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The Banner Saga 2 Hands-on preview: You depress me in the best way possible

Few games have left me quite so heartbroken as The Banner Saga. This tactical strategy game was absolutely brutal in its gameplay and its storyline. The end of the world has come for the races of human and varl in the form of the dredge. Those beasts have no mercy, and your caravan is brought to its knees in the story of minor victories over constant struggle.

Man. It was rough. I loved it, but the game ends on such a somber cliff-hanger that the time between then and the upcoming release of its sequel has been darn near unbearable for me.

Here we are, though, with a fully playable build of The Banner Saga 2 at E3.

I’m going to keep this little write-up free of story content from here on out in case you’ve never played or even heard of the first Banner Saga. Just know that this is a world on the verge of ruin thanks to the dredge. There was already a war between clans, within clans and between the races of humans and these giants called the varl. The dredge have just made matters worse, and enemies have become “friends” in order to save themselves from doom.

It’s tough stuff. You have to manage a full caravan of people on your journey from point to point in both games. You’ll need to keep supplies and morale up so that no one dies or leaves. Death is permanent in combat. Dialogue choices can have absolutely dire affects on your caravan and heroes.

It’s a hard and brutal game.

The actual combat is over-the-head tactical strategy. You’ll move with action points and deal attacks to enemies. Enemies have armor that needs to be broken down until real damage can be done. That’s the very basic, general gist of how the game works.

The Banner Saga 2 picks up where the first left off, and that includes adapting to whatever choices or outcomes you had with your campaign.

I played the game for maybe 30 or 45 minutes, and I was already hit with a barrage of hard decisions and a battle that wiped out three members of my squad that would have forced me to boot up an old save. The difficulty curve of the first? Ha, no, that’s gone. That line continues after a quick “hey, remember how to play this” segment.

The fact that all the strife and anxiety I felt a while back when playing the first game returns within minutes of starting this sequel is huge for me. No game really relaxed and stressed me out quite like The Banner Saga, and as someone who loved that about the first, I’m excited to say that’s returning for the second.

Stoic Saga, good luck. I can’t wait to lose, get really depressed and try again.

The Banner Saga 2 is bound for the PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this year.


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Joey Davidson

Joey Davidson leads the gaming department here on TechnoBuffalo. He's been covering games online for more than 10 years, and he's a lover of all...Joey Davidson leads the gaming department here on TechnoBuffalo. He's been covering games online for more than 10 years, and he's a lover of all...


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