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Battle Brothers newest DLC invites you to visit the frozen frontiers and battle barbarians. From Overhype Studios, Battle Brothers was ...

Battle Brothers - Warriors of the North DLC Battle Brothers - Warriors of the North DLC

Battle Brothers - Warriors of the North DLC

Battle Brothers - Warriors of the North DLC

Battle Brothers newest DLC invites you to visit the frozen frontiers and battle barbarians. From Overhype Studios, Battle Brothers was one of my favorite games of 2017, and you can read my original review here. In this excellent mash up of Mount and Blade and XCOM, you build up a plucky band of mercenaries as you travel the land taking on jobs to earn money. More money means you can hire more men, buy them more expensive gear, and keep them fed. If, like me, you enjoy sticking new gear onto an RPG paper doll, this is the game for you. Each man in your company has his own little equipment screen, where you can equip him with armor, headgear, weapons, and trinkets. Each mercenary also has an extensive set of stats like morale and max fatigue that can be improved over time. The game has two layers, the over world, which is very much like Mount and Blade, and turn based battles. If you want to read more of the details of the general gameplay, check my review linked above. If you are familiar with the game, you probably want to know what this new DLC is all about.

Warriors of the North, as you might guess from the title and artwork, adds in an entire new faction of enemies to face: Barbarians. These guys have a primitive Viking/Rus feel to them, coming at you with fur covered armor and horned helmets. Like the other enemy factions in the game, they have some unique mechanics that you will want to consider when you go into battle against them. The barbarians like to come in hard and take big swings, but this tires them out quickly. They'll often be accompanied by a tribal drummer, who restores their fatigue at quicker rate. They also might have a beastmaster with them, who brings along a big scary pet or two. Taking down these special enemy types will play a key part in your strategy. 

To go along with these new northern enemies, the north end of the map has been fleshed out a bit, and the game has received some new music tracks. I usually don't pay too much attention to music in games, but I found these to be noticeably good. All the barbarian gear can of course also be looted and equipped by your soldiers, giving them a more "northern" look if you so choose. This is a game that shines all the more brighter with more variety, and this DLC adds to that quite a bit. Previously you mostly had standard medieval style cloths and armor, but now your guys can be decked out with furs and helmets with antlers and the like.

While the barbarians make up probably the single biggest feature of the DLC, there's a lot of other good stuff here too. Previously, each time you started the game, the beginning was always the same. You were part of a mercenary company that is ambushed and the leader killed. You then take control of the company and get three mediocre members to get you started. Now, when you fire up a new company, you'll have a choice of ten different origin stories. These aren't just slightly different variations that ultimately don't matter, no, these starts all have long term advantages and disadvantages. 

I'll highlight the two I was most drawn to for this review. The first I tried was, naturally, the one rated most difficult: the lone wolf start. In this scenario you begin with exactly one merc, a veteran hedge knight equipped with upper end gear and a decent amount of money. This guy can take on two or three early game bandits without breaking a sweat. Where's the challenge? Oh, this hedge knight is actually you, so if he dies then the game ends. In a normal campaign, "you" are never represented in the field. Any given mercenary can die and it doesn't matter. Not so with this scenario.  Pair it up with Ironman mode and you've got yourself a whole new level of tension. Also, you can't hire more than a dozen men at a time, so that means your avatar will have to continue fighting, even as the enemies you face get nastier.

The other scenario I tried is pretty much the opposite. In the peasant militia start you begin the game with 12 peasants looking to take their local militia show on the road and win themselves some glory and coin. While you start out with 12 men, they all have bottom-tier equipment, if they have anything at all! It takes a lot of money to keep all of these men fed and paid, and buy them all some decent stuff. Once you have the funds to supply and pay them all, you can even take 16 men into battle instead of the usual dozen. The downside to all of this is that your group is prejudiced against anyone of higher birth, and so you can only recruit fellow peasants and lower class individuals. This means that any mid and late game losses will have to be replaced with level one nobodies that will need a lot of experience to catch up. 

The other start I'm interested in trying is the Davkul cultists. Yes, you can play the game as a roving group of cultists, recruiting those of like mind and maybe sacrificing them to Davkul at some point...

Another new addition to the game are the Champions. These are especially strong enemies among each faction who carry unique named items for you to take for yourself. While a straight forward addition, it's a welcome one that gives you some emergent gameplay as you follow tavern rumors to track down these mini-bosses. Along that line, there are two new legendary locations and bosses to take on, and a smattering of new quests and events to discover, and of course new weapons and armor to equip. In Battle Brothers, weapons define the abilities of your men in combat, and so adding new ones isn't just a visual effect, it opens up entirely new options in strategy. 

Since I never did a review on it, I'll briefly mention here the other major DLC for Battle Brothers called Beasts and Exploration. This one came out last year and really fleshed out the game beyond the solid, but limited main game content. It adds lots of monsters, bosses, and legendary locations to the game. It also allowed you to loot trophies from all of those new monsters and craft them into new stuff. In addition, it added the ability to customize your gear, upgrade your armor, and even repaint shields. Before that, they put out the Lindwurm add-on for free. This was likely a test run for the bosses and such that came later. It only adds one special enemy and some related items to the game, but hey, it was free! Since release, they've also patched and balanced the game several times, turning what was already a great game into an even better one.

With a reasonable price tag of just $8.99, I find it very easy to recommend Warriors of the North to anyone who enjoyed Battle Brothers. The new faction, items, and bosses add ever more variety to the game world, and the new origins will ensure that you can play several campaigns with quite a different experience than the default start. As I said in my original review, this is a game that has tons of room for quality DLC. The two so far have been exactly what I was looking for, and I hope there are more to come. This game is a wonderful sandbox, and the more toys the better.

- Joe Beard

Battle Brothers is available directly from the developers and can also be found on Steam and GoG.


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