For Honor Review – Knight Fight

Jim doesn’t have the time to review For Honor himself? I guess I’ll take up the mantle. Why? FOOOOOOOOOOOOR …….. HONOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Format: PC (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Released: February 14, 2017
Copy provided by publisher
Contains microtransactions

For Honor is a traditional fighting game masquerading as a 3D action title. On the surface, it looks like a Dynasty Warriors style experience where you take big cool weapons, smash through countless armies of idiotic AI enemies and feel like an unstoppable badass. At its heart, it’s a far more slow and methodical fighting game themed around careful reading of your enemies, forcing openings, and piling on the pressure only when the time is right.

At its best, For Honor pits two human players against each other in one on one combat and tests their wits. At its worst, For Honor forces you to try and brute force your way past AI enemies that seemingly read player inputs enough to feel more like a soulless roadblock than an engaging challenge.

For Honor’s heart is a 3D interpretation of 2D competitive fighting game combat (Jim’s Note: Anyone remember Cardinal Syn? Great days).

Playing as one of three distinct warrior types – Samurai, Viking, or Knight – you can attack or defend in three directions: left, right or up. Launching an attack in any one of these directions will trigger a notification for your opponent, giving them a small window of time in which to block the incoming attack or attempt to dodge it. Dodges are far faster than blocks, but have to be completed with much more precise timing to avoid opening the player up to damage.

Beyond that basic set of core attacks and defenses, you can also launch a feint attack in any of those directions, starting and then canceling an attack. If your enemy attempts to block a feint, they will often be left open for a sudden unexpected attack from a different direction.

Throw in a parrying system, a stamina meter that causes extreme vulnerability when depleted, throws, combos, guard breaks, environmental hazards and unique specials for each class, you’re left with a combat system that’s easily mechanically executed while containing enough depth to give serious players room to grow and improve.

Each of these sets of systems is then layered onto classes and factions of heroes to play as with variable stats and different ratios of power versus speed. Knights are the jack-of-all-trades faction, Samurai generally trade a drop in defense for an increase in speed, and the Vikings trade a drop in speed for a hefty boost in attack.

The three factions offer three Vanguard class heroes to play – an adaptable “easy” fighter class, an Assassin class which trades crowd control for increased dueling proficiency, and a heavy unit trading speed for power, alongside a handful of combination class units.

When battling against human players there’s a tension to knowing you are locked into a single shared moment of tense combat. Will you make the first move? Will you be on the offense or the defense? Are they confident? Are they testing the waters? Are they going to jump straight for a feint or lull me into a false sense of security first?

The game shines when pitting two human players against each other and letting them try to read each other’s intentions. It doesn’t work nearly as well in single-player.

E3 2016 made me think For Honor was about three historically distinct factions fighting for thousands of years over a single tiny puddle of water. I thought this game was going to be some kind of Mad Max hellscape where water was such a rare resource that time and space crumpled in on themselves to culminate in a fight over a puddle.

The realisation that For Honor’s three classes were fighting over an entire continent was infinitely less exciting. In fact it was a fairly bland, uninteresting, and soulless excuse for combat to take place. This pretty well sums up my thoughts on the single-player campaign. The combat mechanics were still simple to execute with impressive depth available, but there was no soul to playing through AI matches with bots who could seemingly read my inputs for advanced techniques and anticipate feinting.

Single player matches were frustratingly difficult fights with vapid enemies who repeated the same phrases and didn’t feel nearly as interestingly fallible in combat as actual human players. Fighting a human player adds this dance to the proceedings, a back-and-forth mind game of bluffing and countering that just can’t exist against a computer.

The AI is competent but some of the boss fights are fucking infuriating. They know reliably when I’m going to feint, which just pisses me off to no end.

Pair this with uninteresting cutscenes building towards a plot that’s tough to care about, and For Honor’s single player feels like it has very few redeeming points besides giving you a low risk place to practice move execution.

For Honor’s online mode features multiple match types, including 2v2 and 4v4 match types, but 1v1 matches are where the game feels at its most skill based. When For Honor reaches a point where everything is working as it should, and you’re just staring down another human player trying to read them without being read yourself, there’s a tension to be found that feels like a mix of Dark Souls PVP crossed with a traditional competitive 2D fighter.

When it works…

It’s impossible to talk about For Honor’s online multiplayer without acknowledging how unreliable it can be. The game uses Peer-to-Peer networks for online, rather than a centralized network, meaning that one player hosts the match on their machine and all other players connect to the match through that player.

The problem with this in For Honor is that the game seems to be very unreliable at selecting accurately the best host player. This can at times leave players with variable connection speeds hosting matches that either induce unfair levels of lag, or just cause the match to end part way through.

The number of matches I have had fail on me due to network issues in the first few days since launch has been staggering. As someone with a business-level fibre internet connection, there’s no reason I should be paired with a host player with slow or unreliable internet.

The frequency of issues being caused by this has put a real damper on my online experience. I’ve certainly played a decent number of matches that worked as intended, but every match that decides to fail part way through kills off a little of my love.

Ultimately, For Honor doesn’t focus on making sense or being historically accurate, it just puts cool stuff in a field and tells it to go out and fight. Everything outside of playing online sucks, like microtransactions, customization options and single-player. Hell, the multiplayer itself sometimes sucks when it pairs you with a badly selected host player.

However, when the game is working and you’re murdering a single human player while screaming “FOOOOOOOOOOOR HOOOOOOOOOOOONOOOOOOOOOOOR” at their corpse, it’s pretty damn rewarding.

It’s just a shame the single player couldn’t capture the soul of playing online.

7/10
Good

Chürz
Guest
Chürz

Yay! Laura review time!

Chris N
Guest
Chris N

Honest, serious question here: I’ve got some friends who seem to be incapable of holding the major publishers accountable for their bullshit. They ask me to play the games that every week I hear and read Jim and others decrying as awful; I respond with awesome indies and they’ve never heard of them and aren’t interested (obligatory Invisigun Heroes nod). What do I do? I would feel really slimy giving Bethesda or Ubisoft money, but at the same time I don’t want to be sitting out every time they get a game together.

Jack Smith
Guest
Jack Smith

Personally I think the game is great, It does sadly have a few problems that keep it from being a Ubisoft showstopper, but what it does right is done really right! The campaign was pretty disappointing. It feels a bit disjointed and unfinished, characters come and go without any explanation. its was a bit of a grind aside from one very special part, Apollyon, Fantastic design with a intimidating presence whenever she is on screen. I love her cruel motives and just casual outlook on bloody genocide and war. Such a badass villain who kept me playing the story despite… Read more »

drhalpinstein
Guest
drhalpinstein

The main issue with customising is that it is married to your Level, you need to get 20 levels before you get gear with different models. If you like something you have well you will stop getting them once you reach a new Rep level and you can’t transfer Models to gear of a higher or lower tier which I find silly. Also my Nobushi has a goofy ass goggle-eyed, two face mask that… it just makes her look so stupid. I agree with pretty much everything else but at least the microtransactions don’t seem AS cloying and awful as… Read more »

Derrek
Guest
Derrek

I really like this game but at times the “cheese” is unbearable. The campaign bosses on hard were so infuriating, blocking every attack and not even allowing me to hit at times. I have not been this mad at a game since mw3. Also mp has a lot annoyances too. I just hate when i’m about to kill a fast enemy and they just run away. I’ve learned not to chase them but it gets really annoying real fast when they then bring a friend and they gang up on me. This is why I stick to duels and even… Read more »

HaveSomeOatmeal
Guest
HaveSomeOatmeal

I also think it’s worth mentioning the game’s unspoken honor system, if we’re likening it to Dark Souls PVP. In Brawl and Elimination, each player is initially placed in front of their own opposing player – similar to Red Dead Redemption’s Mexican standoff beginning to multiplayer matches. If you kill your opponent, it’s generally good etiquette to wait for the other 1v1 matchups to finish rather than stepping in and doubling up against someone. The Revenge system exists to counter getting doubled up on, but against disciplined players fighting more than one is usually a guaranteed death. If you break… Read more »

Nitrium
Guest
Nitrium

P2P seems like a terrible idea. So terrible, that I wouldn’t have thought it would EVER be used by a AAA studio for a full-priced game. The key issue would be that if the host machine player rage quits or has dodgy internet, then all the other players are instantly dumped ruining their experience. I assume the host knows (s)he’s the host, so if they’re losing bad they can just stick it to the other players out of pure spite? Also I bet it makes adding cheats much easier. Sounds like a great way to have zero fun. P2P is… Read more »

Austin_sj
Guest
Austin_sj

The only thing starting with HO that I now shout in a fantasy world is “HOLD THE DOOR”

Benj
Guest
Benj

Although this doesn’t look like it’s worth buying it does seem like it has a really great mechanical base to improve on.

Hopefully it’ll go the Watch Dogs and Titanfall route and have a much better sequel that I might actually buy.

A Roast Beef Sandwich
Guest
A Roast Beef Sandwich

Me after watching the pre-rendered trailers: Interesting, a Souls-like multiplayer with sub-themes about the futility and brutality of war
After watching Jim’s gameplay video: Noooope this is a power fantasy for jackoffs

InfamousDS
Guest
InfamousDS

I… am a little baffled. This is the second time both Laura and Jim have discussed For Honor in their shared spaces, and neither of them mention that the game has an arguably shitty MT system. Granted, they both dislike MTs to the point of probably never buying them, but… still. I’ll run it down, based on what I’ve been told and observed: The fake currency is called Steel (there may or may not be a throwaway currency that is practically valueless). Steel is earned by completing daily objectives, weekly objectives, doing the single-player campaign, and from breaking down equipment… Read more »

nikolas orava
Guest
nikolas orava

not for honor, but fooooooor yooooou

diamond
Guest
diamond

This game looks pretty fucking bad, definitely a pass for me.

Aaron B
Guest
Aaron B

Great review, Laura! Glad to see you writing for the site again.

I feel like you all should add another tag at the top that reads “Always Online”, alongside the usual “Contains MicroTransactions”, etc.

Shui Gor
Guest
Shui Gor

I just realized it’s Laura reviewing……not that there’s a problem with that: the beta more-or-less told me what the whole game would be like.

Kyle Pierce
Guest
Kyle Pierce

You didn’t mention how the game is built around MicroTransactions.

Terriosaurus Hex
Guest
Terriosaurus Hex

Puddle chronicles; ever-observing, eternally inept yet forever reflecting the brutal demise of all who willingly perish within.

DLC COMING SOON! PRE-ORDER NOW…GET FROZEN WINTER PUDDLE EXCLUSIVE SKIN!!

8bitarmourer
Guest

I agree with Laura’s review on the aspect of peer-to-peer connection, it has been a great source of my frustration as well. I do find however that that the 2v2 battles, by and large, also represent the game in a positive light. Many combatants do follow the “honor code” of 1v1’s in these scenario’s and it makes for an incredibly tense time, both when you know you have a second opponent in the wings to battle as well as trying to not let your teammate down in your fight on the other side of the map. I will say however… Read more »

09philj
Guest
09philj

I think the fundamental question is whether the combat system is the best one for the game they want to make, as opposed to something more like Souls.

Polishfury5000
Guest
Polishfury5000

Feels like they missed a real opportunity by going peer2peer. How cool would it have been to have dedicated servers where the host chooses a setting, like a castle courtyard or mead hall, and people can queue up to fight each other in different rings while others cheer them on?

Why not allow for actual fight clubs? Some of the most fun I’ve had in World of Warcraft and Dark Souls is coming across random fight clubs set up in unique parts of the game world.

Why hasn’t anyone made a game dedicated to those types of dueling events?

Jim Sterling
Guest

To chip in – I mostly agree, except for the fact that I hate duels. I’m not a fighting game player, and this game was marketed as something else, something much more my speed. Part of why I outsourced this review was because I am not a fighting game player, and with three other major reviews on the go, I couldn’t devote time to learning. Outside of that, I recognize it’s a well-made game with a battle system that works when it works. It needs the players to buy into the concept, which is what undermined games like Evolve and… Read more »

Shadow
Guest
Shadow

Nothing quite like fighting a boss and hearing him shout “I will defeat you!” about a hundred times over the course of a ten minute fight. Which is only that long due to said boss having ridiculous levels of health and is capable of countering the guard break 99% of the time.

The game definitely only shines when you can get some 1v1s, or sometimes even 1v2s in during the multiplayer.

Morgoth
Guest
Morgoth

So, can I make Ragnar Lothbrok fight against Gregor Clegane?

Nikita Kress
Guest
Nikita Kress

Love the online game, but I do feel for all the things it does wrong, 7 out of 10 is a bit much. Here is hoping Ubisoft will support it like Siege.

galactix100
Guest
galactix100

The game can’t even spell honour, 1/10.