Choose your side in Ubisoft’s For Honor
Ubisoft has never been one to shy away creating new IPs or experimenting with new ideas, and For Honor exemplifies that. This brand new action fighting game features epic online battles pitting Vikings, Samurai, and Knights against one another. You’ll get to choose your side and participate in an innovation Faction War mode where control of a large continent is at stake.
Faction wars take place over multiple seasons lasting ten weeks each. There are some great rewards you can receive if you faction performs well, giving you incentive to play often and improve your skills. If you’re looking for an exhilerating, fresh gaming experience to sink your teeth into, For Honor might just be the game for you.
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: Action, Fighting
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M (Mature, 17+)
A war for the sake of war
For Honor‘s opening sets the stage for this intriguing, action-packed universe. Knights, Vikings, and Samurai have been plunged into millennium-long war, despite all sides having long forgotten why they were at odds in the first place.
Over the course of an 8-hour campaign, playable alone or cooperatively with a friend, you’ll take control of legendary warriors on each side during defining moments leading up to the war. The presentation and staging of the campaign is similar to that of Ryse: Son of Rome, an early Xbox One game also featuring historical warriors engaged in large-scale battles.
Multiplayer was always going to be the focus of For Honor, but I was happily surprised to find the campaign a worthy addition. In fact, it’s advisable to play the campaign first since it serves as an excellent tutorial introducing you to the hero classes and gameplay. There’s a lot to learn, and the campaign guides you every step of the way.
Through training sessions and combat practice you’ll get a handle on For Honor‘s unique “Art of Battle” combat mechanics. Detailed videos are also available to help reinforce learned concepts and discover new skills. Through sampling each hero you’ll also gain insight into their strengths/weaknesses, which helps you decide who to play as in the online portion.
While the campaign doesn’t compare to recent story-centric masterpieces like Dishonored 2 or Horizon Zero Dawn, it’s certainly worth your time and rounds out the offering.
For Honor’s “The Art of Battle”
What really makes For Honor shine though is its extraordinary combat system. It’s deep and demanding, you could really spend hours pouring over all its subtleties. At its core, it’s a rock/paper/scissors game where you move the right analog stick to strike or guard.
You’re able to strike high, left, or right, depending on where you hold the stick, and your goal is to attack where you opponent’s guard is not. Do this this, it’s necessary to keep a close eye on your enemy’s stance and counter them effectively.
Many hack ‘n’ slash games rely on button mashing, but here you’ll need to attack carefully and purposefully when the timing’s right. Layered on top of your fast, light attacks and slow, strong attacks are move advanced moves to give you the edge in battle. You can parry and counterattack, dodge roll and flank, break your enemy’s guard, or throw them at close range.
Furthermore, all 12 playable heroes (4 for each faction) have their style of attack and combos, adding a mind-boggling level of gameplay depth. I feel like I’ve only really scratched the surface of the combos and chaining possibilities, even after dozens of hours of game time.
The mythology and gameplay come together so well largely because of the incredible artistic direction and advanced technology behind the game. The modeling and texture work are superb, but it’s the fluid animations that really come out on top. You’ll want to keep your finger close to the capture button, as this is a game ripe for recording gameplay videos and screenshots.
Compete in online battles
Given the game’s multiplayer approach, I was expecting For Honor to contain many, varied, and novel online modes. Unfortunately that’s not the case. The game offers two variations of standard 4-vs-4 death match, a Dominion mode where you must capture control points (also 4-vs-4), and two head-to-head types: Brawl (2-vs-2), and Duel 1-vs-1).
Despite the modes being very ordinary, the matches themselves are generally quite thrilling. Maps are very well designed with interesting layout, lots of verticality, and interactive elements waiting for you to discover. There are generally large, central war zones always hotly contested, and smaller peripheral capture points ripe for intense one-on-one showdowns.
After matches you’ll receive loot depending on your performance, generally in the form of in-game currency, stat-boosting equipment, and cosmetic items to personalize your hero. There’s a lot of interesting items to tinker around with, and the option to buy packs and fast-track is available through microtransactions.
Last but certainly not least, For Honor includes a metagame called Faction War. All the online battles you participate in are actually one microcosm of the larger faction war. Based on your performance you’ll receive “War Assets” that you can deploy to defend owned territories, or attack enemy-controlled ones. Every six hours the game will tally the war assets and update the map accordingly.
Watching the different zones change regularly is a lot of fun, and directly contributing to your faction’s successes feels rewarding. Every two weeks a round is finished, and you’ll receive rewards reflective of your faction’s performance. After five rounds (10 weeks), the season is finish, and a new one begins.
Faction War is a nice addition, encouraging replay and checking back often. Contracts and daily assignments also extend the game’s life by giving you challenges to complete in exchange for rewards. Between completing contracts, contributing to your faction, and outfitting your hero, there is lots of meat around the bone for you to chew on.
For Honor boasts innovative and engaging gameplay, combined with beautiful graphics and animation. It’s an impressive technical achievement sure to please fans looking for deep online competition and a satisfying single-player campaign. The Faction War metagame is an interesting way to add importance to all online matches and will help to promote long-term engagement among the community. The promise of six additional heroes, along with new maps, modes and gear, should only extend the replay of this game even further. For Honor is a fantastic start to what I hope is a new staple in the Ubisoft franchise lineup.
+ An original universe
+ A rich fighting system
+ Superb graphics and animations
+ Well-designed maps
+ Solo mode is better than expected
– Occasional server issues
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5