Yesterday saw the release of one of my most anticipated games of 2017, For Honor. After first being showcased at E3 2015, I have been following this game avidly for the last few years, waiting for my chance to get my teeth in. Now that I have, I walk away feeling somewhat satisfied.
For Honor is a third-person hack and slash game that lets you pick a character from three main factions: Knights, Samurai, and Vikings. Each race has their own traits and their own feats, which are very similar to powerups in other games. If you decide to play as the Knights, then you are going for a balanced and well rounded style of play. The Samurai are quick on the offensive and have speed on their side but they can’t take much of a pounding and the Vikings are the tanks of the game, with high offence and defence, but slow movement speed.
The four different playable characters for each faction also offer a wide variety in gameplay. The Lawbringer for the Knights is a counter-attack orientated fighter who is slow but can deal some insane punishment (plus they are really, really angry) and The Warden uses a longsword to deal punishment and is probably the most balanced fighter of the game and great to start with. The Samurai did not really have many standout characters for me, but I enjoyed playing as the Bushido throughout the multiplayer matches, but for those of you looking for a challenge, I would recommend playing as The Shugoki: a brute of warrior that may be slow, but if he lands a hit then you really are going to feel it. Finally, we have the Vikings and even though the Raider really does need to take top spot, the warrior that impressed me most was The Valkyrie, who is an all-female warrior race that use a spear and shield to deal out punishment.
With each faction and with each warrior class, you are offered a different style of play and that is one of the things that For Honor does well. It offers variety so that no two battles are the same. In For Honor, running in and button mashing isn’t going to allow you to win fights – you really need to be aware of your own weaknesses and capitalise on your strengths.
When you first fire up For Honor, you can either jump into the story mode or you can dive in with their multiplayer feature which was heavily featured during their Alpha and Beta testing stages. There is also the option for a quick match or a custom match, but playing these types of games only really serves as practice as you do not gain EXP from them.
The story mode was one of the things I was most looking forward to when For Honor was released and although it is really short (I managed to finish it in just under 6 hours), it manages to tell an intriguing and brutal story of betrayal and revenge. Set in an alternative Middle Age universe where war is the only thing the people know, as you play through the various chapters with the different races, it becomes apparent that each one is connected with characters from the Knights campaign showing up in the Samurai campaign.
Each of the factions have their own characters with the main antagonist, Apollyon, showing up in all three factions. One of the characters that really stood out for me was Holden Cross, the Lawbringer, who knows what his duty requires of him but he starts to feel conflicted. I also enjoyed playing as The Valkyrie, who is trying to expunge a past transgression in the hope to find her way to Valhalla.
But For Honor isn’t just about grand sieges and open battlefields, in fact there is very little of that. In the story mode, you can take the fight on horseback, scout the battlefield, and even take part in a battle royal-esque mission when playing as the Samurai.
Even though the story mode is compelling, where For Honor really makes a display of itself is with the graphics and the gameplay.
Graphically, this game is absolutely beautiful. The developers really have taken the time to explore the architecture of the different races. When you are fighting the Samurai, the background really does feel like you have been sucked back into feudal Japan, and they have even included the rose blossom trees that we often see when we look at pictures from this period. The Viking villages look outstanding and the Knightly castles look exactly like something you could walk around today.
One of the biggest aspects of the title was the introduction of their combat system, The Art of Combat. What this requires you to do is using the right thumb stick, you must match their stance to block an attack and select a different stance to land a hit. It would be a fool’s errand to rush into each battle thinking that button mashing will help because it won’t. In order to succeed with For Honor, you must use a sense of strategy and tactics, absorbing not just the opponent in front of you, but also those to that aren’t your direct target as well.
This is something that For Honor does well. The heroes that you fight in the game are just awesome versions of the NPC characters that fill up the battlefield. Although they may seem easy to kill, if you are swarmed by them then they really can do some damage to your health.
One thing I did notice about the title, and is a huge step forward for Ubisoft, is that there doesn’t seem to be any issues with bugs or glitches. The game is incredibly smooth and I did not see any problems whilst playing.
Most of For Honor is centred around their online gameplay and this is done with a different twist. Instead of just throwing you into matches, the game sets out a narrative that there is a constant war and that fighting for your faction online lends to them gaining advantages within the game world. Some of the matches that are available are 4V4 Dominion, which is essentially just base capturing, duels, which is basically just one on-one, and Elimination, which is exactly like a deathmatch.
But as is always the case in the world of gaming, nothing is perfect and For Honor is no different. With multiplayer marred by poor server connections and in-game purchasing, coupled with a short story mode, some gamers may find the game repetitive once the story mode has been completed. Although it does come pretty close, it still falls slightly short of the perfect mark.
For Honor is an amazing experience for both casual and hardcore gamers and really does live up to the hype that has been following this game. I would most certainly recommend it to anybody who wants a new and fresh look at the fighting genre.
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An amazing look at Dark Ages combat with some visceral and brutal gameplay that is complimented by compelling characters, but it is not without its flaws.
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