Game – For Honor
Developer – Ubisoft Montreal
System Reviewed On – Xbox One
Available On – Xbox One, PS4, PC
So, For Honor just came out a couple days ago. I got the chance to play a lot of the open beta just prior to release and some official release game play. I also played the first four singleplayer missions so I’ll give my first impressions on that as well.
For Honor presents itself as a perpetual war freeze-frame from around the 11th Century. Apparently, a cataclysmic event has depleted the world of many of its resources, including water, so war rages in this universe for a thousand years between mainly three warring factions. The Vikings of Valkenheim, the Knights of Ashfeld, and the Samurai of the Myre. Each faction has its own play style and varied characters to choose from. Right off the bat, you’re supposed to choose sides. This doesn’t affect gameplay, but allows you to participate in an interesting map-based resource war after every multiplayer match. I, of course, chose the Vikings who happen to be winning the faction war at the moment, so go Vikings!
In the starting tutorial, you’ll notice how the game looks. The animations are some of the most fluid I’ve ever seen, and the main characters are rendered and animated so well they look genuinely alive. Swinging hair, fur armor, chains and lockets, everything is animated so realistically it blows me away. Just jogging around with your character gives you a sense of weight and muscle. The environments you fight in are also pretty stunning with the Vikings’ snowy environment, the swampland of the Mire, and the geyser-filled forests of Ashfeld. The areas you fight in are varied, interesting, functional, and overall very pretty.
Let me start off by saying that I love For Honor. I think it’s a pretty solid game. It’s not perfect by any means, and has somewhat of a barrier to entry, but once past that it’s going to be all in for many players. The gameplay is really the main draw. The fighting system is both complex and simplified and easy to understand. You’re given a lot of combat options and they all work in conjunction with each other. Mainly, there’s light attacks, heavy attacks, blocking, dodging, guard breaks, and throws. The game presents a unique combat style, with stance-changing using the right stick or mouse movement. This affects what direction you’re guarding from and what direction you’re attempting to attack. The environment plays a big part in this game, too, as spikes or sheer drops can end a fight almost instantly if you catch your opponent off-guard. You’ll feel scummy, I’m sure, but it’s still so satisfying you’ll want to attempt it as much as you can. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s your main goal to work around those to overtake your opponents.
So, the gameplay is solid, but what about the story? Well, if you couldn’t tell from the backstory I gave, the backdrop is pretty ham-fisted with little effort to flesh out the motivations and relative history of each faction. However, the story mode seems to do an alright job providing more context. That being said, it isn’t great. The story mode is basically like playing multiplayer against AI in different scenarios and levels. I enjoy it, but only because I also just enjoy the combat system. The voice acting is sub-par, but I think that’s mostly because of the cheesy dialogue. Actually, the voice acting made me laugh in a good few places. I’m not sure how hard it is to tell an interesting engaging story off the premise of “Centuries Long War Between Vikings, Knights, and Samurai,” but I’m sure they could have tried a bit harder. If anything, the single player provides a way to learn the basics of most of the characters before you dive head-first into the multiplayer.
And that’s just the thing. Each character is so different from their combos to their unique abilities that it does take some sitting down and dedicating some time to each to figure out how to play them. In my time playing, I’d say I only “mastered” three characters; the Viking Raider and the Knights’ Warden and Lawbringer. The game also encourages you to stick with one or two characters at a time because of all the customization options you get from leveling them up. You can customize helmets, shoulder pads, chest pieces, leggings, and even different parts of your weapon with different bonuses and drawbacks for each.
So, my main verdict on For Honor is that it’s an alright story with incredible gameplay, however, I can tell it isn’t for everybody. You’ll either love the combat system or hate it. If you’re a fan of Dark Souls or other medieval fighting games, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it for the raw difficulty of a fighting experience, but if you’re new to this kind of thing, I recommend renting it or playing it at a friend’s place before you decide if you want to purchase it. Personally, I’m going to wait until the game drops below full price to purchase it on account that the singleplayer doesn’t really impress me, and I don’t like paying full price for primarily multiplayer experiences.
From what I’ve seen so far, I’d give For Honor an 8/10. Once I see the rest of the story and it impresses me, I’d be willing to bump that up to an eight or nine. So, definitely check out For Honor and let me know what you think of it!