For Honor (Xbox One Impressions)
After receiving For Honor to review, I planned to pour countless hours into perfecting my sword swings and diving into what the game had to offer. It seemed like the kind of game I had always wanted from the Deadliest Warrior titles; more realised and more honed. Yet I felt disconnected, both literally and emotionally, from For Honor.
As far as launch issues go, For Honor has been a myriad of server errors, lost save data, and connection issues. And I am not alone in my experiences. Many players from all around the world have noted that they were unable to connect to a game that they had anticipated so much.
For me, the boiling point was on Sunday night when I lost a substantial amount of progress in the single player campaign. As For Honor needs a constant connection to, what appear to be, fairly temperamental servers, I lost pretty much all my progress in the first chapter for the second and last time- there was a first time too, but that was excusable. The opening missions seems to hint at the need for war is inherent in all humans, be they Samurai, Vikings or Knights. There also might be some marvellous pay-off that makes the rather dull but digestible mission structure worth it in the long run. But unfortunately, it’s not an outcome I will ever see due to the tedious and repetitive nature of the AI on standard difficulties, and the lack of any real gripping or involving gameplay that would draw me be into the story. Although the true beauty of For Honor doesn’t reside in playing against rather thick AI. It lies in outsmarting and beating your more sentient opponents; real people.
For Honor’s mechanics are simple, yet effective and allow players to really mix and match between baiting opponents and parrying key attacks carried out by those brave enough to commit to a heavily telegraphed strike. There’s a nuance in the ability to block, dodge, and parry in every situation and the potential advantages (or disadvantages) that the subsequent action may bring about. Obviously rolling backwards will normally evade most attacks, but it comes at the cost of valuable space. Blocking attacks, so long as they are not unblockable, normally leaves the defensive player at a miniscule advantage and wastes opponent’s stamina. However, if you are constantly blocking in an opponent’s face, they may be tempted to break your block with For Honor’s melee attacks. It is parrying attacks that net the biggest reward, allowing you to deal devastating damage in response to a successfully challenged attack. This all might seem fairly self-explanatory, but the large cast of supporting characters to choose from adds a great deal of variety.
For Honor has a fairly large cast, featuring four distinct warriors from three different faction. And with each of these different characters comes a variety of moves and capabilities. Although many of the characters fill the same archetypes–heavy hitting, all-rounder, and counter attacker–they all have differing attributes or skills that allow you to perform a selection of combos or inflict status ailments onto enemies. For instance one class can cause bleeding effects, whereas others can deal a concussive blow, and some have the ability to cancel their heavy attacks to different directions in an attempt to open up enemy’s guards. And then you have all the whole range of special powers and equipment you can garner through either levelling up or scavenging different equipment. It all builds upon the strong foundations of For Honor’s systems that allow you to focus more on stamina regeneration, quick specials, and even more devastating blows.
To unlock all of these powers and equipment however, you will need to grind out steel and experience. Experience is simple: it is divided between story mode and online, unlocked via completing matches/missions and bonuses rewarded upon the completion of daily bounties. As for steel, you can unlock it be finding certain collectibles in For Honor’s campaign, scrapping gear you scavenge, or through the daily missions completed in all of the game’s online modes.
From Deathmatch to Dominion, you will come across hundreds of other players looking to fight for, well, honour. Honour with a “u”, that is. The correct honour. There are loads of different modes that focus on things like controlling zones, elimination matches, and straight up duels. So even when one aspect becomes rather dull, you can switch up and try a new mode that might suit you better. Although, they all tend to pale in comparison to For Honor’s standout 1v1 and 2v2 duels that allow the mechanics to boil down to their purest form. Straight up battles to the death.
When For Honor worked, it was one of the most satisfying online games I have played all year, but it has been marred with online connections and unfortunate losses of data that I fear my experience is totally ruined and my chances of returning without dedicated servers are next to zero. It’s really a shame, I would love to even play the campaign in a stable offline scenario in which I didn’t fear losing my progress once more, but that’s unfortunately not the case and a barrier that I am not willing to spend any more time trying to push past.
Editor’s Note: This piece started off as a review, honestly, but due to consistent server errors and failed attempts to play we will not be assigning a score or pros/cons list as we do with typical reviews. At this time we cannot recommend For Honor based on personal experience, but remain hopeful that Ubisoft will fix the ongoing server issues.