I think it's fair to say that For Honor didn't set its best foot forward on launch. We had high hopes when we reviewed it, but a swath of technical issues kept all but the most diehard fans away. However, it's also fair to say that Ubisoft has done the Rainbow Six Siege thing and stuck to their guns, tweaking and adjusting until the popularity comes. Adding six new warriors, additional gametypes, and dedicated servers have brought For Honor most of the way towards becoming an evergreen multiplayer staple. After playing a bit of what's coming next at E3, I think they'll reach their goal in October.
The Marching Fire update brings an entirely new faction into For Honor's endless war. The Wu Lin is a faction of Chinese warriors that might be familiar to die-hard Dynasty Warriors fans. For my match, I got to play as the Shaolin, one of four new classes. He's a nimble monk who uses a bo staff to crush the skulls of his opponents. In the main game, the Nobushi is the only warrior with this type of range, and she is best at providing support to her teammates. The Shaolin made me feel as if the developers had transplanted Kilik straight from Soul Calibur, and I was able to pick up his moveset pretty easily on the fly.
The free portion of the update contains a few iterative changes that are nice to see. The UI and menus will be refreshed to make getting into games easier. There will also be improved visuals for all the existing maps, which is a bonus for veterans of the battlefield. In the paid portion of the update, you get the four warriors of the Wu Lin faction, although you can also choose to grind out their unlocks. There is also a new single player and co-op focused PvE mode included in the purchase, but there are scant few details to share on that front for now.
The real centerpiece to the free update is the Breach mode. Pitched as a castle siege, this 4v4 mode has the attacking team storming the castle of the defenders by rolling a battering ram through multiple zones. Teams in For Honor have always had the names of Attackers and Defenders, but it's been an arbitrary distinction. Breach really has each team working in their roles. Attackers have to push the ram like a payload while also surviving onslaughts from AI soldiers and archers. Defenders have to hold their zones to preserve their defenses, stop the ram and whittle away at their opponent's limited respawns. If attackers capture both zones and storm the gate, the frontlines moves further into the castle.
Once you get to the castle's keep, you have one more obstacle to contend with. A big AI boss known as a Lord is the attacker's final target, and it's no fodder. Only a concerted effort from the whole team can take down the Lord, and they'll absorb plenty of hits. Of course, the defenders are still in play, and they can throw themselves recklessly into the attackers' path. This leads to tense final moments where the offensive team has to really utilize strategy to claim their victory. A few wrong moves and all your battering could just lead to defeat.
This clever combination of Battlefield's Rush mode and Team Fortress' Payload really ties together what For Honor is about. While Dominion is fun for what it is, the victory conditions are purely mechanical, based on points and respawns. Breach brings in a solid goal that players can understand and makes sense in this world. There's always an objective to focus on, and teams are more encouraged to stick together to achieve that single goal. Despite teaming with random peers from other sites, I called out tactics and shared in victories and defeats. In this one instance, Ubisoft's E3 trailer dialogue was right on the money, and I can't wait to play more.
For Honor: Marching Fire was sampled in a meeting room at E3 2018. The full update will be available on October 16th. Breach mode and the visual enhancements are free for all existing owners.