For Honor's fifth "season" will arrive on February 15, Ubisoft said yesterday. The update rebalances some classes, overhauls others, and most importantly implements the game's new dedicated servers for what Ubisoft says will be more stable online play.
Season Five, titled "Age of Wolves", comes after a year of monthly patches and a few major DLC releases, and shows Ubisoft is still committed to improving the game nearly one year after its release. When For Honor launched last February, one of the major criticisms was the lack of dedicated servers. Relying instead on player-to-player connections, the game occasionally suffered from dropped matches and or latency that favoured one fighter over another. Ubisoft announced its intentions to introduce dedicated servers back in July and finally tested them during December. It plans to implement them for real once Season Five officially begins.
Ubisoft said that beyond providing more stability in general, the new online infrastructure will also eliminate several issues that often caused For Honor matches to freeze or crash, and make several fixes to grouping and matchmaking.
While I haven't experienced many of these issues recently, more stable connections and quicker matchmaking times are always appreciated, especially in those tense moments where any potential internet problems could decide whether you live or get decapitated. It will be especially nice not to see play grind to a halt any time players leave a game simply because they died once or don't like the matchup.
On the subject of classes, one of the more interesting parts of the Season Five update is what it will be doing to Kensei and Conqueror, two of For Honor's bigger and slower warrior types. Players have been waiting for changes to come along that would make both more viable since, as things stand, they tend to get picked apart by faster adversaries. To address this, both heroes will get entirely new movesets and animations next month. Highlander, Berserker and Nobushi, meanwhile, will get re-worked as well, but nothing as major.
Ubisoft said it wants to balance the character roster "generally by buffing and improving the bottom-performing Heroes", as opposed to nerfing the stronger characters.
"[T]he top-performing characters are currently able to launch attacks with a reasonable degree of confidence that the attack will land, while the bottom-performing characters have little confidence that any of their attacks will work against players who are very good at defending," it wrote of the game's current state.
In addition to all of this, the new season will also bring three new training modes, something the game has been in dire need of given the gap between newcomers and diehards. Apprentice and Warrior Trials will be two different tiers of training mode while a third, called Arena, will actually let players practise against specific opponents with customised movesets, something common in fighting games but which For Honor's onboarding process has been lacking.
It's all encouraging news for a game that I thoroughly enjoyed back when I originally reviewed it and which continues to grow and improve despite its small player base.