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Video Game / The Banner Saga 2

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"Time continues washing over us, moment after moment, like waves on a coast, some more fierce, more violent than others. So few of my kind, the giant varl remain alive. Even so, I find myself wondering if humans, while able to bear children, suffer more for their loss of loved ones."

Warning: This page assumes that you have played the first The Banner Saga. Spoilers for that game will be unmarked

The Banner Saga 2 is the 2016 sequel to The Banner Saga. It was developed by Stoic Studios and published by Versus Evil. Several weeks have passed since the Battle of Boersgard, where the Skogr and Varl caravans slew the Sundr Bellower at great cost. Despite the loss of their immortal general, the Dredge continue their invasion of the lands of man. A giant Serpent continues to literally rip the land to shreds. And something dark threatens to consume the world.

You play as either Rook, the greatest hunter in Skogr or his daughter Alette, whichever one of the two survived the battle with Bellower. The survivor must lead their caravan to the safety of Arberrang, the capital of mankind and the only city whose walls can defend against the might of the Dredge horde.

Meanwhile, Bolverk, the brutal leader of the Ravens mercenary band, is given a strange mission by the enigmatic Valka mender Juno, a mission that threatens to reveal a dark secret.

The final game in the trilogy, The Banner Saga 3 was Kickstarted and released in 2018. Stoic has said that if the trilogy does well enough, they might make more games in the setting.

This video game contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Anti-Frustration Features: In the first installment, training was just to practice different maneuvers on, but you gained no experience from it. In 2, training now not only gives kill experience to your warriors, it also gives you renown. This way there are no unwinnable situations, if need be you can grind to get weaker units up to scratch, and the renown you get will let you level them up. Alternately, you can grind for renown to get much needed food or perhaps a very valuable trinket.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The Kragmen use war bears in battle.
    • If Eirik is with the Skogr caravan, he can tame one and, afterward, call on it in battle.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • If Yrsa wound up missing in the first game after setting a forest fire, she turns up at Ormsdalr.
    • Fasolt was presumed dead at the fall of Einartoft. He runs into Bolverk's caravan partway through this game.
  • Call-Back:
    • Like in the previous game, Krumr once again asks to take a detachment of fighters to deal with Dredge on your caravan's tail. Like before, he comes back alive and with few casualties.
    • Tryggvi's warning not to trust men with helmets rings true once more: if you spare Dagr's life after Rugga's betrayal, Dagr will repay your kindness by killing several of your fighters and escaping.
  • Cliffhanger: The Horseborn launch an invasion of the kingdom of men during the battle between Meinolf and Rugga. The Serpent's venom revives Bolverk, who is still possessed by Bellower. If Iver lost the final battle, Bolverk has Bellower's body and pulls the silver arrow out of it, reviving Bellower. Iver, Juno, and Eyvind find the Ravens' caravan outside of Mannahar and Juno does something to the edge of the darkness. Cue credits.
  • Counter-Attack: Varl with the "Return the Favor" passive ability do 1 point of armor damage to anyone who hits them in melee. Shieldbangers' active ability, "Bring the Pain", ups this damage temporarily.
  • Crossover: With Kingdom Rush. One of the items is Gem of Vez'nan, the name of the Big Bad of the first game and also the Macguffin in Origins. In return, Bolverk appears in one of their extra levels as a Guest-Star Party Member.
  • Decoy Damsel: In Chapter 9, Bolverk can save a small caravan of refugees from being robbed by bandits, who retreat without a battle if Bolverk tries to attack them. It turns out that the refugees and the bandits are part of the same group, and the whole standoff was a ruse to allow the "refugees" to infiltrate the Ravens' caravan and steal their supplies.
  • Defends Against Their Own Kind: If you don't kill the stonesinger, he helps you in some future battles against the dredge.
  • Duel Boss: The final battle is a duel between Iver and the Bellower-possessed Bolverk.
  • Dying Race: After the fall of Grofheim and Einartoft in the first game, the Varl are on the brink of extinction. Hakon suspects that the Varl in the caravan are the overwhelming majority of the Varl still alive. And since the Varl can't reproduce and the God that created the Varl is long dead, the Varl race is probably doomed.
  • Eye Scream: The Sundr Eyeless is so named because her eyes appear to be sewn shut.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early in the game, Hakon and Iver discuss the possibility of speaking with the Dredge, but dismiss it because everyone who has ever tried reasoning with the Dredge has died. It turns out that Zefr knows how to speak to the Dredge and this allows her to convince a Spellslinger to travel with the Ravens.
    • Tryggvi warns the Skogr caravan leader not to trust yellow and blue. Canary has yellow and blue fur and her pack invades the kingdom of men during the Battle of Arberrang.
  • Forced Tutorial: Averted Trope by the training feature which have entirely optional training missions with objectives that are designed to make you grasp some of the mechanics better (like using the Battering Ram ability to push an enemy into a Rain of Arrows-targeted location), but they do provide a bunch of valuable renown if you complete them.
  • Gender-Blender Name: "Scathach" is a female name in real life.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Continued from the first game with a few exceptions. Definitely continued with the Horseborn race, where the males use flails and the females throw spears. Averted with Folka, a spear and shield warrior, and Zefr, whose weapon is a spear (though generally its more for emergencies, she is a support character who should generally stay out of combat.)
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: The Varl warhawk active ability, Tempest, lets them hit several enemies they are adjacent to.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: If Bolverk out-levels Iver, the duel between them at the end can turn into this.
  • Leaking Can of Evil: Just because the Bellower is comatose doesn't mean he can't influence people close to him. Bolverk, for example.
  • Mage Tower: Mannahar, the home of the Menders.
  • Multiple Endings: There's a small but significant difference in the ending depending on the outcome of the final battle. If Iver loses the duel, Bolverk gets Bellower's body and pulls out the silver arrow, reviving the Sundr. If Iver wins the duel, Juno recovers Bellower's body and the Sundr remains comatose.
  • No Shirt, Long Jacket: Bolverk wears no shirt, but has a bear pelt cape.
  • Rain of Arrows: The active ability of the Skystriker class (e.g. Oddleif). Any enemy uint stepping onto the trapped square gets hit with 1-3 arrows for ever increasing damage.
  • Red Right Hand: Rugga lacks a right hand in the first place, in addition to his tasteful neck scar.
  • Sadistic Choice: The decision the caravan has to make at Arberrang. If the caravan sides with Meinolf against Rugga, they condemn all of the people Meinolf won't let into the walls to death at the hands of the dredge. On the other hand, if the caravan sides with Rugga against Meinolf, they'll be placing the future of Arberrang in the hands of a known amoral politician and you'll have to fight Ludin (if he's still alive) and Yrsa. Further complicating this is that the caravan might have to fight their Varl allies. If Ludin made it to Arberrang, the Varl will honor their alliance with Meinolf and fight against Rugga. If Ludin died before making it to Arberrang, Meinolf banishes the Varl from the city and they join Rugga's rebellion instead. If the caravan and the Varl choose different factions, you'll have to fight Hakon and Griss (if he's alive).
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: Juno's plan to prevent Bellower from reviving was to magically seal him into a box without anyone's knowledge and tell the Ravens to drop that box into the Blue River, which flows into the ocean. Unfortunately, the Ravens learn what's in the box and that Juno is lying about the Valka Council being willing to pay them. And Juno never counted on the comatose Bellower being able to possess Bolverk.
  • Shield Bash: The active ability of Varl strongarms (except Iver, who only has one arm) is to whack an adjacent enemy with their shield, propelling the target away and damaging their armor.
  • Shout-Out: In one of the early random events, the protagonist has the opportunity to go hunting which can result in killing a bear. The narration states, "You shot 500 pounds of meat, but were only able to bring 100 pounds back to the caravan", echoing the text that appears in The Oregon Trail after a hunting spree.
  • Splash Damage Abuse:
    • Archers with the Slag and Burn ability can attack enemies out of their normal range by laying down flaming coals which blow up when deployed. The damage from the explosion also ignores armour and will always hit, making it a better option than going for a scratch damage hit when your target has more armour than you do strength.
    • Varl using two-handed weapons do bonus damage to enemies adjacent to their targets on a strength attack, which once again ignores armour. The Sundering Impact ability is all about this trope, specifically designed to do greater and greater splash damage at higher levels to punish grouped enemies.
    • Humans of the Raider class can get the ability Grudge, doing strength damage and knockback to all enemies around them, and 1 point of damage for each tile they are knocked back. Naturally, the damage per tile ignores armour making the move viable even if the initial attack doesn't do much.
    • This game introduces enemies and allies alike who can cloak themselves, making them invisible and can't be targeted, but the cloak is broken if they either attack, or take damage. All of the above abilities are indiscriminate, so they, and other abilities, are crucial when fighting these opponents as they don't rely on being able to target these enemies to hurt them.
  • Straight for the Commander: A few fights will end suddenly if a unique enemy on its battlefield is killed first.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Griss, a returning minor character from the first game, can be killed in the first chapter if you ask him to charge a large horde of Dredge.
  • Token Heroic Orc: Apostate, a Dredge, can join the Ravens as gratitude for saving him from death by warping.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Bolverk has no shirt, no matter how cold it is. That cape must be really warm.
  • Warrior Poet: Aleo is a skald.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 11 in a nutshell. First, Zefr reveals that the Valka executed Juno for using mending to alter people's minds and imprisoned Eyvind. Then Zefr opens Juno's box, revealing that the Ravens have been carrying around Bellower's corpse. And then the Ravens come across what the Dredge are fleeing from: warped Dredge with strange powers. Finally, the caravan makes it back to the surface and finds that the lands that the Dredge have already ravaged are enveloped in a permanent night.
  • Wham Shot: Two of them in Chapter 11:
    • Towards the start of the chapter, Zefr opens up Juno's box, revealing the contents to be Bellower's body.
    • The end of the chapter, where the Ravens emerge from the caves into land that the Dredge have already left and find the sky there is an eerie night.
    • And in Chapter 13, Nikels' corpse, controlled by Eyeless, slowly walking out of the ranks of the dredge army.