Battle Brothers Preview – Rolling With the Rat Bastards

Battle Brothers is a recently-released, turn-based RPG that I’ve been playing over the weekend. Since its launch on March 24, Battle Brothers obtained a “very positive” accolade on Steam, and according to the developers, the sales figures are positive as well. After spending a few hours with the game over the past few days, it’s not hard to see why. Battle Brothers is a very engaging game, and as someone who normally shies away from turn-based RPGs, I found myself hooked on the game’s hospitable gameplay which was either intuitive or easy-to-learn.

Battle Brothers is based around a group of mercenaries that players recruit, equip, and send out on missions. Players can choose some basic customization options at the start, but the most important part of any mercenary group is the name. After some deliberation, I selected the name, The Rat Bastards, for my mercenary group. It seemed a proper name for such a down-on-their-luck gang.

After the basics are established, it’s off into the medieval world of Battle Brothers, and then hopefully onward to riches and glory. Realistically though, there’s going to be a lot of blood and death before riches and glory are aplenty. A lot of blood and death, actually. Like, a lot, a lot.

I learned the hard way that sending a former monk armed with a pitchfork into battle against a hillside of thieves with nothing to lose is a good way to send that monk to his maker a lot sooner than he probably would have liked. Rest in peace, Volker, we hardly knew ye.

Battle Brothers is sporting a healthy dosage of Oregon Trail inspiration in its blood, adding a bit of nostalgia to work with the stat-based decision making. I felt compelled to take care of my mercenary units that I have had the longest, even if they weren’t the best units I had. Battle Brothers will remind players that a particular character has been a part of the group for X-amount of days, or that he partook in that one big battle, or survived a massacre, or so forth.

This feature made deaths in Battle Brothers more impactful, though I’d imagine that sense of obligation wanes if it’s a player’s second or third time through the game.

I’m not reviewing Battle Brothers; I don’t play enough turn-based RPGs to really have a good sense of what this game does better/worse than other games. On top of that, I simply don’t have the time to dedicate to thoroughly/fairly play through this game. But, as I said, I enjoyed Battle Brothers far more than I expected to, even as someone who doesn’t usually jump at the chance to play a game from this genre.

If you’re on the fence about the game, I’d say it’s a safe bet that you’ll like it. Besides the lack of diversity (a few hours into the game and I only have had the option to recruit white dudes), there wasn’t anything about Battle Brothers that rubbed me the wrong way, or stuck out as a poor mechanic. Sending your gang of mercenaries through the map on longer treks can become a bit tedious, but the ability to fast-forward time slightly, and the occasional random event, do serve to break apart the monotony.

Battle Brothers is available now for PC.

[Battle Brothers on Steam]

A retail copy of Battle Brothers was provided to Epic Brew for the purpose of this article.