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For Honor Review

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Ubisoft has a history of showcasing exciting new games at E3 that don’t live up to their hype upon release. But this time, I can safely say that For Honor is the unique big budget title that delivers, to a certain extent. For Honor is set during a fantasy medieval period where after a natural catastrophe, a bloodthirsty warlord named Apollyon decides to create an age of war between the people of the three prominent factions – Knights, Vikings and Samurai.

To give shape to this setting, For Honor features a Story Mode that is divided into three chapters, each focusing on a single faction. Each chapter contains 6 missions which are quite brief, linear and are filled with expositional narration. While this may be a problem in most games, it works brilliantly in the case of For Honor. This is probably because For Honor is a multiplayer focused game and the campaign is primarily included to help train the player before he decides to face other players. Sure, the game starts you off with a brief tutorial to help you get the hang of the game mechanics, but with the kind of diversity the game has with its playable Heroes, the inclusion of a Story Mode makes all that much sense.

While the story of For Honor is quite clichéd and predictable, it’s undoubtedly a good one, and is brought to life by some brilliant voice acting. Each chapter of the story puts you in the shoes of multiple heroes from the faction, and regularly provides tips on how to make the most of that hero. The missions themselves are pretty straight forward, and will have you either killing enemies along your way to a particular objective, holding down a particular area for wave defense, or fighting a boss battle at the end of each chapter. All these missions are brought together by tons of cutscenes, which are not only well voice acted, but also showcase some of the best fight choreography seen in video games. Occasionally, the game also breaks from its predictable gameplay and has you facing unique scenarios like chasing an enemy on a horse while dodging environments. While such moments are quite short in number, they do bring a welcome change and help rejuvenate the campaign.

Whether or not you end up liking this linear campaign, there’s a good chance you’ll end up playing it till the end, thanks to the amazing visuals of the game. What can be considered as one of the best optimized games in recent history, For Honor looks absolutely gorgeous and plays at a steady framerate. Whether it be the characters, the environments or the particle effects, the graphics help bring together a sense of realism and immersion to the game. Even when it comes to gameplay, whether or not you’re familiar with its particular style, For Honor will keep you hooked, thanks to its deeply layered yet simple combat system.

For Honor’s combat system is all melee, which combines mainly three things – attack, block and dodge. Once you lock upon an enemy, you can perform any of these actions in one of the three directions – top, left or right. While this seems simple, it can translate to some fast paced and intense combat scenarios, both in campaign and multiplayer; especially when facing multiple enemies. Having to dodge incoming multiple attacks from multiple directions and having to quickly switch your target to take down anyone who could be vulnerable makes the gameplay intense and that much fun. However, if you’re playing the game on PC, then I’d recommend using a controller as it makes the gameplay more accessible and the experience smoother.

Playing the Story Mode to completion definitely helps prepare you for the Multiplayer, where the game’s primary focus and fun lies. While the campaign doesn’t familiarize you with all 4 heroes of each faction, it does so with most of them, specifically with the 3 initially unlocked heroes which makes diving into the multiplayer all that convenient. Upon its first launch, the game asks you to choose from a particular faction, which while doesn’t tie you to playing heroes only from that faction, plays a role in the multiplayer’s Faction Wars.

Upon completing any multiplayer match, you are rewarded with War Assets based on the match’s outcome and player performance, which can then be deployed to help defend or conquer a particular territory. Successfully helping your faction gain ground control in an entire season results in you earning rewards and impacts the background story of the next season.

While this entire system on paper feels quite interesting, practically in-game feels simply boring and a bit of a grind. For Honor features 5 multiplayer modes – 1v1 Duel, 2v2 Brawl, 4v4 Skirmish, 4v4 Elimination and 4v4 Dominion. While all these games modes are quite enjoyable in their own way, the fun factor gets diminished by the lack of dedicated servers. Host migration happens occasionally, especially in 4v4 battles, and that results in interrupted gameplay or instant disconnection. Having to play multiplayer matches with this issue and earning War Assets just to help your faction win in each season eventually becomes like a grind and questions the inclusion of the entire Faction Wars.

For Honor has been marketed till now as the war between the Knights, Vikings and Samurai and the lack of a 1v1v1 mode which would have made for a unique and fun game mode makes me wonder if that would have worked better for deciding the winner of Faction Wars in each season. That being said, the multiplayer is still fun, and despite the occasional hiccups due to P2P servers, I found myself deeply invested in the game. But amongst all game modes, 1v1 Duel and 4v4 Elimination are the ones that delivered the most intense matches and that’s where I spent my most time playing the game.

Another area where For Honor’s strengths lie is in its customization. With a roster of 12 heroes to play from, each hero can be customized to great depths including weapons and armor, in addition to cosmetic itmes. To unlock the 9 locked heroes requires Steel, currency which can be earned by completing multiplayer matches, daily and weekly contracts, and the campaign. Thankfully, you get 6000 Steel just for beating the tutorial and campaign alone, and since each hero requires only 500 Steel to be unlocked, you’re left with enough Steel to mess around with some of the customization options.

The downside to all this, however, is that you can purchase Steel for real money, and in turn not only unlock amazing looking cosmetic gear for your hero, but also unlock high level weapons and armor which effects your overall gear rank. Furthermore, it is also possible to unlock all abilities for each hero via the same method, which just screams a pay-to-win game design; something which makes me earning all that Steel and gear worthless when I see a new player sitting at a higher gear rank than me. Of course, a lot of the winning has to do with how good you are with your combat, but with gear level affecting how much damage your hero takes, or how quickly your hero can regenerate stamina, this kind of a game design negates anything right For Honor tries to achieve with its multiplayer.

For Honor has a high learning curve because each hero plays differently. Mastering each of the 12 heroes can take time, and depending on your patience level can be either satisfying or frustrating. Sure, there are enough tutorial videos in-game to guide you, but without enough practice against bots or other players, they can be initially difficult to control.  Disappointingly, even if you do find this kind of gameplay satisfying, the lack of enough games modes and maps can make the game feel repetitive and tiring after a few hours, which leads to the question of whether or not For Honor has the potential to last as a successful multiplayer game in the long run.

For Honor is truly a unique game, one that delivers sword combat in a multiplayer mode that hasn’t been this accessible and fun before. Its story mode is well made and delivers 6 hours of good entertainment. With a diverse roster of heroes which are customizable to great lengths, and stunning graphics, For Honor stands out as a multiplayer game that must be given a try by every gamer. But the inclusion of its pay-to-win microtransactions, lack of game modes, small collection of maps, and a lack of dedicated servers bring down everything For Honor tries to get right, making it a game hard for me to recommend.

 

STRENGTHS
Story Mode
Gorgeous Visuals
Deeply Layered Melee Combat Mechanics
Diverse Roster of Heroes

 

WEAKNESSES
No Dedicated Servers
Pay-to-Win Microtransactions
Lack of Enough Multiplayer Game Modes
Not Enough Multiplayer Maps

 

OVERALL 7.0

Developer:
Ubisoft Montreal
Genre:
Action/Fighting
Rating:
3/5
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