In short this game has amazing mechanics and play-style, but poor connectivity to its massive multiplayer format depending on peoples internet, if you have even slight packet-loss, you will suffer. If you don't, this game is a great addition to anybody's collection and has a incredible replay-ability value. This game ties you into a long term love-hate relationship
Recently For Honor has invaded our homes and it has been relatively successful with an armada of positive comments alongside its fair share of criticism. When you initially play the game its great fun and the mechanics are by far one of the best for a game of this style. It gives us a 3D fighting platform game which works outstandingly. With a selection of characters to choose from as well as practice/training modes to help you learn how to play and then, hopefully, destroy. This game is here to help answer the age-old schoolyard question of who would win between knights, Vikings and Samurai, blending the three in glorious combat. It’s this combat style and mechanics that keep us coming back, no matter how much you hate the game for its flaws. Once you get pulled in you will be stuck.
Let’s start with those flaws, one of the criticisms is the Peer to Peer connection system. The issue behind Peer to Peer is that it functions well in small numbers of players but once it gets closer to the 8 player range it can cause connection problems (and now with larger numbers even basic 4 player and 2 player matches are hairy). Another issue is that Peer to Peer favours attacking players more (is in actually attacking not the attacking team) which can throw a defending player off. For instance when they guard block you and you counter it, it can mess up and think you are starting the guard block as the defender resulting in you being countered. The game also allows for an old time ‘hack’ of lag switching to come into play as PtP functions off of all players connections thus giving lag switchers a return and they have from what can be seen in some clips. Another issue is that it allows players to cheat the system as it doesn’t pick up inactivity well at all, just tie a hair band/elastic between your sticks, select dominion vs AI, go out for a few days and come back.
The forums for ‘For Honor’ are littered with complaints with many active petitions, discussions and communities to have Peer to Peer removed. All the developers have done to ease this tension between them and the potential players is state how they are using this system as it is cheaper to maintain with a few other reasons. One of those is an incentive for people not to rage quit or back out of games in general due to the complete loss of all experience and in game currency. However, as can be seen in this open beta and full game it still happens and as a result doesn’t just lose that person their progress but most of the other players in the game as well when it fails to re-sync everyone (another dis-advantage to peer to peer is that For Honor’s system makes everyone a simultaneous host, so when one person leaves everyone has to re-sync no matter what). In addition to this, there are issues with hosts as they have been seen, in multiple community clips, teleporting, surviving executions and even climbing back out of pits and cliff edges when thrown off. It gets worse still, due to how peer to peer works this will mean multi system households will not be able to play For Honor at the same time, if a PS4 and an Xbox One user is playing at the same time the data packets may become confused between what location to go and this slight drop in packets can cause disconnects. This becomes even more apparent with multiple people playing the same console version. The above feature may end up killing this game if the developers do not start to listen to the community.
Then there is the matchmaking (or lack there-of) where it doesn’t seem to match-make you at all, you just connect to whomever is available, be it far more skilled or less skilled than you. It also means that it forces you to maintain a particular character as with 3 out of 5 game modes your gear-score comes into effect and these are the high experience/steel winning game modes. So you are stuck playing one character just in order to stand a chance. What Ubisoft so desperately needs to do if they want this game to last more than one in-game ‘season’ is to make it so, firstly, there is matchmaking and secondly, you select your character before you match-make. This way you find games that suit your skill and gear-score with people of a similar skill and gear level. If they fail to do this, ultimately this title will end up back on the shelves for most and put a nail in the coffin of the game already as it literally blocks most new players from enjoying it.
For Honor also has an Always Online feature, basically like a lot of others, this game does not allow for offline play. The full game has online co-op single player that you can play with other players and full online multiplayer modes that you can have Players vs AI or Player vs Player. You also have custom match options but you will still be required to have an active internet connection. The 2 modes, PVE and PVP, are available for all game types so you can play whichever you are more comfortable with. Practice in PVE and advance to PVP, jump straight into PVP or stick with PVE. The choice is all yours!
The story is long-winded, fully co-op or single player and has some great depth to it. It also has varying difficulties that give rewards to your online heroes such as customizations, steel (the in-game currency) and free equipment packs. You can play on easy, regular, hard or my favorite: realistic! The first three just boost AI health and damage while adding varying degrees of intelligence, realistic is a whole other ball park removing your ‘art of war’ directional HUD as well as increasing all other aspects of the AI. This makes you have to read your opponents body language to know where to defend, attack and know your timing in order to dodge, parry or deflect! Play realistic if you want a real challenge!
Next up we have Friendly Fire, its a double edged sword this one (ironic, right?) Its purpose is to balance out multiple players from grouping up on one. If you are grouped together your attacks can hit teammates, deal a small amount of damage and leave an opening for the enemy to attack the discombobulated teammate. This stops direct team killing in a way but it’s still possible in some situations, such as sliding down a ladder resulting in your teammate falling in a pit of spikes. This is usually accidental, but a team mate can’t beat you to death with their weapon.
Now we have the Faction War metagame. This is a game mode where you fight for your chosen faction in a season. At the end the winning faction or factions who control the most regions will win a reward for its players. The three factions are The Chosen or Samurai, The Warborn or Vikings and lastly The Legion or Knights. One feature of the metagame is that it is cross-platform, it pulls the war score and assets deployed from across all 3 platforms and then crunches the numbers into the win-lose scenarios of battles where factions compete for the 60 regions on the map. Now we supposedly have population scaling so that a faction with less population earn more ‘war assets’ in order to better balance the factions out however what has become painfully obvious lately is that it doesn’t account for inactive players. With the more games being released and gamers switching or straight up selling For Honor because of its numerous issues the inactivity is becoming more and more apparent. In the open beta on Xbox One there were 150,000+ active players all the time, currently For Honor only has 28,000 players online. Ubisoft need to adjust it to include active players.
Finally, we have a disliked topic among gamers; Micro Transactions. This won’t inflict a pay to win scheme or anything similar to that but instead will let you buy steel, which can buy you packs, or customizations but those pack outcomes will only really be worth investing real money into when you have reached the final levels in a character as that will be the best loot, but by that time you would have already got great loot from finishing missions. All the large costing steel items are purely cosmetic such as execution methods, armor ornaments and patterns.
Speaking of customization, let me talk to you in depth about the customization available. I will use my favourite character from the Alpha/Beta as an example of the depth of customization (it is similar for all characters). To begin there is the Character itself, you can choose whether it is male or female, while others such as the Peacekeeper assassin is locked as female and the Lawbringer pole arm character is locked as male. Your level unlocks customization options to the armour. For example, you can unlock different materials for your armour such as Brass, Gold, Silver or Iron, each one different in either color or its reflectiveness and gleam. Then you can unlock engraving and have particular pieces such as the face plate and shoulder pads engraved with the same or different styles. Then there is a color scheme of the cloth or even the plating having different types of patterns such as a stripe or checkered. The color scheme itself can be adjusted for free for all, defending team, or attacking team to add diversity in player’s heroes. Each team type has different schemes that can each be set for when your hero is in those particular modes.
Then we have the gear and, ultimately, the stats. I would like to point out first that stats of your gear are not counted in the Brawl (2v2) and Duel (1v1) modes. The gear itself is different in stats in order to balance the game. You can have a sword blade with high attack, but you can’t swing it as often as it uses much more stamina, you could also have a very high damage resistance on your armor, but you run far slower. These can be leveled up by using steel and the salvage you get from dismantling spare armor and weapon parts. These parts also affect your character graphically, for instance with the Warden the three armors are helmets, arms and chest pieces. Each one can have a different look and the looks you prefer can be copied through steel. This deepens the total customization choices for people’s characters in the game. With 12 heroes, 6 different equipment options, 6 different paintable body items and a number of ornaments to choose from it will be very hard to have the same character as someone else in a game.
Finally, we come to the ‘Art of Battle’ system they have in place! The way this system works is that all characters have a 3 stance system where you have your head, left arm and right arm. You can guard, parry or deflect from each of those directions. Then to stop people guarding you can perform guard breaks which can let you get a free hit in or throw them off a cliff if you wish, this can be countered with well-timed dash, you can also dodge hits (especially the unblockable ones!). The enemies position is also there to show you where an attack is coming from or where the enemy player is defending hits from allowing you to use your pretty skill and reaction times to your advantage.
In conclusion, this game is a great addition to anybody who enjoys MOBA’s or Fighting games, or even games for their historical qualities. It has quite a good story and a nearly limitless online replay-ability. Each character has 30 reputation levels which you get on every 21st character level which means there are 630 levels per character of which there are currently 12, with even more on the way! So completionists, here you will be in for the long haul! Everyone grab your controller, choose your hero and we shall meet you in the field!