The Banner Saga 2 is a tactical RPG developed by the three-man team at Stoic Studio. Continuing the tale of Rook and Alette, and immediately following the events of the first entry, combining elements of Norse mythology, fantasy, and survival games. The caravan looks to find safety from the Dredge, while trying to find a new home in the seat of power known as Aberrang. The Banner Saga 2 features hand-drawn art, a full orchestral soundtrack, and voiceover performed for certain, but not all scenes.
The Banner Saga 2 features two main modes of play, with a travel mechanic following the caravan as it trudges across the land, and a turn-based combat mechanic similar to titles like XCOM and other tile-based, initiative-focused games. While these are the main focus, there are aspects of resource management, party management, and leveling hero characters throughout.
Combat is a turn-based affair focused on a tiled engagement map. Prior to going into combat the player is given opportunity to level up, assign turn order, and build their party for battle from various heroes who each have their own fighting style. Heroes have a standard strike, and special abilities which can cause different status effects like bleeding, knockback, etc. On top of the standard strikes and abilities, heroes can earn willpower through the course of battle, which allows for further movement and harder strikes. When attacking an enemy the player must select to attack either armor or strength. Decreasing an enemy armor opens them up for more damage to their strength in future turns, while strength itself serves as a sort of health or vitality, when it reaches zero the hero or enemy is defeated.
Prior to beginning the combat round, players can position their team in a certain set of squares in order to form up in more tactical sets.
Outside of combat players must reach the end goal of the city of Aberrang on the western coast of the map. Travel is conveyed by a side-scrolling march depicting the caravan marching with small representations of heroes. As the caravan moves along it consumes supplies at a rate proportionate to the amount of fighters, clansmen, and Varl in the caravan. The player must also manage caravan morale which decreases with appropriate conditions or events, as well as over more time passing while traveling. Traveling for too long depletes morale, but the player may choose to camp at any time to rest, consuming more supplies but raising morale and giving potential opportunity to interact with heroes.
As the player moves through the map in the side-scrolling sections, pop-ups will display different engagements like warnings of movement in the tree line, rough waters, and more which indicate important decisions for the player to make. In a sort of choose-your-own style, the choices are displayed with varying amounts of decisions but each result isn't clear from the initial decision chosen. Some may impact the caravan immediately, while others will affect travel down the road.
Returning to perform the soundtrack is Austin Wintory, winner of numerous awards and composer of The Banner Saga's original soundtrack as well.
Standard race - typically brandishing swords, spears, axes, and other small arms. Humans also appear as menders and archers, unique to their race in the game. Menders serve as healing units, repairing armor throughout battles and offering spells as special abilities. Humans occupy one square on the combat floor.
Giant horned race featured prominently in artwork, and narrative throughout The Banner Saga entries. Varl tend to handle large swords and axes while hitting hard and having large amounts of armor and strength. They tend to lack the movement range of other races and take up four tiles on the combat floor.
Horseborn are a mysterious and little-known race within The Banner Saga mythos. They occupy one tile on the combat floor and come in similar varieties to humans with ranged archers being replaced by spear throwers, and close-combat being handled by mace-wielding fighters. Horseborn also sport edgier haircuts and body art than any other race.
The Dredge serve as the main enemy force in The Banner Saga 2 with multiple units comparable to other Human, Varl, and Horseborn units. Ranged grenadiers, large scourge units, and others make appearances in increasingly challenging fashion throughout the campaign of the game. The Dredge are an ancient race said to be made of stone, with glowing eyes and large armor they are known to be hostile to all people regardless of race or interaction.