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Review

For Honor Review

Live by the sword.

For a publisher often harangued for its similar feeling open world games and receding originality, Ubisoft has certainly taken a punt with For Honor. Dropped right in the centre of the first busy launch period of 2017, it’s a completely fresh take on the multiplayer action genre that will take many by surprise. At the same time there’s a sense of familiarity; Ubisoft Montreal has built a collage here, cherry picking a variety of elements across the gaming spectrum. The end result is far from perfect, but establishes a strong foundation for the developer to work upon.

Set in brutal fantasy world that romanticizes history’s greatest warriors, players are thrown headfirst into a three-way conflict. Knights, Vikings, and Samurai continually wage war in a never-ending battle for supremacy, where legacies are written in blood. With its fantastic imagery and designs, For Honor succeeds in immersing you in a world of constant strife and heroic fighters. There isn’t much depth to it, however, which can be seen as a double-edged sword. On one hand, players aren’t constantly wading through laborious exposition, yet there are those who love to sink their teeth into a game’s lore will be left wanting.

Story Mode is where most will begin their foray into what can be a surprisingly complex and punishing multiplayer game. With three chapters and eighteen missions, the campaign serves as an extended tutorial, allowing you to refine your combat skills before seeking out human opponents. It does a pretty good job of covering the basics though advanced tips and tricks are off the table.

While some missions are effectively arenas full of bots, there is the occasional set piece with cutscenes used to fill the gaps. The dialogue between characters is pretty awful, though Apollyon (warlord of the Blackstone Legion) passes as a decent narrator. With collectibles to find and skills to unlock, the campaign has an unexpected amount of replay value, but isn’t For Honor’s main focus. Most of your time will be spent online, testing your mettle against other warriors from around the world.

One-on-one combat is the game’s bread and butter, forming the backbone to which everything else latches onto. Imagine a fighting game like Tekken or Mortal Kombat, but with full three-dimensional movement. Though few will remember it, the original Bushido Blade is highly comparable, though there are also parallels with the Souls games and, more recently, Nioh.

When bearing down on an opponent, a three-sided icon will appear in the game’s UI, denoting their stance (either up, left, or right). If the active part of the icon is white then they are currently guarding in that direction, changing to red when they attack. Being able to react and outsmart your enemy is the very essence of combat. Through a combination of attacks, blocks, dodges, parries, and stuns, you’ll whittle down their health while expending stamina.

Each of the game’s twelve current heroes have their own particular quirks, adding an impressive amount of depth to this system. The Nobushi, for example, excels in evading her quarry while poking them with poisonous attacks. Meanwhile, heroes such as the Warlord and Conqueror, can create a shield wall, blocking all incoming attacks. Over time you’ll begin to learn their various combos and powers as you would with, say, Ken and Ryu from Street Fighter. The fighting game comparison is certainly justified.

Duels show For Honor at its purest. As soon as more players are thrown into the mix, things get a little messier. In situations where you are facing two or more warriors, the Revenge mechanic quickly comes into play. Repel them for long enough and you’ll be able to enter an empowered state, helping to level the playing field somewhat. It’s a smart mechanic on paper but does little to nullify the way you can outnumber enemies in For Honor’s larger eight-player matches. A group of four can easily roam the map, ambushing players one by one. The time it takes to respawn means that these hunting parties are often free to single out their opponents unchallenged. Getting kettled by the other team is akin to finding yourself in a human pinball machine, being bounced around until one of your attackers delivers the final blow.

At its worst, For Honor can be massively frustrating, though communication, teamwork, and a bit of luck can get you out of just any situation. It’s one of those games that can leave you seething after a crushing defeat or jubilant upon a hard-fought victory.

With four game modes at launch, only one of these is objective-based. Domination is your typical landgrab affair as two teams of four battle over three control points. Despite being the scrappiest way of playing For Honor, this will no doubt be the most popular as it allows you to get stuck in for an entire battle instead of sparring for a few rounds.

Experience earned from matches will unlock new cosmetics for each hero (they all level up independently). Loot can also be scavenged, equipped, and upgraded to yield small stat bonus such as throw distance and debuff duration. Overall, there’s a decent amount of customisation that Ubisoft has promised to expand upon in future.

Alongside eight additional warriors, the studio plans to release free maps while continuing to update For Honor’s Faction War. This cross-platform meta game allows players to distribute points won in battle, helping their chosen side in the constant battle over territory. Every six hours the world map continues to change as frontlines are pushed and certain landmarks change colour. It’s a fun distraction at first, but ultimately adds little of consequence until until Ubisoft rolls out one of its upcoming events.

What’s Good:

  • Uniquely brilliant combat
  • Each hero manages to feel different
  • Looks amazing
  • Ample room to expand

What’s Bad:

  • The typically shaky servers at launch
  • More game modes wouldn’t go amiss

For Honor joins Rainbow Six Siege, Overwatch, and Destiny, as a game that is destined to grow over time. Right now it offers a strong core experience, but will ultimately be defined by months of rebalancing and a steady flow of new content. Having such a long tail will make For Honor even more enticing further down the line as it continues to snowball. That said, it’s refreshing and addictive enough at present to lure in anyone looking for a multiplayer game that defies the norm.

Score: 8/10

Version Tested: PlayStation 4 

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14 Comments
  1. Crazy_Del
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Great read a Jim.
    I never played Rainbow 6, The Division and Overwatch as I wasn’t a big fan of really short campaign and online only. I avoided Titanfall (the first one) for online only and now Titanfall 2 was much better…. but this is Ubi and been like that since The Division or The Crew whichever came out first for online only.
    I will pick this copy but I hope that the servers will be great and that there are folks playing this…. (Look at Evolve)
    I know it’s nothing like that at all but that is how I feel when I know it’s an online only game. There will be unscheduled maintenance and maybe interrupting servers. That only ruined The Crew for me.

    Comment posted on 17/02/2017 at 14:28.
    • Jim Hargreaves
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      Compared to Evolve, it definitely looks as though it has more staying power. 12 heroes and a decent cluster of maps goes a long way.

      Comment posted on 17/02/2017 at 17:07.
      • Crazy_Del
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        I hope so. Need to wait a week for me to pick up a copy and dive into it next weekend

        Comment posted on 17/02/2017 at 17:37.
      • Stefan L
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        Evolve was hampered by its unconventional asymmetrical multiplayer and the bad taste left from its DLC plans. DLC for For Honor is effectively free, and it’s so much easier to figure out how the game works.

        Comment posted on 17/02/2017 at 18:20.
  2. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Good review, I agree with pretty much everything. The game can feel very unfair when it’s anything but a one v one situation, though I have managed to win a couple of fights where I was outnumbered through use of revenge mode.

    The fighting is certainly unique, I have to say I’m enjoying the game a lot more than I thought I would though I’m not a fan of the steel (the in game currency). You get very little in comparison to how much things cost, and if course you can buy it for real cash, but why would I when I’ve spent £50 on the game already?

    Overall I’m very happy with it and can see me sticking with it for quite some time.

    Comment posted on 17/02/2017 at 15:00.
    • Crazy_Del
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Glad to hear looks like we got another MP gaming sesh aswell ^^

      Comment posted on 17/02/2017 at 15:52.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      I saw a quite simply exceptional and epic fight with one guy against two, pulling off the most ridiculous counters and blocks, defeating one, pulling Revenge, just as another guy ran in, killed the second and then the third. It was a bit special…

      Comment posted on 17/02/2017 at 16:00.
      • Tony Cawley
        Pint! Pint!
        Since: Feb 2009

        If you press triangle ⛛ for revenge just as someone is doing an attack you knock them down so you can get lucky in a 1 v 2 by going revenge just as they’re both attacking and put them both on their arse. You can then quite easily kill one of them straight off leaving it 1 v 1. Very clever mechanics and makes you feel like a proper bad ass when you pull it off.

        Comment posted on 17/02/2017 at 16:15.
    • Jim Hargreaves
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      Get gangbanged is so very frustrating but it’s a viable tactic. In a way it helps level the playing field if two or more players attack someone who would normally thrash either of them one-on-one.

      Revenge kills are immensely satisfying though hard to pull off if cornered.

      Comment posted on 17/02/2017 at 17:10.
  3. Nate
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    I wanted to love this game but the beta really put me off. I just found the combat clunky, and I struggled to get past the roaming groups that had already formed online, battling against the single targeting system. I’ll keep an eye on it going forward, but it needs some tweaking in my opinion to reduce the frustration factor.

    Comment posted on 17/02/2017 at 16:16.
    • Tony Cawley
      Pint! Pint!
      Since: Feb 2009

      It can feel a bit like that but once you get the hang of it, it’s all good. The combat system is very much about defending and waiting for an opening to attack.

      Comment posted on 17/02/2017 at 16:53.
    • Jim Hargreaves
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      There’s a learning curve to tackle before you can start feeling comfortable with the flow of combat.

      Your best bet is to select an “Easy” rated hero and learn all their combos. It’s way easier than memorising fighting game movesets.

      Comment posted on 17/02/2017 at 17:11.
      • aerobes
        Member
        Since: Aug 2009

        I read your review with huge interest.

        I love, love, love siege so anything ubisoft related is getting maximum attention from me recently and since you finalised your review with a point towards for honour, I’m very tempted.

        A price drop… and I’m in.

        Comment posted on 19/02/2017 at 01:32.
  4. Severn2j
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    I’m quite enjoying the story mode, which I didn’t think I would, it is basically a long tutorial for the MP, but is fun anyway..

    Played my first MP game last night (Dominion) and we won! I’ve also just managed to get the hang of parrying, so feeling pretty badass atm :)

    Comment posted on 18/02/2017 at 10:17.

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