E3 2018 – For Honor – Marching Fire update brings biggest changes yet

More than a year after its initial release, For Honor is still going strong with regular updates and new content including the release of dedicated servers, training modes and more. The next update, Marching Fire, is For Honor’s biggest content drop yet . Releasing on October 16, Marching Fire is packed with four new Heroes from a brand-new faction, a new 4v4 Breach mode, a new PvE mode that will be revealed closer to launch, and a ton of under the hood changes including a upgraded visual refresh, UI update and speech realization system.

Let’s dig into all the details that were revealed at the E3 2018. Players who decide to purchase Marching Fire will receive a host of new content, including…

A Brand New Faction 

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Marching Fire introduces an all-new faction into the fold. Four warriors from the Wu Lin faction have turned their back on their land and people, and have been branded as outcasts. “One of the consequences of the cataclysm in China is that it triggers hundreds of years of civil wars,” says Roman Campos-Oriola, creative director. “One faction is rising to the top: the Wu Lin faction. Some members of the Wu Lin had to leave China for various reasons.”

These warriors represent a shift in how For Honor is approaching Heroes as they will all be represented as individuals with unique backstories and motivations. Now, they travel west from China, loyal to no one but themselves, searching for an honorable fight. The Wu Lin heroes will be immediately available for anyone who purchases Marching Fire. They will also be available for purchase with steel (For Honor’s in-game currency) following an early access period, similar to how Heroes were introduced following the launch of For Honor. Here’s a quick look at who’s joining the battle:

The Tiandi – Shidou and Ying: The youngest son of the great Emperor, Shidou was the most skilled fighter in his family, but sat fourth in line to the throne. Unwilling to settle for a life of servitude to his brothers, he killed each one of them in one dark, bloody night. Horrified by his own madness, Shidou fled the palace. Now, he prays for his own death in battle to atone for his sins. Unable to find worthy opponents in the Empire, he marches onward to the West in search of death.

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Ying served as a royal guard recruit in a great palace. One winter night, the royal guard was ambushed while escorting the queen to a war council. After a bloody battle, all lay dead but Ying and the queen. The queen bestowed her dao sword to the brave fighter and made Ying her personal guard. They rushed home to warn of the attack, but the queen was slain by her own palace guards. While Ying slayed the assassins, the traitors blamed her for the queen’s death. She escaped with only her dao and the royal armor on her back. Now a wanted woman, she travels west. With no patience for the dishonorable work of politics, she brings change the only way she knows how: with her wits and her weapon.

The vanguard class Tiandi wield large Chinese broadswords to chain combos and finishers together while remaining highly elusive and mobile.

The Jiang Jun – Guan Yu: Guan Yu was a simple peasant who stumbled into conflict and got a taste for war. As he rose up through the ranks, he began to amass a small army. During a battle against an enemy force that greatly outnumbered his own, the general stepped down from his horse with only his guandao polearm. Wishing to spare the lives of many on the battlefield, he challenged the enemy’s best warrior. Instead of facing him, the enemy fired a lone arrow and pierced Guan Yu’s heart. He collapsed, but instead of dying, he rose up and ripped out the arrow. The enemy fled, afraid of the beast that rose from the dead, and a legend was born. Now in his twilight, Guan Yu has no army. Still hungry for combat, he marches for fresh foes in the West to savor the thrill of combat before his days are done.

A heavy Hero, Guan Yu utilizes the formidable reclining moon blade. He fights using strong slashing movements and momentum to keep his heavy blade moving. The result is a hero with high survivability and a strong offensive attack that specializes in maneuvers meant to counter multiple foes at once.

The Nuxia – Kaili: Kaili was a bodyguard trained as a dancer sworn to protect a powerful governor. When an army attacked the palace she protected, Kaili rallied nearby allies to help, but she was betrayed by those she trusted. After exercising her revenge on those who betrayed her, she shed her dancer’s robes and donned a warrior’s armor. With a bounty on her head, Kaili turned west, never to trust again, and hungry to engage every fight with a dancer’s grace and a killer’s precision.

When used in dance, her hook swords were as beautiful as they were deadly. When used in battle, they allow her to isolate and control opponents, making her a formidable one-on-one fighter. As an assassin, she is at her best when utilizing fast counterattacks at short range, but with the ability to link her hook swords together, she can be deadly from long range as well.

The Shaolin – Wei Chang: Once a warrior monk who chose peace during the reckless civil war, Wei was forced to fight when one army brought the conflict to his monastery. While Wei and his monks fought back, the monastery was overwhelmed, and Wei was forced to watch as all his fellow monks were put to death. He would have met the same fate if not for a timely earthquake, which allowed him to escape. Wei vowed to honor his good fortune. He tattooed the monastery’s lost prayers onto his skin and honed his formidable warrior skills. Now, he travels west to spread the word with his staff, fighting to honor his lost brothers.

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A mobile, counterattacking hybrid, Wei uses his versatile staff to quickly switch between offense and defense to take advantage of any situation.

The addition of the Wu Lin will bring the roster of For Honor heroes to 22, and with more warriors comes the challenge of making each one feel unique. “We always start with the weapons,” says Campos-Oriola. “No hero has the same weapon, and no hero has the same form of martial arts. That’s why we can have multiple Knights, Vikings, Samurai, and Wu Lin, and make each of them feel distinct. Chinese martial arts have tons of different weapons and fighting styles.”

While the new heroes will be available to players who purchase March Fire for an early access period, all players will have access to a series of free improvements and updates when Marching Fire launches later this year.

Into The Breach

Breach is a brand new asymmetrical 4v4 PvP mode that emphasizes strategy and communication just as much as mastery of combat. Teams are split into attackers and defenders during a full-blown fortress siege featuring a massive battering ram, siege weapons, and an army’s worth of NPC minions, pikemen, and archers. Each match is split into three phases, as the attacking team must escort the battering ram in order to breach the defending team’s outer wall and inner gate. Once the attackers have made it past those first two stages, they must defeat the defender’s Lord, an AI-controlled boss with a ton of health and capable of dealing massive AoE damage. Defeat him, and you’ll secure a victory for the attacking team.

“We always wanted to do a longer, more strategic game mode,” says Game Director Damien Kieken. “We wanted to fulfill the fantasy of attacking and defending a castle, and that’s how Breach became Breach.”

Defenders will be tasked with stopping the attacking team, either by destroying the battering ram or by killing the attackers. While defenders can respawn without limits, attackers have a limited amount of respawn tickets; deplete those, and the defenders will win. This places an even greater emphasis on reviving downed teammates, as being revived will not consume a respawn ticket.

“Attackers win the game with specific actions [breaching the walls and defeating the Lord],” says Campos-Oriola. “We wanted defenders to be able to win the game with a specific action, as well. We didn’t want the objective of the defenders to be waiting for a timer to count down. The ticket system means that [killing opponents] can win you the game.”

Breach matches play out like full-blown sieges, with countless soldiers running through the battlefield attacking and defending the battering ram, and archers raining down arrows from ramparts above. For the attacking team to advance the ram, at least one player must be near it. A single defender can halt the ram’s progress by being nearby, but to do so puts them at risk of being surrounded by attacking heroes. Enemy heroes won’t be the only thing you have to worry about; each team’s army consists of a mix of AI-controlled minions, pikemen, captains, and archers who will help attack or defend the battering ram and their respective heroes. Managing these enemies is important to victory, as they can do some serious damage to the battering ram, and if you’re not careful, they can overwhelm you as well.
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While the battering ram travels down a center lane, it’s important to control side lanes to manage the flow of the battle. Defending archers positioned in the side lanes can slow the ram’s progress and severely damage it. Taking them out will replace them with archers from the attacking team and help you expedite the siege. As a final line of defense, the defending team has access to multiple siege weapons, like ballistae and a cauldron positioned directly over the gates, the latter of which deals massive damage by pouring boiling oil onto the ram and nearby army.

While Dominion and Tribute modes involve some objective-based play, Breach’s objectives make your choice of hero and their skill loadouts more important than ever before. Perhaps you need a tanky Shugoki to escort the ram, or a speedy Peacekeeper to take out enemy archers. You may want to rethink your skill build to focus on wave clearing or health regeneration. Each hero’s unique skillset plays a vital role in Breach mode.

“For the first time in For Honor, the way you build your feats and loadouts is impacted based on whether you are attacking or defending,” says Campos-Oriola. “Now, if you’re defending, you have to consider: do you want to go for traps? Do you want to go for more direct damage to take out the ram? Are you going to go for more heals, so you can heal the Lord at the end? You have more roles now than ever before.”

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Once the final gate has been breached, the attacking team enters the Lord’s Court. At this point, they can try to end the match by defeating the Lord. The Lord utilizes large area-of-effect attacks, meaning he can hold his own even against multiple attackers. Since the ram is no longer needed, the only way the defenders can win as this point is to exhaust all the attacking team’s respawn tickets. Strategy is still important in this final phase, as the Lord’s Court features archer stations and a ballista, and controlling them is crucial for victory.

Breach mode will be free for all For Honor players when Marching Fire launches on October 16.

A Significant Makeover

Nearly every aspect of For Honor is getting a visual facelift. Every single texture in For Honor has been improved from the ground up, meaning that players will see more detailed surfaces. Additionally, improved global illumination, tone mapping, and color grading mean that the skies, heroes, and environments will look more vibrant than ever before.

“It’s one of the challenges you face when launching a live game,” says Kieken. “You have to keep up with the competition. For Honor is still a beautiful game, but our art team wanted to push it even further.”

Marching Fire won’t just make For Honor look better; the user interface has also been updated and redesigned to make it easier to get into a match. That way, you’ll spend less time in menus, and more time conquering the battlefield.

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Cult of Personality

The new Wu Lin heroes won’t be the only characters with unique backstories; the original 18 heroes will also get a dose of personality. “Previously, when we were creating a hero, we were creating a unit [Wardens, Conqueror, Kensei, etc.], not a character,” says Campos-Oriola. “By making the shift to designing individual characters, it allows us to be more visually creative with the representation of those characters. When a hero has a personal story, you can start to represent that in their appearance.”

What’s the point of decapitating your opponent if you can’t rub it in a little as well? To go along with the unique backstories and motivations of each of the heroes, Marching Fire will introduce a new speech realization system that will inject more personality into them. From now on, when fighting an opponent, heroes will taunt each other, goading their opponents into aggression, reacting to missed hits, and reveling in a perfectly landed shot. Additionally, heroes will declare their presence when they respawn, thank allies for being revived mid-battle, and call out feats and boost zones.

“We’re adding tons of lines of dialogue,” says Campos-Oriola. “We wanted to create real characters to say these lines; we didn’t want our characters to lack personality because they are just ‘The Warden.’ Now each hero’s speech can also help craft their identity. For example, certain characters have a personal history with Mercy, the Peacekeeper. So when you’re her with one of those Heroes, you’ll actually hear unique dialogue between them.”

With four new heroes, Breach mode, and more to be revealed later, Marching Fire is the single biggest update to For Honor yet. It launches on October 16 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. For more on For Honor, check out our previous coverage.

For Honor

For Honor

Release date — February 14th 2017
Developer — Ubisoft Montreal
PEGI 18+
Enter the chaos of a raging war as a bold knight, brutal viking, or mysterious samurai, three of the greatest warrior legacies. For Honor is a fast-paced, competitive experience mixing skill, strategy, and team play with visceral melee combat. The Art of Battle, For Honor’s innovative control system, puts you in total control of your heroes, each with distinct skills and weapons, as you fight for land, glory, and honor. As a skilled warrior on an intense, believable battleground, you annihilate all soldiers, archers, and opposing heroes who stand in your way.
The Author

Youssef Maguid is a former architect turned writer who believes videogames hold the greatest potential for artistic expression. He now works as an Associate Communication Specialist for Ubisoft. Follow him on Twitter: @youssefmaguid