For Honor Review
It's Dishonourable That They Dropped The "U" in Honour, But We Digress
There’s something unmistakably childlike about the premise to For Honor, as if the game is a vehicle to settle the playground arguments of who’d best who in a no holds barred slobberknocker: Vikings, Knights or Samurai. It’s a refreshingly simplistic concept; to just take the best warriors from each faction and have them scrap for all eternity because why the hell not, but it’s a concept we can’t help but fall in love with.
Of course, there’s more of a purpose here than just kicking the crap out of history’s greatest combatants, but it’s as much purpose as you need. There is a campaign which can be completed in single player or co-op that offers characters, locations and an overarching plot, but you don’t really need to know nor care about it to enjoy yourself.
For those that do care, you’ll find a narrative surrounding the Warlord Apollyon, who is using the faction war to create strong warriors to create more war. It’s Darwinism in a world where Darwin would be clutching a sword and shield and praying for his life.
Essentially, the campaign serves as an extended tutorial for you to get to grips with the heroes for each faction. The levels are fairly brief, meaning you could easily finish one or two in the time before your mates come online, and you’re given incentives in the form of new gear, collectables and advanced character knowledge, which makes the campaign worth playing. The four difficulty settings and online co-op also add some replay value, for when you’re bored of getting consistently stomped online.
Where combat is concerned, For Honor is challenging but rewarding. Attack and defense are broken into three core zones; top, left and right, with you choosing where to attack/defend with the right stick. Each character has different properties regarding how they strike or how they block attacks, but the core remains the same across the board.
It’s a basic enough system that most players should be able to grasp, but one that does take some getting used to, especially when on the offensive. You might find yourself in the habit of mashing light and heavy attacks without changing your target, which makes it easier for your opponent to parry and ruin your day.
Once you’ve mastered that, it’s a case of finding someone with the moveset you like and learning the ins and outs. You may prefer the speed of a Peacekeeper or Orochi, dashing in to do major damage before legging it, or you might want the range offered by the Nobushi or the Valkyrie. Any combination of agility, range and strength you can think of, there’s a character who can match up to it.
Then once you’ve gone through all that, figuring out who you want to play and what their moves are, and engaging in some practice A.I. matches for good measure, you may finally be ready for the online challenge. Seriously, jumping straight into the online modes without practice is a trial by fire, so learn the damn game first!
The Multiplayer component comes in the form of the three sided Faction War, with players distributing assets gained in multiplayer to attack or defend certain territories. At the end of the season, players of the winning faction will earn exclusive rewards, likely in the form of sweet armour customisation.
In terms of modes, you’ve got 5 to choose from; 1v1 Duels, 2v2 Brawls, and 4v4 Skirmish, Elimination and Deathmatch. Skirmish and Elimination and two different variants of the Deathmatch type, whilst Dominion serves as the game’s only objective type. Some more modes would have been nice (Capture the Flag would be interesting), but the basics have been covered.
The online modes are daunting, especially the 4v4 modes. All too often you can find yourself outnumbered and outmatched, with no real chance of winning the fight. As a 1v1 duel, For Honor provides some tense back and forth that taxes your brain as well as your gaming abilities. Once more players start getting involved, fights devolve into medieval pandemonium quickly, with strategy being trumped by whoever pressed the better button.
The big criticism, however, does not primarily concern the game itself: it’s the players. One of the big abilities in For Honor is throwing someone in a specific direction. Off a cliff, for instance. Couple that with the Shugoki character class, who suffers no hit stun on certain moves, and you’ve got a strategy that’s hard to counter and infuriating to deal with. Having to watch you and your partner get unceremoniously dumped into a bottomless pit like it’s the Royal Rumble is one surefire way to boil your urine.
Perhaps that’s just a symptom of the “release now, patch/balance later” gaming world we now live in. Or, perhaps it’s just the nature of gamers; to find the easiest or cheapest method to win. The throws might get nerfed in a few weeks, but then something else will appear from the woodwork, more overpowered than the last one.
It’s probably best then to not question if the game is balanced or not. The more pertinent question would be “Is For Honor a fun game?”, and the answer would be a resounding yes. With exciting and deep combat, paired with an interesting and informative campaign, For Honor is simply a triumph. Just try avoid those pesky cliffs.
For Honor is available right now on the Xbox Store in a variety of editions. Check out the trailer and let us know your thoughts in the comments!
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