The multiplayer component of Stoic Studio's successfully Kickstarted strategy-RPG The Banner Saga is now publicly available as a free-to-play title via Steam.

Incorporating elements from Norse culture in its fantasy-themed narrative, The Banner Saga: Factions is a turn-based strategy title in which you'll command a large army of characters in a series of competitive battles. The game features some impressive animation, as you can see in the trailer above, and community tournaments (the first of which begins today) will be held regularly.

"Some people have had questions about what 'Factions' is, and why we released it separate from the single player Saga," Stoic notes. "To summarize, we built combat for the single player game and decided to release it as multiplayer competitive game free and early as we continue to develop the single player game."

Stoic continues: "Unlike many 'free to play' games, there's no energy system, no pay to win, and matches are made between teams with even power, regardless of whether they spent money or not. In fact, we've pretty much designed a game that you never need to pay a cent for, truly and honestly. We've probably screwed ourselves. In the meantime, work continues heavily on the single player campaign."