A bumpy start also means a very short lifespan for most games, especially when the focus is on multiplayer mode. Exceptions, however, confirm the rule and the dead say live longer – two wisdoms that apply to Ubisoft’s online hack-and-slay game For Honor. With the new update Marching Fire there is also a strong sign of life from himself.
When publisher Ubisoft presented the game For Honor to a larger audience for the first time at E3 2015, fans and the trade press were very enthusiastic. Knights duelled with Vikings and Samurais in visually impressive battles – that can only be brilliant! When the finished game was released two years later, it didn’t live up to the very high expectations. The catchy, but at the same time complex fighting system could convince, but the focus on the multiplayer mode and the very tight single player campaign didn’t please everyone. Also in our test the “short story” as well as the missing fine-tuning was criticized and we did not prophesy the game a too big future. Now seven seasons later it is official: We are completely wrong with our forecast, because due to continuous improvements and the constant supply of new content, For Honor could only recently exceed the 15 million player mark and with Marching Fire was the biggest update since the release of the game released.
This includes four new heroes and two additional game variations. Storm allows you to conduct epic PVP siege battles, while Arcade mode offers almost limitless PvE content. The update is completed by graphical improvements, more equipment for the characters and some smaller game improvements.
The Chinese are coming!
As in every larger expansion, the obligatory new characters are not missing. In Marching Fire these are the four heroes of the Wu Lin dynasty , a faction of warriors from ancient China beyond the Great Wall. All possible classes are also covered by this quartet. The Tiand are allrounders, fight with the Dao sabre and as Vanguard especially suitable for beginners. The Jiang Jun are the generals of the ancient Chinese armies, armed with a pole weapon, the Guandao, and well armored. They have a strong defensive, are a little slower in their movements and therefore belong to the class Heavy. The Nuxia are in complete contrast to this. The well trained bodyguards and assassins of the Assassin type act fast and agile, but are not very robust. The Shaolin is a representative of the hybrid class, hits his opponents with a stick and masters the art of Qi fighting posture. Unfortunately, the new Chinese warriors don’t have their own story campaign, but they all play very fast and allow very complex attack combos.
The highlight of Marching Fire is definitely the new PVP mode “Storm”. Here, two teams of four players face each other, where one is assigned to defend a castle while the other tries to storm it. A match is won if either the lord of the castle blesses the time or the ram essential for the siege is destroyed. The attackers also have a limited number of respawn tickets at their disposal. If these are used up, the defending team has also won. Of course, a strategic approach would be an advantage here, but during my test games, the game was mostly characterized by chaotic carnage. Nevertheless – or maybe just because of that – I had a lot of fun with Storm!
With the arcade mode there is also something new for soloists. This is advertised as an “endless PVE mode”, but turns out to be a duel variant with various borrowings from Beat’em Up games. You will complete a “Quest Series” in the form of five fights, always facing different opponents. Random modifications and different goals ensure that no skirmish is the same. I wasn’t really enthusiastic about this mode, but it’s ideal for practice purposes and especially to improve your heroes, because all the rewards collected here can be taken into multiplayer mode. In addition: The arcade mode can also be played together with a friend, which of course motivates him a lot more.
(Almost) All for free
Besides the new features Marching Fire brings a lot of small changes with it. More detailed textures, an improved lighting system and a new technology for sky and clouds provide significant graphic improvements. Also the user interface was purified and so it is now a little less awkward to get into matches. Both are consistently useful and visually appealing upgrades. The opposite is the revised percussion system, which benefits newcomers, but is very controversial among die-hard fans. The equipment no longer grants direct advantages and disadvantages, but there is now only a fixed set of perks, with a combination of a total of seven offensive, defensive and assist perks. Although it is possible to level up the equipment, armour parts that have been laboriously collected so far become almost worthless. In the coming weeks, it will become clear whether veteran players will be able to make friends with it or whether adjustments will be necessary.
There are several ways to enjoy the new content. Newcomers can buy the “Marching Fire Edition” of For Honor, because it contains the basic game as well as the extension. But for those who already have that, the slightly cheaper “Marching Fire Expansion” is the better choice. Both versions then unlock all content without restriction. If you don’t want to spend money, you get at least a part of it as a free update. Exceptions are the arcade mode and the four new Wu-Lin heroes. The latter can also be activated in the meantime, provided you collect enough steel to do so. Strictly speaking, the paid expansion is therefore only something for solo players and even the exclusive arcade game variant can be played together in co-op mode – provided at least one of the players has bought Marching Fire.
I also belonged to the faction of players who immediately jumped on the hype bandwagon after the announcement of For Honor, but were deterred by such “features” as micro-transactions, Always-On and Gaming as a Service. Almost two years later, as a career changer, I’m thrilled: The hack-and-lay game principle offers a surprisingly complex combat system, great and varied multiplayer modes as well as exemplary support from Ubisoft – genre fans can now access Marching Fire without hesitation. Soloists should better try it out first, because the new update doesn’t change the fact that mainly fans of action-packed multiplayer battles get their money’s worth. Thus, the initial difficulties of For Honor seem to have been finally overcome and the rescue of honor is complete, even though the new Perk system is quite controversial among die-hard fans and will certainly need some fine-tuning.
What is For Honor: Marching Fire? Largest update to date for the online hack-and-lay For Honor with new heroes and additional game modes.
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Developer / Publisher: Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft
Release: 16 October 2018