After a decade of paid DLC dividing multiplayer communities and menacing wallets, the state of affairs is still sorry enough that I mutter "Oh thank god, they've not totally muffed it" when I see a big publisher, y'know, not totally muff it. Ubisoft today detailed DLC plans for their upcoming stabfest For Honor [official site] and -- huzzah! -- they've not totally muffed it. Similar to Ubi's Rainbow Six Siege, For Honor will add new characters, maps, modes, and gear free for all players post-launch, but folks who buy a season pass will get new characters a week early.
Ubisoft plan to release new free content updates every three months, coming at the start of new seasons in their 'Faction War' metagame doodad. Each season will bring two new heroes, two new maps, new rewards, and new weapons and armour. Planned new modes include tournaments and a ranked mode.
As for the season pass, it looks like it'll run you £30. Ubi say it'll get you all this:
· Six all-new Heroes available seven days before released to all players
· Six elite outfits to customise the new Heroes
· Day One War Pack
o One exclusive sunbeam effect on emotes for all Heroes
o Three exclusive emblem outlines
o Three scavenger crates to unlock additional gear
o 30-day Champion Status that gives XP boosts to friends, more XP from crafting and additional end-match loot.
Non-Seasoneers will need to unlock those new characters with 'Steel', the virtacurrency earned by playing, rather than getting them straight away.
When I see gobs of boosters for XP boosters and materials and gubbins, I do worry that a game might be built with a grind just unkind enough to make players want to pony up to reduce it. Especially that 'Champion Status'. Hmm. We'll have to see how lenient it is. Still, it does beat selling a mountain of DLC which costs as much as the base game but splits communities.
On the whole, this seems a good plan. I like this plan. Multiplayer communities aren't fragmented between different DLC packs, flash gits get baubles and a fleeting sense of superiority, and Ubisoft apparently get enough back that they blorp out new free content for everyone. This has worked well in R6 Siege, keeping the game ticking along a fair while.
Ubi's VP of live operations, Anne Blondel, told us a few months ago (and not in relation to For Honor specifically):
"We've learnt so much from Rainbow Six Siege, and how players engage with the game. We are applying these best practices to other 'live' games; this means creating content that will deepen the core game experience (DLC, customization options and so on) but these will not be compulsory, and the core elements of the online multiplayer will be available to all players. We want to maintain the community that has grown around Rainbow Six and not have gamers feel that they are obliged to pay in order to stay up to speed with their friends. For a game that is single player centric, and/or more narrative driven, we firstly need to be sure that that game we launch is a full experience, and high-quality, and later on we can add new elements, like DLC, which may be at an additional cost, to expand on the complete experience."
For Honor is due to launch on Tuesday, February 14th. A free multiplayer open beta is scheduled for next week, running Thursday, February 9th to Sunday the 12th.