Generally favorable reviews - based on 12 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 12
  2. Negative: 1 out of 12
  1. Jul 8, 2016
    The Banner Saga 2 is a superb tactical RPG, standing shoulder to shoulder with the best that the genre has to offer.
  2. 90
    An ambitious and yet more elegant evolution over the first Banner Saga, The Banner Saga 2 fires on all cylinders and provides one of the newest and most enthralling strategy series money can buy with an absolutely belting middle act.
  3. Jul 22, 2016
    On the consoles Stoic presents a very good sequel that builds on and improves the mechanics of its predecessor while the narrative and decisions reach new dramatic heights.
  4. Aug 11, 2016
    The sequel continues the admirable level of quality that was delivered by the original, with improved AI to boot. Great game.
  5. Aug 18, 2016
    This is a difficult game and therefore suited for a small audience. The learning curve is quite steep and the game expects you to have played the first game. A game for the die-hard fans and alike but not for the casual console game.
  6. Jul 24, 2016
    If you are into this series because of the story, The Banner Saga 2 is a much stronger offering than the first game, and it will keep you guessing from start to finish.
  7. Jul 12, 2016
    The Banner Saga 2 solves many of the urgent issues from the original, creating a richer and more elaborate combat without forgetting to add a greater depth to the game.
  8. Jul 11, 2016
    The Banner Saga 2 is a story about the end of the world, and few games do a better job of constantly reminding you of that fact.
  9. Jul 7, 2016
    For the most part it’s wonderfully well-realised: it has a compelling and moving story that really drives the game forward, along with engaging and thought-provoking gameplay from start to finish.
  10. Aug 4, 2016
    If you are like me, and looking at jumping in on The Banner Saga having skipped the first one my advice is pretty simple – don’t. Do yourself a favour and spare the extra coin in getting the first game bundled along with it, you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
  11. 70
    More a new episode than a full-blown sequel, but the clever blend of strategic, tactical, and moral decision-making is as compelling as ever.
  12. Jul 13, 2016
    The tiring exposition of the writing and the storytelling's lack of visual coherence are obvious from the start.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 58 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 41 out of 58
  2. Negative: 6 out of 58
  1. Oct 26, 2021
    Like every good sequel it does what the prequel did and improved it. You get the strengths of the first game and some good additions I willLike every good sequel it does what the prequel did and improved it. You get the strengths of the first game and some good additions I will describe below. It is a mixture of a strategic RPG and survival management. The mixture of this made a challenging gameplay with lot of hard decision. Also the art style, soundtrack and graphics are unique and enhance the immersion. The world is inspired by Nordic aka Viking culture and mythology. Story: The northern lands of Varl (Giants) and Humans have been overrun by the Dredge (Humans made of stone). You have lead your Clan of survivors through a lot of struggles of the prequel and have defeated Bellower but with a harsh price. The city of Boersgard is save for a while but cant be defended against the sheer numbers of Dredge. The Dredge will continue to overrun the continent and you have to continue your journey with the survivors to a safe place. There is even a darker possibility on the horizon that the Dredge are also on the run from something worse but nothing is sure. Maybe the capital of Aberrang where the human king resides is safe enough. Like the prequel it will be a struggle to survive. Especially if you try to safe as many people as possible and also keep them fed and in high morals. I enjoyed the stories and the characters have grown on me as I lead and protected them. You have the option to import your save from the first game and take all decisions, characters, items and resources with you. Game play: Firstly the strategic RPG parts. It is turn based but not with a speed attribute. You are in control of up to 6 characters per battle. Each side has alternating turns no mater the numbers except one is down to the last man standing. Example you have 6 characters so after 12 turns it is your same characters turn again. When the enemy has 8 it will be 16 before the same characters turn. Be careful! This is dangerous when you have spared the most powerful enemies until the end. You have an armor and health rating. Health is also attack power and this is an interesting concept. Lets say attack power 9 against armor 7 with 10 health. This is 9-7 = 2 damage and with this health is 10-2= 8. The possible damage output is lowered from 10 to 8 for the damaged character. It gives depth and some tactical options. Each character can level up, learn abilities and improve the stats a bit. Then there is the survival part. Some say it is similar to the classic “The Oregon Trail” but I think this is not familiar anymore. You are the leader of a clan / caravan and must protect its people. You travel through the lands with them and must get food and this is also bought with renown points. You get those for defeating enemies and some events. It is harsh decision making between level up and buying more food. Starvation is a thing and more people need more food. There is a moral rating system and this will be also with benefits and penalties. There are random and scripted events where you have to made decisions. Your decisions mostly have consequences and you can gain or lose heroes, food, moral and people too. It is a cruel situation and as leader you have to make harsh decisions or let others pay the price. I forgot that in battle defeated heroes need recovery time except on easy difficulty (And more on hard). You can still use them but they are really weakened. Resting improves moral, heals wounded heroes but it takes time and consumes food. I think this is a good set up and the rest is easy to learn. These parts together made an excellent experience. The sequel made a lot of improvements. Now you can train clansman to become warriors for the price of some resources but beware clansman will collect resources too from time to time (Less resources for less clansman). Training has now has a purpose. A trainer sets up special training battles for your characters. If you win by fulfilling the conditions you get a lot of renown. Also some good combo ideas and shown how to use characters efficiently. Of cause there are new characters, items, abilities, enemies and classes. There are a few additions in gameplay like barricades and obstacles on the battlefield. All this makes the gameplay better. The game worked really well with its story, characters and challenges. Even normal difficulty gets really hard later on when you want to be noble leader and safe as many lives as possible. The graphics look even better than before. It looks hand drawn and the world is beautiful. I truly like the art work for the characters, cities and items. The soundtrack is truly good and also a bit better than the prequel. I was amazed that they used artist I already cherish like Malukah, Peter Hollens and Taylor Davis. They have good YouTube channels by the way. Overall this surpass the prequel and is easily worth a 10/10 for me. The gameplay is superb in this combination and with the story and characters it is a masterpieces. Full Review »
  2. Dec 1, 2020
    First and foremost the 3 banner saga is but one game with around 20 hour playtime each, and with one story. Selling them separately is
    First and foremost the 3 banner saga is but one game with around 20 hour playtime each, and with one story. Selling them separately is just money-grabbing consider the price of the 3 when you make your decision.

    Battles (Turn-based strategy):
    It has one interesting aspect: the strength is both your health and your damage stat so the current health of a character is equal to the damage it deals with an attack (against health). You also have armor, and the damage one character takes is lowered by the flat amount of armor it has. Means you always have to decide either to go for breaking armor (in order to be able to deal higher damages for health later) or try to damage their health while they have higher armor in order to lower their damage output sooner. Otherwise every character has only 1 ability at the first game and 2 from the second which is a bit underwhelming, and there is also very very (very) low variety in enemy and terrain-types. The difficulty level isn’t dull, but isn’t too challenging either (in the first game the first fight when I had to rethink one or two times was the last boss). All in all the Battles are fine and aren’t the weak part of the game.

    - It is real bad. Most of the time there isn’t any choice option that is close to what would you do in that situation. The decision-points feel far-fetched too often, the consequences are thoughtless and / or random, and worst of all: sometimes provably doesn’t matter. (when you have 6 choice in a dialogue, and eventually all get you the same results). In this regard nothing works like it should have. Eg. there are several decision points when you can recruit / allow people to join your caravan. If you do something unpopular or you run out of food then people start leaving. So the game expects you to feel like it somewhat good or ‘right’ to have a bigger caravan, but it gives you no actual benefits, on the contrary: you have to feed more people which isn’t easy. So the whole logic collapse. The game punishes you by taking away people from your caravan that has no benefits but eat a lot. (after 2 games they seem to have realised it too because at the third game these man are at least able to forage for food).

    *** spoiler ***
    Another taste of Banners Saga’s logic: There is a point where one of your man stabs you in the back and leave (with several of your soldiers) after a conversation. I reloaded several times to choose other dialog options but the results were the same. Then I looked thoroughly in the events leading to this (by replaying), and found nothing special really: He helped me against a guy that seemed crazy then join me. Some times before that there was some dialog when someone – out of the blue – said not to trust masked mans. Maybe that was the point when I should have been “””smart””” because the guy wears a common foot solder helmet that covers one third of his face? Or maybe the fact that his ability called “backstabbing”? The whole thing felt cheap, and I felt the same on several other occasions.

    The main plot builds up some exciting threads, and made me curious but in the end left me disappointed. All in all the story is mediocre in my opinion.

    At this point I feel particularly misled, because watching the intro of the game, it had a really cool atmosphere with several drawed-cartoonish cutscenes, and vivid music that I liked. But in reality, those are the only cutscenes in the game, and there aren’t even background music at most part, just the mind blowing, while your caravan traveling from A to B. No voice-acting either.
    Full Review »
  3. Feb 7, 2019
    The Banner Saga splendor remains unabated in the second part of the story. Elegant narrative, harsh event driven caravan travel and entracingThe Banner Saga splendor remains unabated in the second part of the story. Elegant narrative, harsh event driven caravan travel and entracing tactical combat: all remains unchanged. Same goes for minor setbacks too, unfortunately.

    The Banner Saga picks up the tale directly where the predecessor left it so don’t even try to play TBS2 before the first one: it is a pure interconnected story, intended as one but separated due to production necessities. As before, we have two POV character leading poor folk from encroaching armies of dredge and ‘darkness’. One hero is imported from previous game and so is well-known to the player. The other is new: leader of mercenary band “Ravens”, merciless but dutiful varl Bolveric. He and his band will be the primary source of new faces, all with some quirks, of course, but it is what makes the story interesting. Bolveric himself delivers a refreshing contrast: his outlook on ongoing chaos and the world is differs from average hero.
    But these are tiny changes in picture that is very well known from previous installment. But do not take it as downside. No no no no. TBS2 masterfully expand the lore and concepts started in TBS1. The visuals are as beautiful as before, the world is charming and impending as before. And each new piece to the mosaic of Saga is original: no trace of exhaustion, repetition or grayness. They don’t forget about past heroes too: there are plenty of character who could have died in the previous game but they are still here, with you, and they talk! They have content like any other hero. It’s a very nice touch.

    The gameplay remains the same. There are literally no drastic alterations here. Some quality but, mostly, quantity. This is a tactical game based on classes and skills so they added new classes, skills and enemies. All skills and classes are usable and not game breaking. Yet, funnily, the amount of heroes is so huge now that you will probably stick to employ only third of them and, probably, ones from the previous game. Ah! One incredibly pleasing note: the game imports all of your heroes and items like they were at the end of TBS1, which is not only advantage gameplay-wise but also strengthen the perception of TBS as whole ceaseless piece.

    Some people claim that TBS2 can become trivial at certain conditions but I disagree (or I’m a noob). TBS2 has the perfect difficulty throughout all the campaign. It is not annoying punisher but not a brainless ‘attack randomly, you will win anyway’ either. The armor-strength system remains balanced and smart as before. Yet there are some dead ends. Stoic Studio didn’t broaden the characters stats but added talent system which is lackluster. Talents are passive abilities you can improve upon maxing corresponding stat. For example, upon maxing strength you can choose between crit chance or chance to avoid attack. The key word here is ‘chance’. Completely randomless system of TBS was intentionally tainted. And the most terrible side of it is that talents are extremely weak. When in the first game every level up was bringing joy and tangible improvements, in TBS2 you will quickly encounter the situation where leveling would give you close to naught. Disappointing.

    Other disappointment is that AI was not fixed at all. It still does not take into computation skills and artefacts. And, sorry, but it is very poignant. Like when you fight hard and suddenly realize that some stupid machine plays better than you… until it moves six squares with bleeding unit with six hp… And this is the only real con of the TBS2. My other criticism is more like cavils to impeccable game. But lack of improvements on AI front is a real problem.

    Caravan management is… the same. Yes, no surprises here. Ah, wait. Now clansmen can gather food by themselves. In fact, it almost eliminates food management. I don’t know why they eased our lives so much, TBS1 seemed perfectly balanced to me. The meaning behind fighter and varl numbers is even greater mystery than before because the count of text battles was greatly reduced for unknown reason.

    And, finally, events. They are as ingenious as always. Still the game taunt us with suspicious strangers, hidden paths, daring shortcuts, lesser evil decisions and still it surprises with outcomes. No amount of wisdom will save you from at least few setbacks but at the same time don’t be afraid to act: kindness is repaid with kindness! Yet I must admit: I am starting to observe the tendency of Stoic Studio to penalize players. They put more bad choices than good ones. But they don’t make them look very clever. At times choice-outcome pairs look completely random and not logical at all.

    The end is near and I weep: The Banner Saga is heartfelt adventure of immaculate quality. I subtract one point from TBS2 rating due to lack objective improvements but joy of playing it is vast if not vaster. Let’s see what’s The Banner Saga 3 will bring us.

    Full Review »