The multiplayer genre is an ever-shifting world that either welcomes or scorns all comers. Call of Duty and Counter Strike popularized the genre for the early 2000’s generation. DoTA, League of Legends, and Starcraft introduced a sporting element to the mix. Clash of Clans and Hearthstone democratized the multiplayer arena for a more mobile audience. But it was only until last year that the multiplayer game was truly democratized for current-gen systems through Battlefield 1 and Overwatch.
Since then, AAA game developers have been trying to catch up. Battleborn, for instance, was a good attempt that ultimately failed because of Overwatch’s popularity. Ubisoft placed their bet on third-person shooter The Division. Plagued with cheaters and imbalances, the game sputtered slowly and has been struggling ever since.
For Honor isn’t Ubisoft’s first rodeo. This is their second chance to create a multiplayer game that’ll join the ranks of popular MMOs today. While it’s not marketed heavily as per Ubisoft’s usual, For Honor still makes a compelling case for Ubisoft’s place in the multiplayer fight.
- Dream matchups. Knights, Vikings, Samurais. Those three words are enough to convince even the most reluctant gamer to buy into Ubisoft’s new IP. For Honor pits three of the most popular figures in history against each other. Based on a heavy fictionalization of history, For Honor involves all three factions feuding over the same parcel of land.
- Amazing graphics. As always, Ubisoft delivers top-notch graphics that only current-gen systems can deliver. Since it’s heavily fictionalized, For Honor spares no penny on designing the most badass characters to ever walk virtual medieval history. Levels and arenas are fairly contained but that didn’t stop the AAA developer from creating breathtaking scenery and vast landscapes.
- Thin campaign just barely covers the basics. Three chapters go through all three factions. Written as an introduction to all twelve characters, the campaign acts as more of a tutorial rather than a compelling story. It breezes through each character without leaving room for attachment to its main protagonists. While it does offer a substantial challenge to new players, For Honor’s single player campaign is a front for where the game excels at—multiplayer.
- Complex fighting mechanics that aren’t easy. Rather than a multiplayer arena, For Honor is in essence, a multiplayer fighting game. At face value, its fighting mechanics can be boiled down to an advanced form of rock-paper-scissors. This simplicity is buried under layers of complex counter-attacks, parries, blocks, and unblockable strikes. For Honor isn’t for the casual multiplayer gamer. Extracting mastery from this game entails dozens of hours and dedication to its fight style. Learning the basics is simple enough—you hit from the left, right, or overhead. Similarly, you can block from the same directions. You land some damage when you hit an exposed or unguarded position. Complementing this system are Feats or skills you can use in battle such as quick heals and artillery help.
- Varied character selection. For Honor features twelve unique characters, or four warriors per faction. Each faction’s four follows the same archetypes: an all-around Vanguard, a punchy Heavy, an agile Assassin, and a long-ranged Hybrid. Despite the four main archetypes, each character is still unique from everyone else in terms of attack and block styles. For instance, the Vikings are more berserk on attacks rather than the defensive Knights. Meanwhile, the Samurai focus more on counterattacks. Players are bound to gravitate towards at least a faction and a hero. Plus, with the campaign going through each character, players can get a feel of each battle style and how to counter them.
- Aesthetic and ability customization. Most of For Honor’s hero customization is aesthetic. Using materials or points you gather during play, players can customize how their preferred hero looks. Gameplay-wise, players can also customize how their hero executes foes and Feats that they can do in battle. These gameplay improvements offer some advantages for levelled players but beginners will find that they also have a fighting chance for glory in For Honor.
- Multiple multiplayer game modes. Multiplayer is divided into three basic game modes: 1v1 Duel, 2v2 Brawl, or 4v4 Domination. While the earlier is a battle of pure skill, the latter shifts the slider to strategy. Still, most matches boil down to who can kill the other the fastest. This makes gameplay slightly imbalanced because the loss of one team member easily spirals into victory for still-intact team. Two-on-one battles don’t go well for players in For Honor. Further, three other game modes add some more spice into the mix: 4v4 Skirmish, Elimination, and 4v4 Blood Bath.
- Tough matchmaking. Matchmaking is a long process. It took me two to five minutes to connect to every match even with a fiber connection. Most of the time, I’d also get disconnected mid-match. And finally, when I do get in, my opponents are usually levels beyond me.
- Low replayability. Since it’s not as accessible as Overwatch, For Honor struggles to keep itself hip and interesting. If it’s a game of skill, expect new players in the coming months to drop For Honor as soon as the next big thing hits. It will probably keep a steady fanbase in the immediate future but its barriers to entry will be high in the next two to three months.
For Honor is a fun and unconventional fighting game that borrows from the legacy established by multiplayer games that came before it. It’s the most technical that a video game fight can do. Because of the skill involved, it’s not as accessible as other multiplayer games, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. Just trudge through the campaign.
|Platforms||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
|Genres||Action, fighting, hack-and-slash|