Battle Brothers is one of those “how f’n hard is this game?” types that I love. It’s not unfair hard, and its not ‘super hard to learn’ hard either. The difficulty is that every little decision before and during battle matters, and that combined with some healthy RNG can result in a battle, and ultimately your campaign, going south quickly.
Let me back up a bit. Battle Brothers is like a scaled down version of Mount and Blade on the world map; you travel around, other parties travel as well, there are towns and villages where you can buy, recruit, and heal, and you complete tasks for lords and villages for gold and reputation. Once combat starts however the game is turn-based on a hex grid (think fantasy XCOM, minus the terrain destruction). The setting is very low fantasy, though you do face orcs, goblins, and the undead.
The graphics have a somewhat unique style, with really great attention to detail: each piece of armor is visible, and when damages it shows. Same for characters, when injured they show it, and each injury has a different look. The music is good, the sound effects give you a good idea of what is happening, and I’ve yet to have the game crash or bug out on me.
The game is designed to be played multiple times, and the world map is randomly created at the start, which is pretty amazing for replayability. A lot of other things are also randomized, like your starting guys, what recruits you see, and what missions you can pick up from all of the different towns. I’ve now started a half dozen games and they do really feel different.
The game is early access, but I think leaving that soon. The next patch is also going to be a big one, giving the game a system to retire, a major event system, and a few other big changes. If you don’t have to play something fun now, wait for that, though even in its state right now its a ton of fun.
Going back to the difficulty and why its fun, combat is pretty brutal. Armor acts like a second HP bar, and each style of weapon (sword, axe, hammer, etc) has different abilities associated to them. Creating a good mix in your company is important, but is also somewhat dictated by what you find or what you can buy. Funds are almost always tight, and even when you win, sometimes you ‘lose’ because you have lost key characters or simply taken so much damage to your gear and guys that the cost of recovery is higher than the reward you will get.
I like that, because it rewards not just winning, but winning while limiting damage. It also means retreating from a tough encounter, even perhaps one you might win, is a viable strategy, and an important thing to do when playing on Ironman (which is an option, but is honestly the way the game is designed to be played, as save scumming kinda ruins the whole thing). There are multiple difficulty levels as well, with easy giving you bonus gold, while hard limits it.
At $16 right now (Steam sale), I think its a great buy for anyone who likes strategy titles with a bit of bite to them.