Blades of steel.
Very rarely does a game come along that feels wholly unique in its mechanics. For Honor is one part action game, but most parts a one-on-one fighting game, with a truly deep combat system that is easy to pick up, but nigh impossible to master. From the swinging of the sword, to the blocking of incoming attacks, everything in For Honor feels deliberate, and weighty. While the combat is certainly the focal point of the game, it is the package that surrounds it where issues arise.
Let’s not beat around the bush; For Honor is a multiplayer-focused game. The single player campaign is there, and it actually has some decent writing, but it more serves as a tutorial than anything else. The campaign was better than I expected, but not as good as it should have been. Players can opt to experience the campaign in co-op, but it actually served as more of a hindrance, as I was constantly hitting my teammates, or being slashed by them.
Platforms: XB1 9reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $39.99
Combat is clearly the focus here, and it is amazing. Learning each character is a process, and they all feel entirely different. Larger characters hit harder, but slower, smaller characters require a different blocking method, and everything in between. The game features a deep system including cancels and combos. It feels weighty and the best part, extremely fun. Learning new characters changes the game, but those trying to jump in weeks or months down the road will find themselves matched up with players who will absolutely wreck them.
Outside the campaign the meat of the game lies in its multiplayer, and I cannot stress again enough that this is not a game to jump in casually. This is a dedicated player base, and systems that require constant play. Whether that is for everyone is to be debated, but for those wanting to dive into For Honor, make sure it is the one game to focus on.
There are several modes, but the biggest sticking point is Dominion. It meshes the standard deathmatch modes with some MOBA sprinkles and a bit of domination for a unique time. Players are tasked with taking three points, while working their way towards a score of 1000. Once reached the opposing team loses respawns, but the battle can swing back and forth. It is a tug of war that can change at a moment’s notice, and was easily the most satisfying mode I played.
The rest really centers around deathmatch and duels. The nice thing about the multiplayer is that it can be played with bots, so if your group only has three players, it can fill in a bot, which also happens if someone drops from the match. The bots are aggressive and fair, and actually great to train against. The game does a great job of focusing on its core aspect, the combat.
There is a lot going on in For Honor, and the menus can be confusing. There are challenges to add to your loadout, weekly and monthly events, and an overall faction war that points can be spent into. It is a large meta game that awards some bonuses, certainly a neat bullet point, but nothing game changing. My biggest gripe though comes in the form of the game’s microtransactions.
This game is littered with things to unlock, so many in fact that players can opt to buy steel, the in-game currency, with real money to circumvent the process. This pay-to-win method doesn’t sit well with me in a $60 game. People with disposable incoming can easily get better loot, and while all loot is level-bound, the game disperses it sparingly during regular matches. There were plenty of battles I came away from with nothing. There is also an XP multiplier called ‘Champion” status, which really rubs me the wrong way. Again these are normal practices in a free game, but for those that pay $60 already, it just feels dirty.
Performance wise the game runs at a smooth 30fps on both consoles, with the PC version hitting that illustrious 60fps, which I would have preferred for consoles, but it still feels fine. The game has a gritty tone to it, which fits the setting, but it also makes a lot of the maps feel similar in style. Animations are gorgeous and the voice acting, at least in the Knight’s campaign mode, is pleasantly great. I just really wish the menu system was a bit more streamlined.
For Honor is a unique game with an outstanding combat system. The problems it faces are its release window (I mean look at the games currently out or on the horizon!) and the dedication it requires. Casual players need not apply, as you will be slaughtered endlessly on the battlefield. I feel like For Honor will get a smaller, but highly dedicated fan base as it goes on, but for those looking for an approachable experience will likely fall on their own blade.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.