4 New Races.
The good: no duplicate races from pre-existing books. A couple Cool powers in the Eloms Digging Claws, and the Dense Musculature of the Kyuzo.
The bad: Shistavanen have a power called Hunter's Instincts, which lets them use the Survival skill in place of Discipline or Cool when making an initiative check. This is nice ONLY for characters that don't plan on ranking up those other skills anyway. I would say 80-90 percent of the time that initiative is rolled at my table we roll Vigilance, as most combats are 'unexpected' or otherwise un-anticipated to the extent that making a cool or discipline check would not make sense. For groups like mine this power goes from circumstantially OK to a virtual non-entity. Not worth the low 80 starting xp that Shistavanen have. I would NEVER play one of these no matter how cool the theme is, because that's just way too big an xp hit at character creation considering it feels like i get nothing in return.
The good: There are two.
The bad: A complete lack of luster. Trailblazer doesn't hardly seem to fit with the 'soldier' theme and felt shoe-horned in to me. The Heavy tree is a duplicate from previous publications.
New Signature Abilities.
The good: the first ability The Bigger They Are... is a cool one, that helps squishy parties in their pajamas take out vehicles and giant monsters without actually being completely OP.
The bad: nothing overly offensive.
The good: a decent volume of new stuff, with a few items that really stand out as interesting.
The bad: Nothing that screams 'terrible'.
The good: I like the throwback to older vehicles, and the focus on military function/style vehicles.
The bad: none.
The Narrative of Soldiers
the good: lots of good talk about soldiers and how to incorporate them. Plenty of hooks/flavor and muse material here.
the bad: can feel a bit repetitive at times and doesn't add to the mechanics of the game.
Cool idea, with a decent implementation.
I absolutely love this stuff. Mostly just new ways to spend advantages/triumphs/threat/despair in different environments with mostly combat theme. Nothing bad to say at all about this stuff, though i do wish there was a single reference for all this stuff now..... hmmm..
The Bad: The book is called Forged in Battle (a sourcebook for SOLDIERS).. since there are books for hired guns, bounty hunters ect (all people who regularly get into combat) I assume that when they say "soldier" they mean MILITARY personnel. I am not even remotely a 'military man'.. and even I was kind of taken aback by the idea that the only way they could think of to reward people for their military service was through being wounded. Battle Scars may have a place in the rules, but as a reward mechanism for military service it feels pretty distasteful. Basically the exact same mechanic could have been used but under a different header IE: Commendations & Accolades.
Under Commendations and Accolades a GM, having viewed the Soldiers actions may choose to award a medal/ribbon/award to the player for those actions. Similarly to Battle Scars, each Award would have a list of common reasons to be given and a list of possible skills that it grants.
Since this is exactly how real life military's (on behalf of the organization itself and the people they serve) recognize and reward their service members, it would seem like a VASTLY more appropriate way to suggest rewarding a soldier. Not to mention that Commendations and Accolades would actually be something that a player could strive for, a goal to be achieved, as opposed to the Battle Scars which are basically a random chance event.
The Good: The mechanics for Battle Scars are pretty cool. Being wounded or suffering a Critical Injury could happen to ANYONE from ANY Career, not just 'soldiers' so Battle Scars can definitely be added to basically anyone's game.
Forged in Battle gets an over all 7/10
Updated Soldier Career with new Specializations and Signature Abilities.