This may sound a bit crazy at first, but my first hour playing For Honor gave me an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Seeing as many of For Honor’s elements are so uniquely crafted, it would be hard to give an apt comparison to any game before it. However, I could not help myself but compare my first moments of For Honor to the nearly 9-year old underrated PS3/360 game Lord of the Rings: Conquest. Yes, call me crazy, but hear me out. Not only do I find the game oddly nostalgic, but it’s almost as if the developers took what I loved about that old LotR game, and turned it up to 11. My sense of wonderment and excitement was absolutely raised during my time with For Honor. It’s combat and style oozes with substance, and it’s addictive at its very core. Dynamic, kinetic and heavy, For Honor takes many of the popular combat mechanics today (see Dark Souls, or any other From Software title), and applies them to a multiplayer arena. But I just couldn’t help but feel as if this was a game I had waited years for.
Before we dive into the real heart and soul of For Honor, it would be a real disservice to not acknowledge the astounding single player campaign. While I felt as if it was more of a training grounds for multiplayer, the story Ubisoft has crafted is intriguing and interesting enough to finish. Players are able to able to replay through story missions on harder difficulties to earn “story experience”, which they can use to get better upgrades/feats to use through those story missions. There are only three chapters (one for each faction), and each offer a great opportunity to play through all of the faction’s classes that players can unlock later in multiplayer. Of course, For Honor’s strong gameplay elements keep all of the story missions fun and exciting, and it’s hard not to have fun bashing lowly soldier’s heads in with the hilt of a sword.
Unfortunately, by the end of my playthrough of the single player content, I still felt as though I had completed an extensive training session that would prepare me better for multiplayer. I felt as though there was nothing earth-shattering with the single player campaign, and I doubt I’d revisit it in the future. This could have been the developers intention, seeing as the game truly focuses on the multiplayer Faction War as it’s crux. Players looking for deep and engaging lore look elsewhere, as For Honor’s single player campaign is mostly a conduit for more grand ventures.
Ah yes, multiplayer. For Honor’s most exciting and engaging component. Let this be clear: I am by no means a multiplayer person. In fact, I almost typically always try to avoid games that force you to play multiplayer in some capacity. So I was very (and I mean very) happy to find that players are able to play For Honor either online with others, or the glorious “Play with AI” feature. What I found to be the most interesting thing for me personally, however, is my ability to feel empowered when playing with other players. Typically, I feel overwhelmed in multiplayer games because the skill curve between me and other players is very skewed. But in For Honor, not only did I feel like I was able to compete with other players, but I was able to utilize many of the skills I had garnered over the years playing single player games. Most notably, I found that the patience one may have gained through playing Dark Souls can very easily be carried over into For Honor multiplayer matches. Now, there are three different game modes that are currently available to players, and it would only be appropriate to review each of them separately.
First off, we have Dominion, a 4v4 point-control based game that sees players facing off and trying to slaughter each other in order to win. I quite honestly found this one mode to be the blandest of the three, as more often than not I found I was mindlessly killing non-hero characters than facing the player (or AI) controlled heroes. Most of the time while playing Dominion, I felt as though I was playing a MOBA instead. The flooding of lane-based non-heroes, controlling and capturing different points; it all felt very MOBA-y. I only played a few rounds of this mode to jump into the real heart and soul of For Honor. After Dominion, we have 4v4 Deathmatch, an assortment of skirmish games for players who are looking to just jump in and play a few rounds and jump out. I often found these games to be vastly more enjoyable than Dominion games, as the variation between games jumps match to match. It kept things interesting and fresh, and really showcased the skill levels of the players involved.
Finally the quintessential mode in For Honor is Duel & Brawl, a 1v1 or 2v2 matchup pitting heroes vs heroes. For Honor is at it’s best when playing 1v1 or 2v2 fights. Very few games have had me wanting to go and challenge my friends to a game of skill, patience and strategy, and with For Honor’s heavy and thunderous gameplay, every 1v1 kill feels satisfying and left me wanting more. It’s so gratifying to slowly widdle away at an opponent who at any moment can turn the fight around and kill you in one or two blows. For the most part, I utilized the Berserker hero in the Viking faction; a hero who wields dual axes and can eventually be leveled up to throw one of those axes at a retreating enemy. Not only did I enjoy knowing that I was quick on my feet with this particular hero, but that I had the upper hand against many of the slower paced heroes that many players opted to choose. Blocking and avoiding attacks in For Honor is all very meticulous and intense, with many of the 1v1 battles ultimately feeling like a game of Chess (to the death).
What’s very interesting about For Honor’s multiplayer, though, is it’s seasons. While it may not be worth reviewing (as the first season hasn’t ended for about another week and a half), the idea that more content and meta-story between the factions will be unfolding over the coming weeks and months is very enticing. It’ll be very interesting to see if For Honor is able to keep up with consistent content and offer players more events as the game progresses.