From the very onset, For Honor makes one thing absolutely clear. It is not a hack and slash game, but it’s a fighting game. You may run around in open arenas killing random brutes that act as cannon fodder, swinging big weapons and feeling like a warrior-god-among-men. But what For Honor really is about is its one-on-one multiplayer combat, and is intense, calculated, and very methodical.
Before we get into the meat of the game, which is its multiplayer, lets talk a bit about it’s single-player campaign. The plot here is pretty throwaway, as three warring factions squabble over land and resources, and just keep brutally murdering each other. However, the campaign is fairly enjoyable, and has some great set-piece moments, that look incredible and are really fun to play through.
You play as all the three factions, Samurai, Viking & Knight, across three chapters. What this essentially does is familiarize you with the controls, gameplay mechanics and some of the game modes. And the single player actually does a great job of teaching you the great depths of For Honor’s combat, and I actually would advise you play at least a few hours of it on high difficulty to get a handle on how everything works.
It’s not overly long either, just around 8-10 hours, and you’ll come across the scripted set-pieces often enough. and be earning XP and learning new skills along the way. By the end of it, you are familiar with the three classes, and how they fight against each other, though it’s barely ever clear why they fight. While the regular AI enemies are just an annoyance along your way, the boss fights can be challenging. It’s still nowhere near as fun as playing against a human controlled enemies, but they prepare you well enough for that encounter.
Since this is a Ubisoft game, they have managed to throw in needless collectibles all around. You’ll do well to not fall in that pit.
The multiplayer is where the real action happens. You again pick one of three classes, Samurai, Knight or Viking, and play in One vs One duels, or Two vs Two brawls, or a Four Vs Four battles with bots thrown in for good measure. The 4 Vs 4 mode has you fighting for control points, much like Domination mode in other games.
When you attack or defend, you pick one of three directions, left, right or top, and your opponent can see that, as you can see their’s. This give either side a small window to prepare their offense or defense, and leads to a mind game of tricking and feinting the opponent into opening up for an attack. You can also dodge, instead of blocking, but if timed incorrectly, can leave you open to attacks. The basic combat might sound simplistic, but much like the combat in Nioh, once you start parrying, throwing in combos, learn new skills and class based abilities, start managing stamina, and make use of environmental hazards, you realize that there’s a lot to master, and things can get overwhelming really fast.
Each of the classes have sub classes, optimized for speed or damage, or a mix of both. But all of these have their own special skill, like adding bleed damage, that make you strategize as to how you want to tackle every fight. It’s an intricate back and forth, and when everything comes together just right, it can be an extremely satisfying experience.
The problem is that a lot of times, things don’t come together properly. You may get pitted against over leveled enemies in the bigger battles, or get double teamed (there’s no honor in that). However, the worst of For Honor’s problem is its peer-to-peer network connectivity, which can lead to some really frustrating moments. You or your team mates can get disconnected for no apparent reason. There have also been a lot of cases of cheating happening, specially by the use of lag switch where you can fool your opponents into thinking that you’re still in front of them, then freeze the image and sneak behind them to deliver the final blow.
All of these issues are really frustrating, and while Ubisoft is taking measures to ban cheaters, it can still kill the fun in playing the game.
However, removed form these issues, For Honor is an extremely addictive game, and feels like a very satisfying 3D fighting game. The 1 Vs 1 modes are the stand out, and when played fairly, every victory and defeat keeps you wanting to come back for more.