For Honor: A Flawed, Loveable Gem

 

For Honor is like Mortal Kombat. It’s like Fight Night. It’s like Dynasty Warriors. It’s like… well, it’s not like anything I’ve played before.

For Honor is Ubisoft’s ancient warrior, melee based multiplayer fighting game. Players use vikings, samurai and knights and battle it out across multiple game modes. There’s blood, violence and screaming; it’s a good time.

The graphics are impressive; player models ripple with detail, and when a goddamn Orochi cuts my face off for the fifteenth time, I get to see all my little blood-bits spill onto the battlefield. Environments are varied and are jam-packed with details, from statues and rumble down to burning catapults and corpses. And it’s not all just for show; you can knock opponents into pits, onto spikes, and into fires, so nearly every match has a sudden death moment.

Most important, however, is gameplay. Melee based sword games have always been hit or miss for me, mainly because a solid way of blocking has never been thought of. For Honor uses a three-prong directional approach: move the right stick (
consoles) left, right, or up to block or swing your weapon in that directions. Fights devolve into a rock, paper, scissors with reflexes battles. Faster characters will throw multiple attacks to get opponents to change blocking directions, only to throw from another angle. Combined with guard breaks, unblockables and lunging attacks, fights are varied and challenging.

One v One combat is great. For the most part, characters are well-balanced, although certain classes get into mismatches with others. For example, the knight assassin, the Peacekeeper, has a hard time against the large samurai and the shield-based characters, because these characters can absorb or block the flurry of fast attacks the Peacekeeper uses. One v One is as much a chess match as it is a fight. I found that I could normally have a good shot of winning, even if I lost the first few rounds in a Duel, simply by altering tactics based on my opponent. Some players block constantly, so using guard break a lot ruins them. Others like to sidestep and slash, so out-waiting them until they attack, and parrying ends their reign of terror. Noticeably, players seem to get good at one character and one tactic with that character, so being adaptable and willing to risk different strategies will you give you an advantage.

I really enjoy the game. It’s a perfect blend of strategy and reflex, and rewards clever thinking. I was fighting a berserker (twin axed, fast viking) who would always sidestep and slash. I backed into a narrow tunnel and her tactic was obsolete; nowhere to go. I then sliced her up like an emo kid’s arm (I can say that, I’m diagnosed with depression).

There are some negatives, though. 4v4 action often disintegrates into players ganging up on one another. This is solved by using the game chat and telling people to “group up” and normally helps turn the fight around. For Honor also has a revenge system, in which outnumbered, defensive players get a damage and health boost, allowing them to turn the fight around. Or at least try. Sometimes it feels underpowered, sometimes overpowered, and gear stats effect that.

Players often spam guard breaks and unblockables, or generally find the cheapest way to win. Berserkers and Orochi constantly sidestep and slash, Lawbringers spam guard breaks, and Peacekeepers, my main character, like to leap and stab. There are tactics to avoiding each one, and adaptability, again, is important. I suggest having a friend duel and pick characters and styles that always seems to mess you up.

Another issue is connectivity. You must be connected to play story mode, or practice. Games will cut out at random. My NAT type has changed a dozen times, from strict to open. It’s frustrating when trying to complete a challenge and the game pulls the rug out from under you.

That’s another thing. There are challenges to complete, such as execute X amount of players, that give you coins and xp to level up your character and by new gear for the 4v4 modes. The problem is that the game is fairly stingy; it takes a long time to build up a lot of coins, and some costumes cost upwards of 15000.  It’s a small annoyance, but devalues the game by turning it into a grind.

One bonus that I particularly like is that each multiplayer mode is playable against AI opponents. This allows you to rank up and earn coins without as much of a challenge, although the AI can be surprisingly difficult.

There is a steep learning curve, and even though I’m a moderately decent player, sometimes I get frustrated and turn the game off. I think this is what will turn a lot of players away, because the game can seem unfair. I highly suggest playing through the story mode, as it gives players a range of characters to play as, and offers up some tutorial in combat situations. There’s also the tutorials; advanced tutorial (in the practice menu) gives you free coins (it’s called steel but they’re fucking coins, honestly) upon completion.

I highly suggest renting For Honor. You may fall in love with it, or you may hate it completely, so take the minimal risk and rent it.

 

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