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    dkirschner's The Banner Saga 3 (PC)

    [June 22, 2020 01:52:15 PM]
    Done! Man, what an epic trilogy. This is probably the weakest of the three games, but it was fantastic still. I decided to import my save from Banner Saga 2, which I think made me a bit overpowered. Any character who was below level 8 automatically got bumped up, and I had several level 9 and 10 characters with great items from last game to begin.

    The game picks up right where Banner Saga 2 left off. Rook/Allette's caravan has arrived in Arberrang, the human capital, and Juno, Iver, and Eyvind's caravan is off to reverse the spreading darkness. There are some notable changes in this game from the previous one:

    1. You no longer manage caravans like in the other two games. There still are technically caravans, but supplies and morale are not things to worry about anymore. I did miss this, as the Oregon Trail element was one of my favorite things in the series. Instead, in Arberrang, you are playing politics and trying to keep the city from devolving into chaos. And this is the Banner Saga, so you know that it eventually devolves into chaos. The new caravan-esque mechanic emerges in the latter part of the game and involves you bouncing between your two groups. In Arberrang, you fight to control the city and fend off the attacking Warped (creatures turned by the encroaching darkness). Based on choices and how you fare in Arberrang, you are able to hold out juuuust a little bit longer so that Juno & Co. can stop the darkness. When you run out of days with Juno, the game bounces back to Arberrang, where you have another fight and make some more decisions to buy a little more time. I am unclear though what the consequences are for doing this indefinitely. Can you lose? I think I ran out of days three times, and each time, there was more to do in Arberrang. Would the city eventually have been overrun?

    2. Since characters start at level 8 now, and some characters will max out stats and stat talents, they needed further progression past level 10. Enter "titles." You can give your most badass characters fancy names like "The Oath-Maker" or "The Wolf." There are a limited number, each character can only have one, and each can only be used once. That means you can't go around calling everyone "The Wolf" and using its stat boosts, which I think were +movement, +damage, and -aggro. Each title has 5 levels and they do some pretty amazing things. One adds 5 damage for every consecutive attack. I have an axe-thrower, Oli, who has a skill, "Axe Storm," that attacks an enemy x times in a row, until he misses, with a -10% chance to hit on each subsequent attack. So, first hit at 100% chance, next hit at 90% chance (+5 damage!), next hit at 80% chance (+5 damage!), etc. Oli could one shot anyone. He actually almost one-shotted the last boss (story continued in next point!).

    3. Waves are the new risk/reward system here. In some battles, after you clear the battlefield, you'll be given the option to flee or fight. If you fight again, you can swap out characters to get some fresh ones in (this is why it's important to spread out leveling among a lot of characters!), enemy reinforcements will come, and you'll get more renown and possibly a powerful item. I usually fought again, but sometimes the waves keep coming at least three times! It's terrifying to consider losing on a later wave because you wasted time and your characters will all be injured (strength penalty until they rest). Okay so, back to the last boss story. He comes out during the third wave of the last fight. I actually screwed up and let a timer run out so I didn't get to send in reinforcements and a couple of my characters were in dire straights. I barely made it through. Anyway, the boss is this angry berserker who you control for much of the second game. He has an amazing ability called "Cull the Weak" that gives him an extra turn when he uses the ability to kill someone. In the second game, he was so strong I literally had completed entire battles with him in one string of turns as he one-shotted every enemy. Well, unfortunately he uses Cull the Weak against you now. He came on the battlefield with like 28 strength (A LOT) because I'd let some enemies cast too many spells that increase strength and he immediately killed one character. I could envision my party dying to his rampage. Well, after killing the one character, he walked into a trap and stopped (ha!). I knocked his armor down a couple times and then it was Oli's turn. He Axe Stormed him from 28 to 6 Strength. At 6 strength, you're pretty much neutralized. Someone else killed him off within a turn. It was awesome.

    4. There are some nice new animations, cut scenes, and some voice acting this time around. This helps tell the narrative, which by the third game has gotten a bit bloated. There's a lot going on, and you really should play all three close together; the series is basically one long RPG. Because of some narrative bloat though, the game struggles to wrap up a bit. There are dozens of characters in several different spots. The game keeps hinting at this epic final battle with a giant serpent, but you never get to fight it. In fact, that's one thing I would criticize the series for, it's lack of real unique boss battles. Instead of another 4-tile enemy like a varl or dredge champion, it would have been cool to have a different kind of fight with a giant snake, with phases of the fight, a new ability to deal with, and so on. This third game does add more new enemy types, but the epic ending (present in narrative) was absent in terms of gameplay. I'm not sure I should have been able to almost one-shot the final boss.

    The only other thing to note is that I suffered some crashes in my play through. It would get stuck on loading screens and I'd have to restart the game. One time it didn't save my progress and I had to complete a long battle again, but other times it did save. That was annoying. There was also a bug (present in BS2 too) where I think I duped an item somehow, and some characters wound up with items that I couldn't remove. That sucked because they were crappy low-level items. It made me not level those characters because I knew they couldn't equip anything really good, which is a huge perk of leveling in the game.

    I wonder if there will ever be a Banner Saga 4. It wrapped up this story, but it's a rich, rich world that could easily spawn new games. I would totally play more. This is a phenomenal strategy RPG series that I am so glad I got to play and would recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in the genre.

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    dkirschner's The Banner Saga 3 (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Thursday 18 June, 2020

    GameLog closed on: Monday 22 June, 2020

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Yes yes yes. The end of the trilogyyy! ----------- So great. Must play.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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