12 May, 2017

Battle Brothers Review

Battle Brothers puts you in command of a small mercenary band seeking to make a name for itself, and to earn money.
You control individual soldiers, their loadout, their skill growth, and their moves in battle. It is a pretty interesting tactical game, but it quickly gets repetitive as there isn't a lot of variation to be had and most of your experience will be walking around and occasional bandit fights. That said, what content is there works well and is enjoyable.

Your loadout matters most of the time, with different weapons giving different options in battle, leading to easy to understand choices that you can easily see impact your battles along with most of the time it being easy to see where and how you made mistakes.
A lot of Battle Brothers is about survival, as the real enemy isn't the bandits, greenskins or undead, though they all provide a different challenge, but attrition. As you need to level up your mercenaries, you'll end up having to protect them. And it then feels unfair when you have to level up every one of your brothers from nearly nothing while the game generates enemies for you at higher levels with the idea that you should be able to take them by then. Once you fall behind on the curve and lose a few more fights to now-superior opponents there is no real coming back as there is practically nothing left to fight that won't just murder everyone in your group. If you did not earn enough money to buy good equipment, or you couldn't find the better equipment, you just fell behind on the curve and it will be more and more difficult to catch back up. Assuming it is at all possible.

For a game that seems to take hints from X-com and similar hard games, it feels arbitrary. You are always limited to at most 12 men in your combat formation, while you will quickly find enemies do not have such a limit. Enemies do not need to worry about losing their highly trained men, so they just throw themselves at you- After all, they just get generated from nothing to give you a fight and they don't care if they survive. Then you notice the world feels empty and artificial, as things are generated just to fight you and nothing else seems to happen without you explicitly making it happen by accepting a contract. The fact that the world is randomly generated and seems to not be too interested in making roads and villages fit the terrain doesn't help it either. While I like the idea of the map being randomly generated and it occasionally seems to come up with a good map, it feels like the majority of them are pretty poor in many aspects, though thankfully no map seed is terrible to the point it can't be dealt with by a tactics and strategy change.

There are no fights outside of nature, even if you accept a contract to fight in a siege and the text says you push through the gate of the citadel, only to find it is a grassy plain just like every other plain out there. You may be asked to enter a mausoleum for an artifact, or a graveyard to get rid of grave robbers, but these too are just empty grassy plains and maybe hills.
Without a doubt, it feels like they did not pay attention to the details, and things weren't really worked out that well, leading to it feeling frustrating and what should have been a climax- A siege on a stone citadel during a war between noble houses- Instead just became a disappointment as it was just another fight on a field of grass.

But all that said, it remains a positive experience. being able to name your mercenaries and build them in the way you like(Though most of them will be pretty standard simply because the reality of combat makes some things highly impractical), the flavour text and random events are amusing and interesting. Armour and weapons can be looted from the enemy after combat, and the looks of your men change with their injuries and equipment.

Battle Brothers is a flawed but still enjoyable game, if you are okay with being frustrated often and a lot of doing battles that feel the same over and over. What is there is pretty good, but it feels like there is definitely too much of the same and it never seems to go anywhere. It's worth getting if you are interested in team management and fighting against attrition, but for everyone that isn't a big fan of turn based tactical combat I'd say wait for a sale. Or you're just going to end up frustrated and annoyed.

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