Battle Brothers is a complex tactical simulation about managing a band of mercenaries to the end of their days.
Battle Brothers is a confluence of games bound into one that makes for an intriguing narrative that plays out in a million different ways. The core gameplay loop puts players in control of a group of four men who have decided to forge their own destinies by forming their own group of fighting men.
- Genre: Turn-based tactics, Strategy, Simulation
- Price: $29.99
- Developer: Overhype Studios, Ukiyo Publishing (Switch Version)
- Publisher: Ukiyo Publishing
Players recruit new men and grow a core group of members into a fighting crew of men capable of tackling undead, orcs, and even beast threats. Each man has a back story, fears, aspirations, and traits that can change as the life of a mercenary takes its toll on him. The game itself draws inspiration from other games like Mount & Blade: Warband and Dwarf Fortress.
There are numerous campaign scenario beginnings to keep the early game in Battle Brothers interesting. The tutorial is recommended even for seasoned strategy gamers – as there is a lot to manage in a mercenary troupe. Battle Brothers is a hard game that can seem unforgiving at times. Having multiple save files is a must if you care about keeping all of your VIP mercenaries alive through multiple conflicts.
The world in Battle Brothers evolves in response to the player’s actions, so there’s no set narrative to follow beyond your chosen beginning. Along the way, your brothers in arms will present you with aspirations that can shape how your game progresses. Spend your time getting to know a town and earn discounts from the merchants there. Or become the scourge of trading caravans the world over.
There are two layers of strategy that intersect in managing a successful mercenary outfit. Keeping everyone fed, happy, and healed between battles is a fragile balancing act – especially in the early days. You’ll also need to be engaging enough enemies to earn gold for your mercenaries to celebrate. Upgrading their equipment and managing their mood are some early gold sinks to keeping your important men alive.
Brutal battles can result in injuries, paranoia, fears, and psychological ramifications that you must manage. But sometimes something as mundane as keeping them fed and paid can present challenges. They won’t go long without pay, so managing your gold in the early game feels like flitting between financial disasters.
Graphics & Audio
The graphical presentation of Battle Brothers is quite cohesive, with the world map feeling like a hand-drawn table-top foray. Battle scenes and terrain are divided up into a grid, with height adjustments clear. The basic overhead view makes planning your tactical moves during battle much easier, even if it’s not full of svelt animations.
Each piece on the battlefield resembles a chess piece with many layers. Every single piece of armor and weapons are represented on the figures – so you can tell who has what at a glance. Battle itself plays out like a gory game of chess, where a butcher with a love of killing can regularly decapitate your foes.
The soundtrack of Battle Brothers is an amazing compilation that feels inspired by the heroic soundtracks composed by Hans Zimmer. It’s full of music intended to keep you on the edge of your seat as a raging battle plays out, next to delicate flute-inspired tracks for traveling across the map. The music was a pleasure and at no point did I get tired of it and decide to turn it off.
Battle Brothers Switch Issues
While playing the game for well over 50 hours, I experienced a few minor issues while playing the game. The game’s initial loading time on Switch is quite slow, taking anywhere from two to three minutes to get onto the world map. Loading screens between combat and save times are fairly quick, however.
Battles are also played using a mouse cursor, which feels a tad awkward on Switch. The cursor itself gets in the way and tooltips can be hidden, but only totally. It would be nice if the tooltips appeared in the same position on the screen instead of at the cursor to help with the presentation.
One issue some people may have if playing on the smaller Switch Lite screen is the text size in handheld mode. It’s small, but not the smallest I’ve seen in some games. There’s also no way to adjust the text size, so it’s take it or leave it – which is unfortunate.
The Switch port of Battle Brothers plays well and all DLC is available to purchase. The world is expansive and if you love the thrill of managing a team of fighters, you’ll probably enjoy Battle Brothers. Think of it like a simulation putting you in control of the Brotherhood Without Banners from the Game of Thrones series. Only you can craft a much better ending for your men.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Battle Brothers is a 2D mercenary simulator that gives players an up-front seat to the gory details of managing a medieval mercenary outfit. Grow an outfit powerful enough to challenge orcs and the undead to see just how powerful you can become.
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