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For Honor And How Technical Flaws Are Threatening One Of 2017's Best Games

Warrior woes.

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.

  1. wonkey-willy
    Since: Jan 2010

    hasnt peer to peer plagued call of duty for many a year?

    Comment posted on 15/03/2017 at 12:08.
    • Starman
      Since: Jul 2011

      It has, though that uses one player as the host, rather than this new system of ubi’s. That’s why “migrating host” is seen when someone (who happens to be the host) leaves.

      Comment posted on 15/03/2017 at 13:24.
  2. Avenger
    Since: Oct 2012

    Can’t really say anything to the article, any For Honour player knows all this and it’s a hassle. Would be great if it got dedicated servers, but that would likely require a rewrite of the online framework, so I don’t think that will happen any time soon.

    Comment posted on 15/03/2017 at 13:03.
  3. Starman
    Since: Jul 2011

    I’ve noticed they took the “players online” number from the multiplayer menu and hid it away in the profile section, then removed it altogether. It’s clear a lot have moved on to other games and they’d rather we didn’t see the numbers anymore.

    I still enjoy the game but have found the matchmaking & connectivity issues actually gotten far worse over time. It seems worse when playing high ranked players, who are getting too precious over their record.

    Ironically due to so many leaving the game maybe they could actually put up some dedicated servers for the remaining players without worrying about being over capacity?

    Comment posted on 15/03/2017 at 13:31.
  4. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    What Ubisoft has created is an excellent game model in so many aspects but I’ve almost had enough of it because of what you’ve highlighted, plus many other little niggly things. I do love it, the fighting model is superb and graphically it’s stunning but I’ll list below the reasons I see it currently failing.

    1) Matchmaking: They’ve made a terrible decision in getting players to choose their characters once the match has been made and the teams decided. This means if I want to choose one of my characters with poor gear, I’m up against some guys with multiple reputations and I’ve got no chance. You should have to choose your character before going into matchmaking so it can try and put you against players with similar gear score. In the current system, if I want to level up a new character, I can either play against AI (which gets boring fast) or accept the fact I’m going to get slaughtered.

    2) Network infrastructure: You’ve pretty much covered this, but there’s more. If after a match ends, most people leave, it says there are not enough players for the next match and kicks you back to the world map, disbanding your party in the process. Why? You’ve got to then go through the ballache of inviting your mates all over again. Why it doesn’t just continue into matchmaking is beyond me.

    3) The faction war: Utterly pointless until the final day of each turn. It was shown during the end of round 2 the other day that whoever is losing gets boosted in the final day, stupid mechanic. It’s also WAAAAAAAY to long. 5 rounds of 15 days is just stupidity. A season should last a month, tops. I can’t help thinking Ubisoft has done this to stop people trading the game in too soon.

    4) Lack of variety: You may think this inherent in the nature of the game, but there’s loads that could be done. I’ve thought up a few different game modes that could be awesome but all we’ve got in the game is multiple varieties of kill the opposition, or Dominion, which to be fair is very good. How about taking from Overwatch and having to escort or attack a battering ram through a battlefield? How about a capture the flag style mode where you’ve got to pick up a big barrel of supplies and get it back to your base? How about something like Battlefield Conquest? So much more could be done.

    5) Events: So far, in more than a month since release, we’ve had one event and it was boring. As a community complete so many games of Dominion. Boring. This could really be fleshed out, alternating between events for the different factions on a weekly basis with events that require attacking or defending against the other factions in different ways.

    6) Horde mode: The game can handle 8 players, so how about some kind of 8 player against AI horde mode, where the longer you hold off your fort against attacking AI, the better the rewards you get?

    OK I think I’ve covered most of what was on my mind, sorry for the long-ass post! Thing is, there’s so much to love about the game I feel more disappointed about these things than I would for most other games. After season 1 is finished, I’ll have the platinum and will likely trade it in. Shame, because without these problems I’d probably hold onto it and play it to death for months. Here’s hoping they sort it all out, expand and improve the experience before I get rid of it. If not, here’s hoping for For Honor 2!

    Comment posted on 15/03/2017 at 15:02.
  5. Crazy_Del
    Since: Jul 2009

    Fantastic article Jim and well said Tony…. well said. I have to agree absolutely everything about it.
    This game is the most fun I have ever had since The Last of Us Multiplayer. The matchmaking issues needs to be sorted and I am in the same boat with Tony as soon as the season ends and I’ll recieve the Platinum I am trading this game right away! I really want to keep it as it can be my go to Multiplayer fix for an hour or so.
    What Ubi really needs to do is sort out the ranking system for example. .. Teamdeath match Rank 0-20 only (no Prestige) that way I feel better and we’ll balanced to using new fighters that I may wish to rank up for the gear reason aswell as customisations. But sadly I’m forced to fight Prestige 5 with 108 gear 3x while I’m only gear 16 or so. They need to find a way to balance out for everyone. Tony and I would often feel bad using a new fighter when they don’t match the gear and we could easily lose the match. It is really stupid as you cannot experience it with that particularly fighter of your own choosen.
    They really need to start penalising players for quitting and Roynaldo has also tweeted us the link that Ubi is now already started that! Far too many players AFK with Bots!
    I have enjoyed playing this game even more enjoyable with a fantastic team with Tony and Roy over the past and still continue to play til the end of this 1st Season.
    If they could add more modes like Tony mentioned I can see myself holding on a little bit longer but they really need to sort out the ranking balance system immediately as it is no fun using the same fighter that I am prestige 5 and working on the 108 gear!

    I still wonder what the Season Pass holds?!?!? What is in it?

    Comment posted on 15/03/2017 at 16:09.
    • Tony Cawley
      Pint! Pint!
      Since: Feb 2009

      Season pass = some champion status time, executions, emotes, customisation items. Nothing worth the money. When they add new fighters I believe you get access to them a week or two early.

      Comment posted on 15/03/2017 at 16:16.
      • Crazy_Del
        Since: Jul 2009

        Are they having a laugh?!?! No new maps?

        Comment posted on 15/03/2017 at 17:03.
    • Starman
      Since: Jul 2011

      Maps and modes will be free. And to clarify what tony said, new characters are free for season pass holders, other players will need to buy them individually with the ingame currency. They’ll obviously be quite expensive.

      Comment posted on 15/03/2017 at 17:28.
      • Tony Cawley
        Pint! Pint!
        Since: Feb 2009

        I believe the new heroes will work in the same way as the existing heroes in that you can still use them without buying them, you just can’t customise them or level them up.

        Comment posted on 15/03/2017 at 18:15.
For Honor
  • Developer:Ubisoft Montreal
  • Publisher:Ubisoft
  • Platforms:PS4, XB1, PC
  • Release Date:TBA

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