For Honor – Marching Fire Expansion Review – Xbox One
+ Good additions for new and returning players
+ New modes and characters add variety
- Essentially more of the same
When I played For Honor at release, back in February 2017, I found that while I enjoyed what I played, it didn’t leave much of a lasting impression. Despite the game maintaining a loyal following, I haven’t given it much thought since then, and I have to admit that I was a little surprised when the Marching Fire expansion was revealed at E3 2018. This two-tiered update to the game felt like the perfect opportunity to jump back in and reevaluate my feelings for the game, with new characters, new modes and a range of other updates to the core game that promise to make the experience feel new and fresh.
I refer to Marching Fire as being two-tiered in the sense that the expansion is available for everybody, but you get different things depending on whether you pay for it or not. For those who pay for the expansion, it comes with four new characters as part of the Wu Lin faction (non-paying players gain access to these at a later date) and the new PvE Arcade mode. Everyone will unlock the new Breach mode, as well as graphical updates, a new training mode and a revamped UI.
I spent most of my time with the Marching Fire expansion playing with the new Arcade mode, as this seemed like the best opportunity to remind myself of how the game plays, as well as getting up to speed with the new Wu Lin faction. Arcade essentially functions as a shortened, randomized version of the single-player campaign, where you fight against a series of other warriors in 1v1 or sometimes 1v2 battles. You gain experience and can level up your characters in Arcade mode, making it a perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself with a character’s move-set and strengthening their stats before taking them into the online arena.
Alongside the randomized enemy encounters, both your warrior and the warriors that you are fighting have varying modifiers attached to them in each battle, making each playthrough different. In some instances, your warrior can be especially vulnerable to fire, and in others, they can gain health back by attacking, making a more aggressive approach more worthwhile. Alongside the daily challenges that reward you with in-game currency, the variety in Arcade mode makes the experience feel different each time, and it feels like a lot of thought has gone into making the experience feel valuable for those new to the game, or those who perhaps don’t want to play online from time to time.
While playing through the Arcade mode, I took the time to play with each of the new warriors from the Wu Lin faction, and I ended up fighting against AI-controlled versions of each of them too. Though I enjoyed playing with each of them, and experimenting with their new abilities, I found that my time away from the game meant that I perhaps wasn’t the best judge of their nuances and the subtleties that they bring to the battlefield. I particularly enjoyed using Tiandi, who is a great choice for beginners, but the other warriors also have their particular skillsets, such as being able to separate other warriors from the pack, being especially mobile, or having a longer reach with their weapons.
The other big part of the expansion is the new Breach mode, which takes place around the siege of a castle, and brings three new maps to the table. Players are either on the attacking side, and attempting to transport a ram to the gates of the castle, or defending the castle, and trying to defeat enemy heroes to bring their numbers down to the point of defeat. I always enjoy the feeling of having some sort of in-game visual indicator of how well your team is doing in a multiplayer match, and Breach is great at providing this, with the ram’s progress showing how close you are to victory or defeat.
At its base, though, Breach is still the same For Honor gameplay experience, and this is where I found the expansion tougher to swallow, mainly due to my time away from the game. There’s a definite gap in the skill levels of the players that I was playing against and myself, and I can envision that this would ring true across the modes in For Honor. Because of this, the Marching Fire expansion is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to who to recommend it to. If you’re still playing For Honor regularly, eighteen months after release, then chances are that you’re a big enough fan to pick up the expansion without asking many questions. However, if you’re a newer player, the question of whether or not to recommend the expansion becomes a little more complex.
The new Arcade mode is a great opportunity to become familiar with the new characters in a pseudo-online environment, and you still have the base story mode and the range of online experiences that were available when the game launched, meaning that you can ease yourself in slowly if you would like. However, you’ll be frequently coming up against players for whom For Honor has become a way of life, and the gameplay mechanics are unique enough that there’s a pretty steep learning curve to even being able to think about competing on the same level as these players. While Arcade mode is great, like many online games, the offline portion is no match for what you’re up against when you enter the online space.
If you’re willing to take the time and effort, and possess the patience required to suffer through the many instances of feeling inadequate as you get up to speed with the game, then there hasn’t been a better time to get into (or get back into) For Honor. The game looks great with the new graphical touches, the new AI makes navigating the various menus much easier, and with the addition of Breach, Arcade and the Wu Lin faction, there’s a whole host of content and characters available to experience. At its core, For Honor is still the same as it’s ever been, though, and whether you enjoy the base gameplay experience is going to go a long way to determining how much enjoyment you gain from Marching Fire.