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Banner Saga 2 is 'basically the same' as the first

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Except not really

Game previews are an inherently strange part of this business. You wouldn't read a few pages from an unfinished book and render judgement about the final product. Likewise, we don't often have the opportunity to sample a song's chorus or take in a full film scene while they're still in production.

Combine that bizarre level of pre-release access with the awkward situation of having one of the creators (or their agents) standing over your shoulder while you come to grips with new gameplay systems and controls. They often sit back and watch (and either silently judge or just pray nothing goes awry) or throw as much information your way as possible, hoping that something sticks.

In the latter situation, you'll oftentimes hear carefully crafted pitches from public relations staff, which likely have been edited and rehearsed many times over in the days and weeks leading into a convention, trade show, or press junket with the hopes that media types view their latest creation in a preferable light and stay on message, rather than call, say, the new Homefront a "stupid game."

That's not the type of pitch I received over the weekend at PAX, where upon telling a Versus Evil employee that I was familiar with the original Banner Saga, the PR dude told me something I've seldom, if ever, heard uttered by one of his peers over the years. On several occasions he repeatedly told me the sequel is "basically the same" as its predecessor -- which, again, is something you just don't ever hear from these folks, who are paid to brand their clients' products as innovative, revolutionary, or at least in some way distinguishable amidst the competition.

It might have been a refreshing moment of honesty, you know, if the statement were actually true. 

While The Banner Saga 2 may not be a drastic revision that goes out of its way to reinvent the core experience, intimating it's a carbon copy that merely continues the story might be underselling it.

In my limited time with the game, I witnessed a number of notable tweaks to the existing formula that figure to go a long way in addressing players' complaints about the original being somewhat of a repetitive slog. The sequel feels like a more dynamic, varied evolution on what's already been established, thanks to little touches like how battles arise and play out.

The Banner Saga 2 reinforces one of its predecessors greatest strengths -- how consequences born from player choice ripple throughout the experience like stones cast into a pond -- by having them directly bleed into combat, starting out battles with scenes that stem from your decisions, rather than have them play out exactly the same way regardless of how a particular situation came to pass.

Once a skirmish begins, you'll encounter new foes, such as four-legged creatures that can cloak themselves and ambush more fragile units (such as archers) that you figured were safe behind the front lines. New support units will also force you to make difficult decisions between targeting the enemy's bruisers or the guys making them even more imposing than they otherwise would be.

Even outside of battle, players will have new options to manage their caravan. Clansman seem to be of more use this time around, as they can be recruited as fighters. However, much like everything in Stoic's universe, there are drawbacks to this; these new warriors will no longer focus on collecting supplies, making your caravan's precious resources dwindle at a faster clip.

At a glance, it may not seem that too much has changed since The Banner Saga launched in early 2014, but upon closer inspection, the development team at Stoic appears to be making subtle, yet impactful changes to a blueprint that already worked in an effort to take its game to the next level.

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Kyle MacGregor Burleson
Kyle MacGregor BurlesonWeekend Editor   gamer profile

used to work Now I just hang around and make a more + disclosures


 


 


Also on Destructoid: The Banner Saga 2   (9)   From our database:

  • (Update) Twitch is holding a promotion for The Banner Saga 3 that includes donations to the game's Kickstarter - Peter Glagowski
  • Review: The Banner Saga 2 - Nic Rowen
  • Banner Saga 2 is as pretty as it is out right now - Steven Hansen
  • Banner Saga 2 will launch on April 19 on PC - Chris Carter
  • Banner Saga 2 is 'basically the same' as the first - Kyle MacGregor Burleson
  • The Banner Saga 2 picks up on PS4, Xbox One, PC - Kyle MacGregor Burleson
  • The Banner Saga 2 announced, looks gorgeous - Steven Hansen
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    Filed under... #Hands-on #Indie #PAX #pc #Previews #PS4 #Role-Playing Games #Strategy games #Xbox One

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