Title: For Honor
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: February 14th, 2017
Platform Reviewed: Playstation 4
Time Played: 40+ hours
For Honor is the brand new IP from Ubisoft, handled by their in-house studio, Ubisoft Montreal. With this new IP, Ubisoft set out to create a game that you never knew you needed. They’ve created a game that is a fighting game at its roots, but takes on the form of a few other genres along the way. For Honor is unlike anything you have ever played, and likely ever will play.
The game features a campaign with three chapters, one for each of the games factions (Knights, Vikings, and Samurai) and about six missions per chapter. The story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and jumps all over the place. To be quite honest, I had forgotten the story by the time I had turned off my PlayStation each session. Although there were a couple fun missions, such as one where you’re riding a horse swinging a massive hammer at foes as they approach you, the entire thing is quite forgettable. It just makes for a nice way to try out a few of the heroes the game has to offer before jumping into the multiplayer component.
At its core, For Honor is a multiplayer game. For Honor offers five game modes, Duel (1v1 deathmatch with no respawns), Brawl (2v2 deathmatch with no respawns), Skirmish (4v4 deathmatch with respawns), Elimination (4v4 deathmatch with no respawns), and Dominion. Dominion is essentially domination–the territory capture mode from Call of Duty or Battlefield–but with little mobs of AI controlled enemies. You can immediately tell that this was inspired by games like DOTA or League of Legends, with each map having three lanes with control points, as well as the inclusion of AI opponents. Even with the limited amount of game modes, the game doesn’t get boring fast. Tired of having to fight two or three people at a time? That’s easy; just jump into some duels to avoid getting ganked by multiple people. These are all played on seven different maps, adding to the variety. They aren’t anything special, but they’re not exactly badly done either. Each map has their good points, and their bad points. They’re all quite varied, and beautiful to look at, which makes you feel immersed in the game that much more. For Honor has quite enough to keep you going, even when you think you’re tiring of it.
There are 12 different heroes you can choose from in For Honor. Each of the 12 heroes has their own distinct fighting style. No two heroes fight the same. A lot of fighting games pad their rosters with different skins and names on fighters that handle the same, but For Honor refreshingly avoids this. You have your four types of heroes; Vanguard, Heavy, Assassin, and Hybrid (which is a combination of two of the three other types). Each fighter is incredibly balanced. You can put any two heroes against each other, and it will all come down to the skill of the player. No one hero is better than the other, it’s all in how you prefer to play. Each hero is also incredibly hard to master. In all my time playing the game, I spent most of my time using one hero because I didn’t want to get whooped while trying to learn a new hero’s moveset. When it comes to the playable builds in this game, Ubisoft nailed its execution in terms of variety and balance.
Of course all of this wouldn’t matter if the combat was terrible. Luckily, that is not the case at all with this game. Ubisoft Montreal crafted one of the most brilliant combat systems I’ve ever seen in gaming. It forces you to use both joysticks; one controls your movement while the other controls where you’re aiming your weapon. You have your basic light attacks and heavy attacks that you can use, along with guard breaks, throws, and the occasional stun move. Learning how to utilize each of these is essential to any and every fight in For Honor. It rewards the patient, those who sit back and analyze how their opponent is fighting, and then pounce on the weak spots. You can’t just spam attacks, not only due to you having a stamina bar that you have to keep track of, but because that simply won’t work. You have to be methodical and think about every move and action you make. Otherwise, chances are that your opponent will capitalize on your mistake. The combat in this game is really something to behold, and almost feels like if From Software were to make a Dark Souls fighting game, this is how they’d do it.
The graphics in this game are about as adequate as you’ll see in any current generation game that’s releasing nowadays. The amount of detail on everything is pretty good, keeping true to each faction’s history in one way or another. They make you feel like you’re actually out on the battlefield, basking in all the bloodshed. The game won’t blow you away visually, but it gets the job done in a serviceable manner.
A couple things I feel that I should point out that really bothered me about this game. For one, while the combat is some of the most fun and innovative we may have ever seen, it contains many opportunities for players to engage in “griefing,” or the exploitation of a cheap tactics within the combat system to infuriate others. It’s frustrating when you could be beating an enemy within an inch of their life, only for them to run from you and try to guard break and throw you off a ledge. This can ruin any fun you may be having with the game at that time, seeing as Ubisoft went and crafted such a well thought-out and well executed combat system. Another flaw that ruins any momentum you have building is connectivity issues. I’ll be in the middle of a match when I’ll get booted for no apparent reason, and sometimes everyone else in the match gets booted too. This is simply unacceptable for a game that has been out for over 2 weeks already, especially when these problems were present in the open beta just days before launch. These aren’t things that completely ruin the game, but they are some of the very few issues I’ve had in my time with the game.
All in all, For Honor is a rare thing in gaming today. It’s a brand new AAA IP from a prominent publisher that’s exceptional in its combat design. Ubisoft isn’t a stranger to introducing new IPs, but after the over-promised and under-delivered Watch Dogs, it was easy to see why fans would be skeptical of another new title. However, what they released is not from the typical open-world mold that seems to be the standard for Ubisoft. Instead, we got a unique title that I hope becomes a brand-new example for future games to follow.