How Did 'For Honor' Manage to Survive When Other Games Couldn't?

When For Honor was first announced at Ubisoft's E3 press conference in 2015, fans were elated. Finally, we'd be able to live out our macho dreams as some of the greatest soldiers to ever hold a weapon on a battlefield. Whether you're a noble knight, a tricky samurai or a techno Viking, the game seemed poised for greatness But when it launched two years later, fans were left sorely disappointed.

The 12 different fighters on For Honor 's roster didn't require any intense button mashing, but allowed for intense duels, where the smarter brawler succeeded. Predicting where the enemy would swing allowed you to block and set up for a successful counter attack. The gameplay felt so fluid and fun... when it worked.

The biggest problem For Honor had at launch was a lack of dedicated servers. Games used peer-to-peer servers, meaning the players were hosting games using their own internet connections, causing games to frequently lag and disconnect. A month after launch, the game's player base dropped from a peak of 70,000 to only around 3,000. For most games, that would signal the end of its lifespan. Battleborn and Lawbreakers never managed to crawl out of similar predicaments, and it looked like For Honor was headed toward the same fate.

During season five, more than a year after the game first launched, For Honor was shaping up to be the game fans were promised. Ubisoft added six new classes a training mode and multiple maps to the game, while making cosmetics easier to obtain. The changes came alongside the introduction of the most requested feature of all: dedicated servers. Players could now duel each other without worrying about rage-inducing disconnects.

For Honor was a game worth fighting for, but Ubisoft overcome the post-launch stigma. They did something simple: make the game free for one week on PC at the end of August. According to gaming statistics site GitHyp, For Honor a record peak of 200,000 players on Steam, quickly hitting the top 10 on the Steam charts. Fans started buzzing about the game, excited to play the Viking Highlander of their dreams.

Ubisoft looks to build upon this momentum and rolling with it. The Marching Fire expansion comes out October 16 and will add the Wu Lin faction, a "Breach" mode where you storm a castle and a new difficulty mode that changes every time you play it. You'll be playing as warriors from across Chinese history, like Jiang Jun, who uses his guando and the Shaolin who's an expert with a staff.

Free weekends in the middle of September will allow new players to try the game and potentially become soldiers addicted to the battlefield.

This new spin on the "freemium" model seems to have worked for For Honor. Going from a dead game to the top of the Steam charts is no small feat. I'll be keeping my eye on what comes next for Ubisoft's little miracle.