For Honor has plenty to offer, placing players directly in the battlefield and giving them a sense of true battle taking place. I recently got a copy of the game myself and I have to admit, it exceeded my expectations. Real-time combat has never been a strong point for me since I rarely encounter it in the majority of the titles I play. Still, For Honor left me with a hunger to continually improve my skill set and pick up my controller for just one more round.
The World Setting
For Honor has three factions: Vikings, Samurai, and Knights. I chose to go with the Samurai faction for their swift attacks and agility. These three factions are constantly warring against each other and the world of For Honor is built around this concept. The main map for the For Honor world is directly affected by the War Assets players contribute for their chosen faction.
Seasons go by for several weeks at a time, which players can use to turn the tides of war or to gain assets for their chosen faction. When their faction wins at the end of a season, they can receive special rewards for their trouble. Players can deploy their assets for a chosen area to gain an edge or contest existing territories. Factions who win control of an area will directly affect the appearance of that area which applies to the rest of the world.
Combat Feels Real
Remember what I said about real-time combat not being my forte? Well, here it’s certainly true but if anything, For Honor made me realize I had a taste for skill based combat against enemy players. There’s a steep learning curve here that players should know before leaping in and it will take a significant amount of time to master. My first few hours were going into battle with only the knowledge the tutorial had given me and attempting to hack and slash my way to victory. I quickly came to realize swinging my sword around like a madwoman wasn’t the ideal strategy to winning a round. Instead, I had to take my time to balance my stamina and learn to read my opponent to be successful in combat.
The battle system for in For Honor is hard to grasp in the first few hours. Constant practice is needed to even master one hero to be successful in a fight and even then skill plays a big factor into it too. Just leveling up one hero can take several hours, mastering their skill set, and understanding what their strengths and weaknesses are. If that wasn’t enough, For Honor gives players four heroes for each faction, all of them playable. The heroes are divided up into four basic categories: standard starters, heavy hitters, damage dealers, and light-footed fighters.
Add in the fact each of these heroes has their own skill set and abilities to master, players can choose to level up one or two at a time. They can also do what I did and try out a few heroes in combat before settling in with the one that feels ‘just right’ to their playstyle. I personally chose the Nobushi for her agile attacks and bleed ability which damages the opponent slowly over time.
For Honor has a mechanic called ‘guard mode’ where the character focuses on their opponent to determine their next move or to fight. During guard mode, it’s possible to block, dodge, parry, or break the opponent’s guard with a swift attack. Determining how another player will react takes precision timing since the slightest hesitation could mean losing an encounter. I went up against more than my fair share of players and it became clear to me within my first couple of matches the gap in my skill set. Not to mention players have to balance the stamina of their chosen hero since it can become drained quickly if you’re not keeping an eye on it.
When stamina is depleted, the hero is unable to attack effectively. The only option is to guard and wait for stamina to go back up until they can leap back into the fray again. This can also be used to the player’s advantage because if their opponent is drained of stamina, they can press on the offensive to deal a large amount of damage or pull off a swift execution.
Focus is on Multi-Player
Maybe I’ve been spoiled with the onslaught of survival games I usually turn to but For Honor’s focus is mainly the multiplayer section. There is a story mode I dipped my toes into and, depending on the difficulty setting, it can take anywhere from 6-10 hours to complete. The storyline does tend to waver off in tangents at some points, but mostly it does enough to keep the player engaged. Playing through it also serves the purpose of allowing players to practice the battling mechanics and to gain a sense of the timing and precision necessary to win fights. The story campaign does also flesh the world out a bit and gives a bit more body. My experience at times did feel hollow since there are no real side activities to do to offer a break from the constant combat or even an open world to explore to engage in spontaneous encounters.
There are several game modes to choose from which can involve 1v1 Duels, 4v4 Dominion, 4v4 Elimination, and 4v4 Team Death Matches. I started out with Dominion because I just wanted to leap right into multiplayer instead of taking the time to practice. I lost the majority of the matches I took on, which forced me to reassess my career on the virtual battlefield.
There is an option to battle AI in 1v1 Duels and 4v4 Team Death Matches, though. I ended up spending a good chunk of time practicing in the 1v1 Duels to understand my Nobushi’s skill set better and to get used to controlling her. Even when going up against the AI, players still get experience points for their hero and a chance for loot. Most of the time I just received experience and steel but once in a while I’d receive a piece of equipment I could either equip or dismantle to upgrade my current weaponry.
Upgrading and Balancing
Steel is the main currency in For Honor. It can be used to buy cosmetic items like decorations, extra emotes, and extra crates for a chance to earn more equipment for a particular hero. The majority of steel can be obtained by doing daily orders which can involve winning multiple battles or just entering into a skirmish with other players without dying a finite amount of times. Steel can also be bought with real world money which can affect the balancing issues when going toe to toe with other players.
Weaponry can also be upgraded and new pieces purchased to strengthen a hero and to increase their abilities. One piece of equipment I came to own drastically increased my sprint speed, allowing me to escape from battles quickly or to zip across the battlefield to revive one of my allies. Other pieces of equipment can increase other status effects and abilities like bleed damage and stamina. When extra equipment is received through AI or player battles, it can be dismantled for spare components that can be used to upgrade current weaponry. Even with old equipment, it can be dismantled too and used to upgrade the new weaponry applied to the hero.
Even though there’s only battling in For Honor, it’s addicting. I’ve easily spent a few good 2-4 hour sessions just promising myself I’ll quit after ‘just one more match’. The steep learning curve should be noted, but at the same time precision timing and mastery of a chosen hero offers its own rewards. It feels immensely satisfying to spend a few hours practicing and being able to successfully execute an enemy player in a few quick moves. There’s a challenge to be had here and I’m loving every minute of it.
For Honor takes the concept of real-time combat to heart and is a breath of fresh air from the flood of first person shooters titles that hit the market. The medieval fighting simulator is what I think of when I look at this game and it’s a well-earned title. The only drawback here is that battling is the only activity to do, besides the short story mode campaign. I do wish there were more activities to complete like defending a village from enemy players and being able to gain extra resources like currency or components to upgrade equipment as a reward in return. I would have preferred a bit more variety during my experience, but for what the game has given it does it well in spades.
I wear a headset when I play on my PS4 so I can talk to other players but on the console, everyone seems to be quiet. There are the usual spammers and 2-4 players gaining up on one person during matches which can be frustrating when there’s no reprieve. On the other side of the coin, 1v1 Duels can be dynamic as you get into the mindset of reading your opponent and countering their attack. So while I didn’t have to deal with too many mean spirited people, the PS4 community seems to be quiet for the most part. If you have friends who own the game, I’d suggest playing with them if you enjoy having someone to talk to. If not, you shouldn’t have any problem playing For Honor.
Stunning graphics is a concept I’m not used to since I have to fiddle with the graphics settings on my PC every time I get a new game to get decent frame rates. For Honor is gorgeous and several times I’ve had to stop just to enjoy the scenery. The crumbling keeps, sheer drops into nothingness, rolling fog, and the clank of weapons against armor is so satisfying. There’s a real weight to the world and the heroes, it feels alive which just makes it even harder to quit after a three-hour playing session.
Value for Money 7/10
While I feel For Honor does need additional features to flesh it out more, overall I have to admit it’s easy to get your money’s worth out of it. Fans of real-time combat will have a blast playing this since once everything starts to click after practicing with a particular hero for a few hours, it’s immensely satisfying. Doing the story campaign alone can be 6-10 hours of gameplay while multi-player can easily keep players occupied for 20+ hours. Even with the bare minimum players are looking at 30 hours at least worth of gameplay to keep them occupied. $2 for an hour’s worth of entertainment and probably more for people who have gotten addicted to the game like I have. So yeah, players will easily get their money’s worth in time spent playing alone if they’re looking for a challenge, enjoy medieval combat and need multiplayer game outside of the usual first person shooters.
Overall Score 7/10
I’ve enjoyed For Honor immensely and I’m still looking for spare time to play it for a few more hours. The game is beautiful, the fighting is satisfying, and having a decent challenge for once just makes the experience all that more rewarding. Overall, I still wish there was more body to the game. Perhaps being able to storm a siege in 20-40 player battles which utilize the different heroes from each faction. How epic would that be?
Still, for what it is, For Honor is a good game. I love firing up my PS4 and sitting down for a long playing session with my Nobushi, upgrading her, and making her more powerful through combat. The steep asking price up front may dissuade some people, but For Honor can give people their money’s worth in the hours spent just playing it and seeking to become the best there is in this medieval world.Related: Fighter, For Honor, Multiplayer, PS4, Review, Ubisoft