Arts & Reviews

For Honor Review: Anything But Chivalrous

By: Mike Massotto

For Honor is a game developed by Ubisoft Montreal for PS4, Xbox One, and PC that attempts to answer the age old question: Who would win, Knights, Vikings, or Samurai? This is done by getting each faction and shoving them into a world where they utterly hate each other and are in close enough proximity to wage war. It is needless to say this game is not historically accurate, as anyone can tell you these three kinds of warriors were far too geographically separated to even know of their existence of one another. Before this review is continued however I have to admit that this review is based on the Open Beta launch of the game as opposed to the full game, which releases February 14th. Seeing that the Open Beta was released on the 9th however I don’t think that the game and the Beta will be different at all, so unless the developers behind For Honor are gods and can pump out millions of lines of code in a weekend this review will apply to the full game as well.

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For Honor is a skill-based game. If you are a casual gamer, I can already tell you that this game is not for you. That being said, people who enjoy entries from the Dark Souls or Dynasty Warriors series will feel right at home, mostly because For Honor is a marriage of the two games that has a heavy focus on multiplayer content. The game currently has five game modes: Duel, Brawl, Dominion, Elimination, and Events, with Events not being playable in the Beta. Duel is a simple 1vs1 battle between you and a single opponent, Brawl is a 2vs2 battle, and Elimination is a 4vs4 battle where two members from opposing sides are pit against each other at different parts of the arena, and once one of them triumphs they can go and help an ally (or not, if you so choose to be a hindrance to your team for whatever reason). The flagship gamemode however is Dominion, where you and three allies along with a bunch of hilariously smaller minions attempt to control areas A, B, and C while an opposing team does the same thing. Each of these areas produce points by the second, and the first to reach a certain number will force the opposing team to “break” meaning that if those teammates are killed they cannot return to the battle unless the team rallies or the match ends (rallying isn’t very well described however, so unfortunately I cannot explain how this rallying mechanic works). Each of these game modes are pretty solid, but I fear that the maps might get stale without the ability to interact with the objects in the map.

The combat is the most innovative and exciting part about For Honor, as it makes fights with other players true tests of mind and reflex. In For Honor, all the warriors use a stance system. This means that by moving the Right Control Stick (on PC this is the mouse) you can change between a left, right, or upward stance. These will simultaneously protect you from attacks on this side of your character’s body and allow you to attack the opponent at the corresponding side with either a light or heavy attack. In order to block these strikes the opponent would have to change their stance to match where you are attacking. A few layers of complexity are added when you learn that by pressing the heavy attack button while blocking an opponent’s heavy attack, they will stumble and be left open. In addition, grabbing and knocking an enemy prone is an invaluable tool that can give wiser players an edge. This combat system is like nothing I have seen before and for the most part is fair and satisfying, especially when you get to brutally destroy an opponent with the “executions” the game gives each character in For Honor. These executions allow you the option to end your opponent with a bang by means of an action movie styled killing blow that often have something to do with removing the opponent’s head, preventing their allies from reviving them. This isn’t always a good choice however as performing an execution leaves you open to attack from nearby enemies. Regardless, it acts as the cherry on top after knowing you out-skilled someone in the martial art of virtual swordfighting.

The glaring issue with For Honor however is their approach of the story mode. Although we didn’t get to see the story mode at all in the Beta, I have a bad feeling about it. This is mainly because the big plot point for the story is of a “secret” faction of soldiers who seem to have no historical origin other than being “edgy knights who wear black armor” that are trying to turn the Vikings, Knights, and Samurai against each other. This concept makes no sense however because the three factions already have a reason to fight: to secure their share of scarce resources in their post-disaster world. The fourth faction was revealed to the public in a trailer following the perspective of someone who seems to be their leader, named Apollyon. Honestly when I hear the name “Apollyon” I think it’s either a botched spelling of Napoleon or as my friend said after watching the trailer, “A Polygon”. Needless to say it is difficult to take the threat of Apollyon seriously when you’re busy picturing a human-sized geometric shape trying to pick up an axe. But who knows, maybe the story will unfold beautifully and I’ll be dead wrong.

In its current state I rate For Honor an 8 out of 10, with innovative gameplay and average level design, but a story that is expected to be poorly crafted and a gameplay experience that is directed towards a somewhat smaller scope of consumers. Due to the fact that the full For Honor game is technically not out while writing this review, this score can be proven invalid if when For Honor is launched it is significantly better or worse than the Open Beta, but as I said in the beginning of the review it is unlikely much will change. That’s all folks!

 

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