When I first saw trailers for Ubisoft’s latest, For Honor, I thought this is a game I will definitely be buying. Hack and slash with a bit of polish and a multiplayer mode threw in for good measure. Unfortunately, as time passed I realised it was a multiplayer game with the single player threw in as a tutorial. Despite this, I stuck to my guns and picked it up. The package you get is surprising especially considering the developer history.
In the absence of an Assassins Creed this year, For Honor is the third person action game from Ubisoft. Releasing near the excellent Nioh on PS4, For Honor is already facing a losing battle with the hipster crowd, who are flocking to Team Ninja’s latest. For Honor is nothing more than wish fulfilment on a grand scale. It doesn’t limit you to one kind of hero, you can choose between Knights, Vikings and Samurai in a catch all storyline that makes no sense. Despite this, the multiplayer is a thing to behold.
Jumping straight into the dominion mode, this plays like a cross between Titanfall and Braveheart. You are in teams of four and surrounded by AI grunts which are no more than sword-fodder. Clipping them easily gives you one point and you can get carried away ploughing your way through the battlefield, suddenly everything changes when you come up against another player. You suddenly break off into a duel situation which plays out exactly how you imagine in the films. You are struck with a mixture of adrenaline and panic. This is all due to the fighting system. It has been correctly compared to a tactical one on one fighter due to the variety and parry and defence systems. To break it down, you have heavy and light attacks, push and throw. The block is automatic as long as you aren’t swinging and all of these are modified by the stance. You can pick left, right or high with the right stick. So the whole duel comes down to picking the correct direction. It is a simple and elegant solution that lifts this game above a mere Dynasty Warriors with multiplayer.
This is the feeling that pervades through the game. It is constantly surprising you by how well it plays even when the rest of it is hitting you over the head with dumbness. The duelling system even makes the single player campaign enjoyable. There are ridiculous collectables spread through the three campaigns, but the joy is in fighting in detailed environments with good graphics and weapons that respond like they should.
The other modes in Multiplayer make it even more like a traditional fighting game in the Streetfighter mould. There are one on one, two on two and more modes that remove the objective points and concentrate on the killing. Here is where the game becomes quite simple. If you meet an enemy on a bridge, of course, you can throw them off. If you have the more secure location, you stay still and let them come on to you. It all plays like you think it should in your head. Each faction has different classes from the middle of the road characters to heavy and light classes and each make a considerable difference to your tactics. The heavys can end a duel in one well times swipe so a smaller character can dodge and chip away at their health or inflict bleeding damage. The only time the system falls down is when it would fall down in real life, when you get out numbered.
In the 4 vs 4 game, it is common for respawns to be disabled at important points, then you can easily end up with 3 vs 1 in some kind of homage to WWE Survivor series or the original Gears of War Multiplayer. If you are left disadvantaged the game has a revenge mechanic that gives the other player a chance. They get a boost to stamina and damage allowing them to have one last hurrah and dive head first into the enemy players. more often than not these scenarios provide you with some of the best moments in gaming. Even in one of my first games, I managed to chase down the last of the enemy players. Suddenly realising they had nowhere to run, they turned and faced off against me. in the grand scheme of things even killing me would probably not have affected the outcome but the fight was great and the feeling of ending the game by winning a one on one duel was excellent. Feelings like this make you forgive any of the normal Ubisoft shortcomings.
The servers are a bit hit and miss at the moment and finding the game you want isn’t always seamless, there are also problems with the in-game XP and currency designed to push you towards in-app purchases. Forgiving these Ubisoft have managed to create a unique brawler which may have more in common with a Powerstone or traditional Wrestling game than many think. Deaths are common but never unfair unless you fall from a ledge and the feeling of victory makes everything worthwhile. Hopefully, the game remains well supported and a community grows, until then dive into For Honor as it is exactly what you imagine a game with Knights, Vikings and Samurai fighting each other would be like.