For Honor has made me realise I should stay away from fighting games. If we were living in the days of Romans, I would have been one of those in the coliseum, screaming abuse at the Gladiators below, baying for blood, all from the comfort of my rather stoney seat. These days we have Twitch for that, and that is where I belong.
Game: For Honor
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Reviewed on: PS4 (Review code provided)
I blame Twitch for the very fact I got hyped about For Honor. I was watching Tangent Gaming play the beta and having a lot of fun with it. My first thought was “Yes, get me on that!”. Just like when you watch something like the snooker on TV and immediately think you could find a snooker table and pot everything after watching a pro.
So, what lead me to this revelation? A whole host of steel!
When I first booted For Honor, my first thought was to head into the campaign, learn the mechanics and find a character I could identify with (I’m not sure how I feel about the fact my initial choice was a lady…). Before I could even do that, I was thrown into a tutorial that went through said basics, but I didn’t fall for that ploy to send me straight to my multiplayer doom.
I won’t dwell long on the campaign but it needs to be mentioned. It is ultimately a giant tutorial. Actually, more of a grind that didn’t teach me much other than the same basics of the initial tutorial.
There is a story line that in my opinion lacked any real thought. I was expecting some heavy link to honour, or perhaps an underlying theme of honour, but it seemed to elude me entirely.
The story is split between three factions; Knights, Vikings and Samurai. It follows how they are all tied in together and why they find themselves fighting one another. Other than being a bit of a chore, what was most annoying is that despite having the capacity to allow you 2/3 missions with each playable character, you were often only given one other than the “main”, for all of 1 mission. Just as you got used to the change or got a taste for it, you would be thrown back to the “main” character that in the case of the Vikings was not fun to play as. For the effort Ubisoft went to putting in a campaign, I feel that they could have gone a step further to offer it a bit more polish.
Despite its failings, my quest to find a character did succeed even though the campaign tried to convince me I didn’t like anyone other than the first character in each faction that is available. Thankfully, I didn’t feel the need to finish the campaign to decide I was ready for a scrap. The multiplayer offers a few game modes but they are basically all the same thing. I opened my account with a 1 v 1, best of 5.
Unsure what to expect from PvP but thinking I was prepared for a scrap, I truly started to feel like I could be a war hero after my first attempt at a combo landed on my opponent. I then got hilt happy (or whatever the equivalent of medieval trigger happy is) and started swinging at thin air or blocked regions on my opponent. Sufficed to say I very quickly lost round 1. Round 2 was different, I calmed down, I had a plan and I executed it with some fast movement and a throw that sent the opposing knight off the edge of the castle handing me the round. We exchanged another round each and came to the decider. But then, just as I was about to win, Ubisoft’s multiplayer server crashed! The utter temerity of the thing, robbing me of my victory! I wish I could say it only happened once but sadly I have experienced several games that struggle with matchmaking, or drop connection mid-way through. I know I don’t have the world’s fastest connection, but it can handle what it was challenged with here.
After 1 v 1 and 2 vs 2 matches there’s 4 vs 4 and 4 vs 4 elimination. The final game mode is Dominion where you must control points to win whilst there are also NPCs that push across the map, like League of Legends. Someone like me should only stick to the 1 vs 1 game types. As soon as I was met with people ganging up on me I got wrecked every time. Using the tactic against the opposition also worked, but without people coordinating or talking this wasn’t always easy. When you fall out of sync with the spawn times of your comrades it gets incredibly frustrating. You might as well spawn on to steel. During this mode, I was also unimpressed with the way you dispatch NPCs. All you must do is attack with R1 or R2, but you basically just hop from one NPC to another with repetitive kill animations. It just didn’t feel like a rewarding process.
Other than the above repetitive button mashing, the combat of For Honor is essentially Player vs Player QTE (Quick Time Events). You can see the direction your opponent is guarding and equally if they attack, the direction you need to match to block turns red. You would think that this means you never hit each other but you definitely do. Added to this, each playable class has a move set which lists your combos.
Ubisoft are kind enough to let you know before you spend in-game currency to unlock a new character, whether it is considered easy, medium or hard to use. The harder characters usually have more combos and some that can be much more difficult to pull off compared to an easy character. Annoyingly for me, the Valkyrie from the Vikings was loads of fun in the campaign, but I got destroyed every round I played her in multiplayer.
I feel that the learning curve in For Honor is massive. The difference between novice and master is steep with little middle ground. Something that Ubisoft have again missed is a training ground of some sort. If you could unlock a character and then enter a sparring/combo training mode like in Street Fighter a lot of player would benefit.
With all the above said, it sounds like I have not enjoyed For Honor. It has been a hard game for me to review. There have been moments of utter frustration where I have felt the combat system has failed me and eaten my inputs. Equally there have been times where I can see why I died and learnt from it. On the flipside, I have had epic battles that were tons of fun! With a lot of time and effort focusing on 1 or 2 playable characters, I could easily fall in love with For Honor, just like many others have.
In my opinion, it is a good game, but it hasn’t blown me away. I rarely felt the urge to jump back on after being away from it for a while. Ultimately, I think this is my flaw the game isn’t terrible, but because I am. My score then is from the point of view that I recognise I suck, but For Honor has plenty of room to improve too.