LifeisXbox’s Battle Brothers review | Welcome… Weary adventurer. Please, sit… Sit! Take that load off from your shoulders and sit. Yes… What brings you to this dreary old ramshackle of a tavern, hm? Fame? Fortune?! Yes… I can see it in your eyes. You have lost everything dear to you, have you not? What… To an Orc raiding party? Like so many lately. Hm… Pity… What did you say? Do you want to take revenge for your fallen family? Oh… But then you may be in luck… I have heard of a company of sellswords, on their way right now to this very old town. Maybe a half-day away still. Searching for willing bodies and able swords to help with this very same wish of yours. Payback. So, drink up. And spruce yourself up a bit. Maybe, just maybe… They’ll take you in, in their band of… Battle Brothers!
Yes, ladies and gents, this game is called Battle Brothers! Brought to us by the lovely people over at Overhype Studios. Battle Brothers is set in a fictional world and puts you at the head of your very own Sellsword company. A game that looks simple at the surface, but my golly has it got depth… and death. lots and lots of death! Why? Because they don’t pull any punches! On the very first screen, they already tell you. Even if you are an experienced player in the genre, to start with beginner! And trust, you want to do that. The game feels like the Dark Souls of Turn-based strategy (at first… the very first, what? 20 hours?) Yeah… that’s how long I’ve already put into the game… And many more hours will go into it as well. Because I find it that incredibly good! Want to know why? Then wait no longer and read on in our review of … Battle Brothers!
Most Memorable Moment
My most memorable moment just has to be the death of my very first company. Right after the tutorial mission. Getting killed by a group of rabble. It was a clear indicator of how difficult Battle Brothers was going to be! I mean. The tutorial gives you a band of three brothers. You do a tutorial battle, but after that one you need to travel to the nearest town. Most games would just give a safe pass. Here? Nope. I got ambushed by a raider warband consisting of a few thralls. Normally these would easily be dispatched. But alas, I lost one of my guys in the tutorial battle and the others were wounded. Sooo… game over in the first 10 minutes. Yeah… I knew that this game wouldn’t be an easy one!
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion from the writer.
What we Liked!
- Visuals | Whoa there. Hold your horses. I can hear you thinking, what visuals. Yes, it took me a while as well for it to sink in. But visually? I really like it. Sure it may not be fully textured as we have come to love (or hate) most of the games that we are used to by now. But give it a bit. Think back to the glory days of tabletop gaming (and it still is mind you). But, don’t you remember that good old feeling of seeing your figure standing there, representing you? That figurine wasn’t much more than what we see here, in this 4x turn-based strategy game called Battle Brothers. And that is actually what makes this one not only great but actually even… dare I say? Amazing. Visually it’s got everything going for it in my book. The biomes are diverse and lush, or bothersomely barren and creepy. The characters all have their distinct features. There is even so much detail, that you can see WHAT kind of equipment you have on, as well as what your enemies are wearing. The towns are represented as static images when you visit them but are distinct enough that you can tell them all apart from each other. I mean … Wow, right!?
- Huge replayability | Biggest selling point? The replayability! Everything that you do will be unique to the procedurally generated map that you are granted. How? Because this game works with map seeds. Just input a randomly generated one. Or if you want a shared experience with a friend, input the same map seed code that they or you have, and voila. You are playing the same map. Sure, not in multiplayer. But you both can go on your own way and have totally different adventures altogether. Though there are still some very scripted elements in here. Around the 80th day, a major conflict will occur. Be it a noble war, orc invasion, or undead invasion. This you can either leave up to chance, by choosing random at the start of the generator. Or you can soft lock, by picking the option.
- No ‘true’ story | Yeah … There isn’t really a story for you to uncover here. And most of the time that’s bad. But in this case? That’s actually a good thing. That means that you can really delve into the essence of what the game forces you to be. A band of mercenaries for hire. He who biddeth the highest amount of coin? Will get your sword. Which in essence really is what a band of Battle Brothers would do. Or, even if you don’t want to mingle in the petty squables of noble houses? You can venture into the wild. Do your own thing there. Raid raiders, defeat orc and undead… Up to you. The world is your oyster!
- DEPTH | My gosh is this game expansive! The base game gives you a couple of vanilla options to choose from. A starting company for instance is one of them. Or you can choose to have a different background, like traders. You’ve got a few to choose from. But it’s actually the DLC that cracks the world of Battle Brothers wide open. These give you access to so much more starting venues. Do you want to be a lone wolf? Go right ahead! Do you want to have a company that will break apart (and lose the game) if the three founding pillars are gone? Sure! That’s an option! Then you’ve got your company in itself. How do you want to build it, for instance? Do you want to be a band of farm hands that will levy themselves up to the status of strong-willed men that don’t back down? Do you equip your band with a variable of weaponry? Ranging from Crossbows, flails, swords, and pikes? Or be more the type of. All archers! Archers go BRRR! And then there are the stats of your men to take account of as well. Some men that you hire, thinking yeah! Those would be great front liners, actually roll with (yeah… The game has %rolls on the stats of your brothers! Those are REALLY important as well, because those either make a brother rubbish, or are amazing for late-game) great starting stats for being an archer? Then you may wonder… huh… Should I actually give him a bow, or not?
- Audio | And then we’ve come to the audio department. It’s standard. It’s got the polish of almost everything else that Battle Brothers has to offer. The music is great, suits the style and finish of it. Though the sound effects during the battles really start to get repetitive after a while. There can only be so many screams and groans before they start to get used up I guess. But the quality? You really feel as if you’re standing there, next to your brothers. Actually, in my experience? It’s much more enjoyable if you’re wearing headphones. Brings you more into the moment!
- Inventory | Management is a big part of Battle Brothers, and unfortunately they kind of dropped the ball here. Sure, this is a PC port and sometimes they can be hit or miss. And while it’s ‘ok’, it doesn’t feel fluent either. The biggest issue that I have with it has to be the sluggish reaction of, well, everything. Sure you can hot-swap the items with a button press. But for really comparing the items with each other? Things just move way too slowly.
- Missing Mods | Another thing that is missing, that the PC players do have? Are mods. And no, I’m not talking about the mods that would give your company überskills or anything like that. But rather, mods that help evaluate the kind of champion to buy, or not to buy. Money is a fickle thing for every starting Brother company. So, making some good investments are kind of mandatory. You wouldn’t want to, for instance, go all-in on a few characters, to have them eventually die later on because of some rubbish oversight. Sure, there’s a learning curve that you have to acclimate yourself to, but that still is no excuse for having some extra tools at your disposal that are just some actual quality of life improvements. I truly hope that they’ll incorporate this as well.
What we Disliked
- Perfection | I wanted to use another word than ‘nothing’ this time. The game is perfect, and wonderfully balanced. Everything else can be read above. So go… Shoo. Begone heathen!
How long to beat the story | There is no end. Nor a story.
How long to achieve 1000G | 30+ hours.