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Opinion

How Season 3 Cements For Honor As The Best Fighting Game Of 2017

Grudge & Glory

With the recent launch of Season 3, For Honor has sunk its hooks in me once again. Although some critics enjoy painting Ubisoft to be some kind of soulless machine, adopting unfavourable business models and churning out template sequels, here is a game that’s bold, unique, and constantly evolving.

Let’s get the bad news out the of the way first: despite coming a long way since its February launch, For Honor has yet to rid itself of stability issues – at least when it comes to the bigger, 4v4 game modes. As we’ve explained at length before, the game’s online infrastructure means that ragequitters and those with a patchy connection have a chance of crashing the session upon their exit. These instances are far less common than they were before and the team at Ubisoft Montreal have confirmed that dedicated servers are incoming. It’s still not great, but it will be in the long run.

Now, onto the good stuff. Dubbed “Grudge & Glory” Season 3 brings two new heroes into the fold as well as two maps, a new tier of equipment and other bonus features. It’s a hearty update to say the least and one that’s absolutely free to all players. Of course, those who don’t own the season pass will need to spend Steel to unlock the Highlander and Gladiator individually.

If you’ve seen but a glimpse of either warrior, you’ll see just how badass they are. As with the Shinobi and Centurion, Ubisoft Montreal has crafted a pair of heroes that impact the game significantly. Their movesets and the way they perform in combat adds an extra layer of diversity without over complicating the current game mix.

Quick and versatile, the Gladiator has already become a new favourite among assassin players. With a trident in one hand and a buckler in the other, he or she can parry, deflect and dodge around their opponent, unleashing a flurry of stuns, throws and regular attacks. The Gladiator’s signature is their ability to skewer enemies for a brief few seconds. In that time players can either throw their target or leave the trident to linger, ripping some serious bleed damage. Being able to cancel the skewer into another combo underlines just how deadly this newcomer is.

Not so easily learned is the Highlander. This guy is as massive as he is savage, his claymore making the Warden’s sword look like a letter opener. Aside from his hulking stature, what sets the Highlander apart is his second stance, enabling an enhanced suite of attack options. Any charged heavy attack in this stance is unblockable and his throw automatically tosses an enemy to the floor. The downside to this is the removal of most defensive actions while locked in this stance, leaving him open to attack. He’s a strange hero to play and one that will take skill and patience to learn. Master those basic concepts and combos, however, and he can cleave through enemies with shocking efficiency.

With 16 heroes now in play, it’s interesting to see how they counter and complement one another. That said, there is still one who has a seemingly unfair advantage over the rest. The Centurion, with his devastating ground attacks and punishing jabs is still the bully in this virtual playground. Even in the hands of intermediate players he can push most character around with relative ease, draining both their stamina and health with a repetitive combo of hits. Although it would make him less unique, stripping away one of his moves (or at least reworking them) could help balance the playing field.

With the two new maps there isn’t a whole lot to say. Duels and Brawls don’t really benefit, though fans of the bigger 4v4 game types will appreciate the change of scenery. One of the maps, a derelict castle known as The Sentinel, stands out from the current rotation mainly thanks to its three ballistas that players can man to shoot one another.

Still, some effort has clearly gone into making these battlegrounds, much more than the backdrops of other, more traditional fighting games. That, for me, continues to be For Honor’s biggest hook – the way it stands out within one of gaming’s oldest genres. Although purists may look down on Ubisoft’s new IP, it has everything a fighting game should, from a diverse array of characters down to the myriad mind games players can use when going at it one-on-one. It has also changed the way I feel about spectating competitive games and esports, having tuned in for the recent championship finals and actually enjoyed it.

As much as I’m enjoying my time with For Honor, the best is truly yet to come. Rounding out its first year of free updates, Season 4 sounds like a serious game changer. While dedicated servers will be the order of the day, the devs have also promised a new 4v4 game mode and an extensive gallery of new equipment and customisation options for each hero.

Again, going back to what was previously said, Ubisoft is making good on their new approach to online games. Although far from altruistic, the free content model is definitely keeping players engaged the same way they have been with Rainbow Six Siege. For most fans, this doesn’t even matter. For them, it’s the simple of thrill of combat, something For Honor nails so well and something that will be its legacy long after the last new skin or bonus map have been released.

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3 Comments
  1. Starman
    Member
    Since: Jul 2011

    Seeing it still has stability issues is disappointing. I’ll happily rebuy it if or when they are fixed. For me Injustice 2 is the best fighter this year.

    Comment posted on 11/09/2017 at 20:47.
  2. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    When it was good, For Honour was very very good. Me, Roy and Del had some amazing late night sessions on it and for the most part, thoroughly enjoyed it. But there were a lot of sessions where it was just disconnect after disconnect, and from what I’m hearing, though those issues have been somewhat improved, they’re still there.

    I wish they’d just be done with this game now to be honest and get working on For Honour 2 with an improved networking model. If they were to release such a thing, I’d be straight in.

    Comment posted on 12/09/2017 at 07:11.
    • Jim Hargreaves
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      Can definitely see where you’re coming from. Disconnects don’t happen as often as they did but are still frustrating.

      It’s safe to say that Ubisoft won’t be making a For Honor 2 – at least not for another few years. They’re introducing a new 4v4 mode and dedicated servers soon. Much like Rainbow Six Siege, depending on how well it’s doing, For Honor could get a Year 2 round of content.

      Comment posted on 12/09/2017 at 09:59.

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