Vikings, Knights, and Samurai, oh my!
For Honor is a game that grabs a lot of attention with its premise. Vikings, Knights, and Samurai in a three way brawl. Set in a world after a great cataclysm, the three factions fought over the most basic needs, a fight that grew into a one thousand year long war. There’s no end in sight and no chance of peace, so you need to focus on winning.
Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, For Honor just concluded its closed beta and its open beta is on the way. The majority of its content and it’s heroes were on display, giving us a good feeling of how the game plays. Now we just need to ask the age old question. How is it?
For Honor scores major points in the visual department, because it is downright gorgeous. Not just in the graphical department, although that is rather impressive, but in the design department. While each design harkens back to the historical warriors this game surrounds, they have their own touches here. They all look rather rugged, signifying the change that warped them after the thousand years of war.
I personally have felt that many female designs in the industry is lacking, and For Honor does a lot to fix that. Every man and woman looks like a fierce warrior capable of killing you, with small touches to remind you of their gender. Such as a fierce looking beard, or an elegant ponytail. They truly feel like equals, fighting, killing and dying alongside each other. In short, in the visual department, For Honor utterly sweeps it.
How does it play?
Interestingly enough, For Honor uses a form of gameplay similar to Mount and Blade. Players can block and attack either right, left or up when dueling with other players. The result is a rather intimate and sometimes frantic duel as you try to find or force an opening, while blocking enemy blows. A kind of rock-paper-scissors mechanic is in place between blocking, attacking, and guard breaking. Block beats attack, guard break beats block, attacking beats guard break.
Each faction had three heroes during the beta, they will all receive a fourth in the game’s release. These heroes clash in 1v1, 2v2 and 4v4 battles. 1v1 and 2v2 are simple player vs player action, but 4v4 is a little more complicated. Swarms of NPC controlled soldiers surge forward towards zones that can be controlled, and the players must turn the tide of the battle. With one zone in the middle and two near the spawn points, it turns into a desperate battle of territory control.
Is it fun?
There is a lot of good times to be had in For Honor. The way the combat system works makes you feel like you’re involved in a very personal battle to the death. Like you and your opponent are entwined in a very violent dance, particularly in one on one duels. I also enjoyed how it’s both possible to let your opponent wear themselves out, and violent press the assault. It all comes back to whoever is better with the blade.
What really sells For Honor is how vicious and desperate the battles can become. A strong opening from your opponent can leave you near death, but it’s always possible to keep fighting and turn the tide. Particularly if they overextended themselves and left themselves vulnerable. Combined with vicious and satisfying executions moves, and you’ve got a rather fun core combat experience.
What’s wrong with it?
For Honor is an interesting game, although not one without problems. While the combat is fun, it can feel a little luck based at time. Not like you outwitted your opponent, but like you just happened to push the right button at the right time. It can devolve into button mashing at times. What’s more, there’s nothing stopping your opponent from turning around and running away. There’s no effective way to stop them.
I had quite a bit of problems with 2v2 matchmaking as well. I often didn’t get a partner and was stuck with a bot, and if that happens you might as well just resign yourself to a defeat. In fact there’s a bit of a balance problem outside of simple one on one battles. Numbers almost always come out on top, barring an exceptionally skilled player. Ubisoft has tried to work around this with the Revenge system.
Simply put, a bar fills up with every hit you take, and when it’s full you get increased damage and some health back. It can’t trigger without two people attacking you, making it effective in not being a game breaker, but it just doesn’t feel powerful enough. Even when I got it, I still died, often without being able to kill a single attacker. This may seem like a small problem, but in a game that’s more than half multi person combat, it’s a VERY big one.
For Honor is an enjoyable game, but it is not without flaws. The balance can feel rather off at times, and 4v4, the most heavily advertised game mode, suffers from it. The battles are frantic and fun, but have some annoyances that can prove to be rather big problems. I enjoyed my time with the game, but had a lot of frustrations with it. I’m hoping that they can be tweaked out.
If you’re on the fence about it, the open beta is coming up soon. It is, at the very least, worth checking out.