.

Starting Out on Our New, Yet Familiar Journey

Much like The Banner Saga 2 brought over your progress from the first game, the series' latest installment will carry over your choices from the previous two games if they’re on your system or PC.

If you haven’t played the first two entries (or don't have the save data on your system of PC), you'll start by making BS2’s big ending choice. If you've yet to finish BS2, I won't spoil the ending for you here, but you won't have to worry about starting completely fresh whether you're a newcomer or not.

The game includes a tutorial for those who haven’t played before or need a refresher. It does a good job of not only teaching you how to move and attack, but it gives you tips to help formulate strategies later on. It’s a short but effective tutorial, although I do wish it had included a little bit more information about different classes and weapons.

Right from the start, the game is just as gorgeous as it's ever been, with hair and capes moving elegantly in the wind and vibrant colors striking a deep contrast to the game's more subdued environmental palettes. And rounding out the artistic feel of this entry, the sound effects in The Banner Saga 3 are also great: they rise, fall, and change according to dialogue and the game's soundtrack, making the game feel very cohesive.

Making Choices and Doing Battle

A short cinematic introduces the first chapter of our preview, and right off the bat, your choices matter. You can choose to be coy or ask difficult questions of yourself and the game's characters, but in the series' ultimate chapter, the decisions you make carry even more weight than before.

Like previous games in the franchise, there’s no telling what impacts your choices could have on future events, but if you've ever played a Banner Saga game before, you know it's always wise to choose carefully as the answers you give have the potential to alter major events in the game.

It would be nice if the game had a command to toggle all enemies’ available move areas -- much like Fire Emblem does.

And the same can be said of choosing your layout for each battle and encounter. After choosing your units, the game allows you to arrange them prior to the start of the battle. It’s nice that the game asks you for confirmation when moving, acting, and ending a turn -- especially if you’re guilty of making hasty or accidental decisions in strategy games, so this helps to prevent you from making an error.

It would be nice if the game had a command to toggle all enemies’ available move areas -- much like Fire Emblem does. It would help lure enemies toward you so you receive a movement advantage, but as far as we can tell, that is currently not in the game.

On top of that, some battles follow the formula explored in The Banner Saga 2: environmental hazards. In our demo, fire was the hobgoblin waylaying our warriors on the battlefield. This specific hazard forces your units to move out of the way or risk strength damage. Growing every few turns, the hazard adds a strategic layer to battles -- making it feel as if the map itself was after our party. 

Unit promotion is back as well, and I used it to give one of my party members a new title: “Twice-Born.” Promotions allow access to new active and passive skills; this one allows the affected party member to revive with one STR/WIL after dying. They’re useful wrinkles that you’ll be pretty familiar with at this point -- not ones you should ignore by any means.

Finally, a new kind of combat called "waves combat" is introduced in our demo. The idea here is that you last as long as you can against waves of enemies, and if you defeat the final boss, you earn a powerful item. It’s similar in some ways to survival mode in The Banner Saga 2. You can choose to flee between waves with no penalty. After the first round of this battle, we decided to flee, as only two of our units were still standing.

Assembling the Clans

In our demo, there wasn’t a whole lot “new” to the tried and true Banner Saga formula. If you liked the first two games, there’s a good chance you’re going to like The Banner Saga 3 as well. You’ll find some difficult strategic decisions here, both on the character management and resource management fronts.

We really enjoyed the strategic combat that the series is known for, and the art and animation are as beautiful as ever. On the downside, the music seems to be a little more generic than that of past entries, and we had a little difficulty with unit control on the battlefield (sometimes units will get hidden behind others, making it difficult to accurately command them). There are also some distracting grammatical errors in the game’s dialogue, but hopefully, those will be fixed before launch.

On the whole, we’re looking forward to finishing the game and seeing what the ending brings. With all the twists and turns that the first three chapters alone have had, we’re sure that the ending will be a treat to experience.

The Banner Saga 3 will come out on July 26 for PC/Mac, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch, with a mobile version coming at a later date.

[Note: The developer provided the copy of The Banner Saga 3 used in this preview.]

]]>
The Banner Saga 3 PAX East Preview: Warped Enemies, Wave Combat, & New Playable Characters https://www.gameskinny.com/81ikf/the-banner-saga-3-pax-east-preview-warped-enemies-wave-combat-new-playable-characters https://www.gameskinny.com/81ikf/the-banner-saga-3-pax-east-preview-warped-enemies-wave-combat-new-playable-characters Fri, 13 Apr 2018 10:44:21 -0400 Felicia Miranda

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

Character meet on a snowy plain in The Banner Saga 3 demo at PAX East 2018

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

The Banner Saga 3 party select screen shows new and old characters alike

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

The Banner Saga 3's new healer, Alfrun, stands holding a staff and wears a green tunic

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

A snowy battlefield is shown in The Banner Saga 3

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 Banner Saga 3's promotion screen shows Bulwark and the Heroic Title

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!

]]>
The Banner Saga 3 Has Been Fully Funded - New Stretch Goal Announced https://www.gameskinny.com/ywj2p/the-banner-saga-3-has-been-fully-funded-new-stretch-goal-announced https://www.gameskinny.com/ywj2p/the-banner-saga-3-has-been-fully-funded-new-stretch-goal-announced Wed, 01 Feb 2017 01:26:24 -0500 Rob Kershaw

Following the announcement that The Banner Saga 3 would be Kickstarted, Stoic have confirmed that it is now fully funded -- less than 7 days after the original campaign began.

Stoic's co-founder and Technical Director, John Watson, also revealed that since the initial $200,000 target was met, a stretch goal of $250,000 has been added which will allow gamers to play as Dredge if the new target is also hit.

Offering his thanks to the backers, Watson said:

“We’re thrilled to have funded the Kickstarter in less than a week. Once again it’s down to the amazing support of the community, and we truly appreciate every backer that has helped us reach our funding goal.

This is huge for us and have now revealed the first stretch goal! A big thanks again to all of our supporters for helping us get this far.”

The Viking role-playing game's third chapter will take players beyond the wall of Darkness into a previously unseen world. Player choice once again comes to the fore, and the decisions you make will be as important to your endgame as your victories on the battlefield.

With 34 days to go and the target at over $215,000 at the time of writing, it looks likely that the first stretch goal will easily be met. We're anticipating more goals to be added as the Kickstarter rumbles on.

Did you back the Kickstarter? Are you excited by the new stretch goal? Let us know in the comments!

]]>
The Banner Saga 3 Kickstarter is Happening https://www.gameskinny.com/iq3d8/the-banner-saga-3-kickstarter-is-happening https://www.gameskinny.com/iq3d8/the-banner-saga-3-kickstarter-is-happening Tue, 24 Jan 2017 06:09:18 -0500 Rob Kershaw

The Banner Saga developer Stoic has announced that the third game in the lauded series is not only still in development, but will be funded by Kickstarter to polish off the final touches.

The first two games of the Banner Saga trilogy were met with critical acclaim -- not to mention multiple BAFTA nominations. But the first sequel did not perform as financially well as the opening chapter. Much of this could be explained by the timing of The Banner Saga hitting Kickstarter at its pinnacle, before the crowdfunding site became the go-to destination for wannabe developers (and thus oversaturated with projects). 

However, the studio is refusing outside funding other than what it makes through this Kickstarter campaign and aims to raise at least $200,000 over the next 42 days in order to complete the last chapter of the Viking role-playing game's story.

Whilst the stretch goals are yet to be defined, the pledge rewards at the top two tiers include a seat at a board meeting where you can help shape the entire game's direction, and a likeness of yourself in the game.

Are you excited to learn about the final chapter of The Banner Saga? Will you be helping to fund the game through Kickstarter? Let us know in the comments!

]]>