Your donations keep RPGWatch running!
Box Art

The Banner Saga - Factions reviews

by Myrthos, 2013-04-15 12:36:12

The Banner Saga: Factions has been reviewed by Funsponge.

Being free-to-play, the highly debated and emotionally fueled topic of microtransactions must be addressed. Renown can be purchased, as well as a few upgraded units and fancy coloured skins. Do these provide a significant advantage? The answer is a resounding no. All it really does is skip the learning process and throw you in at the deep end for a good old ass whooping. Imagine turning up to a master’s Chess tournament having only ever previously played your mate. On the other hand the cosmetic stuff feels about right, so tipping the developers for their trouble won’t sting too much.

I like Factions, I like it a lot, but I can’t deny its niche appeal. The comparison to chess is a common theme throughout, so if that’s not your thing you probably won’t enjoy Factions in its current form. If you’re after ranked matches this is for you, but expect a wait and be prepared for defeat, lots and lots of defeat. Such a robust combat system bodes well for the still-in-development single-player campaign, which will perhaps make a better introduction to the mindset in a less punishing environment. Although, in a stroke of genius, Stoic hinted at recording data from Factions to craft their AI, so don’t expect a pushover there either.

As did Cheatmasters (7/10)

The mechanic of the game that makes Factions both unique and challenging is how the strength of the characters is tied to how much health they have as well. For example, one that does 12 damage also has 12 health when unarmored. Of course, armor gives protection and reduces damage received. If the armor is greater than the character’s strength level, the damage received is 1. Normal damage can be directed to either armor or strength, while special attacks can damage both. This leads to some players whittling away armor, while others would lower enemy units’ strength early on to eliminate threats later on.


Unlike many games with matchmaking systems, the game does not ask you to confirm you are ready when it finds a match for you. Due to the long queue times, this can often mean matches start pre-emptively or even when a player is AFK. I’ve played against a number of dummy opponents who clearly got fed up of waiting before leaving, granting me an incredibly dull victory.

Factions is a game worth checking out, but likely not one worth investing money in. No-one will blame you for not making it past the dull initial grind, but at least pop it on sometime and bask in the game’s excellent opening cutscene. The single player releases to come will likely be excellent, building on the good framework set down by Factions. Hopefully the game will get a larger userbase after people react positively to the later releases.

Information about

Banner Saga

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Strategy-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released