Battle Brothers – Reviewed in Blood

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Battle Brothers: Build and nurture your own mercenary company and then lose it all in a single mishap.

Battle Brothers is a new release by Overhype Studios. A turn-based tactical RPG set in a grim medieval open world that uses procedural generation to great effect. The gameplay feels like a cross between Mount & Blade: Warband and Heroes of Might and Magic 3. This combination lends itself well to many different play styles. There are also late game crises, not dissimilar to Stellaris.

The start of the game puts you straight into battle with a little exposition. Your sellsword company is all but decimated and needs rebuilding. You should probably get on that straight away because the world is unforgiving. Hiring mercs, buying and choosing their equipment, restocking supplies, that’s all on you. Balancing your budget so you can still afford to pay wages is very important, leader and accountant, what’s next?

Battles feel a little like Heroes of Might and Magic.

Expect losses in this line of work!

So you’ve spent all of your hard earned cash? You need to take up some contracts. How much you will earn depends on a number of factors, the most important (to a point) is your renown. There are a number of ways to become more renowned, setting and completing goals is one of them. They also help build a narrative for your company. Contracts range in difficulty, as you become more well known the bigger jobs become available. This is where things start to get messy (if they aren’t already). Your Battle Brothers can die, they will die, fairly frequently in fact. You need to be prepared for losses. It’s permadeath, they don’t come back, except maybe as the undead. Sucks to be you.

Virtually every contract you take will involve battle (unless you’re very lucky). Keeping your people alive will involve tactics, keeping formation is one such way. I won’t tell you how to play, that’s your choice, but learn quickly, for your own sake. If you manage to get your people through a few battles they might level up. For each level you can select a perk and distribute some stat points. The numbers may seem small but they can greatly increase your odds of survival.

Make sure you equip your troops.

Everything fits together nicely.

The character design in Battle Brothers is actually very appropriate. If I were to attempt to describe a fantasy medieval peasant it would likely look very similar. If you find a barber shop in a town you can even customise your troops. From character design to level and world design, everything fits together nicely. Nothing seems out of place, which is great for immersion (even for a 2d game).

While I am still playing Battle Brothers and have not got to the late game content, I am impressed. There is a good level of difficulty (even on the easiest mode). The mechanics work brilliantly and the gameplay and GUI are easy to understand and use. While I would love to see fully animated characters rather than tiles, this does not detract from my enjoyment. Even the soundtrack is easy to listen to and creates a nice ambience.

In summary; I am thoroughly enjoying Battle Brothers. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys gritty medieval warfare or tactical turn-based games. Fans of Mount & Blade: Warband will almost certainly find a home here. While the release price may seem little expensive, the replay value and overall content does seem to make it worthwhile. Definitely one to watch, I wonder if they’ll eventually add mod support?

I’ve been writing for Dave for a few years now and I love it, there is always something new to research and test! I hope you enjoy my work!

Before writing I worked in IT for around 11 years and have been an avid gamer for much, much longer. I tend to enjoy everything except sports games, but I’m not above testing them if they’ve tried something new. Give me a Space 4x any day of the week!