After two brief beta periods, Ubisoft’s medieval multiplayer brawler For Honor is finally available on consoles and the PC, promising players a competitive and strategic good time. Featuring three popular, historical warrior factions going at it in a wide range of battlefields and using a variety of weapons and combat styles, is this unique offering good enough to captivate the masses?
Developed by Ubisoft Montreal / Published by Ubisoft
Available on the PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Reviewed on the PS4.
*Review code provided by Ubisoft
In For Honor, a cataclysmic event sends the world tumbling to chaos. When an earthquake swallows up the Knights, Samurai and Vikings and sends them to a new world, they’re forced to face off against each other for natural resources. With war raging constantly and a mysterious warlord named Apollyon operating in the shadows to keep it going, will the battle ever end?
Surprisingly enough, For Honor‘s plot is pretty intriguing for a multiplayer focused game, as it’s well developed and full of fun moments, giving players a reason to explore the game’s main campaign. The main story jumps between each faction’s perspective, allowing players the chance to see it from various eyes as they war against each other and witness Apollyon’s schemes to keep them battling for eternity. It’s fast-paced and action-packed throughout, and it makes for an entertaining tale and unique scenario.
Visually, the game is pretty impressive. The battlegrounds, full of crumbling fortifications, dead bodies, blazing fires, and dozens of warriors facing off in melee combat effectively capture the essence of medieval combat, and are richly detailed and varied enough to never feel repetitive. The character models are also quite excellent, brimming with intricate detail and gorgeous animations. From the Viking’s powerful strikes to the Orochi’s nimbleness and quick jabs, each model moves naturally and realistically. There can occasionally be some framerate stutters that make animations feel slow, but overall, it’s a gorgeous looking action game.
When it comes to fending off foes and slaying them where they stand, For Honor is extremely fun and challenging. Players get to select from four classes from the three factions, with each class specializing in certain strategies and techniques, like heavy damage, quick attacks, disabling strikes and more. The variety in strategies make for excellent gameplay as players can mix it up according to their strengths and team lineup to make it a well-rounded team.
The core gameplay takes some getting used to, but it’s addictive once you figure out how to fight and survive in the battlefield. Players come armed with a strong and light attack, a dodge and a shield bash that stuns opponents. Striking and blocking is a dangerous game however, as players must select which direction to strike/block from, as blows can come from the left, right or above. Players must match the direction attacks are coming from in order to block successfully, and attack where the opponent isn’t blocking in order to hit. That’s just the basics though, as players also have to manage their stamina or risk gassing out, and parries – which have players striking in the same direction the second the opponent does – can leave players open to counterattacks. Combatants can also be ganged up on by multiple foes too, and here things get pretty tricky as players can only target one enemy at a time. Skilled players can get away with dueling against multiple opponents, but for others it’s usually a losing battle. It takes some practice to manage the combat systems and learn the various ins and outs, but it’s a rewarding and often satisfying experience.
Each class also comes with their unique moveset that offers even more combat opportunities. Some characters have armored attacks that absorb damage or weapons that apply a bleed effect, others have unblockables that must be dodged or sweeps and knockdowns that leave players exposed as they lie on the floor. The combat is initially simple, but there’s a surprising amount of depth that will have dedicated players mopping the floor with casual players, and it’s tons of fun to learn each character’s strengths and weaknesses. Players will also be able to earn gear to customize and improve the stats of their warriors, further adding strategy as players concentrate on building their ideal fighter. Equipment doesn’t do much to make battles lopsided and broken, but it’s enough to keep things interesting.
The game comes with two main modes: Story Mode, which develops For Honor‘s plot across multiple chapters, and multiplayer, where players head to battlefields and compete in a variety of game modes. Story Mode have players take control of all three factions as they battle against the A.I. and enjoy the story, and can be played both in single player or online co-op. Multiplayer is where players will spend most of their time honing their skills, supporting their chosen team in the War of the Factions to reap rewards as they conquer territories on a map.
In multiplayer, players can engage in Duels or Brawls, which pits one combatant against another (or two on two) to prove who’s superior. It’s an excellent mode that lets players show off their stuff without the fear of getting flanked, and it’s entertaining. Then there’s Dominon – which has fighters compete in a map to control three objectives to increase their score and ultimately eliminate rivals, Deathmatch – players kill each other for points, and Elimination – a variation of Duel but with a full team. All of these modes can be played versus A.I. or other players. Overall, multiplayer is pretty entertaining.
Multiplayer however is where the majority of the game’s flaws lie, and they are pretty ugly. The flaws have to do with connection issues. Without dedicated servers, I was constantly disconnected from matches I connected to, be it before a match started, during a match, or seconds before a match ended. If the host disconnected then the game would search for the next person, and that would lead to other issues. With a quarter of my online matches suffering from disconnects and occasional lag, it didn’t make for a pleasant, streamlined experience, and for a game that has the bulk of its experience online, this is pretty bad. When it worked out I had tons of fun, but when it didn’t I would quit all together.
When it comes down to it, For Honor is a thrilling and action-packed multiplayer brawler that invigorates with its unique combat systems and edge-of-your-seat battles. While it’s not perfect and it’s often frustrating due to the disconnection issues it’s currently facing, For Honor is a fun and surprisingly deep game that could have players hooked for quite a while if Ubisoft plays its cards right.