Apr
12

Dev Blog #122: The Ijirok

Aside from new contracts and events, the upcoming ‘Warriors of the North’ DLC will also introduce two new legendary locations linked in a single quest leading up to a legendary reward. Today we’ll look at one of the two bosses that you’ll have to face along the way – if you don’t like to be spoiled about any of that, you may want to skip this dev blog. All others, let’s go!

The Ijirok

The Ijirok is a mythical creature of the north, folklore of the barbarian folk. It’s called the Beast of Winter, for it is said that it first carried the cold into this world on its back. Legend claims the creature to be a shapeshifter and deceiver, appearing in many forms. It abducts children solely to enjoy the pain of the parents. It leads men astray in the white wastes just to watch them go in circles and freeze to death. Some regard it a spirit, some a god, and others a force of nature, like the sun or wind, but with found divinity within the aspect of a cruel creature. Whatever its true nature, in the north they all can feel the presence of the Ijirok, and they count themselves fortunate that the horrors it brings are scant and passing.

When your mercenary company finally faces the Ijirok in battle, it will appear as a great horned beast with four legs and hooves. It’s a boss fight, and it will challenge you like fighting the Kraken or the Rachegeist does. Leading up to the battle, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the true nature of your opponent by reading events and visiting locations in the game.

The Ijirok charges you from afar to gore and trample anything in its path. Unlike the charge of other opponents in the game, the great horned beast charging you will inflict damage, but you can defend against it with melee defense like against any other melee attack. Even if your shields prove sturdy and your men are not impaled outright, however, the force of impact may still throw them back and stagger them.

Then, at the beginning of each turn, the Ijirok will shift into a different world, one where cold and ice reign supreme, only to emerge at a different place and charge you anew. While the great beast enters into and emerges from this other world, cold seeps into ours, turning the ground frozen and changing the battlefield permanently. Anyone near the Ijirok will get the new ‘Chilled’ status effect, which will freeze your men’s limbs stiff, and lowers their initiative and action points for one round.

The Ijirok is as elusive in combat as it is outside of it, but each round you’ll have the chance to wail on it before it charges you from a different angle. Like with fighting Necrosavants, your formation is key in defeating the beast of winter while the world around you slowly turns into a frozen hell.

Share
Apr
05

Dev Blog #121: Champions

As we’ve talked about a while ago, we’re overhauling how named items work and how they can be acquired. One way to get named items is by fighting champions – and that’s what we’re talking about today. Let’s delve in!

Champions

Hitherto, named items could primarily be found by looting locations – whether you followed tavern rumors or ventured out on your own. Occasionally, but rarely, they could also be looted from particularly strong enemies. And that’s where champions come in.

Champions are particularly skilled and experienced individuals of any non-beast faction. They’re guaranteed to carry at least one named item and have significantly increased stats over their brethren. You’ll be able to easily recognize them by their special base and unique name. They are, in a way, minibosses. They challenge you to fight hard to claim what is theirs, and they shake things up, but prevailing against them will always reward you with the named item they carry – be it weapon, shield, armor or helmet.

So where do you meet champions? The most reliable way is to complete contracts with a difficulty rating of three skulls. Those have always been a high risk proposition for any mercenary company, but they now come with more of a reward for taking that chance: the possibility of getting named gear by facing enemy champions. Another way is to simply play into the late game. The further along your campaign, the more likely that you’ll find champions roaming the world outside of contracts or defending a location.

While champions may prove challenging to defeat, they are significantly easier to beat than some of the battles around legendary locations. This way, they can also fill the gap in challenge between defeating your first late game crisis and starting to take on legendary locations, like the Black Monolith, with your company.

Share
Mar
29

Dev Blog #120: The Barbarians, Part III

In part two we introduced three basic unit types of the new barbarian faction that is to claim the north in the upcoming ‘Warriors of the North’ DLC. This week, we take a closer look at their more specialized unit types. As always, keep in mind that things are still in development and may change. With that said, let’s go!

Drummers

As has been tradition for generations, larger parties of northern barbarians that go to war are often accompanied by drummers. In a sea of rhythmic tribal beats and chants, the barbarian mind will enter a trance-like state where there is only battle, and the barbarian spirit will press the body to its limit and beyond.

As mentioned previously, barbarians have a very physical and fatiguing style of combat, and they don’t pace themselves well. They’re especially dangerous in the first few rounds, but if you can weather this opening onslaught, barbarians will then often find themselves exhausted.

The rhythmic beats of the drummers will have barbarians press on to glory despite this, reflected in the game by reducing the fatigue of any barbarian on the field by a small amount each round. A barbarian can have their fatigue reduced only a single time per round, no matter how many drummers on the field, but it may be enough to give them the strength to use an additional skill, which makes them all the more dangerous. It’s worth considering, therefore, to make drummers a priority target – even if they themselves are unlikely to inflict any damage on your men with their wooden drumsticks.

Beastmasters

Beastmasters are revered for their druid-like abilities to control the biggest natural predator of the north – the unhold – and lead them into battle as living and breathing war machines. They wear ceremonial helmets with long horns and decorate their armor with animal bones, but their most useful tool is a thorned whip with which to exert dominion over their beasts.

In battle, the beastmaster will always appear with one or more unholds. These mighty beasts can wear anything from a simple metal harness and chain, to be controlled more easily, to having metal plates nailed right onto their hide – something possible only due to the unhold’s uncanny ability to quickly heal any wound, even during battle. A beast armored like this can be impossible to bring down if you’re not equipped both for handling massive amounts of armor and health at the same time.

Every turn, a beastmaster cracks the whip to direct their beastly warmachines to do his bidding. However, a beastmaster can not do so if anyone is in their zone of control. And they very much can’t do so, if they’re dead. If an armored unhold doesn’t get directions from any beastmaster, they become confused, and every round there is a chance that they become feral, change to the beast faction, and attack player and barbarians alike in a mad rage of befuddlement.

Share
Mar
22

Dev Blog #119: Tunes from the North

Before venturing further into the northlands, let’s set the mood this week by taking a closer look at fresh music accompanying the new faction of northern barbarians coming with the “Warriors of the North” DLC. Yup, Breakdown Epiphanies are on board again to add to the game’s music. Let’s see what they have to say in this week’s dev blog!

Tunes from the North

As those of you who have been following Battle Brothers since they days of Early Access know, as composers we ourselves took an RPG approach when it comes to orchestrating soundtracks for the various factions in the game. The undead are accompanied by an orchestra solely comprised of dark string instruments and percussion that is supposed to resemble the rattling of bones, the orc music is dominated by dark and menacing brass as well as sounds of metal, for the brigands our theme was „instruments you can carry around with you“, and so on. The signature sound of each faction in the game grew from imposing limitations upon ourselves, which in turn lead to a very distinguishable tonal landscape that could even give away what the player is fighting the first time they do so.

You may be happy to hear that for the upcoming “Warriors of the North” DLC we got on board again to expand the soundtrack with new music accompanying the player’s battles against their new adversary, the northern barbarians.

Adding new factions to the soundtrack gets more tricky as time goes on: While from a gameplay standpoint, fighting the barbarians will play out differently than fighting orcs, there are certain aesthetic similarities (brute force, heavily armored higher tier units, show up in clans) that would also favour a similar approach to the music (which in case of the orcs translated to throwing all the brass instruments and war drums that we could find into the mix). Luckily, though, the barbarians also lend themselves well to going a different route, which is mostly inspired by their nordic and rus themed lore and background.

Avoiding brass (and the resulting overlap with the orc faction) completely, we decided to use vocals as the tonal backbone of this faction of northmen. Aside from more common singing styles, we incorporated mouth percussion, overtone and throat singing, which is a vocal style found in Norwegian folklore, Mongolian music and shamanist rituals leading back to the stone ages. As, from a gameplay perspective, the barbarians are a variant of the brigands, we also fell back on the brigands’ „instruments you can carry around with you“ philosophy. Only a single violin, a Swedish nyckelharpa (a medieval string instrument), a couple of drums and a choir of hardened nordmen come together to add new signature battle tracks to the Battle Brothers soundtrack. While production is still ongoing, we are happy to give you this sneak peek today.

Share
Mar
15

Dev Blog #118: The Barbarians, Part II

Following the introduction of the barbarian faction in part one, this week we’ll take a look at the first three of their unit types and some general combat mechanics. All part of the upcoming ‘Warriors of the North’ DLC, of course. As always, keep in mind that things are still in development and may change. With that said, let’s delve in!

Thralls

Northern barbarians are not born free, but as thralls in servitude to their elders, and ultimately their tribe. They have no say on tribal matters, and they may possess only what they can carry. On occasion, members of other tribes are also accepted into thralldom, either peacefully or after being captured in battle.

It is expected that a thrall seek the respect of their master, their ancestors, and the tribe as a whole, and ultimately earn their status as a free man or woman. Indeed, young folk are considered to have reached adulthood as they become free, and to have then earned their place and say in the tribe. One way to do so, but not the only one, is to prove their worth in battle.

Thralls are the light and nimble infantry of the barbarian tribes. Clad only in furs, and sometimes with nothing but warpaint on their bare chests, armed either with weapons made from readily available materials like bone, or looted from the battlefield, they rely on ferociously overwhelming the enemy. They’re quick and agile, making ample use of the ‘Adrenaline’ skill. And having both the ‘Anticipation’ and ‘Dodge’ perks makes them harder to hit, at least until they’ve exhausted themselves after a couple of rounds.

Like all barbarian infantry, thralls have a very physical combat style of wrestling with the enemy, throwing their weight against them, and jostling to put their opponent out of balance. Their ‘Barbarian Wrath’ perk makes them fight even harder as they get hit, and the next time they land a hit of their own, they confer a status effect which for one turn knocks their target out of balance to lower their damage and defense until they have regained their footing.

Reavers

Reavers are the medium infantry of the barbarian tribes. They’re battle-hardened free men, yet not necessarily warriors by trade. Some may be bloodthirsty veterans of many battles that seek immortality through their deeds on the battlefield, and have tattoos on their skin tell the saga of their life. Others are merely hunters or craftsmen that join with the rest of the tribe to raid and ensure their survival in the upcoming winter.

Reavers are often armed with armor and weapons that have been passed down through generations and show signs of wear, but may also have claimed equipment in duels that settled disputes. Like thralls, they have an offensive and nimble combat style, but backed up with experience and skill. Like all barbarians, they don’t fear death the same as southern folk do, and so are not easily broken. They’re roughly comparable to brigand raiders, but may be more or less of a challenge, depending on your approach.

Champions

Warriors who show exceptional skill on the battlefield are said to be blessed by the ancestors, and those who also have impressive victories to show are said to eventually take a place beside the ancestors in the afterlife to watch over the tribe. These champions of the ancestors are the heavy infantry of the barbarians, and they wear weighty metal armor and heavy two-handed weapons – trophies from vanquished foes and gifts from invested elders.

Unlike thralls and reavers, champions rely on their heavy armor for defense. They can shrug off status effects more easily, and excel even when fighting against several opponents at once. Tougher enemies than any brigand, other than perhaps brigand leaders, they are mid to late game opponents.

Share
Mar
08

Dev Blog #117: Named Equipment

Chasing after named items can be fun and a driving motivator in the later parts of a campaign. At the same time, things can always be improved, and so we’re doing some tweaks on both how named items are placed, and what stats they can and can not have. And while we’re at it, we’re adding more named variants of existing equipment and filling in some blank spots. Let’s take a look!

Named Equipment

As nice as it is to have named equipment, not every piece you fought a hard battle over is always a satisfying reward. With weapons in particular, there’s quite a difference in how useful individual stats are, and therefore how good a named weapon actually is. We want to keep different levels of quality between items, but we’re tweaking what stats those items can have over their common counterparts, and we’re also introducing several new potential stats. All this is to make sure that named items will always be better than their common counterparts in some significant way, and that named items feel more unique, both of which will make for a more satisfying treasure hunt.

To offer you a broader collection to hunt for and claim as your own, the upcoming 1.3 update will also add various new named variants of existing armors.

One faction that didn’t have named equipment until now are the Ancient Dead. That’s about to be rectified. The image below shows some of the upcoming named weapons, alongside their common counterparts, that can be taken both from Ancient Dead locations and from the cold dead hands of your vanquished opponents.

And as you’ve learned last week, barbarians will not only come with their own weapons and armor, but named variants of their top tier weapons as well. While all of the above additions will be part of the free update, the new weapons below will be a part of the ‘Warriors of the North’ DLC.

Share