View Full Version : My thoughts on the gameplay mechanics

12-13-2014, 02:48 PM
Because Korica[1] did it so nicely, and because it was well received, I decided to add my little contribution too.

I've addressed issues I felt mattered, and in conjunction to what Korica wrote and what can be seen in that topic too[2] about the choices and their consequences. I'm gonna make references to those below. But I promise you, it's all new material - almost.

I do it because I've found the narrative immensely enjoyable most of the way, and that I felt the gameplay mechanics were punishing me for all the wrong reasons. Pardon me if I've made mistakes too, English is not my first language and sometimes it means my vocabulary is not as diverse as I would like.

P.S.: I've only finished 1 playthrough on Normal. And I want shieldmaidens!!!

FIRST – Character Loss and Renown

I've been short on renown a lot since chapter 2. A lot because I was always running low on food and I had made my mission not to let anyone died of hunger (more on that later).

The point is I felt like the game was preventing me from experimenting with different caracters. At a point the cost was a deterrent. Just like when an important character would die, it would be hard to get out of it.

And if by a twist of fortune you happened to use both Olef and Egil (which I did to an extand), you're in for a big screw you. I was lucky, I lost them lv 2 and 3, but I was just about to get Egil lv4, since he had the kills and I found him invaluable in heavy fights.

It would have been more enjoyable if I could have experimented (not in training, but in actual combat) with many combination, meaning being able to lvl up everyone to an extend. Most of them already had the kills requirement.

I also feel the use of renown as a currency for goods and lvls was unbalanced in some way.

(Assists were discussed in Korica's topic and I love the idea. Makes fights more organic, not to have to worry who makes the final blow.)

There is also: when we lose a character, do we lose the item he had on him too? I did not check


I find really unerving that he dies no matter what if Olef joined. I mean, he could be maxed out, and in a story sense, it makes him a badass. Even without his shield. I find it kind of hard to believe a lv 5 Egil would lose to Olef with one blow taken. It's particularly a problem with him, since we go 4 chapters with is death certain (although of course we don't know). I'm not against “randomly” killing someone, since I kind of liked the idea of a mutiny, but having him die no matter what, I find that harsh in a non-fun way.

THIRD – Choices and food

Like I said above, from chapter 2 through 5, food was scarce, so I was focusing my energies to finding more. By a certain point, I literally bought all what I came across.

My gameplay, in the last couple chapters was like that: buy all the found, and then promote with what's left. I think it would have been more interesting if I could have chosen food security over power.

The point I'm trying to make is: I would have like if I could have chosen my doom. If the game didn't force starvation on me, but if it was due to my carelessness. One way would have been to have town with many supply and others with not so much (instead of having them all having almost nothing). It would have force me to question myself in some way like: do I buy food now and don't promote that guy, or do I need his promotion more right now, and I will buy food in the next village? The way the game was, it was always: I need the food now, cause the next village will have almost nothing, just like this one and the one before

FOURTH – Caravan and choices

Looking back, I did not really care about the caravan in general (other than not letting them starve). I'm gonna actively reference information in the link [2].

If you look there's a lot of “Nothing”, or near meaningless choices. Some big mistake too. I think I would've cared more if the choices were more rewarding/devastating. Like a little moral boost here or a little moral loss here or that choice trigger more conflicts for me to solve or that one keep the trouble makers in check for a while. And having random triggers for a majority of events.

For example:
I might be wrong, but it seems to me that welcoming strangers in the caravan cause two random events: 1 they stay and behave or 2. they flee after stealing from you. There is no way to mitigate that or anything. We could've had a choice like:

1. Have someone watch them.
2. Have people watching them.
3. Having people keeping watch on the waggons.
4. Having more people on watch for the night(s).
5. Trust them.
6. Etc.

With possible consequences like they're less likely to steal, or they killed the guard before stealing, or Rook is being woken up by the sound of battle (with a battle with some malus following) or having the guards preventing the theft and Rook having to pass judgement, or nothing. If you have many people watching them, these could not participate in the next war because they're tired or something, etc.

It makes the choices more complex and if something turns out badly it's the fault of the player instead of chance or weird game design (looking at you Egil).

FIFTH – Caravan and morale (suite of part 4)

I found morale not to have that big of an impact on the game. In the end I did not even bother to rest to have it boosted. Sometimes in the beginning I would do that and have the morale decrease after only one day on the road. I think the choices do not have a great enough significance on morale (no little boost or decrease of it).

I also found that a low morale did not have a big enough impact on my caravan as a whole. No mutiny because of low morale, no nothing.

SIXTH – A word about battles

Terrain variety was a little lacking. It was always the same square. It would have been nice to have trees or rivers or ravines in our (or the enemy's) way, or to have obstacles playing an offensive role, like I can push that guy in the hole and he would die falling (or me, enemies have the ability to push characters back.)

Or little things like being able to have 4 characters form a shieldwall and advance together.

Or having two different parties in the same war fighting simultaneously (story wise). That would be something punishing the player for promoting only 5 characters, and forcing him to use more of his people.

Having little things like 2 characters fighting along side having a special bonus (when they've been figthing side by side many battles or because they have a special relationship to each other story wise). I've find that rewarding in games like Fire Emblem (gameboy advance ones, I've not play the others).

IN THE END – the Banner

At the beginning of Chapter 3 I found myself wondering why the hell I was going to Ridgehorn. Which take me to the Banner. It is supposed to have the history on the... clan? Sewn into it. I would have like to have some archive of my actions, be it my decisions or the game storytelling decisions recorded for future reference, on the banner or else.

A little P.S. - bugs:

1. (I do consider that a bug) At the end of Chapter 5, if we fight on the bridge for 3 days, there's no possibility to buy supplies after the third battle and the departure at the start of Chapter 6. I found that infuriating, cause I was planning to buy supplies before leaving (I did not do that before the third battle because I promoted some characters and was looking to the extra Renown to stock myself). It's not like we were in a hurry either.

2. Context: after the game, before burning the one who died, we have still access to the Heroes area. In my case, Alette looked like that. I don't know if Rook has the same bug.

3. And in a conversation with Eyvind, I think it should'va read “if we can make it to the capital”

[1] http://stoicstudio.com/forum/showthr...he-Banner-Saga
[2] http://stoicstudio.com/forum/showthr...s-in-your-Saga