It’s 8PM, Saturday night and after a week-long hiatus, I’m dipping back into For Honor. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to all week, having been sandwiched between Horizon Zero Dawn, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Ghost Recon Wildlands. They are all wondrously gigantic video games, but I still need to get my regular competitive multiplayer fix. That 8PM slot – although I’ve no evidence to prove it – is what I consider prime time for a spot of online gaming, at least in terms of server population.
As outlined in our review, I think For Honor is a superb multiplayer experience. Inspired by traditional fighting games, it manages to bring tense, brutal melee fights to life with its incredible combat systems. Sure, there’s room for improvement, but that single achievement on its own makes For Honor one of the most intriguing releases of 2017. In some ways, I’d even say it’s groundbreaking.
That said, Ubisoft’s first big launch of the year is currently plagued with issues that have become increasingly harder to overlook. With the dust having settled, several key flaws have jutted to the surface, threatening the game’s long-term appeal.
First up we have Ubisoft Montreal’s nuanced approach to matchmaking. Instead of dedicated servers or assigning a host, For Honor uses a peer-to-peer system in which all players are connected to one another. According to the developer, this creates a level playing field with no host advantage and a robust, more stable link between all combatants.
On paper it all sounds fine and dandy. In practice, however, I’ve struggled to identify any major benefits. When players leave a match – either through ragequitting or simply a dodgy connection – the game will stop for several seconds to re-establish the connection. In doing so, it also rewinds the action which can be a real ballache, especially when a recently-slain opponent happens to spring back to life.
Another side effect is that this can crash the match completely, forcing everyone to exit back to the menu. I’ve been denied at least a dozen victories due to enemy teams quitting moments before a match ends, causing a fatal matchmaking error.
Connecting to games can be just as bad. After queuing, selecting a hero, and sitting through the pre-game setup, there’s nothing worse than losing connection just seconds into a game. Each time this happens I’m losing 4-5 minutes of my precious gaming time. There have also been plenty of occasions where I successfully join a match only to find myself just moments from defeat, going up against a team many, many ranks higher than me.
This is what worries me most, however. In opting for such unconventional networking architecture, it sounds as though it’s too late for Ubisoft to go back. I admit, I’m no expert, but swapping to dedicated servers or player hosts will take more than the flip of a switch. There must, however, be ways to improve this system.
Other, smaller dents are also starting to show. For Honor’s Faction War metagame closed out its first round with the Vikings standing triumphant. However, there was no breakdown of number or any kind of digestible data to indicate how they’d won. At present, Faction War feels far too vague and superfluous with no positive impact on the overall experience.
It’s sounds strange, but Ubisoft is still in a relatively good spot with For Honor. The only issues raised amongst critics and the community are with secondary or tertiary elements that can hopefully be fixed over time. The actual game design, the feel and flow of each hero, is refreshingly brilliant. Even so, if these problems continue to persist without being remedied then we could see warriors prematurely hang up their weapons.
- Developer:Ubisoft Montreal
- Platforms:PS4, XB1, PC
- Release Date:TBA