As a history nerd, the idea of For Honor was something I was immediately drawn to. A game which pits medieval knights, samurai and Vikings against each other (despite the thousands of miles and years that separated the three) was always going to have my attention. For Honor comes from the developers of Rainbow Six: Siege, and the team are very quickly proving themselves to be one of the best at making multiplayer experiences.
I didn’t expect For Honor to be one of the best fighting games I’ve played in years, that’s for sure.
On paper, For Honor’s system doesn’t sound like much special. Each faction has a set of four characters, each with a roster of light and heavy attacks, simple two-or-three hit combos, parries, dodges, blocks, throws, guard breaks and unblockables; all of which is governed by a stamina bar. However, a few things make For Honor stand out. The first is the animations.
Attacks are slow, but attacks have a sense of weight and impact that I’ve not seen in a fighting game. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Valkyrie getting a cheeky quick jab into the exposed side of your opponent, or the Lawbringer bringing down his mighty axe on a poor fool’s bonce, you feel every attack. The second is the camera. The game uses a Resident Evil 4-style over-the-shoulder third person camera, which works incredibly well with For Honor’s stance system; allowing players to attack and block from different directions.
For Honor brings a multitude of multiplayer modes to the fray. Combat in For Honor revolves around 1v1 duels, and it’s the 1v1 mode (also named Duel) which I’ve found the most fun. The variety of the characters, and savageness, make for some of the most engrossing fights you’ll find in a game. 2v2 Brawls are a similar blast. Opposing players are paired off in different corners of the map, effectively having two duels happening in parallel and the winners meet in the middle. You’d think that this would open up the door for all sorts of ganking opportunities, but this is discouraged in a number of ways.
First is that players have a great deal of ways to effectively punish aggressive moves, and the second is the Revenge gauge, which is triggered by blocking and parrying, effectively causing your fighter to go Super Saiyan. It acts as such a hard counter that letting duels play out is generally a safer tactic then ganging up on the last man standing. Other modes have their place (including Dominion, in which players capture control zones alongside legions of tiny AI foot soldiers) but aren’t nearly as compelling.
For Honor also has a single-player mode, but it’s nothing special. An earthquake has destroyed the world and also opened a rift in space and time, causing the aforementioned factions to fight for the last dwindling resources. The story is broken up into three chapters, one focussing on each faction, wrapped around a story about a gang lead by a Darth Vader clone’s gambit to envelope the whole world in war, because “men will be wolves”, or something. Aside from the Vikings’ Saving Private Ryan raid on a Japanese temple, it’s not great. It does a good job of making you battle-worthy though.
While For Honor is not without its faults. It’s an amazing multiplayer experience and a reminder that Ubisoft – perennial saints of the samey open world – can occasionally cook up something different, experimental and just plain fun. It’s definitely something I’ll be sticking with in the coming weeks to see how it all unfolds.