After more than a year of fighting between samurais, knights, and vikings, “For Honor” players are finally getting a fresh batch of opponents.
The Wu Lin faction from ancient China is joining the fray this fall with the Marching Fire expansion. The four new hero classes — Jiang Jun, Tiandi, Shaolin, and Nuxia — increases the roster of warriors to 22, making it one of “For Honor’s” most substantial updates since its Feb. 2017 launch.
Marching Fire is a part of developer Ubisoft Montreal’s plan to create a deep, lasting experience for the competitive online brawler, which recently surpassed 8 million players. During an interview with Variety at E3 2018, creative director Roman Campos-Oriola explained that they try not to take that success for granted, especially after its initial growing pains. Among other problems, players complained of crippling connectivity issues and a painfully slow grind to unlock new characters.
Over the past few months, the studio tried to address those concerns by deploying dedicated servers and other quality-of-life improvements to appease the community.
“Last year, we learned a lot. I’m really happy people stuck with the game. … The support has been tremendous,” said Campos-Oriola. “But I’m really surprised [at the success] because, at its heart, ‘For Honor’ is a fighting game. Today, if you look at successful fighting games, if you have access to the NPD numbers, we’re pretty high on that list. [Laughs]”
In addition to the Wu Lin, Marching Fire introduces Breach, a tense 4-on-4 castle siege mode that requires a lot of teamwork and communication. The attacking side has to protect its battering ram while also clearing out archer outposts on the castle walls, all while being mindful of the limited amount of respawn tickets they have left (putting more emphasis on reviving your teammates). The defenders must kill the enemy heroes and do whatever they can to protect their A.I.-controlled soldiers.
My brief time with Breach was a lot of fun. I was on the attacking side as Tiandi, one of the easier-to-use Wu Lin characters. The developers coached us throughout the match, encouraging us to ask for revives when needed and to call out enemy positions. We managed to push through to the third and final phase, where we had to defeat the powerful castle lord that the defenders were protecting.
My team got him down to just a sliver of health when — in a harrowing finish with a lot of yelling from both sides — the defenders rallied and killed us all before we could finish the job.
Breach was a good reminder of the kind of drama that “For Honor” multiplayer excels at, where a clever attack or last-minute dodge can make all the difference during a battle. But if PvP isn’t your cup of tea, Marching Fire also has something new for people who just want to play solo or with a friend. Campos-Oriola couldn’t say much about this PvE activity yet, but he described it as an “infinite” mode, something you could play over and over again for rewards.
The idea was to give PvE players another option to upgrade their heroes, as the new mode feeds into the same multiplayer progression system of earning experience points, in-game Steel currency, and cosmetic items.
“PvE, for me, has always been part of the vision of ‘For Honor’ — the campaign, playing any mode against [A.I.] bots. In February, we made an event celebrating the first year of ‘For Honor,’ a PvE event: you were matchmaking with friends and fighting against all the bosses from the solo campaign. And that [Test Your Metal] mode was a huge success. On average, people played through it four or five times,” said Campos-Oriola.
You can experience most of Marching Fire for free when it comes out on Oct. 16, including Breach (and all three of its maps) and the ability to unlock the new heroes via Steel. The PvE mode, however, will only be available for those who pay an as-of-yet undetermined price for the premium package, which will also grant immediate access to the Wu Lin faction.