After the great success Stoic Studios had with The Banner Saga, they brought us part two on April 19, 2016. Taking place almost immediately after the first game Banner Saga 2 brings us back to familiar faces, artwork and that amazing music score. That’s just the beginning as Stoic has listened to their fans and what content to improve on. Let’s go through what was added to the second Banner Saga, part two of a trilogy.
First and foremost, if you have completed Banner Saga you may import your characters, items, levels and choices. Through testing I have found this to be the preferable option. The edge you get from importing a save is well worth it. Some of the items and characters won’t be available without an imported save.
In The Banner Saga 2 we can see how much the artists talents have evolved. The landscape and characters have a little more attention to detail as well as more color. It’s easy to lose yourself in these new lands and each scene draws you further into this bleak, crumbling world. As the game progresses, the environment in which the player is traveling changes drastically. From winter to fall to spring and all while the sun is stopped in place. Keeping tradition with their first game, Stoic has produced a very similar music score. A score that makes you feel the desperation of the world while a lonely sound of hope trudges onward.
This game features new races and monsters to go with these unseen lands. Until the release of the sequel, Horseborn were thought extinct. However, as the world shatters they are forced from their lands, just like everyone else. Horseborn change how you look at combat because they have a large movement area and their melee units can move before and after attacking. Seeing more of the world brings you into contact with strange new enemies too. New clans of humans might call war bears in to fight you, or you could be ambushed by the invisible Dredge Skulker which also attack in packs if able.
Fear not, combat has had a fair share of adjustments as well. Stoic did more story telling in battle this time around however there are even more choices in the second Banner Saga that effect who can and cannot be in the battle. This can lead to some trouble but if you are smart and careful, it’s not an issue. Objectives in battle add even more flavor and context to your situation. Naturally the battlefields are not all flat, perfect areas. We have seen fissures and fences in the previous game, but in the second Banner Saga we can also see destructible barriers that can hinder either side.
One of the big things fans wanted from The Banner Saga 2 was more cinematic sequences. The voice acting was amazing in the first game, yet many felt it was under utilized. Every cut scene, and most of the game, was hand drawn and the fans wanted more of that too. Stoic couldn’t spend millions on every step of the game but they definitely listened. Not only is there more voice acting, but more characters have a voice. Along with that, Stoic added more cut scenes both outside and during battle. Players generally agree that these additions greatly improved the immersion of the story and the world.
Each character has access to talents. These are specialized paths a character can take to fine tune them to your liking. Each stat has two talent trees but you can only use one per stat. This is the only drawback I found with my imported save because my characters were high level already, I had lost out on some talents.
To wrap this up, The Banner Saga 2 went beyond my expectations. The masterful way of melding story, lore, and music into a tactical RPG is simply wonderful. Artwork that had already impressed many was improved both obviously and in minor detail. Storytelling has become more fluid while making battle less of a grind. Lastly, the way Stoic meshed the first and second Banner Saga games was brilliant. Much like any of Telltale’s games, your choice effects how things play out in a major way.