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Equlan
01-15-2014, 04:32 AM
(EDIT: I'm of course very interested in reading other peoples' first impressions as well, preferably spoilerfree!)

First off, I'm liking the game a lot so far. I've gotten a bit into the third chapter.

Music, to be honest I haven't noticed it too much yet, but I feel that's because it does a good job of supporting the game and its mood, rather than drawing the attention of the player away from the game and towards the music. If that makes sense.

Combat (playing on normal here) I find to be well-balanced so far. I played a lot of Factions in the first months after its release, but haven't played it for the last few. I find that I've never been at risk of losing a combat so far. But I did relent from one "follow-up combat" after a charge (I committed to another and won). However, it's not a cakewalk either, I often have one or two wounded heroes after a combat.
I imagine that means it'll be kind of rough to a total newcomer, but not unfair.

Travel works pretty well so far and is just beautiful. I don't know if all villages are on the map, but if not that might be a small issue. Distance is kind of hard to gauge, especially in terms of "days worth of travel", which is relevant when it comes to whether you should buy additional supplies. Need to play more to really evaluate the game balance here.

Two issues I'd like to see fixed if possible:
1) This one might not need fixing really, depends on the intentions with the system. I understand that resting has a positive effect on morale. But how much? I've rested a day or two without the morale level improving. Is that supposed to be more or less opaque? Similarly, at first I thought negative events would impact morale adversely, but it seems the mere passage of time does as well?

2) A few times I'm unsure what my options actually mean, when faced with a dilemma (or trilemma or whatever it's called when you have five options!). Two examples:
a) When warring and you're asked to charge, use formations, retreat, or oversee (and the option I've forgotten). First off, I'm confused as to whether I'm deciding how to use my heroes or my regular troops. As in, am I charging with my heroes or with my troops? Apparently you charge with your heroes? Not sure. If you retreat, is that the heroes retreat and leave the fighting to the troops, or do everyone attempt to retreat? What does "Oversee!" even mean here?
b) At one point in chapter three you arrive at a village with Dredge inside. Mogr suggests facing them on an open field. Your two options are something like "Take the fight to the enemy" and "Move around the village". I wanted to fight the Dredge, but chose the second option, because I (perhaps foolishly) took it to mean skirting the village in the hopes of drawing the Dredge out into a pitched battle, rather than entering (presumably) their ambush.
Clearer phrasing or a parenthesis describing what an option means more precisely would be a huge improvement on only, so far, real annoyance I have with the game.
Before I end this, I want to be clear that I don't want to be told the result of my choice, just the intent, if that makes sense.

Leartes
01-15-2014, 05:48 AM
I'm at the start of chapter 3.

So far I really love the game. It is so beautiful :D Also I love how you can roleplay your characters and I'm sure I'll make a another playthrough sometime later where I decide my guys to be different. Chapter 1 I was the varl kings man. Helping humans reluctantly because they pay their tithe and the king is supposed to protect them. Chapter 2 I play with a more heroic touch taking personal risks to save my clanfolk etc. Not sure how I'll do chapter 3 point of view. I guess in my first playthrough I'll stick to all reasonable characters, but I'm looking forward to play the game again with totally reckless guys or cowards etc.

Also I got to second the complain on rations. I started chapter 2 with 3 days of rations and I bought enough for 12 days at the earliest opportunity but I guess I'd have been fine without buying anything. Not sure if that is always the case or if I was lucky. It is damn hard to judge distances on the worldmap and additionally there might be small towns etc.

As it was shown in the pax demo I guess this is no spoiler:
Egil died on me. Anyone know what to do to keep him for next time? Is the outcome randomized or did I simply chose the wrong options?

Rensei
01-15-2014, 06:43 AM
+ Decisions - I normally try to avoid making ones, and require lots of save slots for RPGs, that have Your decisions affect the world. Was terrified at first, but before reaching chapter three I realised there is nothing I can do about it, and that living with my decisions (and my defeat) can be fun. There is still a little munchkin in me telling me to try to cheat the game and pick the best dialogue available, but I realised by now that there often isn't just one best answer.

+ Combat - Loved it in Factions, love it here. The AI is a bit silly sometimes and hardly challenging, but it's something I always wanted in Factions.

+ New classes, advancing beyond level 3, giving beloved units OP stats.

- Subtitles - I don't mind reading, I love reading. The voiceover is a nice feature but hardly a necessity for me. Subtitles for the narrated parts on the other hand are a must. The actors, like me, don't speak the cleanest English making it them hard to understand. Especially since some of us have to tone the volume down.

- Wars - Instructions unclear, Varls went on a Tauromaquia spree. Seriously - anything other than Charge seems like shooting Yourself in foot - You loose people, loot, experience and renown... They are not sufficiently explained. I picked oversee hoping for TotalWar-ish army command and ended up losing an easy fight.

- One save slot - a minor one, but it hurts not being able to start over without losing the progress on the first one (I still want to finish it, I just already feel like I already could have made some things better).

balnoisi
01-15-2014, 07:15 AM
As it was shown in the pax demo I guess this is no spoiler:
Egil died on me. Anyone know what to do to keep him for next time? Is the outcome randomized or did I simply chose the wrong options?

i didn't get that far yet, but that character can survive : there's an achievement for it.

raven2134
01-15-2014, 07:18 AM
I agree with the morale being hard to tell actually. I've also had the experience where you'd prefer to know how fast its dropping/moving exactly so then you could tell how much resting you'd need to do to keep it up.

In general I also think there's a lot of events where you lose supplies which aren't balanced by as many events where you could gain. Although this is probably because you can always buy supplies at towns. So if you had supply gain events, you could steamroll through the game if you learned how to pick up supplies from there.

In general though I think the latter parts aren't yet at a state where you really feel like you're managing supplies/rest/and combat/injuries. It's fine that it's more travelling and violent encounters (combat) but it's not quite in the right spot if you're pretty much just buying all the supplies you can in between towns to get by :p

Equlan
01-15-2014, 07:35 AM
- One save slot - a minor one, but it hurts not being able to start over without losing the progress on the first one (I still want to finish it, I just already feel like I already could have made some things better).

It's not a perfect substitute, but there seems to be separate auto-saves at the beginning of each Chapter, maybe that helps you? :)

I also agree about subtitles, I think they are a must in all games. Even if the spoken English is without accents/dialects (as if that was a thing) - we're not all native speakers or hear equally well for that matter.

@Leartes: About Egil, he has survived in my game so far. I can pm you what I remember about my choices. Don't know if there's chance involved.

netnazgul
01-15-2014, 07:43 AM
Yeah, also concerning music - it would feel better if there was some mild and calm background music in dialogue screens, as for now there is just ambient sound which is usually too quiet. Just saying.

GreenDread
01-15-2014, 08:20 AM
@Leartes: I had Egil survive (so far) by taking him and Alette with me into battle, winning it with everybody alive and then just shooting directly at the varl. It got distracted enough that Iver could save both youngsters. I'd guess, you could also save them by not taking them with you, the battle should still be doable with just Iver and Rook.

As to my first impression:

Awesome game so far, pretty much what I expected. :) The battles are not challenging (so far) in the sense of winning, except for the chase option in wars, sometimes. AI - well, it's not impressive, but the Dredge don't have that many options, either. With some Factions-experience, it's just a question if you do mistakes yourself.
The war interface resembles the one from KoDP and it seems to work similarly. But explaining it would actually make sense, especially if Formations really just means easier battle, but more losses.

Music is just GREAT and could get some more spotlight, I think. The OST is one of the best I've heard.

I like the single save-slot idea. Save-scumming would really ruin the experience.

Missing the option the restat, though. Most characters have way too much WP. I like the Warden idea, but this fact makes his ability pretty pointless so far.

Aleonymous
01-15-2014, 08:26 AM
I am not gonna go on a list of the good things, because it will take forever.
I am not gonna go on a list of the things that could be done differently or improved, because you'll send me away.

What I am gonna do, is a small list of minor issues I've encountered, that if addressed could improve the experience. So, here goes:


Subtitles -- There's hearing-impaired people and non-native speakers. VO is so little, that this seems easy to amend.
Assemble your Heroes -- No music/sound? I spend a lot of time in there planning my build, especially when there's a lot of options.
Assemble your Heroes -- See unit stats? I understand that promoting and swapping items is not "right", but stats viewing?
Battle Deployment -- I'd like to see the enemy movement and attack ranges. I've memorized them, but it would help!
Battle UI -- When activating some abilities, the buff/debuff icon briefly flashes on all unit portraits, not only the one(s) targeted.
Battle Aftermath -- I'd like to jump straight into the "Heroes" screen, not directly back to travel, to promote units between consecutive battles.
Dialogue -- Music or ambient sounds? Sometimes they seem too empty.
Morale (vs. Population & Distance & Time & Supplies) -- I know its very complicated, but some approximation of how they relate would help...


(Sorry for double posting. If that's the case, consider my comments as a +1! ;))

quartex
01-15-2014, 08:50 AM
The game is amazing, but I wanted to add a few of the rough edges that I noticed while playing:


Battle Aftermath One of my pet peeves is that I can't see how injured units are after the battle until we camp. I understand not being able to promote units or change items until you camp - that makes sense to me. And maybe it also makes sense that you wouldn't know how bad a wound is until you stop to make camp, but it makes it hard to judge how urgent it is for the caravan to stop and rest.
Promoting Units I was surprised that I couldn't rearrange stats like I did in Factions. I suppose being able to max/min your characters doesn't make sense in Factions when they are actual people. (I immediately noticed the slow amount of armor break) But I was annoyed that when you promote a unit the 2 points you add to each stat are set in stone and can't be changed later.
More Help Info I know Stoic doesn't have time to write a full manual, but I would still appreciate more help information in-game, especially concerning how Supplies and Morale work - these seems like important concepts that are only overed in the promotional videos. And it would be nice for someone to explain what each of the five War battle options do. Finally I was confused by the abbreviations on some of the item descriptions, I suppose we have to wait for fans to update the Banner Saga to get explanations for what all the items do.
Dialogue To respond to Aleo I distinctly remember music during the dialogue in Strand, but I understand what you're saying.

Quoorl
01-15-2014, 08:58 AM
I've been having a lot of fun playing the game so far. I really like the level of difficulty; I'm playing on normal and I feel pretty confident going into any single battle, but often I have to pass over the clean up because I just don't know if I could take another big guy.

I really, really love the music, the perfect score always seems to be playing whenever I roll up to a godstone.

So far, my only real complaint is that I'm not picking up enough renown, and a lot of my characters are sitting around waiting for promotions I can't afford to give them. I like how I always feel like I'm scraping by on supplies, praying that I see a new town on the horizon and that I've got enough renown to get me supplies for the next leg. I just wish these two feelings were independent. Having so many heroes up for promotion but without enough renown to do it feels like I'm failing somewhere.

neonovas
01-15-2014, 09:42 AM
Having a great time myself! Seems like most of my complaints are similar to everyone elses and are fairly minor. On chapter7, day 130


Assemble your Heroes -- See unit stats? I understand that promoting and swapping items is not "right", but stats viewing?
Agreed.


So far, my only real complaint is that I'm not picking up enough renown, and a lot of my characters are sitting around waiting for promotions I can't afford to give them. I like how I always feel like I'm scraping by on supplies, praying that I see a new town on the horizon and that I've got enough renown to get me supplies for the next leg. I just wish these two feelings were independent. Having so many heroes up for promotion but without enough renown to do it feels like I'm failing somewhere.
I'm having the same problem, 5/6 of the team i usually use all have at least 1 promotion (one could be Rank5 but is only Rank2). I'm also spending all the renown I have on supplies in towns an still starving. I know its supposed to be hard trying to stretch out supplies/renown/etc, so I'm wonder if I'm just missing something to get a bit more renown? The ability to sell some of the items I have but not using at markets for some extra renown would also be nice.


- Wars - Instructions unclear, Varls went on a Tauromaquia spree. Seriously - anything other than Charge seems like shooting Yourself in foot - You loose people, loot, experience and renown...
Agreed, I typically charge unless I know I have a lot of injured heroes. Then the follow up I'm not sure about, I choose the regroup but nothing ever pops up saying "heres your extra loot!"? and the one time I actually chased the Dredge down I ended up dying heh.

raven2134
01-15-2014, 10:33 AM
Oh yea I was hoping for more a few more effects animations like what made it into Factions :)

Some people milling about camp. Some animals or environmental movement on the combat boards.

Rensei
01-15-2014, 10:40 AM
Agreed, I typically charge unless I know I have a lot of injured heroes. Then the follow up I'm not sure about, I choose the regroup but nothing ever pops up saying "heres your extra loot!"? and the one time I actually chased the Dredge down I ended up dying heh.
I'm not sure which one is supposed to grant said bonus loot - chasing or regrouping :/


Assemble your Heroes -- No music/sound? I spend a lot of time in there planning my build, especially when there's a lot of options.
Not a must, but I'd kill for a Viking equivalent of "Prepare for deployment" tune from the new XCOM (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeLC55FOUCI) during preparations - a small thing that made battles exciting even before they started.

For people asking about Egil: don't take him and Alette into the battle or use the "Shoot it with an arrow" -> "Stop thinking! Shoot the dredge!" lines. You will have a few more chances to get the poor lad killed later on from what I can tell :)

Equlan
01-15-2014, 11:23 AM
@Rensei: About Egil I actually did exactly what you're recommending people avoid, and he survived in my game :) I dunno if there's a measure of randomness or one of us is remembering wrong.

Shigawire
01-15-2014, 12:09 PM
I would just like to congratulate John Watson's gang at Stoic with a successful game - one of the very first kickstarted games released for PC that also turned out very well received. :) I'm glad I backed it now.. because it's a beautiful and great game!

I agree with most people's criticisms:

+Beautiful game, art and music is all great

+Decent tutorial system to learn the ropes of combat

+Good combat system

+Good role playing system of choices

-Dialogue seems quiet, no voice overs most of the time, somtimes no ambient music in the background.

-Where did the music from the Kickstarter go? I REALLY liked that a lot.. listened thru the sound track and was disappointed that I didn't find it. I expected the music in the game to sound similar to that - it had a very interesting and eerie vibe to it.

-"Oddleif" is an exclusively male name in Norway :D But in Banner Saga, there's a woman named Oddleif.. I was like WTF?!

Senta
01-15-2014, 12:12 PM
I absolutely love the game, so much so, that I am forcing myself to take it easy as I don't want my playthrough to end! (how long is it, by the way? I'm taking it easy, resting when I can afford to spend supplies, picking every option that leads to a battle - and renown! and reading everything that there is).

art is stunning, obviously, choices are tough, characters are memorable (the main ones, at least). there's a fair amount of humor in the game in several dialogues (Tryggvi for instance).

Senta
01-15-2014, 12:17 PM
-"Oddleif" is an exclusively male name in Norway :D But in Banner Saga, there's a woman named Oddleif.. I was like WTF?!

number 1, it's a fantasy game after all ;)
number 2, it is actually explained in-game. her father wanted her to be a boy, hence the name. they do address it :)

quartex
01-15-2014, 12:20 PM
There was dialogue in the game between Rook and Oddleif where Oddleif said her father wanted a son so much that he named her before she was born and he realized his child was a girl. So the name is intentional, and a good name for a strong woman in a male dominated culture.

Senta
01-15-2014, 12:30 PM
I'm not sure which one is supposed to grant said bonus loot - chasing or regrouping :/[/SPOILER]

chasing does, every now and again. I've gotten a few items that way.

Shigawire
01-15-2014, 12:42 PM
Oh snap. Didn't notice that. :)
I also found this, about etymology:

From Wiki:
Oddleif er et nordisk mannsnavn og kvinnenavn med norrøn opprinnelse.
(Oddleif is a nordic male name and female name with norse origins)

So it seems it CAN be a female name, in Icelandic (the people who still is closest to true viking language)

Etymologi
Mannsnavnet Oddleif er dannet som en nyere form av det norrøne navnet Oddleifr, som er sammensatt av oddr, «odd, spiss, spyd», og leif, «arving, etterkommer». Kvinnenavnet Oddleif er dannet som en feminin form av Oddleifr.

So Oddleifr is the original name from viking age, composed of "oddr" meaning "point, spear" and "leif" meaning "heir, descendant." Oddleif is a feminine form of Oddleifr.

In Norway, Oddleif is only a male name, but not in Icelandic! :)

Colleteral_Skystrike
01-15-2014, 01:13 PM
First off: when I preordered this game my feelings were kind of mixed. It looked exciting, the Bioware background of the producers gave reason to hope. Recently, I had also played a bit of Factions and learnt to appreciate the combat system.
So far (early in Chapter 3) this game has exceeded my expectation by far! I am really impressed. Thank you!

Some suggestions:

I would like a second item slot. This would allow for more customization. Additionally, if the item rank was kept, this could also render low tier items viable in the later game. For example: a rank 5 character would have the choice to either wear 1 rank 5 item or he could wear two items of lower rank (rank 2+3 or rank 4+1).
Display the armor break and excertion stats in the battle. While not as crucial as strength, armor and willpower, it would be handy to see the two other stats as well. Yes, I am a bit lazy but it would save me from remembering who are my primary armor breakers or if I should use the horn because I could pump an attack further.


Some observations:

I like the two different parties. However it was far easier to bond with Rook's treck in the 2nd chapter. Not so much because of the characters but because of the greater urgency. Supplies were low in Rook's band pretty much from the start. My heros were harder pressed in the fights. It all felt more desperate. Hell, you have to send 2 kids into the fights just to get enough bodies.
The Varl party is rather unbalanced. It is great at dishing out damage but so far I have only one guy who is good at soaking it. Very often I have no choice but to fight at a turn-disadvantage because the Varls are so good at onehitting there enemies. On the other hand it is a nice change from Factions to be able to fight with more than 2 Varls.
Speermen feel underpowered (or I am bad at employing them). Obviously, I can see the offensive potential but in the Varl party Ludin quickly hit the reserve bench because I already lack characters that can soak damage. If I am not mistaken, speermen work best behind a human of the raider tree using their diagonal attack to strike with impunity; but those conditions only exist in Rook's party and I prefer the archers and trashers over the speerman.


Some praise:

This game made it very easy to accept my choices. RPG players get taught to save frequently and many of us tend to "correct" bad decisions via that crutch. In this game the urge to reload never arose for me. This may be because many dilemmas just don't have a perfect way out? This also ensures that I will replay the game to try out other options.
Combat: I like the system very much. It has an elegant simplicity. The different stats are well balanced and all are crucial. After reading a few reviews warning about the extremely hard battles, I opted to start on "easy". But I had already played ~two dozen battles in Factions, most of them successfully, "easy" turned out to be a little bit too easy and I quickly cranked up the difficulty. But I believe for players without any prior experience, "easy" is exactly right. I love that combat has consequences: wounded heros. Starting with "normal" an additional dilemma is thus added: camp and heal your heros or risk going into the next battle weakened. Creating a turn-advantage in a battle thus becomes a double-edged sword. Fantastic! This seems to be the recurring theme of the Banner Saga gameplay: there is no right choice, you just choose between different downsides!
No voice-over: sure, it might be nice but the writing managed to capture me easily enough. It manages to create atmosphere with relatively few words. It's impressive how good the writers have been at not overtaxing the player with endless texts through which you quickly scroll just to get on with it.
The artwork, especially the landscapes are stunningly beautiful.


One fear: I fear that this game may turn out to be shorter than I hope. I fear it may have only 5 chapters, I hope for 7 and dream of 9.

One predicition: I would be very surprised if this game didn't do reasonably well financially. It certainly has the quality to justify success. And I believe there are some early indicators towards success:

On steam it was high up in the topseller list for the last week (admittedly it hit the market during the post-Christmas low).
The previews and reviews were overall very positive.
I would be very surprised if this game wouldn't create a positive buzz and attract more customers via word-of-mouth.
There haven't been many good story-driven RPGs lately. Banner Sage fills a void.

Colleteral_Skystrike
01-15-2014, 01:25 PM
Ok, I wrote a long feedback but apparently it got lost when I hit "post". Damn, so here comes the shortened version:

Great game - thank you Stoic Studios, so far this has exceeded my expectations by far!

Some suggestions:

Display excertion and willpower along with the other stats in battle (it would become a bit more cluttered but also allow for better planning).
Add a 2nd item slot: more customization, but more importantly low tier items would remain useful in the later parts of the game: e.g. a rank 5 character could either wear 1 rank 5 item or two items of lower rank (rank 2+3 or rank 4+1)


Apart from that my lost post contained a lot of praise:

excellent writing: to the point (short is sweet), I don't miss voice-over
Banner Saga made me stick with my choices and - very unusual for an RPG - not even consider reloading. Perhaps because most often there isn't a right one but just a choice between different downsides?
Good combat mechanics. Every stat is important. The system has an elegant simplicity. Love that heros get wounded which increases the supply dilemma.
Gorgeous artwork, especially the landscapes.


Thank you!

netnazgul
01-15-2014, 01:38 PM
A bit of fire for the feedback - Yrsa's SnB coals stay forever after she drops dead on the field


Oh snap. Didn't notice that. :)

In Norway, Oddleif is only a male name, but not in Icelandic! :)
Strangely Nazgul is a persian/turkish female name meaning "shy rose" or "delicate flower"... :D

Rensei
01-15-2014, 02:45 PM
- Can't sell spare/low level bling bling - not only does it make the long line of heroes waiting for promotion sad, but also makes my inventory look like a mess.

Surtr
01-15-2014, 06:09 PM
I've been able to play only a couple of hours, but so far I really like the game. The art is truly beautiful, music is excellent, dialogue is well-written and combat is fun. I haven't encountered any bugs yet, which is great.

I think this was money well spent! Good job, devs! :)

RoBear
01-15-2014, 06:26 PM
On Chapter 2, enjoying the game so far. I found a minor spelling mistake in a conversation with Tryggvi after leaving Stogr and passing the godstone. I asked for more of his particular brand of advice and he said something about never trusting people; something about staring you in the eye through a helmet and lying. There was "your" istead of "you."

EDIT: Found a better place to post this.

Rymdkejsaren
01-15-2014, 07:41 PM
Strangely Nazgul is a persian/turkish female name meaning "shy rose" or "delicate flower"... :D

Imagine my surprise when a girl I met from Dubai introduced herself as Nazgul. The nerd in me was like "MARRY THIS ONE!".

DrunkZombie
01-15-2014, 08:45 PM
I was only interested in the SP game, so I purposely didn't play the multiplayer. So I was a complete noob when I started playing today, although a vet of strategy games. I played a few hours on regular and the difficulty seems about right. I have won every battle, but I often have someone get hurt. Although it seems like it is balanced, the turn order thing bothers me. I don't like how if I drop enemies and now outnumber them, I gain no advantage because they get extra turns to keep the turns alternating. Which means you fighters can stand there and get attacked multiple times by the same enemy as they get extra turns. What was the reasoning behind this? I have never played a game before where if you have four fighters, and the enemy has two, they might as well have four because they both get to move and attack twice to keep things even.

netnazgul
01-16-2014, 12:25 AM
I don't like how if I drop enemies and now outnumber them, I gain no advantage because they get extra turns to keep the turns alternating. Which means you fighters can stand there and get attacked multiple times by the same enemy as they get extra turns. What was the reasoning behind this? I have never played a game before where if you have four fighters, and the enemy has two, they might as well have four because they both get to move and attack twice to keep things even.
The thing you don't like such mechanics doesn't mean it's bad, it's just different. You just need to adapt playing it, it has it's charm and is in fact very well balanced (through the Factions of course).
Try not to kill things as quick as possible (apart from when it's absolutely nesessary ie when the target blocks path for your next character to have a good move and/or the target has a powerful ability that will be used if you don't kill it) and instead try to cripple them and make them ineffectual. In general there are concepts of Turn Advantage (having less units than opponent) and Stat Advantage (having better stats than opponent). If you have the first without having the second (or at least being on par with the second) then TA doesn't do much.

Jaxzar
01-16-2014, 02:46 AM
So far it's one of the best games I've played, in nearly every category...ignoring the fact that I've known about it for a long while. I like the music, the atmosphere, the depth of storytelling, the animations - it's obviously a well-made, polished game.

That said, I dislike the random events that come up and kill characters. So far I haven't found any "intelligent decision" or any reliable way to not immediately lose a great character. Perhaps I've made all the wrong decisions but I'm to chapter 3 now and every "random event" decision I've made has resulted in the loss of a character. Random event meaning something that puts a specific character in mortal peril. This has left me with the distinct feeling that I'm a moron, which does not contribute to making the game enjoyable.

I'm the type of person who would rather continue on normal difficulty, but if this keeps up I may decide to switch to easy just to avoid losing a good character every 20 minutes. After three of these now, it's starting to feel a bit ridiculous.

Leartes
01-16-2014, 03:49 AM
That said, I dislike the random events that come up and kill characters. So far I haven't found any "intelligent decision" or any reliable way to not immediately lose a great character. Perhaps I've made all the wrong decisions but I'm to chapter 3 now and every "random event" decision I've made has resulted in the loss of a character.

How many characters have you lost (and which ones)? I have lost 2 so far and I'm right at the start of chapter 5. With Rook's party I had always an abundance of characers but in Hakon's group I had to fight my way through armies of dredge with just 4 varl.
It worked out. Not sure if the varl were just so strong in combination with the turnadvantage of just having 4 characters (I had stats like 11/18, 16/14, 14/14 and 19/11 pretty soon) and I stomped through everything. Therefore chapter 3 was the easiest so far and I could charge and chase in every battle despite having only 4 heroes to work with.
Not sure if fights scale with the number of heroes or if this is what naturally happens when 3 of your guys can one-hit weak dredge. Note that this is no complaint! I think chapter 3 is perfect ramp up towards chapter 4 getting harder and harder. I even regrouped once there and struggled with moral and supplies.

Javaman
01-16-2014, 02:35 PM
I'm really digging the game thus far, and I'm really pleased with the length. (I've been playing for the last 2 days, with one restart. I didn't understand I was forgoing the watercourse in Frostvellr at first.) The one issue I'm having is that I am CONSTANTLY running out of supplies, and losing followers as a result. I'm buying all I can every town I come to, to the point that my fighters are sitting at lower levels than I'd like, and I'm still running into this problem. And I'm not resting very often, either. Am I just making all the wrong choices, or what?

Javaman
01-16-2014, 02:38 PM
How many characters have you lost (and which ones)?

So far, I've lost Ludin, Yrsa, Bersi (They all got it at the same time,) Egil (not at the beginning) and Onef, and a Red-clothed Varl. I also lost Gunnuelf In my first game, but I restarted. I'm still kind of worried about the repercussions of letting the Prince of Men get gakked.

quartex
01-16-2014, 03:00 PM
So far, I've lost Ludin, Yrsa, Bersi (They all got it at the same time,) Egil (not at the beginning) and Onef, and a Red-clothed Varl. I also lost Gunnuelf In my first game, but I restarted. I'm still kind of worried about the repercussions of letting the Prince of Men get gakked.

He's a jerk. Good riddance. :)

Kopikatsu
01-16-2014, 03:07 PM
So far, I've lost Ludin, Yrsa, Bersi (They all got it at the same time,) Egil (not at the beginning) and Onef, and a Red-clothed Varl. I also lost Gunnuelf In my first game, but I restarted. I'm still kind of worried about the repercussions of letting the Prince of Men get gakked.

I...didn't even realize you could lose most of those characters.

The only ones I lost on my first playthrough were Egil and Yrsa. But Yrsa betrayed the party and nearly got us all killed, so bleh to her.

Rensei
01-16-2014, 03:11 PM
It's still unclear to me if she's a traitor or actually just got lost in the commotion. I'd like to believe the latter, since there is actually an option to start the fires without her disappearing. Pyromaniac maybe?

Leartes
01-16-2014, 04:08 PM
Ok, finished my first playthrough and I lost Gunnalf, Egil (right at the start) and Onef. Also I got a sad ending, not sure if there are better ones.

Also I struggled a lot on supplies in chapter 6. Maybe if you feel strong and want to go with high supplies you can cut your way through the dredge for less time and more renown.

EDIT:
On achievements, Alette killed a character in a cut scene, I didn't get permition to destroy the bridge, people got hungry on chapter 6 and moral was constantly lowest. I'm not sure if the tactian achievement is even possible at the moment, same for the challenge achievement.

Tychoxi
01-17-2014, 01:29 AM
THERE ARE SPOILERS.

You Have Been Warned.


First off I was engrossed by The Banner Saga, just finished and really enjoyed the game. (I loved the map with all its clickable goodness!). Many of these may be nitpicks that wouldn't really change anything, but:

1) I think cutscenes should be pausable, if possible.
2) Subtitles for cutscenes (STOIC have commented they are working on this already).
3) Option for skipping the tutorial(s).
4) Save slots for different playthroughs, please! This is very relevant if Chapter 2/3 will somehow import our choices.
5) If I press to promote someone but I don't have enough renown or decide against it, I have no remedy but to go back to the previous screen. For example if I press the "Lore" button I can just close the lore popup without going back to the previous screen, an equivalent option to close the promote popup is what I want.
6) I would really appreciate if we could see our heroes' stats when going into battle, many times I wasn't sure who to take into battle because I still hadn't become familiar with the characters available. So I was guessing instead of making real decisions when selecting my roster for an immediate battle. This is also requested here. (http://stoicstudio.com/forum/showthread.php?2041-Feedback-need-to-see-stats-and-powers-on-the-quot-assemble-party-quot-screen)
7) It'd be cool if we can still see our caravan stats when an event occurs. Sometimes I wasn't sure what option to pick because I wasn't sure how many supplies I had exactly and etc.
8) It would also be cool if the last line of dialogue passes to the top of the screen instead of disappearing, sometimes I messed up and passed a line too fast before reading it.
9) The text says you regain consciousness walking behind Juno, but she's clearly leading the way in the caravan animation! Such HUGE mistake!!
10) There are some big things that seem to be forgotten and never mentioned again like the baby dredge (that I took!), and Alette sewing the banner or the frozen girl you rescue. They stand out to me for not having a follow up, is all.


Typos:
* After you deal with the Skalfings in the meadhouse Ubin says "Ah, things makes a little more sense." Should be "make", not "makes".
* The map description for Strand says "Many people still believe the god Denglr still watches...")
* When you ask Tryggvi for helpful advice he says "A man will look at your right through is helmet and lie."
* The first occurrence with Rook's caravan drunkard starts "During a rest, one of the men get too drunk and end up splashing mead..." it should be "gets" and "ends".
* When we first play as Hakon, after the prince has his say, Ubin says "If Ludin won't be deterred, you'll have to deal with it. Don't let Ludin get to you." I'd replace the second instance of "Ludin" with "him".
* When Iver wakes up after losing his arm, Alette tells him Eyvind saved him. He replies "Give the menders my regards." I assume it should be "mender" singular.
* If you rest in Sigrholm some thieves will rob your supplies and it says "Oddeleif is already running their direction". It should be "running in their direction."
* When Unnarr tells his tale ending in "War and death behind them...", there are inverted commas closing the sentence but not opening it (GASP!).
* After you save Sigbjorn there's a line that says "Wait I was saving your ass, remember that part?" Which is said by Sigbjorn but seems should belong to Rook?
* In the last city, there's a moment when Iver says "it's hard to get a shot on them from this distance. Arrows just bounces right off." It should say bounce, not bounces.
* In the very end, after certain character dies, Iver says of the ship he got: "I had it prepared it for Alette". Second instance of "it" should be deleted.

Aleonymous
01-17-2014, 10:20 AM
Here's my list:


Subtitles -- There's hearing-impaired people and non-native speakers. VO is so little, that this seems easy to amend.
Assemble your Heroes -- No music/sound? I spend a lot of time in there planning my build, especially when there's a lot of options.
Assemble your Heroes -- See unit stats? I understand that promoting and swapping items is not "right", but stats viewing?
Battle Deployment -- I'd like to see the enemy movement and attack ranges. I've memorized them, but it would help!
Battle UI -- When activating some abilities, the buff/debuff icon briefly flashes on all unit portraits, not only the one(s) targeted.
Battle Aftermath -- I'd like to jump straight into the "Heroes" screen, not directly back to travel, to promote units between consecutive battles.
Dialogue -- Music or ambient sounds? Sometimes they seem too empty.
Morale (vs. Population & Distance & Time & Supplies) -- I know its very complicated, but some approximation of how they relate would help... Also, some points of the story (especially Chapter 6) seem out of balance...


Copied from here (http://stoicstudio.com/forum/showthread.php?2004-First-impressions-Early-Feedback&p=25909&viewfull=1#post25909). I've highlighted in blue the ones reported by you too.

Tychoxi
01-17-2014, 09:01 PM
I have a few other things:

I oftentimes found myself missing when clicking to use willpower in order to enhance my attacks. Maybe it was me being an idiot, but maybe those yellow star icons could have a bigger clickable area (not bigger icons themselves).

And a couple general things that I would like to be taken into account for Chapters2&3:

* I think the game could have benefited from a couple more dialogue scenes with the main characters, and as I said in a previous post with some follow-ups to big events. Especially dialogue scenes where they act, react and comment upon your choices or the caravan's status. Having NPCs acknowledge you in this way goes a long way in making the player feel their choices matter, that NPCs are real people and be invested in the story and it felt to me that we didn't get to know NPCs in a meaningful way.

* The change of perspective from one character to another felt largely awkward and not organic at all. The worst one was when we first leave Rook, I was just really getting into his story only to be awkwardly yanked away to a different place and put in control of a new character (Hakon) that I had barely registered while playing yet another character (Ubin). To top it off, when we return to Rook we are in the middle of a fight against Ekkil that to the player doesn't make any sense at all. Later, Hakon's side of the story gets dropped heavily, the Prince also gets dropped alongside, they just turn up and join Rook as if they are simply a couple random NPCs. We need more acknowledgement via NPCs and the transition between playable characters could have used more work it seems to me so that we've reached a satisfying mini-climax or objective before leaving them.

roder
01-17-2014, 11:32 PM
1. Make population matter in the game. If your caravan goes to 0 population, your game should end. Population really had no weight or effect on my story or ending, i spent 200+ days leading all these people along the land, and at the end there was no mention of them, and no gratitude either :P I kept my people fed for most of the time, foregoing some promotions/items. and got nothing for my larger population. If you have 0 population, you can just do oversee or retreat and have an easier battle, because you don't care about having heavier losses if your population is already at 0. So war doesn't matter if population doesn't matter.

2. Armor/Str banner on top of each unit should be the default

3. Heroes tent should just be shown before and after battle (switch items, see stats)

4. More Character development, via dialogue or event prompts. The only character personalities I really got to know were Rook, Alette, and Hakon. the rest were not as fleshed out as I would've liked, only talked to Egil once I think (as Rook, but would've been interesting to hear a convo between Egil and Alette), Odd was interesting but the vague Rook-Odd romance was a bit of a bore. Ludin was an interesting antagonist but he became an afterthought after the real antagonists came into play. I could care less about Ubin because i never got to play with him in battle and he always posed with his quill, never really knew what type of person he was even if we were in Ubin's perspective for awhile. I would've rather learned more about the really funny/intriguing characters, like Yrsa, Juno, and Gunnulf.

Shadowlord
01-18-2014, 02:08 AM
Since someone already opened a feedback thread i will post it here.

Its the 3rd time a run the game, and even when i really enjoyed it, there is a few things that in my opinion should be fixed.

- Caravan size does not matter at all, starvation should lead into Leadership problems and events.
- We should be able to change items before fights, and when someone leaves we should get the item back (maybe not, but it just save time, because otherwise game rigt now is like, fight, remove items, wait for next encounter, reequip, repeat).
- Even when i pick every single chance to fight during the game and pick the right answers to get renown on the events, i have been starving the whole game for points, i understand the game should be difficult, but should be more about hard choices than having now points.

My last game, as i said, i pick every single fight i almost finish them all with 0-1 casualty and in war fights i fight as many as i could, same with bridge and wall fights. I decided not to buy provisions at all, i let my caravan starve and die while farming as much as i could, i think i bought 1 item (15 renown), while finding 5 level 5 items through choices. And even with that i manage to level (taking out of calculation the mender and the Drunk varl, which were both level 5 while joining you) my guys like this:

6 level 5, Gunnulf, Rook, Alette, Oddleif, Morg, Tryggvi
3 Level 4, Griss, Hakon, Iver
4 Level 3, Bersi, Yrsa, Eirik, Ekkill
1 Level 2, Nid, Egil
5 Level 1, Krumr, Ludin, Hogun, Mogun, Olef

The thing is that i had plenty of kills with the low levels, even to make them reach level 4-5 but.. not enought renown even when i spent 0 buying supplies and 15 in items. Problem with that is that you get stuck to certain combat configuration, which is decided while u leveling them, and you end up not using some of them because of low level.

Also agree with Roder, characters need more development and need to get more weight on story.

My next run will be on Hard, just to check if i get more renown playing it.

Aleonymous
01-18-2014, 05:15 AM
1. Make population matter in the game.
...
4. More Character development, via dialogue or event prompts.

Those two are high on my list, too. But, they constitute big changes to the game (as it was shipped), that's why I didn't go into them. I do hope they address them; it will be so much better :)

Ahalay
01-18-2014, 06:01 AM
Only one thing to add to these so far:
Please add button to fast-forward Caravan animation to next event.
It's pretty and atmospheric and music is nice, etc. but after a while it becomes PAIN to wait for half a minute between events doing nothing - just staring at a wallpaper, I can't imagine how horrible it will be on second playthrough.

Surtr
01-18-2014, 07:02 AM
I guess I'm now approaching the end of the game. It's been an enjoyable experience!

It seems that the War decisions almost always lead into poor outcomes, except Charge. Even if my troops have good morale and outnumber the enemy (a rare thing!), they usually lose the battle and suffer incredibly heavy losses if I don't pick the Charge option and fight the dredge personally with my heroes. Also some of the battles seem to be designed to be impossible against hordes of very powerful enemies that outnumber my heroes. I'm on normal difficulty, and I think it's more than enough challenging like that.

For the next chapters in the series, I'd love to see the War decisions being developed further to open some new tactical opportunities that don't always automatically cause a defeat.

Another thing that I hope is that I'm not making the future games unplayable because of my poor decisions in this one. As realistic as that might be, it wouldn't be much fun.

Colleteral_Skystrike
01-18-2014, 07:42 AM
Ok, finished the game and I still love it but there are also some points I didn't like at all:


It seems irrelevant how many people you keep alive. Let them starve, let the morale bottom out, it doesn't really seem to matter as long as you handle the wars by charging personally.
There are almost too many side characters. Many of them aren't really fleshed out.
Even the main characters could use some more love. A bit more banter and, especially prior to the last fight, a few more options to talk to followers.
A lot of storylines regarding followers never get persued after the initial setup: e.g.: Egil's crush, the twist between the twins. Why put these things in when there is no follow-up? It just feels unfinished.
Equally, the death or loss of heros is almost a bit too common. Losing a hero can make for the most memorable moments in a RPG but only if you give the player time to bond with them and stage the death in a way that doesn't seem hurried (one truely well done example is the Vermire scene in Mass Effect 1, even more so since you get to make the hard choice who is thrown to the wolves). The fate of one main character in this game at the very end is such a meaningful death. Most other just seem hurried: Ooops, and that guy just fell down into the abyss trying to save a chest of money (why should I care, I hardly knew the guy!) Losing one of the twins is another such example. I had 1(?) conversation with these guys during the entire game and thus never really bonded. My main annoyance was that I had levelled the wrong twin and had just lost a rank 5 trasher.
Chapter VI: it is almost impossible to feed more than a handful of followers. If one strived to keep a lot of people alive in earlier chapters, now they will be subjected to constant starvation.


One suggestion: You need to make the caravan, food and morale matter!
There should be some mechanism that makes you lose the game if your caravan has nothing to eat for more than 3-4 days. Another nice system would be to gain some reknown if you reach certain checkpoints with a certain number of clansmen/fighters/yarl!

Saibashi
01-18-2014, 09:51 AM
I'm pretty happy with the game so far. Love the music, art style, character design, setting, writing, etc. If I could make one improvement, it would be more variation of the battlefields. I would like to see obstacles or cover to help make things more interesting. There could also be natural hazards or traps. I could see how that might get out of hand though. A few occasional maps consisting of more than a plain grid and enemies would be a nice change of pace imo.

Some fights could also add conditions to them, as in other strategy RPGs. Maybe you can't let a specific character get killed, or you have a time limit, or some other goal. I wouldn't recommend it for every battle, but plot based objectives could be another neat wrinkle to add.

The one thing I might disagree with the other posters is concerning character development. I wasn't all that bothered by it. I was pretty happy to follow the characters that the story focuses on. It might just be my personal preference though. I was mostly interested in the game play, and the overall journey. Didn't need to know every character's life story, but I can understand wanting to expand on the characters.

One thing that might work is to have another option in camp, to talk to individual characters. So players that want to know more about them can, and those that want to focus on the larger picture could skip it. I always kind of figured Banner Saga for focusing on the adventure as a whole, so I didn't fault the lack of character development too much. There's always the next couple of chapters for that I guess.

roder
01-18-2014, 10:51 AM
Those two are high on my list, too. But, they constitute big changes to the game (as it was shipped), that's why I didn't go into them. I do hope they address them; it will be so much better :)

True, might be difficult to address fully.

But here are some ways to make population matter:

-If caravan goes to 0 population, then game ends
-If supplies stay at 0 for too long, you go into starvation mode and lose more population/drop automatically to poor morale
-If morale is poor for too long, you get deserters (population loss)

basically, the feedback loops are more pronounced, and it all leads to 0 population = end of game.

-also there are some events that shouldn't happen when you have 0 supplies or 0 population. things like "The thieves have stolen your supplies" was something people complained about, since they had 0 supplies.

Fusei
01-18-2014, 11:03 AM
I'm really trying to love the game but I can't make it with the turn order. Call me a retarded-conservative-diehard-tbs-fan but I would burn babies for an initiative stat or sequence call it whatever you want but not this dumb 1/1 turn order.

A 1/1 turn order should only happen when the ennemy and your force got the same number of units. I mean two ennemy units outnumbered 5 to 1 will get an absurd amount of turns. If we would translate a round like this in real time we would see ennemy units attacking/moving two to three time faster than yours. It would look silly wouldn't it ?

Pillage happen way too late IMO, it should happen as soons as you have a sufficient advantage in terms of units number. It would reflect the fact that you're able to overwhelm the ennemy force.

It may sounds like a rant or somethin (and maybe it is). But understand that I really wanted to love this game and that I'm hugely dissapointed not being able to. And why ? Just because of some basic element of the TBS genre that is (imo) baddly designed.

I do not however regret my purchase, The Banner Sage has a *soul*. It has brilliant art and atmosphere, a lot of AAA titles should look over here.

Arizael
01-18-2014, 05:23 PM
Hello folks. This game is a blast for me and i had a realy good time enjoying it. Please read few things that I belive could use some improving.

Note: I've played only single player. Hard difficulty.

1) Turn order system:
I've understand that you have tried to do something new, differing your game from other turn-based games. However no matter how much I tried to get used to it, it still feeled weird and unnatural. It became quickly clear that the system encourages me to:

a) Leave your enemies at 1STR and focus on fresh ones. Yes I know that Pillage and Horn should adress that, but it's not even nearly enough. It feels silly and prolongs the combat.
b) Sacrifice my weakened heroes. It soaks enemy hits and prevent them from "slowing me down". Injuries are meaningless - they autoheal for no coast in few days and most of the time u don't even notice them. Should the need arise you can employ injured characters anyway - with just minor strenght malus.

Suggestion: Please switch to classic turn order known from other games. I know this probably won't happen, but i will be much pleased if it will :-). Also make injuries more crippling, perhaps by taking longer and preventing you from using that character in battle until healed.

2) Economy
Renown being the only currency makes no sense. Apart from weird feeling of "buying" stuff for my heroic deeds there are many gameplay flaws:
a) Main source of renown are battles. So the player is encouraged to fight on every possible occasion as many enemies as possible. More fighting => more renown => stronger characters => easier to win battles => more fighting. This loop thus leads to kill many choices, leaving battle as the most viable option 90% of the time.
b) You don't care for anything else than renown. Remember the event when Gunnulf tries to stop the cart from falling? Well I Immidiately though myself - I don't need any frigging treasure, all i need is Renown. Let it fall.

Suggestion: Reward renown differently. Make it all be rewarded by events for players succeses, not by the sheer number of enemies you kill. Introduce classic monentary currency that could spent on supplies, artifacts and stuff like medicine, bribes etc.

3) Warfare
The system is badly explained and has one clear best choice.
a) Right now the best option is to Charge, since if you win the heroes combat, you win the entire battle (also u get most Renown).
b) It doesn't matter of your composition of Varl/Fighters/Clansmen. It doesn't matter on the numbers either. The enemy will always have comparable army to yours. This means the less people with you the better, best is to have 0 as you save renown for other things than supplies.

Suggestion: Make warfare less predictable and with longer event chain. And pretty please stop adjusting number of enemies on player's army size. Army not big enough? You better run.

Thanks all for reading and hope that some of my feedback will be used.

Surtr
01-18-2014, 06:13 PM
I finally managed to beat the game! I'm not ashamed to admit that I lowered the difficulty level to easy in the final chapter. This wasn't an easy game to begin with, but the final battles became simply frustrating affairs against super powerful enemy units that could bring my best fighters down with a couple of hits. Even on easy, the final boss took a couple of attempts to defeat. Phew! I guess the difficulty level was designed for Factions veterans. I wasn't interested in it and didn't play, so the single player game's battles were real struggles to survive from beginning to the end.

Chapter 6 was very confusing, because I was never able to keep my caravan supplied no matter what I tried. By the time I reached the final city, people were dropping dead by the dozens. I'm not sure what I could have done differently to prevent it from happening. Never rest? Anyway, the events regarding stolen supplies seemed odd, because there were no supplies to steal!

Even though there were some negative things, I have to say I'm really impressed by this game. I honestly think it's the most beautiful game I've ever played. The art is simply amazing, and the music blends into everything perfectly. The story was interesting and I'd have loved to read even more dialogue and lore.

Extremely impressive work for such a small team. I can't wait for the sequel! :)

csuzw
01-18-2014, 06:51 PM
The more I play the more I like the game. It's certainly the most beautiful game I've played since Homeworld. However I find the dialogue system slightly frustrating. The camera seems to cut fairly randomly between characters during conversations and is often at odds with who is actually speaking. I also think it would be really nice to be able to scroll back through the current conversation.

Babyshams
01-18-2014, 07:02 PM
I finally managed to beat the game! I'm not ashamed to admit that I lowered the difficulty level to easy in the final chapter. This wasn't an easy game to begin with, but the final battles became simply frustrating affairs against super powerful enemy units that could bring my best fighters down with a couple of hits. Even on easy, the final boss took a couple of attempts to defeat. Phew! I guess the difficulty level was designed for Factions veterans. I wasn't interested in it and didn't play, so the single player game's battles were real struggles to survive from beginning to the end.

Chapter 6 was very confusing, because I was never able to keep my caravan supplied no matter what I tried. By the time I reached the final city, people were dropping dead by the dozens. I'm not sure what I could have done differently to prevent it from happening. Never rest? Anyway, the events regarding stolen supplies seemed odd, because there were no supplies to steal!

Even though there were some negative things, I have to say I'm really impressed by this game. I honestly think it's the most beautiful game I've ever played. The art is simply amazing, and the music blends into everything perfectly. The story was interesting and I'd have loved to read even more dialogue and lore.

Extremely impressive work for such a small team. I can't wait for the sequel! :)

I think maybe thats the point. There is no way to keep your caravan supplied, its a forced march to get somewhere safe to escape the pursuit of Bellower and the dredge.

I also can't wait for the sequels, the game almost feels incomplete because its so short.

Jawbone78
01-19-2014, 10:44 PM
-also there are some events that shouldn't happen when you have 0 supplies or 0 population. things like "The thieves have stolen your supplies" was something people complained about, since they had 0 supplies.

This is actually the most upsetting things about that whole caravan/supply mechanic - the impression I got was that it somehow never crossed the devs' minds that not only was it possible to reach that stage with no supplies and no way to acquire them, but that it was extremely likely that players would get there in that state.

I'm a software developer. One of my biggest problems at work is being unable to understand what the users of my software will actually do with it. I have an idea in mind, and I design, implement, and test a solution based on that. I try to think of all the ways an idiot might get into a bad state, but it's hard when you know all the systems so well. So then I hand it off to QA, and if I'm lucky they'll find the obvious holes in my work. Too often, because they also know the systems quite well, we let something out into the wild that is not only breakable, but easily breakable by someone doing completely the wrong thing.

The encounters resulting in lost supplies when there are no supplies make me wonder if the developers and testers really thought that it was going to be a rare condition that the caravan is out of supplies - that the way to stay supplied was somehow obvious. Frankly, I did literally everything I could to try to keep my people fed (at the expense of my squad, in many ways), but between the general lack of opportunity to gain supplies and the sheer number of events that just randomly toss days worth of supplies over cliffs, I spent more than half the journey with nothing at all.

Nortar
01-20-2014, 06:26 AM
this dumb 1/1 turn order.

A 1/1 turn order should only happen when the ennemy and your force got the same number of units. I mean two ennemy units outnumbered 5 to 1 will get an absurd amount of turns. If we would translate a round like this in real time we would see ennemy units attacking/moving two to three time faster than yours. It would look silly wouldn't it?

Aye, imagine how much more fun chess would have been, if turns were depending on amount of remaining units.

Sol
01-20-2014, 07:26 AM
A few ideas, after finishing the game last night. I wish I could say I loved it, but I can say I was intrigued by it and the potential for the franchise and the genre.

Battle:

Have unspent willpower provide some elements of randomness like giving critical hit chances, etc. I found it was more often than not beneficial to just burn through all my willpower as early as possible boosting my attacks. Perhaps it could give units a chance to stay alive when brought below 0hp, or some other passive reason to truly treasure it.

Ability to move units after their actions, which would be especially useful for squishy ranged units attempting to maintain range. Perhaps it could be limited to only certain "mobile" classes. Could also be very useful combined with certain utility powers like knockbacks.

Some sort of reward for actually killing enemies instead of wearing them all down. For example: if you kill an enemy unit which is queued for the next action, that action is lost and not simply replaced with another enemy's action.

Give characters credit for more than just killing blows. I ended up allowing quite a few "deaths" in the middle to late parts of the game due to delaying for the character I needed to get the kill.

More abilities for each unit. Perhaps the one built-in class ability and then the option to learn others as you promote them. I found myself basically following the exact same overall strategy every battle, and giving my party more options could go a long way to combating that sense of repetition.

Someone else mentioned more dynamic battlefields. I agree 100%. I can recall one fight where there was a hole in the floor that I had to chase a ranged enemy around from both sides to pin him in. Other than that it is just starting position.

Non-combat game-play:

Option to hunt or otherwise gather resources when camped. Some 'mini-games' could go a long way towards spicing up the longer treks, especially later in the game when Rook's group is (seemingly by design) constantly low on supplies.

Option to steal or otherwise gain supplies/items from markets. You might get away with it, it might draw a fight, you might lose access to that market or be forced to immediately leave the town.

Ways to get more renown other than always picking the violent option. There are few choices that seem to consistently offer renown the way that fighting does, and a few bad uses of it (like spending it all on supplies that are immediately lost) can cripple the ability to promote and equip your party.

As mentioned by several people already, some sort of reward for keeping your people alive.

Presentation:

More story. More in-depth story. More character development. A lot of it can be optional, but so far my impression is that I just read the first act of a novel rather than the first novel in a series.

raven2134
01-20-2014, 08:05 AM
I like that steal option.

I also agree with more renown options besides fights/violence.

Good feedback. :)

Aleonymous
01-20-2014, 09:39 AM
Have unspent willpower provide some elements of randomness like giving critical hit chances, etc [...] Perhaps it could give units a chance to stay alive when brought below 0hp, or some other passive reason to truly treasure it.

I can see where you're coming from, but I think WP serves it's purpose correctly as it is. For me, finishing a fight with high WP means it was an easy (or short) fight. Running out of WP means I'm having a hard time... One of the Mender's active abilities takes into account the amount of WP you got left.


Some sort of reward for actually killing enemies instead of wearing them all down.

Horn willpower is that reward.


Someone else mentioned more dynamic battlefields. I agree 100%.

Me too. I wonder why they didn't use more of those..


Option to hunt or otherwise gather resources when camped.
Option to steal or otherwise gain supplies/items from markets.

Interesting. I like those ideas. However, the second one kinda deviates from the generally "neutral good" alignment that Rook emits.

Butters
01-20-2014, 12:07 PM
Some very interesting and spot-on feedback in this thread already !
Just skimmed through it but will make sure to read up on the community reviews a bit more.

I completely agree that making population matter and tweaking resource management are on top of the list.
I often really miss a functional barracks/heroes' tent before battles. Please, please, give us access to item equipment at least. I'd really like promoting too (just the full barracks functionality, actually). I'd like to see it available by default and maybe disabled when you are being ambushed or otherwise unprepared for battle (which keeps the incentive to keep at the ready when setting camp).
The biggest annoyance for me at this point (second playthrough in hard almost finished) is with the battle UI. Not having the turn order of enemy units is infuriating ! Please give us the Factions-style full initiative bar during deployment. Meaningful placement depends so much on it. I end up always going the safe route and deploying at safe, suboptimal positions which makes for awkward beginning of battles. Coming from Factions where battles are mostly fought and won in the first two team rotations, this is a bit anti-climatic...
On second playthrough, I see a lot of quality of life improvements that could be made. While not as critical as the points above, I do believe some form of "new game+" type of features would really benefit the game and its replayability. Making travel sequences skippable would be one. Another could be to add "hints" on meaningful conversation choices that you have already made in a previous playthrough, reminding you of the outcome (ex: next to the choice for "take character X into battle", add a tooltip or subtext that says "character Y will be in danger" or something). Seeing as some consequences seem a bit arbitrary (or at least unforeseen) that would help tremendously with navigating the story "tree", so we can try and enjoy the paths we haven't taken yet. As it is I will probably need to do the next playthroughs while looking at the wiki to make sure I get to the parts of the game I haven't seen yet, which is a bit of a turnoff.
I also agree with previous feedback that transitions (between caravans, between events, etc) could really benefit from a bit of smoothing and easing into. As it is some are still quite disorienting even the second time around.
Also, I think the very beginning of the game (The gods are dead." text introduction) needs a bit of polish. With no sound and a not particularly pretty font or scrolling, it's a poor first impression compared to the graphics and sound awesomeness that ensues ! Just move the Stoic logo (which is gorgeous) before that, and start the music directly afterwards while the text is displayed. That would be a vast improvement imho.

I'm a bit torn between wanting to see Saga 1.1 ASAP to ensure an even better critical and commercial success for the game (I really, really want to see a lot of funding to go into the next chapters, which already blow my mind before even being created), and on the other hand also wanting to see Factions 2.0 ASAP with a bunch more units and maps and much much more. As it is it's a bit sad that the players enjoying Saga now will be coming to Factions in its current state and possibly give up on it before it gets as good as it will be.
If only we could just clone the Stoic guys and have them work on both at the same time... I'd back that Kickstarter ! :3

Anyway beyond the early feedback I'd like to reiterate that I'm loving the game, it's gorgeous and it's fun and it's hard and it's gorgeous some more.
Bravo Stoic ! You delivered on those high expectations... And then some !
Love you guys, thank you.

LaMort13
01-25-2014, 07:18 AM
1) It's frustrating how often (and how long) you can go without supplies. Ostensibly you are supposed to buy them with renown, but I never, ever, had any renown left to part with. In fact, even hording renown as much as I did I still never had enough to upgrade my six main characters up to level 5, despite making a point to not buy items or unnecessary supplies...

2) I feel like the game is waaaaaay too stingy with the renown. I understand that it's suppose to promote a feeling of paucity, but the bottom line is that I never had enough to upgrade characters, let alone buy items or supplies for the caravan. As I said above, I was incredibly conservative, and still didn't have enough.

3) I had (found) probably 15-16 items by the end of the game. Considering that you can only have 6 active members in combat, that meant that the lion's share of my items were left unused. I would have happy sold them for supplies, or renown, or whatever, but you can't. I think you should be able to sell items to merchants.

4) The Bellower fight is easily the worst part of the game. It's gamey and breaks the rules the game has developed up until that point. It also robs you of choices, and forces characters on you that may not be leveled, or un-injured, or equipped, etc. etc. Absolutely terrible. The OP in this thread does a great job summing up how I feel about the fight. It's not that it's hard to figure out the objective, it's that it's so gimmicky and wacky vis-à-vis the other fights.

http://stoicstudio.com/forum/showthread.php?2988-quot-Final-Boss-quot-Disappointing-spoilers

Other than those complaints, I really liked the game. It sounds cliché by this point, but the story is epic, and the art and music are beautiful. Overall, it's a great game, I just wish these problems would get fixed.

Colleteral_Skystrike
02-05-2014, 12:05 PM
I am currently slowly playing through a third round. This time on hard.

While the story is by a bit stale now (obvious on a third run), the combat is more fun than ever. On hard an injured varl takes 6 days to recover! This forces you to switch through characters more (or spam the "rest" button which feels like cheating). But in some cases rest is not an option because the next battle follows immediately and those fights become the real challenges.

Wars are a true highlights at this point. Charging in and defeating the second wave with as little casualties as possible is quite challenging on hard (at least for me). So far I have managed to win each time. But I have yet to do it without losses. Even in my best performances I had at least one injured hero. On the other hand, I had two wars where the majority of my heros were slain and only two survivors remained.

Combat on hard really depends on ruthlessly optimizing your moves. Positioning and prioritizing the right targets is extremely important. As is maiming thoroughly before killing any enemies. Often it can even be helpful to let the big dredge summon another midlevel grunt to increase your turn advantage, ...

The flaws in this game are still there and well known by now: supplies don't matter, some choices seem arbitrary, the characters are not fleshed out enough, ... But I have come to terms with them.

One realization came as a surprise though: In recent years, I haven't fully played through most RPGs I bought. Just to name one example: Skyrim had so many trivial sidequests that I lost interest pretty soon. Even the main quest never really engaged me. I believe I have seen <5% of the content of that game.
The last RPG which I had complete played through prior to The Banner Saga was Mass Effect 3. The last RPG I had played through twice has been Dragon Age Origins. I have already played through the Banner Saga twice and am pretty sure I will complete my third (and likely last) playthrough as well.
In other words this game has managed to keep me engaged better than any other RPG in recent years. The question is why?

Obviously, it is a lot shorter but in my opinion that is a good thing. One reason this game is short is the complete absence of filler content: mindless sidequests - usually you have to fetch and deliver something or kill x enemies. Skyrim is full of that stuff and all it achieved is to get me bored. Less is more! A lesson every big RPG could learn from the Banner Saga. I would rather have 20 hours of engaging quality content than 100 hours that make me put a game aside yawning.
The combat system is extremely well designed. It's simple yet complicated - it reminds me a lot of chess. In games like Dragon Age or the Mass Effect series (and even worse in Skyrim) combat became very repetitive after a while. Very few fights stuck out but usually you had to work your way through a lot of badly crafted filler combat to get there. The Banner Saga has a much more limited number of battles and they are tough enough to keep me engaged.
The artwork (especially the background landscape) is truely beautiful, I just want to watch and admire it over and over again.
The scenario is so grim and hopeless - it transfers a sense of desperation far better than any other RPG I have played.


Some suggestions:

I would have liked to have more interaction with the main characters. Most partymembers get one or two conversations. Some topics and themes are hinted at but never properly developped (Egil's crush on Alette, Oddleif and Rook's relationship, Ubin and Kumr's rivalry over being the oldest varl). Many characters remain almost completely blank (Griss, Fassolt, Bersin, Hogun, Mogun, ...). Perhaps a smaller party with better fleshed out characters would have been better?
I would like to see characters develop and change (like Rook and Alette do). The world is crumbling around them yet most heros remain stereotypes that slay their way through waves of dredge without showing much emotion.
I like that the item system is simple. Nothing feels more pointless in a RPG than finding the same item for the sixth time in yet another treasure chest. In TBS items are relatively rare and each remains special. Yet I would have liked a bit more flexibility: losing precious items when characters unexpectedly died was rather annoying during my first playthrough. Also most low rank items got useless in the end. I suggested earlier to introduce a second item slot while keeping the item rank limit for the characters. This way a rank 5 hero could equip either 1 rank 5 item, or 2 items of lower ranks (rank 1+ rank 4 or rank 2 + rank 3).

Aleonymous
02-05-2014, 04:38 PM
I like that the item system is simple. Nothing feels more pointless in a RPG than finding the same item for the sixth time in yet another treasure chest. In TBS items are relatively rare and each remains special. Yet I would have liked a bit more flexibility: losing precious items when characters unexpectedly died was rather annoying during my first playthrough. Also most low rank items got useless in the end. I suggested earlier to introduce a second item slot while keeping the item rank limit for the characters. This way a rank 5 hero could equip either 1 rank 5 item, or 2 items of lower ranks (rank 1+ rank 4 or rank 2 + rank 3).

+1. Very nice suggestion, to make low-rank items useful also in the endgame! So, you got two slots to use up to two items. The sum of the items' ranks must not exceed the character's rank.

boyinleaves
02-06-2014, 03:25 AM
My thoughts on the Banner Saga. WARNING – LOTS OF (MINOR?) SPOILERS
I have almost finished The Banner Saga for the third time today, twice first on Normal difficulty, and now almost through on Hard. I thought I would provide my feedback on my experiences, for what it's worth. Love the game immensely, and really hope that I will get to see a chapter 2 and 3, if not more. If this is going to happen, there is plenty of stuff that I hope I'll see again, and a few things that could use a look at, IMO. Lots of minor spoilers here, though I gather if you're reading this thread, you're not worried about that.


Presentation.

The character animations are beautiful. Attacks and defenses are both a pleasure to watch. I feel like I'm playing through the Disney movies of my youth, like Aladdin or The Lion King.
The slightly animated characters in inventory/character screens were terrific, they make the screens just that little bit less static.

Gorgeous backgrounds. I love the use of fore- and back-ground imagery in so many of the scenes. The art direction is so incredibly evocative; seeing the Dredge encroaching in the foreground of Skogr was such effective foreboding imagery, and it's a tool that is utilised to great effect throughout the game.

TBS is one of the few (non-SF) games that has a strong, consistent visual theme throughout every aspect of its presentation. The title screen exhibits the same beauty and articulate hand-drawn care that the character/inventory screens do, and that the battlefields and characters/enemies do, that the travelling screens do, that the overworld map does, and that the conversation screens do. There is never a moment when you think "visually, this doesn't fit with what I just saw". Probably a great deal of this is down to the small studio size, and having one artist do most (all?) of the work. It is still an exceptional achievement for such a diverse undertaking, and I commend you highly for managing to pull it off. Even the UI is completely consistent with the overall style in management screens, while travelling and on the title page.
Small details. I love the attention to small details in so many of the battle maps. For example, the arrow filled corpses at the gates of Frostvellr stands out in my mind as an example of a written description of the place backed up visually. The internal consistency is maintained very well throughout in this way.

Conversations and events. The visual presentation of these is fairly well executed. I really like the font choices, as they match the style and are easily readable. The additional images during random travelling events are also a nice touch. Conversations between characters are excellently presented, my only minor gripe is the inability to re-read previous lines of a conversation. Not a big drama, but I would appreciate the option to open up a conversation log.

As others have said, using the Banner motif more prevaelently would be fantastic. e.g. for saved games, starting at different chapters, even as some sort of visual record of your individual achievements and story choices. It's great that it gets used in the character screen in a rudimentary fashion, but it is very effective here.

World Map. Dear sweet frak, your world map is AWESOME. I spent ages reading the descriptions of each little place on the map. The bite sized chunks of information on offer are spot on for the setting, and show an incredible depth of background thought has gone into the world building. Again, the consistency shown in the visual styles is fantastic. Love the little touches like the extra designs accompanying some of the names, and the fading and highlighting that makes it look like a well folded, aged piece of parchment. The runic font choice is perfect, and the colour it highlights is also spot on. My only gripe as regards the map is that it doens't really come into play game-wise, and has no practical function. But this section is about presentation, and that gentlemen is genius.

Unskippable 'cut'scenes. The travelling 'cut'scenes for want of a better word are beautiful, evocative, and incorporate some sweet moments, such as Grofheim. My only gripe is that they are less impactful during a second playthrough, and there is no option to skip or fast forward the elements that don't include any actual gameplay or decision making. I hope that chapter 2 offers more choices and is even more replayable than chapter 1, but I don't personally have that much free time that I want to spend it sitting through something that I've already experienced, and which is not going to evoke the same emotional response on the third or fourth time. A minor gripe, in any case.


Audio:

Not much personally to say here. As far as audio goes, great implementation of sound and music for underscoring the plight of the world, the mood of travelling, etc.

If I had a choice, and the money spent on the awesome audio for this game could instead be leveraged into improving the gameplay mechanics where they need it, and creating more content, I would say do it. Unfortunately, spending less on audio and more on gameplay development isn't necessarily going to work, and both the soundtrack and the effects are great, fit the style and theme very appropriately, and have clearly been used to great effect. Great work guys.


Story/Content:

I have a couple of things to say about my experiences here, and they relate somewhat to the way the game is designed mechanically, which I will also go into later.

As a stand alone story, a lot of things are great about The Banner Saga. In many ways, the themes of the story are supported incredibly well by the visual style, the audio and the conversational content. However, I feel that in some ways, they are let down by the gameplay. This is not to say that the gameplay is bad, generally completely the opposite is true. However, there are some areas where the gameplay and the story run counter to each other's intentions.


Immediacy of 'immersion'.

I have seen it mentioned (primarily on Steam forums, so take it for what it's worth) that players are simply 'dropped into' the game with little to no introduction, and that they find it hard to understand what's going on. Frankly, I cannot understand this reaction at all. My first thought about the early part of the Banner Saga was that its introduction was like a good fantasy novel; it dropped me straight into the action in a meaningful way, and exposed me to the themes, history, environment and situation in an indirect manner as the story unfolded. Not everything was or had to be explained to me directly, and I liked it. I, as a player, was never treated like I couldn't work things out for myself, or that I couldn't manage without having my hand held. Thank you for this, it was a breath of fresh air in a generally stale and flat genre.

Character reactions and development.

Continuing from the above, I also felt like the characters would tend to make their own comments about their experiences and the state of the world, and that these made sense in context. They never spoonfed information, but much could be read between the lines. Some characters had quite meaningful interactions that were expanded upon gameplay wise, such as the whole Ekkill/Onef saga, whereas quite a few characters had no more than one or two rather insignificant conversations throughout the whole story, e.g. Egil. I would have loved to see more development of character relationships, and hope that there is more of it in chapter two.

Story Arcs.

I felt like I was missing a Story Arc for Hakon that should have fit in after Rook was finished in Einartoft, or possibly soon after. Rook's final chapter was a bit too drawn out, and I felt that it could have been chopped in two, even if briefly.

Setting.

Stoic, thank you so much for giving us a non-generic fantasy setting. I can't wait to see more of the Varl, Dredge and Pantheon of your world. SPOILER Even if at first glance the apocalyptic setting and 'faceless' enemy seemed a bit trite, the slight twist on their plight was very surprising, thank you.SPOILER The low key, survivalist, 'hopeless' nature of Rook's journey was a welcome change to the typical heroic fantasy fare. For the most part, this hopelessness was hammered home by the intentions of the travelling and war mechanics, though not by their (fully transparent) implementation. The low magic nature of the setting is also appealing; it's a breath of fresh air after most modern fantasy games.

Continuing despite battle loss.

I like this aspect in that it supports the continuation of the narrative, supports the "loss" and "end of the world" themes of the narrative, and that it emphasises the narrative nature of the game; however, I also feel that such an option needs to be balanced mechanically with the bleak, downwards spiral of battle loss that typically results from not only losing battles, but also losing the possibility of earning renown, and continuing on in the same vein. Again, I'm kind of in two minds about this, because a constant drain of resources, spates of injuries and characters never recovering are very strong motifs in an apocalyptic narrative, and I like the emotional responses that they engender, yet at the same time, they leave a player feeling disempowered and incapable (which may or may not be good - probably not so much unless you want to target a really niche market for your product?)

Choices.

The big one. I love the fact that there are real, gameplay altering choices to make in The Banner Saga. It's one of the few games that have been released in recent years that offers players the opportunity to affect the story and the gameplay through what you choose to do. I love the possibility of taking a different path through the game, and it being worthwhile playing again to try something different. Unfortunately, the (non)implementation of several features let down the effectiveness of making decisions. Here they are:

- There is often only one "right" decision, and sometimes it doesn't matter what your decision is, as they lead to the same result, or even a non-result. None of the choices on offer present mutually exclusive options as their results (such as the possibility of taking one character or another, or a choice between an item or more reknown). A greater selection of incomparable results for your decision-making would be a huge improvement.

- As an example of incomparables – When Eirik leaves, if you choose to let him go, this means that you're essentially giving up a unique character whose role no one else can emulate, and you get no tangible benefit for doing so. If the alternative to keeping him was something like getting the opportunity to engage in an optional battle later on, in which you could earn some reknown and possibly a unique item, this choice would become between two incomparable options, and thus actually a choice, rather than a question with only one “right” answer.

- The game is not a roguelike, and the inabililty for such a story based game to offer procedurally developed decisions means that meta-knowledge can (will) get in the way of decisions being significantly consequential. This is especially true of decisions that cause character deaths that can easily be meta-gamed and avoided by reloading a slightly earlier save. It's great to say that people who want to enjoy the game as it is intended will not allow themselves such options, but consequences are more consequential when the gameplay mechanics support and enforce them.

- Decisions tended not to have far reaching, delayed consequences (The Ekkill/Onef situation being the notable exception). The more delayed the consequences of your decisions are, the less simple it can be to meta-game, and potentially the less able players are of knowing all the consequences of decisions, and thus your story benefits. This would be one way to improve the dynamics of decision making in chapter 2 without severely altering other design aspects.

- Character Deaths. Decisions had significant gameplay limiting consequences, such as characters dying. I love the concept, but if you're going to do that, the implementation of it has to be perfect, consistent with the decisions made, and preferably, somewhat telegraphed to the player. You generally got the foreshadowing right, in my opinion (though some players would disagree, Egil dying to the revolt or on the bridge both seem somewhat arbitrary), and thus the consistency also, but the biggest problem in my eyes is that besides dropping the difficulty to easy, it's difficult for players to feel like they can come back from the loss of a valued party member that has been heavily invested into, particularly if their loss seems arbitrary. Again, this is a tough one, because I loved in my first playthrough (at least until I got wise to some of the gameplay mechanics and the game became a pushover) how affected I was by characters dying. It makes sense in the setting, it gives the story a gravitas that isn't found much in modern video gaming, but at the same time, divorced as it was from the combat gameplay, it could seem very arbitrary, and that undermines its effectiveness as a consequence of a player's decisions.

- Inconsquential gameplay mechanics. I have seen this point brought up on several other threads, so I'm sure you know this by now, but many of the choices presented to the player during travelling are undermined by the lack of consequences for causing your caravan to starve. It was a massive let-down when I realised (after the second Varl "War" event) that A) The opposing Dredge numbers were dependent on your own troop numbers (This was ridiculously obvious, even for a first time player) and then B) That killing off your entire caravan and being able to keep your morale at maximum indefinitely with minimum supplies had no drawback (apart from missing out on an achievement, and possibly a tiny bit of renown due to slightly smaller numbers of Dredge during "War" events because of your smaller caravan). These factors severely undermine the strength of the narrative once the player knows about them. They are also game design issues that could (and should) be rectified for the next iteration. I will detail further my gameplay frustrations later.

To sum up "Choices": During my first playthrough, despite noticing some of the flaws in the system, I managed to make it to the end of the game with relatively few starvation deaths, lost Gunnulf, Eirik, Onef, Egil, etc. to my decisions and refused to load a previous save when this happened. In short, I treated the game like a roguelike, because that's what the narrative seemed to suggest. I still managed to scrape by the last few battles by the skin of my teeth, though I was fortunate in that I had decided right from the beginning to give renown to Rook and Alette, given that they seemed like the main characters, so I didn't lose everything to character deaths. I played on Normal initially, and took the "Charge" option every time I had a "War" event, correctly guessing it was the best option for pursuing renown, though suffering the occasional defeat when I tried to kill additional Dredge. The last fight was still a struggle, Bellower took many attempts with a party of mostly level 2-3 characters. That said, choosing to play in this manner despite my metaknowledge that I could easily game the system was the best choice in hindsight, because it really hit home the intended bleakness of the narrative. I would have preferred, however, if the choices that I made were reinforced by gameplay mechanics rather than my own willpower.


To be continued...

boyinleaves
02-06-2014, 03:28 AM
Gameplay Mechanics

This is the meat of any game, in my humble opinion, and something worth spending a great deal of time, effort and thought on. Many things that The Banner Saga attempts are somewhat new or unusual, and as such, I applaud Stoic for their initiative and daring. There are, however, several flaws in the mechanics that I have seen, and have seen pointed out on these forums. Some are minor things, and some are almost gamebreakingly bad, to the point that they completely undermine the intended narrative and the internal consistency of the world and destroy any challenge that the game may have offered. I find this a little disappointing, because The Banner Saga is so clearly a labour of love for its creators and it has had so much attention lavished on it in so many ways. My sincerest wish is that many of these issues will be rectified in the next installment (and they certainly can be!).

Travelling

- Distances need to be made (at least somewhat) transparent to the player so that purchasing supplies can be less of a guess and more of a practical decision.

- It would be great if the world map could be incorporated into this, possibly with a scale to indicate distance and thus travelling time (disregarding other factors).

- Caravan size needs to affect travelling in more varied ways; foraging, speed, morale (though it already does this indirectly through limiting supplies for resting)

- A better model for random events, where some of them are dependent on previous choices, and it is harder for the player to “game”.

Caravan Size

One thing that the game mechanics make clear is that lives are not important. Having almost completed the game twice now, there does not seem to be any benefit to keeping your caravan members alive (discounting the “Achievement” of not letting anyone starve to death). Clansmen seem to be nothing more than dead weight at the best of times, and given that the numbers of Dredge encountered during War events is dependent on your caravan's size, there also does not seem to be any benefit to having more warriors in your caravan. Please correct me if I am wrong on this count. Caravan numbers are also irrelevant when it comes to caravan and city events; the number of fighters that you have should count for something when it comes to defending your supplies against bandits, but nope, not that I have seen.

The following points seem to occur:

If caravan numbers, and thus Dredge numbers, during War events, are both low, you tend to encounter fewer Dredge during the battles, which means earning less Renown.

If caravan numbers are low, nearly inexhaustible supplies allow you to rest at will and keep morale at maximum constantly, and 'game' the system

I know that in Boersgard, events can be adapted in some respects and fights made easier by having available fighters to defend the gates, but in practice, I had little trouble with the combat events in any case, so I have no point of reference for this.

Renown gains are static; renown is used for supplies, items and leveling. Caravan size and morale are dependent on supplies; Caravan size is not static. Renown gains/Supplies per renown do not scale with caravan size, meaning that choosing to have fewer people join you is generally better, as it saves you the most vital resource, renown.

This has probably been pointed out before on these boards, but it is definitely something you should take a look at. Trying to keep a large caravan intact becomes increasingly more difficult with static available resources, and has the carry on effect of potentially weakening your combat performance (which seems to run counter to the presentation and intention of the War events that should provide benefits when you have an abundance of troops).

A larger caravan should correlate with better War event results, and should be tied into better results in many of the events along the way, with the possibility of garnering more renown or supplies. Greater rewards for a larger caravan would then alleviate somewhat the issue of providing supplies for a greater number of troops, though if that happens, fights should actually become harder when caravan numbers go up to provide a greater challenge for the players that are “succeeding” at the game.


Warfare

I understand the decision to make enemy numbers 'match up' with the player's army size, as this allows for a somewhat gamey solution to the variability of army sizes.

It is let down by the following issues:

Not necessary to keep your caravan alive; no gameplay or story advantage to doing so. Achievements notwithstanding.

The battles suffer from the “Only one correct option” syndrome, which is to “Charge”, and then follow up by chasing down any left over Dredge; this provides the greatest Morale gain and the possibility of earning an item. All other options are less effective than this, and there is no mechanically supported gameplay reason to choose them.


Some mechanical changes to help rectify this problem could be something like the following:
Have some set piece battles that require/limit particular characters. Telegraph to the player through the War interface the sorts of enemies that they will be facing, and their skillsets, and limit what tactical options the player has for the battle. Some battles could then be potentially unwinnable if charging in with particular sets of characters, and require the player to use options that limit the number of enemies fielded, or debuff them somehow through the war options (eg. Setting up a diversion could allow you to face two smaller groups of enemies rather than one big one). Follow this up with some changes to the combat mechanics that reward different tactical approaches (e.g. Enemies fleeing, or being able to regenerate at low health, being immune to some abilities or attack types, etc.) and you might end up with some stronger decision making being required during these events.

Reward players with incomparables for selecting different options. This could be as simple as a morale boost vs. gaining additional fighters, or as complex as an extra character vs. an extra item, depending on the choice that players make.

Another approach would be to make each choice represent a different tactical approach to warfare that could be represented by the starting positions, battlefield type, available characters, enemies, and other variables present in each combat scenario related to the War event choice. This way, players could at any point in the story select a challenge suited somewhat to the way they've built their characters and party, the items they have available, and the renown they've earned, and still gain an 'equivalent' reward for defeating the encounter. This approach would perhaps require more work, as it is more content, but it would also help the game become a touch more freeform and make choices more dynamic. The individual choices don't even necessarily need to be perfectly balanced, only the overall rewards do, to keep the general power/supply levels fairly consistent.

Benefits for caravan size. In my humble opinion, the tactical part of The Banner Saga should actually get more difficult the more “successful” the player is at keeping their people alive, and at building a greater caravan. This is so that the challenge remains high for players that are “succeeding” at the game, while it is still manageable for players who do not meet with the same level of “success”. Taking this approach would mean that players benefit mechanically (more renown/supplies/items etc.) from maintaining a larger caravan, but also have to pull through on more challenging tactical encounters in order to maintain their upwards momentum. This overall design could allow the narrative to remain intact and uncompromised no matter the skill level of the player, and maintain internal consistency and believability when it comes to keeping people alive.

The Tactical Combat.

Before I get into the points that need some love, let me just say how much I appreciate the simplicity and the complexity of The Banner Saga's combat. Stoic have taken an incredibly simple concept for turn-based tactical combat with multiple actors (every player gets to move one character at a time, turn by turn), and made the tactical possibilities amazingly deep and expansive.

It is an unusual decision, and a very gamey one (it really does break the verisimilitude of the game – time apparently flows differently for each character than for their enemies), but as far as the game goes, it provides a lot of new tactical options that need to be considerered.

For example, the order that characters take turns in becomes a massive consideration, in order to create effective ability combinations. The number of characters that you include on your team can also have serious implications; a team or 2-3 archer type characters can really clean up against a force of superior numbers, often to the point that you don't even get attacked unless it's by an enemy with just 1 health left (and with Nid – whoa, she can pretty much take on everything solo on normal if built right, and barely get touched).

The split between armour and health is a nice touch, and the mechanics for low health characters make them not completely useless, but often far less so than moderately healthy ones, and occasionally a liability. I am a huge proponent of injured characters in games suffering for their injuries, and the Banner Saga is one of the few that does it not only effectively, but in such a simple and intuitive manner as well. Bravo!

The six character statistics are in my mind, exceptionally well balanced, particuarly so given that they are all increased at the same rate of one point at a time. The variety of builds per character is not huge, but the difference between a high willpower character, a high strength and a high armour break one is massive.

Character abilities are again, incredibly simple in implementation, yet also so deep in terms of tactical options. When used in tandem, some of the abilites become devastating, while others are purely circumstantial. Some abilities shine when your tactical positioning skills are honed (like my lovely Arc Lightning, wooo). Great options here guys, looking forward to what you come up with next.



Battlefield Design.

One aspect that I feel really let down the Banner Saga was the design of the battlefields. Almost every fight takes place on a completely flat, open area. I think there is only one(?) Battle in the entire game that has obstacles: the Tower where you find Eyvind. Factions at least had some obstacles to circumvent. I may have been a little spoilt having just finished Blackguards, in which all 200 odd battles had a uniquely designed battlefield, but I would love to see almost anything that would enhance the tactical options available. Let me fight to defend a bottleneck, have to move my troops through a trench while suffering archer fire, or avoid sunstone mines as I advance. Even a wall or a tree here and there would improve things.


Objectives.

The next thing that I feel was missing was the opportunity to have alternate objectives in battles, which could be as simple as surving against a continual onslaught for several turns, getting all of your characters safely to an exit zone, or defending an objective. Heck, some of the War event options could be to take down enemy leaders, and this could then become the battle objective.

Turn Order.

The way turns work in The Banner Saga can be both a hindrance and a help, depending on the way you've built your characters, the number in your team, the order they take their turns, their relative sizes, the number of enemy troops, and their starting positions. I love how interrelated all of these factors are, but I also think that the balance of benefit versus inhibition to this mechanic is a bit off.

One irritation that struck me is that actors that perform actions that occur on their next turn (like the sunstone bombs) never occur if the actor dies before their next turn. The simplest “gamey” fix for this would be to have such things also trigger on that actor's death, offering further tactical possibilities and considerations.

I also often felt that my enemies were at a massive disadvantage when they outnumbered me, which is a really counter-intuitive reaction to being outnumbered. Not sure exactly what I'd do about this, maybe a round of Pillage Mode when your team has all had a go and outnumbers your enemy at least 2:1? Something, anyway.


Repeated enemies.

Personally, I felt that the staggered presentation of new enemies in The Banner Saga was handled fairly well, but I would have loved to see some of them introduced with fights that highlight their strengths/weaknesses, or made use of particular combinations of enemy abilities, just like you can do with your party. A few set piece fights against, for example, just 3 of Dredge Shieldbearer types, would have livened the pacing up a bit.

Really bad AI decisions.

This is not a huge detriment, but occasionally I found that the AI made some really senseless decisions with regards to their attacks, particularly when it came to the Dredge with the shield-bash Knockback attack that destroys armour based on the number of tiles moved. Frequently, the Dredge would use this against only 1, or sometimes 2 of my characters - even when they could have either killed them outright or seriously maimed them - and only knock off 1 point of armour because their way back was blocked.

Maiming and not killing.

This is another “gamey” one. I kind of like the way severely injuring but not killing enemies works in TBS, but it is a bit immersion breaking. I don't feel like there is ever mechanically much benefit to actually killing enemies, given the way the turn order works, unless you desperately need Willpower, and you have a character that gains extra from killing enemies. Some enemy abilities that activate on low health (like exploding/giving allies extra health or armour/regenerating/fleeing) would not go astray for the next iteration. If players had to make a serious decision between a kill (and renown), and better survivability (because the battles are just that hard), you would stand to greatly increase the tactical complexity of your battles.



Summary. TL;DR

I enjoyed every moment of The Banner Saga, and sincerely wish I'd been more involved in it's development and testing Factions. It is unique in many ways, and does style and substance better in the Audio/Visual department better than just about any AAA title I've ever played.
My only let downs were the lack of real diverse consequences to many of the choices and for the caravan mechanics, and that there is so much potential that hasn't (yet) been capitalised on with respect to the tactical combat. The fact that there is so much that can be improved on, and is really only content lacking, is a huge mark in favour of a successful second outing. I am looking forward to it with great gusto.


Positives:

Wonderful, unique gameplay.

Great story, fresh setting, realistic characters.

Top tactical gameplay, simple but complex character and battle systems.

Incredible, consistent visual style.

Audio used effectively and evocatively.



Things to improve upon for next time:

Repetitive battles.

Travelling mechanics missing consequences.

Counter-intuitive tactical considerations.

Lack of tactically diverse battlefields and objectives.

Choices that don't offer incomparable options.

Aleonymous
02-06-2014, 08:37 AM
Summary. TL;DR
I enjoyed every moment of The Banner Saga, and sincerely wish I'd been more involved in it's development and testing Factions. It is unique in many ways, and does style and substance better in the Audio/Visual department better than just about any AAA title I've ever played.
My only let downs were the lack of real diverse consequences to many of the choices and for the caravan mechanics, and that there is so much potential that hasn't (yet) been capitalised on with respect to the tactical combat. The fact that there is so much that can be improved on, and is really only content lacking, is a huge mark in favour of a successful second outing. I am looking forward to it with great gusto.


Positives:
Wonderful, unique gameplay.
Great story, fresh setting, realistic characters.
Top tactical gameplay, simple but complex character and battle systems.
Incredible, consistent visual style.
Audio used effectively and evocatively.

Things to improve upon for next time:
Repetitive battles.
Travelling mechanics missing consequences.
Counter-intuitive tactical considerations.
Lack of tactically diverse battlefields and objectives.
Choices that don't offer incomparable options.

Literally massive feedback, boyinleaves. Thanks :) Both your posts were a nice read, and I found myself agreeing on most topics touched.

I think that most of the issues you identified just needed more time and/or manpower, in order for the them to be properly { designed -> implemented -> tested -> debugged -> balanced -> polished }. But, time/money/team restrictions allowed for this result and these priorities. Which is all very nice already but --as all of us stress-- the game's huge potential just asks for more! :)

Ratatoskr
02-17-2014, 09:37 AM
I just finished this game yesterday (after literally playing it all day because I spend way too long agonizing over my choices) and I really like it. Even most of the other stuff that people are complaining about honestly doesn't bother me, though that may be because I'm not really the meta-gaming type. I try to save everyone because it's the <b>right thing to do</b> and then feel horribly guilty whenever anyone dies. And as someone who was starving the entire last section of the road - it didn't always go so well.

But I think that's why I liked it - I get attached quickly so to me all the choices did have consequences because I wanted my clansmen to survive and they couldn't and that really sells the desperate end of the world thing for me. I missed everyone, even the ones I rarely talked to. Gunnulf was really my only "What the hell?" moment and I don't know, sudden death seems more realistic to me even if I would have liked to keep dead people's items more often.

And for people still complaining about the turn order in battle, I'm pretty sure we tried the normal way during one version of Factions and it was very much <B>not fun</b> because of the way their units are designed. Though the last battle was probably a bit less annoying for me because Rook was always in my party - he makes a fantastic armor break if you do it right as well as giving fun combos.

Though I will agree that a wider variety of battlefields would have been nice.

Argail
04-01-2014, 09:40 AM
Hello folks

Boyinleaves already talked a lot about the game and I widely agree with his notions about which things are great and which should be changed in the second installment (the way caravans work, most notably, as well as the AI and the highlighting of the actual role your Banner plays throughout the saga). So to not repeat everything he said I would like to focus on the major variations between my two playthroughs in which I experienced the game in two completely different ways.

Before getting into more detail, however, let me congratulate Stoic to this wonderful game as it stands. They created an immersive, colourful game with a unique style which always makes me think of the good old Mulan movie. And this - since I absolutely adore that film - is always a good thing.


~ FIRST IMPRESSION ~

I started playing the Banner Saga with already some experience I got via playing Factions. At first, I was a bit concerned that the game might be too easy. I was quite happy to see, however, that the game offered a real challenge on 'hard' even for experienced players.

Honestly, on my first playthrough I got completely and utterly destroyed. Because of the decisions I made throughout the early game I lost Ludin and his party (which I invested lots of reknown in), directly followed by Gunnolf (which was also heavily leveled up). Ultimately I was left with a small party of Characters I haven't invested much in (Mogr, Hakon) which introduced me into a series of battles which were almost impossible to win. I think it is the part of the game where most war battles are fought consecutively and my units rarely had enough time to recover from their severe injuries. Poor Mogr had to carry Hakon out of the battles quite often...

And this was an absolutely great experience. The loss of large parts of my party and the tough battles afterwards were underlining the sense of hopelessness and despair which invaded the world of the Banner Saga just as the Dredge did. My people really had to fight for their lives and the tough battles were a great game mechanic to support the overall atmosphere of the game.

This also continued with the second caravan. Although I did not loose as many units with Rook and Allette, I was generally short on supplies, and at the time I thought that clansmen still mattered. I thus spent some reknown on supplies too. Generally speaking, everyone was allowed to join my caravan, so I got robbed a couple of times and overall things did not go so well as expected.

At the time, I also felt a direct impact of previous decisions which, as I later discovered, was not the case at all. In my first playthrough I assumed that all the events were completely randomized (except for a few story-driven ones) and that therefore my playthrough would be entirelyy unique in its own right. It still is, but for other reasons. For example, when fighting in Skorg I decided to help the villagers. When shortly later on a little girl approaches Rook and thanks him for saving his momy, this sounded like a direct consequence from the choice I made earlier. It felt nice and I was happy to have saved the girl's mom.
In my second playthrough I encountered the same event again, despite not helping the villagers saved and I was a surprised that my choice did in fact not matter as much as I assumed firstly. The event was not triggered by my earlier choice, it occured any way.

In summary, my first playthrough was unbiased and not coloured with all the knowledge I have now have about how the caravan works and how different events play out. It was a rough experience with my characters and their caravans fighting for their lives, enduring a lot along the way. One of my favourite moments - it is a great example for how I feel about my first playthrough - was when Onef bit me in the back and almost killed Allette. I was outraged and at the same time SO worried about her! Up to that point I actually trusted that guy completely and thought that the other crazy-looking one was the bad guy... a great moment ingame, very moving and evoking a plenty of emotions. And of course this event killed Egil, another one of my characters which I invested a lot in, emotionally as well as reknown-wise...


~ SECOND IMPRESSION ~

And now, for something completely different!

My second playthrough was determined by two things: the knowledge of what I require to to beat Bellower in the end and to simply choose different options to see the story unfolding in a varying way.
This time I managed to keep Ludin and his bunch in the party while not getting Gunnulf killed. It made everything so much easier. Knowing that clansmen are not important at all I also had an easier time with Rook and Allette. We still had not that many supplies but it was fine since resting made everyone happy and kept my willpower at a higher level throughout the game (this really ought to be changed!).

While being generally nice to everyone at first, I now tried to get as many strong items as possible. It was a ridiculous change from a game mechanic perspective. While having only 2 level 5 items in my first run, I now had far more strong items than I could possibly equip. I generally took everything from everyone (the dead brother's necklace at the godstone, the magic horn in the final city). It might have made some people unhappy and cost a bit of extra reknown, but the ingame benefits were huge.

Still, I was happy to see that the fights were not too easily won and that I still lost some characters due to lost battles. Overall, the sense of despair I mentioned earlier was not as present. Sometimes I cut through hordes of Dredge but then again I lost a character here and there or something else bad happened. So even if breathing through certain parts of the game, it never quite felt too easy.
Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the end battle now that I knew what to do.


~ CONCLUSIONS ~

After having completed the game two times I feel that the first playthrough was a rough experience which overall suited the story better. Having the opportunity to exploit the gameplay mechanics to a certain amount can break the immersion. It makes no sense to have high moral when people are starving to death.

Maybe it was just me, but having discovered that all the events occurred at the same spot on the map was somewhat weird. A few, such as travelling vendors or people stealing food from your caravan could have been randomized. It works great the way it is, but coming from a different expectation it felt a bit off when noticing that the event system was overall more static than I firstly suspected.

The Banner Saga definitely is a great game and it absolutely warrants a third playthrough - especially since so far I simply couldn't side with the villagers to not have Hogun and Mogun in my party...

Thanks for reading!

- Argail

Aleonymous
04-01-2014, 11:42 AM
~ CONCLUSIONS ~

After having completed the game two times I feel that the first playthrough was a rough experience which overall suited the story better. Having the opportunity to exploit the gameplay mechanics to a certain amount can break the immersion. It makes no sense to have high moral when people are starving to death.

Maybe it was just me, but having discovered that all the events occurred at the same spot on the map was somewhat weird. A few, such as travelling vendors or people stealing food from your caravan could have been randomized. It works great the way it is, but coming from a different expectation it felt a bit off when noticing that the event system was overall more static than I firstly suspected.

- Argail

It was like that for most of us! :D The only thing I have trouble doing is losing the battles to see how things turn out... I am currently in my 5th (or 6th) playthrough playing at a modded "extra-hard" difficulty. The problem is that the game doesn't really get harder (or I modded it "wrongly" :o) -- it just gives you more enemies. That means that, using Turn-Advantage, you can still win all battles but also earn more Renown along the way. So... things spin out of balance, i.e. all chars are maxed-out, plenty of awesome items, everybody well-fed and high-spirited... What I mean to say is that the game is mostly meant to be played one-off, or by trying hard not to "game" it.

About the random events, check this article -- http://bannersaga.gamepedia.com/Events . In brief, there is a pool of ~20 random events that trigger randomly, but at specific checkpoint-locations of the story (e.g. 3-4 per chapter, for Rook's chapters only, surely more than 15 altogether). Some events got special trigger conditions, or have "chained-reactions", but its highly likely that you'll see all 20 of them in a couple of playthroughs. Exploring all the different options is quite difficult, but I was kinda saddened to find out that most had "obvious winner" (sic) choice/answer-sets. I wish the outcomes were more balanced (wrt to positive/negative consquences)...

Arnie
04-01-2014, 03:47 PM
@BoyinLeaves: What an awesome post. Just read the whole thing and am highlighting a lot of it for Alex to check out. Thanks a lot, we hope to make The Banner Saga 2 even tighter than the first go around...we're just getting warmed up!

AgentTBC
04-08-2014, 11:51 PM
Others have said everything I wanted to say, so I'll just stick with agreeing with the overwhelming consensus:

The game is awesome and your art direction etc puts many far more expensive to make games to utter shame.

The combat system is, overall, a brilliant piece of simple in concept but complex in execution. The one caveat is the same as BoyInLeaves; the 1 move per player no matter how many units either side has (until pillage) can lead to some very gamey and problematic situations where the side which is badly outnumbered actually has a big advantage. Dunno how to address this but luckily I am not the game designer.

The caravan mechanic is superb on the first playthrough but suffers greatly on more than that when you realize that there is no benefit at all to keeping people alive, that the number of enemies scales to how many people you have, and that there is no penalty (and actually many advantages) to letting your dudes starve to death.

And once again, TBS is wonderful. Just need to address making the battlefields more varied, the lack of consequences for starving your people to death/having a small caravan, and tweak it somehow so that being outnumbered in battle is actually worse than not being outnumbered and the game would be just about perfect. The first is trivial but time consuming, the second two require some thoughts on game design which I'm glad are not up to me.

drath
04-13-2014, 12:54 PM
Kudos to Stoic for producing a really noteworthy and enjoyable TBS title! TBS games have been pretty scarce as of late and this was a game that was both an interesting TBS and also brought new things to the table in terms of having a great story arc behind it. Here's my 2 cents on how the game panned out for me.

Haven't played Factions, so the single player campaign was my first experience with the Banner Saga tactical system. I played on Normal for 2 chapters, took a while to get into grips with the combat and decided I wanted something a little tougher. So I switched to Hard and replayed from scratch, finishing in 113 days. Had a great time overall, loved the soundtrack and the artwork, thoroughly enjoyed the flow of the story and took to the tactical battles with much relish. There were a few technical issues where the screen went into window mode, locked up, went black and failed to respond (I'm guessing this might
be a memory leak issue?), but in general the game played smoothly.


Gameplay:
As a TBS enthusiast, gameplay is naturally of the most import to me. I have some fairly major gripes about how turns are taken in combat as well as the role of clansmen in the caravan (both of which I will cover in more detail below), however in general I do feel it is a very well crafted game and I'm certainly glad to have played through it.

First off the tactical part of it which comprises battles and the respective units (both friend and foe). In general I strongly felt there was a good mix of characters of different unit types which were well thought out, realistic and interestingly varied in terms of both stats and special abilities. I enjoyed using the various special abilities of the units I had and maneuvering around the battlefield to get good positions. Conversely learning to deal with the abilities of trickier units like the Stonesinger was fun as well.
Having the choice of entering a 2nd battle right after the first ended was a nice touch. The random spawn positions caused a bit of frustration at times where an enemy unit could potentially get in a lucky hit on a wounded unit before it could even act, but generally I liked having these War scenarios where you could fight 2 battles back to back.

Next the strategy portion of it which comprises decision making on spending Renown (influencing promotions/supplies/items) and dialogue (influencing potential story paths).

Dialogue wise, I felt it was generally tightly written and that the main characters all had fairly distinct personalities which were well portrayed. However what really struck me and in my opinion sets the dialogue apart from other games was:
1)Quite a good number of the dialogue choices had an impact in terms of gameplay. From smaller bonuses/penalties of Renown/Supplies, acquiring items, diverted paths/optional combat and finally even potentially losing heroes, it was evident from the very start that dialogue was not merely cosmetic. This stands out in stark contrast as opposed to some other games which like to railroad the player into a fixed path with dialogue having little or no impact on gameplay.
2)There were some dialogue options where it was not immediately clear which was the best option to choose. Some were judgment decisions, some had a moral bent, but in any case a good many options had pros and cons to them and it was refreshing to see this, forcing the player to go by feel and perhaps even personal likes/dislikes, instead of having one right answer to every scenario.

Renown was fairly tightly controlled as it should be. While I usually had enough Renown to keep levelling units that I used frequently at a steady pace, at no point did I feel I had too much Renown and no where to spend it and in that sense I felt the game was pretty well balanced. On my first playthrough I focussed on promoting units which I thought would benefit most from having the extra stats. Later on when I had more units than the maximum of 6 allowed in a battle, I became more conscious on spending Renown and tended to focus more on units I thought I would take to battle often. Still later I found myself with insufficient supplies and had to allocate Renown to get more, instead of promoting units. Having played games with lax overall control, allowing you to spend resources willy nilly, this felt like a positive change!

Random events were nicely written and it made travel feel much more dynamic. However there was an instance where I triggered an event in Rook's caravan about Varl when the only Varl in the caravan at that time was Iver. That felt a little weird but apart from that, I loved reading through all the events (even those that took away supplies, though maybe not as much :P).


Graphics/Design:
Many facets of the game evoke memories from Norse/Viking myths (Jotuns, Midgard serpent, etc) but these are all given a most refreshing spin. The stylized artwork nicely depicts the bearing of the characters and overall tone of the game. It was all I would have envisioned a game in that setting to portray and more! Loved the Map and the detail given to each location in terms of description, where even far flung areas were given attention. To me that felt like a labor of love, a real effort make a fully believable world and not at all something hastily thrown together because the campaign needed a map.


Music:
Beautifully haunting and highly atmospheric melodies! Loved the in game soundtrack which captures the bleak, sombre mood perfectly. Even on relistening to it, I still get chills up my spine. I wished there was a bit more but whatever there was, was really well done and I certainly look forward to the 2nd part of the Saga to enjoy more great tunes!




Major gripes:

1)Initiative: The "You go-I go" combat system is counterintuitive and illogical (a unit's turn/initiative should NOT be influenced by the number of remaining units). Personally I find maiming units without killing them just so they could "delay" the stronger enemy units to be weird at best and quite unrealistic/distasteful/gaming the system in many cases. This goes against the trend of basically all established turn based strategy games and I don't see a good reason why it needs to be so, apart from just wanting to be different. It is telling that a Pillage mode had to be implemented when the enemy is down to 1 unit. This highlights the flaw of the current system really well.
That being said, I do think the current system has been quite keenly balanced in combat. Trying to overhaul it entirely to a conventional "each unit has a turn per round" system might break combat when you face off with significantly more opponents, so if it is to be done, fights need to be retuned.


2)Managing supplies/clansmen/fighters/Varl doesn't matter:
a)Supplies and Clansmen: I was appalled to find out that starving the caravan and killing off clansmen had no effect on the game. Apparently having more or less clansmen has no bearing on gameplay and they are basically just there to eat up supplies that don't matter.

b)Varl and Fighters: I was even more shocked to find out that fighter/varl numbers did not influence combat difficulty, as it appears that the number of Dredge you face scales based on the number of combatants you have. Starved the whole caravan to death on a replay test: 0 supplies, 0 clansmen, 0 fighters, 0 varl and met 1 Dredge in a War. Evenly matched it says... go figure lol. On my actual run, I remember the odds were against me in that War. Didn't seem to matter too much though as I think I met roughly the same number of enemy Dredge for that battle either way. So much for 1 Dredge, lmao.

If starving is meaningless then supplies are meaningless which means in no case should Renown be spent on supplies. In fact I would go so far as to say to remove clansmen/fighters/varl numbers if they are clearly intended to have zero bearing on gameplay. Right now despite what it seems on the surface, they are largely cosmetic. Of course on my actual playthrough I tried my best not to let supplies deplete (I did buy a good amount with Renown) but miscalculated the distance, had 1 day of starvation overall (IIRC) and so lost the achievement. Didn't seem to matter though at the end. All you need really are your main characters whom you actually use in battle.



Suggestions for the issues above:
1)I sincerely believe that a regular 1 move per round system would be better (the simple, tried and tested way)
OR
Add Initiative as a stat for units (more complex, interesting system) with units having higher initiative getting more turns.

This would be a huge change to all battles but I believe it would turn out for the better after rebalancing combat, especially in future games (part 2 onwards of the Saga).


2)Add high score mostly based on game difficulty (Hard would give best score), days used and number of survivors (clansmen/fighters/varl), akin to other TBS games (HoMM, etc). Survivors can be further weighted as seen fit. Total Renown (spent and unspent), kills tally, level of units, items gained could all also be minor factors.
OR
make clansmen matter in gameplay (more clansmen enable higher returns in Renown in battles)
make fighter/Varl numbers matter in gameplay (smaller army of fighters/Varl = tougher battle for heroes - reduced max limit of heroes to 5 or less, automatic injuries for heroes right upon entering battle, or just simply having more enemy units which are stronger (but awarding less Renown at the end of battle overall), etc)


P/S - I now realize most of what I had typed out has already been mentioned by other posters... but I decided in the end to post it anyhow (didnt want to waste it :P). So thanks in advance for reading my long feedback/rant :)

Aleonymous
04-15-2014, 04:58 AM
Major gripes:
1)Initiative: The "You go-I go" combat turn-system is...
2)Managing supplies/clansmen/fighters/Varl doesn't matter...

Hello there. Thanks for the massive feedback :) I'm gonna say some things only w.r.t. the major gripes.

1) There have been a large number of people, especially those that hadn't played Factions, that complained about the turn-system. I didn't mind too much, but I could see where it got really un-intuitive (e.g. there was an indoors fight in Chapter 7, in Boersgard, where it was just Rook & Oddleif against a group of 10+ enemies with ~8STR/7ARM). I am curious to see if Stoic are gonna respond to this issue...

2) Aye, the biggest concern. While Clansmen really only eat, Combatants (Fighters+Varl) have a small impact in War-battles. Specifically, if you have a lot of Combatants in your caravan, then the difficulty of the War-battles decreases, just a little. That means that you might get fewer enemies, or less powerful ones. It's not something noticeable really, especially for the (typically) small fluctuations of caravan population. I believe that War-battles engaged with near-zero combatants should be made ridiculously difficult, basically unwinnable, something like a "implicit" game-over.

drath
04-15-2014, 09:34 AM
1) There have been a large number of people, especially those that hadn't played Factions, that complained about the turn-system.

The turn system is just not right for a single player game. Factions might be a different case where I suppose you choose units for battles and that they intend to discourage bringing too many units.
But for the single player campaign, right now, 6 fully levelled heroes backed with proper items can probably take on 600 ordinary Dredge if the battlefield was actually large enough. The Dredge would basically never get their turns. Units are only units if they actually have turns. Units who don't get to move are just target practice dummies.
The only time I'm really concerned are units that are a strong threat like Scourge Destroyers which need to be neutralized before they hit anyone. This really should not be the case.



2) Aye, the biggest concern. While Clansmen really only eat, Combatants (Fighters+Varl) have a small impact in War-battles. Specifically, if you have a lot of Combatants in your caravan, then the difficulty of the War-battles decreases, just a little. That means that you might get fewer enemies, or less powerful ones. It's not something noticeable really, especially for the (typically) small fluctuations of caravan population. I believe that War-battles engaged with near-zero combatants should be made ridiculously difficult, basically unwinnable, something like a "implicit" game-over.

Hmm you might be right on that, I had an instance for Hakon's caravan in chapter 3 where a good number of Varl joined. The next War I fought after that became "enemies were nervous" whereas it read "evenly matched" in the previous few Wars before. I think that War I fought after the Varl joined was a bit easier indeed, but I didn't really give it too much thought.

The War which felt the same was the one just upon Fasolt joining Rook's caravan and even though I had 0 fighters and 0 Varl, I still fought about the same amount of Dredge for all I could tell.
And I do agree with you that War-battles engaged with near-zero combatants should be unwinnable and a "game-over".


Anyway I don't wanna be all doom and gloom. I love the game. I've recommended it on Facebook and I actually have gotten friends to play it. But at the same time, there are these few issues above that prevent me from promoting it even more heavily and I feel its a shame, because the rest of the game is really incredible and I would even go so far as to say it's the best TBS game of the last few decades (if the issues above were resolved).

Aleonymous
04-16-2014, 01:49 AM
The turn system is just not right for a single player game. Factions might be a different case where I suppose you choose units for battles and that they intend to discourage bringing too many units.

In Factions it is always 6-vs-6 and the skill of the two players is (supposed to be) approximately equal, so this "Turn Advantage" is rarely a big issue there. But, yes, for the single-player game it does feel a bit weird. I think they wanted to implement the "Hero" quality, you know: a small bunch of Heroes fighting and overwhelming large numbers of enemies... The devs have never spoken about the turn-system in the single-player game, and I believe that, maybe, they do not want to address this. We'll see....


While Clansmen really only eat, Combatants (Fighters+Varl) have a small impact in War-battles.

They've actually done a lot of work on balancing the War-battles. I am not sure everything was in the best direction, but there's surely a complicated system behind it, that make almost all battles enjoyable everytime you play them. Here are some factors that affect the War-battle difficulty:

The overall "Danger" attributed to each specific War-battle; some of them are supposed to be harder than others!
The enemy-types/ranks (Buckets) and deployment-zones, also attributed to each specific War-battle;
The Power of the player team, which is the sum of the Rank of your Heroes. I do not think it takes into account injuries, stats or items...
The number of Combatants in the player caravan (more ==> easier fight)
The Morale of the caravan (higher ==> easier fight)
Story related choices

It's the interplay between all those factors that balances the War battle difficulty. One playthrough cannot provide insight on all that, so one might not grasp how much work has been put into that. But, playing the same War multiple times, under different conditions (e.g. higher-ranked heroes, less combatants, different morale etc), does reveal that the battles are fun every time!

rinmic
05-29-2014, 05:45 AM
Seldom has left me a game hating and loving it at the same time. This is why I decided to give detailed feedback. I apologize for not reading all the other feedback first, so mine will probably repeat many points already named. However I simply do not have the time to do so :).
Love Part

Art
The art is stunning and never fails to trigger the right mode for me. The only minor complaint I have would be that I would have liked changing facial expressions in conversations, as a result from chosen dialogue options. This would create even more immersion.

Music
5/5 for me here. Absolutely fitting and stunning.

Setting and Story
Kudos for not going for 'elves and dwarfs and orcs' as a setting. I also really liked the twist about the dredge just fleeing from a greater enemy.
However, I felt there was so much left that could have been explained or dropped as tiny bits of information, to give the world a deeper and more meaningful feeling. Examples:
Why are there no female Varl?
What is known about other countries to the south?

Hate Part

Caravan mechanics
Realizing that the numbers attached to the caravan have absolutely NO meaning is quite.. soul crushing. This is made worse by the fact that the caravan is ONLY represented by those abstract numbers. One cannot simply take a stroll in the camp and see how people are doing, or get feedback from them in regards to ones performance.

Initiative system
A system which promotes the 'crippling' of enemies to 1 strength to only let them live as long as possible afterwards is simply game breaking. It breaks immersion and it absolutely forces the player to 'game' the mechanics on the higher difficulty levels.
Immersion: "The Dredge Warrior is stumbling, bleeding/oozing from many wounds. The exhausted Rook is ready to deliver the finishing the blow..." BUT WAIT! Rook decides it's best to let that Dredge wander around for a while and instead jump the next target... Who does not think "WHAT?!" in that moment?

The Boss Fight
The mechanics of the boss fight punish players for playing the way the game has taught them to play every single battle. Instead of carefully luring targets forward to cripple them round after round, the player now needs to suddenly shed all care and rush to deliver a killing blow to the boss.
We live in a time where countless MMORPGs have had countless boss encounters in them, with more and less successful boss mechanics. This is simply not up to standards.

Random Events
Most of them have only one 'correct' outcome. This makes such events utterly uninteresting and meaningless, as they simply become a chore to find the 'correct' solution to pass. I do DM for a Dungeons and Dragons group and one important key concept is the following: failure needs to be interesting and meaningful, never should it only punish the player. This is because the players will simply lose interest in the situation. 'Lose x amount of arbitrary and meaningless stat' is not interesting. As soon as the player realizes that the random events do not lead to any interesting outcome, but are just ways to lose/gain on stats, they will simply research the best solution online.

Fake Decisions
I played the game from start to finish 2 times. I found that many dialogues and decisions did not influence the course of the game at all. Story exposition or character development can be achieved through better ways, for example cut scenes. Coming back the point before: Decisions need to lead to meaningful consequences. If it does not matter what I chose, I do not care and just click spam through it.
The decisions that had meaning usually led to two results: gain party member - lose party member. Losing a party member, again, still needs to be interesting in a way. How do the other members react? How is their view changed on the situation? And how does the overall story line change due to this event? The answer is always: no one really cares, but you now have a character less to chose from for the battles. If this was one of the characters you invested heavily in - tough luck. When Onef attacked my caravan and killed one of my main party members, it was barely mentioned IN the event. No one ever spoke of it again afterwards. I guess the guy Onef killed wasn't liked by the other caravan members...
In the end, the player always travels the same route to Boersgard, always fights the same important battles. This is as linear as a game can get story wise, and much wasted potential.

Minor stuff

The only characters with an interesting back story are male..
All the characters that have something interesting from their past to talk about are male. Whilst the game has strong female characters, none of them does talk about their past or has an interesting background story. Guys, it's the 21st century, we can do better than that, can't we?

More Maps!
More obstacles or other features would really spice up combat. How about a cliff with a boulder on top, that a character can push to crush a dredge locked in fight under it?

The Mender
I found the class to be interesting, but ultimately under powered. Maybe I missed something, but the best I was able to do was hitting 2-3 enemies for 4 damage with the lightning attack, but very unreliably. Well that one Varl class that can smack about 3-4 enemies RELIABLY for 6-10 damage (strength gloves really help there) outshines that skill by a mile. The mending of armor seems to weak (it usually only repairs armor for one attack), as the enemy tends to focus fire heroes and the mender has no chance of keeping up with the armor reduction. An additional hero to draw some of that action is better, especially since they are usually better equipped to take an enemy out.

TL;DR: I found the game to be stunningly beautiful and with great atmosphere, but could never shake the feeling that the mechanics were rushed and or severely underdeveloped. I'd strongly suggest spending some major time there for any future releases.

Apologies for the grammar/spelling, English is not my first language.

Aleonymous
06-02-2014, 09:41 AM
Hello there! I am gonna discuss the negative points you brought up; we all agree on the positives :)



Hate Part


1. Caravan mechanics -- That was the biggest flaw of the game, in my opinion too. In the early development stages the caravan system was much more complicated, as the game itself was mostly meant to be a 'caravan' game. It was after the KS success that the game turned into a fusion of 'tactical combat' and 'story/role-playing' game. That was the point where the caravan mechanics were over-simplified. Dunno, maybe the following parts will reveal that keeping the population alive was very much important...

2. Initiative system -- Most of the people who have problem with the game's turn-system are those that come from tactical games where focus-firing is the preferred strategy. I am not saying I don't like 'other' initiative systems (e.g. like XCOM) but I am gonna try to explain how they came here (IMHO): The combat system was balanced through Factions, the online PvP game, where two parties of 6 heroes fight each other. In Factions, where the team "powers" and player "skills" are properly matched, it was very unlikely to have a 4-vs-1 situation, and all heroes were worn-down about equivalently. Now, the turn-system used allows for come-backs for those abilities/stats etc that the game was balanced around. Maybe Stoic (wrongly) balanced the vs-AI fights around the same principle as the PvP fights. Maybe the difficulty-scaling/matching doesn't go in-line with the player expectations (and skill), who wants to keep all his heroes alive in as many battles as possible. What I mean to say, is that devs intended for the battles to end with 2-4 heroes knocked out, as a logical outcome of a hard fight, e.g. against 10 powerful dredge. To conclude, only one thing is clear: The game's balancing has progressed so much (so many units, abilities etc) that changing the turn-system now seems out of the question. Only small changes can be implemented, e.g. entering pillage-mode when a team is left with 2 units (instead of 1) etc.

3. The Boss Fight -- It's true that the Boss fight was difficult due to that fact, i.e. you needed to adapt your strategy and focus-fire on Bellower. But, in my book, difficult is 'challenging' and adapting is 'interesting', so I never worried. I only wished there were more rule-breaking boss-fights like that one, that forced you to use different tactics.

4. Random Events -- I agree that the outcomes of the decisions for all those random events should be more balanced: you earn something in one category, but lose something in another.

5. Fake Decisions -- Ha, many people have whined about that, myself included. I believe that it's the game's advertising ("choices that matter") that made the most harm there. If nothing like that was emphasized, we wouldn't mind the decisions neither the linear story line ;) However, I do agree that several decision-related events should be more "developed/details/elaborated/balanced", so as to give a greater depth to the character personalities and the setting. That intricate Onef-Ekkill-Egil event is a prime example of something that could have been highly memorable in gaming history (like Yoshimo's treason in Baldur's Gate 2), but falls somehow sort of the mark. Still, it's the true-est instance of the "choices that matter" dogma.

rinmic
06-03-2014, 04:48 PM
1) That is a real shame.
2) I do indeed have an XCOM background and other such games before that. I do understand the approach to try something else, I am simply stating that this mechanic is not working for me. Not one bit. Especially since the AI is going for exactly what was the intention to avoid: focus fire. I had countless fights where the AI would just go and use 5 dredge slingers to chip away at one hero's armor to then quickly knock them out.
3) I agree that it is good to mix it up in a game, challenge wise. However, if the game teaches one way and one way only till the very last battle and changes everything then? That is bad design. Also, a boss fight design where the best solution is to line up 3 archers in the perfect order to strike on the second turn and win? Kinda boring. The best boss fights force you to change tactics half through the battle and keep the tension high for several rounds.
4/5) Agreed.

KamikazeDurrrp
06-03-2014, 06:06 PM
I'm sure this has already been discussed before, but the problem with the initiative system is that it was designed for 6v6 fights and in the singleplayer the devs decided to do 6v12 fights, which caused a lot of problems in terms of balances and playstyle. Combine that with the fact that there is virtually no real variety in the gameplay (other than the maps and start location) it makes it more frustrating once players reach the end. IMO in the next game, either the devs need to remove the initiative system and do it xcom style (your team moves then the enemy team moves) in some battles, or have 6v6 fights BUT have more varied gameplay. I have a few ideas such as:

-hold a position, have a tile where a character has to stand and not move from for a set number of terms, with the enemy having extremely long range with 1-2 tanks
-reach a certain location within a set number of turns
-escort
-run to tile to "pick up" item then try to take it back to starting location
-have the character stand on 2-3 tiles at the same time (ie force your team to split up in order to fulfill condition)

and these are just off the top of my head. The only flaw of the "objective" system like this would be that a lot of the time the player could just beat the enemy team, but that could easily be fixed by having a fresh enemy unit appear 1-2 turns later. None of these ideas are really new and have appeared in other games, but this way we could keep the 6v6 initiative system without resorting to spamming more enemies or spawning in a bad position which is the current status quo. Also, the system might work if there are fewer (but stronger) enemies on the field than what the character has (a la Bellower), which removes the boring redundant mechanic of constantly crippling enemies since the enemy automatically has turn advantage. Just food for thought.