|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal|
|Release: February 14, 2017|
|Players: 1-8 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence|
by Jenni Lada
Everyone is at war. Nobody’s happy with anyone else. Well, okay, you’re probably fine with with your immediate allies. Unless they let you down in the midst of a match, then you might need to have words. My point is, For Honor’s modes is about proving your superiority on the field in a feud stirred by by Apollyon, the leader of the Blackstone Legion knights in either solo or multiplayer modes. And, when the network cooperates, it’s a pretty great mission.
Each chapter in For Honor’s campaign gives you a chance to see what’s happening inside each group as they attempt to comprehend and reach to her troubles. We begin with the Iron Legion’s Warden, who comes upon the Blackstone Legion and Apollyon and sees what they’re up to. From there, we watch as the Raider, a viking, attempts to bring all of the clans together to face a common enemy. (Guess who?) Finally, the Orochi shows a samurai attempting to reclaim lost honor after being framed and rally fellow warriors. The story isn’t great and only lasts about six hours, but the gameplay within it helps. It gives you a more than adequate explanation for the continued push forward with its 18 missions, lets you try multiple classes and carry out some varied objectives, and gives you in-game currency and loot boxes for your time, all of which is more than enough in a situation such as this.
While the campaign is great for finding your footing in For Honor, the Domination, Elimination, and Skirmish are what I like to consider the learning curve modes, since you can rely on other players. These are the more forgiving opportunities for people to enjoy, as each one puts four people on a team facing the other four. Dominion allows respawning, for a time, and offers AI allies and opponents, with the only tasks being to reach 1,000 points before the other team by completing objectives and defeating all the human foes once you’ve reached that plateau. Elimination is a last-man-standing match with four people facing four other people and allows weaker players to still contribute and learn, while not getting totally and swiftly decimated. Skirmish is another four-on-four deathmatch, with points awarded for kills and the team with the most points winning. Unfortunately, Elimination and Skirmish are grouped together in multiplayer, meaning you don’t know what you’ll get when you pick Deathmatch.
Brawl and Duel are the more intricate affairs. Ideally, these put you against only human opponents, the deadliest enemies of all. Brawl is a two on two mode, where you have one ally to rely upon and two foes to defeat. It’s my favorite mode of all, thanks to the strategies you can employ and opportunities afforded by the number of players. You can really come up with some good plots when you have an able partner. Duel is almost as good, putting you one-on-one against a single opponent. There is no running or hiding. It’s you against him or her, and you need to be ready. And, thanks to tight controls and move inputs that make sense, it’s all on you if you can’t keep up.
An important thing to note about For Honor is that this is a fighting game. It isn’t a straightforward beat’em up like initial information would success. While you will quickly cut through mobs of soldiers from time to time, the major fights against specific opponents are the ones that matter. It plays with the sorts of weapon combos, strengths and weaknesses you’d expect from a game like Dark Souls, Street Fighter, or even Soul Calibur. You choose a stance, aiming up, left, or right, and then attack or guard from that position. It’s vital you learn to do things like guard break, parry, counter, throw, dodge, and make the opponent bleed. You need to know and watch your opponent for sudden shifts in his or her stance. Plus, you basically memorize the move set for the hero or heroine you happen to be using, so you know which combos to use. It’s as much mental as it is physical. Being agile enough to chain together the right moves and react to enemy assaults means nothing if you aren’t smart enough to know which attacks and defensive maneuvers are best for each situation.
This is why I suspect For Honor’s Duel and Brawl modes are going to end up being the game’s lasting legacy. Especially with the benefit of Faction War, which will reward people for continuing to play and invest in the game over time. Going against people on these more personal brawls felt so much more fulfilling to me. When you have an honorable and smaller scale fight, the game really shines. You’re given the opportunity to really focus on your character and opponent. It’s possible to watch for any tells and make good use of the various skills you may have honed in a game like Bloodborne and find useful here.
These more intimate matches happen to give you an opportunity to really appreciate the detail in each characters. This is probably a silly thing to notice, but I think For Honor has the most intricate animations I have ever seen in a game. If you’re fortunate enough to find a moment of piece in the battle, watch the way your character walks, runs, swings their weapon, and raises their shield. Then, pick a different warriors and see how they move. Every single one is different. Every action is spot-on accurate. It’s one of the most authentic games I’ve ever seen. I mean sure, it’s also just a generally beautiful and detailed experience, but the care that went into these characters is astonishing.
In fact, the opportunity to always be looking better is quite a motivating factor in For Honor. This is a game with oodles of customization options. Putting together a character, collecting good pieces of equipment, designing an intricate emblem, and making your warrior your own is often as satisfying as winning a match against a worthy opponent in Duel. Nobushi is my favorite character ever, and it isn’t just because she has a Blissful Rest Tier 3 ability that fully restores her health and wonderful bow attacks, but also because I believe she has some of coolest equipment options. If pressed, I’d say For Honor feels like a Dark Souls-style fighting game where everyone is competing to prove they’re both strongest and best-dressed.