During a preview event with Versus Evil I got to talk to Stoic about the much anticipated, now fully Kickstarted, The Banner Saga 3; a game that will dramatically tie the saga to an end.
The Banner Saga 3 will be the final instalment in a series that has come from humble beginnings and has seen a huge cult following. This may come as sad news to many people reading this article, but what was made apparent is that this was always planned from the beginning.
With comparisons made to TV series that have gone on too long (Scrubs, anyone?), the team at Stoic don’t want the series to limp over the line. With the narrative being a key element to the success of The Banner Saga, it isn’t surprising that there was always a broad storyline in place that was going to have a fixed end point.
This why there isn’t a huge overhaul to combat and style throughout the three games; they are meant to be continuous, like picking up the next book in a trilogy. The art style was chosen not only because it looks stunning but because it wouldn’t end up becoming dated as the series went on. It meant the Banner Saga games could look the same without the development team having to be under pressure to release them in a short timeframe.
The Banner Saga 3 will pick up right where the second instalment left off, with a group of heroes journeying back into the darkness in order to save everyone held up in the city of Abberang. The game will follow the story of the survivors in the city and the heroes travelling through the darkness, with the narrative leaning on the conflicting elements of doubt and trust between the two groups.
In a reflection to this planned story arc, we will find the heroes back where the story started – with Prince Ludin and the Varl. The first battle – at least in the early build of the game I was privy to – will back in the shattered remains of the hall, right where the first battle of the original Banner Saga took place.
From this sombre tone created at the start of Banner Saga 3, it certainly feels like this game is wrapping up the series and showing us the extent of the carnage throughout this world. As always, your choices will matter and your decisions will affect how your playthrough of The Banner Saga 3 will end. Anyone who played the first two games knows how much impact even the smallest decision can have on the outcome. Stoic have stated that The Banner Saga 3 will have as many different endings as possible, dependent not only on the decisions you’ve made in that game, but also the trilogy as a whole.
I wondered if that meant that some things would be left undiscovered for some of us who didn’t choose correctly (if there is such thing as a correct choice in Banner Saga). However, I was told that no matter what your choices have been, each ending will feel like closure to the journey – but whether it is happy or not is an entirely different matter.
Despite Stoic’s keenness to keep The Banner Saga trilogy as consistent as possible, we still will see some innovation. There will be new classes for new heroes (Juno will be playable!) allowing us to play with new tactics and combos. Battles will also include interactive scenery that allows party members to change battlegrounds to their advantage. That said, even these innovations won’t feel intrusive or jarring, and anything new will be accountable by the narrative.
The Banner Saga 3 may spell the end of Rook, Allette and Iver’s story, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the end of the world that they lived in. Stoic explained that there is definitely more they can do in the future, and a return to the pure combat of The Banner Saga: Factions is certainly a possibility. There lies a lot of undiscovered story to delve into, as well with the old wars between the Dredge and Varl – or Varl and humans (the Varl love to war, don’t they?) – left mainly to our imagination for now.
It is refreshing to see developers talk about the craft of the game being the forefront of the design process. Stoic acknowledge that this isn’t a game that is a sensible for a publisher to make, but with stretch goals they can make it as beautiful as people want it to be. We know that most producers would allow a rich story like The Banner Saga to die a slow and painful death for the sake of a quick profit, but Stoic Games seem to be giving The Banner Saga the illustrious send-off it deserves.