Ubisoft has a reputation for releasing games that almost feel incomplete, or at least seem to be still in their Beta states. I’m not going to talk about how politically correct they appear to be, such as featuring female Special Forces operators in their turn-around blockbuster hit, Siege. Indeed I find it refreshing that they take chances with regards to how unique their games actually are, mechanics-wise, regardless of their heavy-handed and forced gender politics.
When I’d first heard about their action/fighting game For Honor last year, I was extremely interested in what it had the potential to be. Being as I used to be hardcore into fighting games, but that I’ve sort of grown disillusioned and disinterested in modern fighters (at least in the fifteen years or so), For Honor seemed like a breath of fresh air.
Today’s fighting games all seem to follow the same strict guidelines; i.e. 2D fighters all play the same, and even 3D fighters more or less play very similar to 2D games. In fact, 3D fighting games like those in the Tekken series have curtailed their 3D movement so that lateral movement is basically non-existent.
I initially thought that For Honor was more of an action-type wargame, such as many of the Asian historical combat games, which pit a solitary hero against hundreds of troops all at the same time. Eventually (to my delight) I discovered that although For Honor does in fact feature a mode with that contain throngs of generic soldiers for you to mow down, it’s more of a 4v4, 2v2, and 1v1 fighting game.
Since my favorite fighting games of all time were Bushido Blade 1 and 2, I marveled at the thought of moving around in fully 3D environments again, while trying to outmaneuver my foes. Strangely, no one has taken after the Bushido Blade formula of free movement when it comes to the fighting game genre, until now.
For Honor was met with great to lukewarm reviews from the gaming press. It eventually settled into a not-too-impressive 76% rating on Metacritic (for PC). Most of the praise was mainly centered on For Honor’s totally unique fighting game mechanics. Although similar to Bushido Blade’s in that you have different stances from which to attack and block from, For Honor is played from a third person perspective instead of a more traditional 2D (or even 3D) side-to-side fighting game one.
Combined with split-second, flashing indicators which tell you where enemy’s attacks are coming from, in addition to grabs and throws, parries, and sudden-death knock off moves, For Honor has certainly embraced Bushido Blade’s combat philosophy and ideas, and brought them along much further.
On the not-so-good side, people weren’t too keen on what was going on under the beautifully-rendered hood. For Honor has been plagued with lots of server lag, which initially resulted in a sluggish framerate for many. The other big problem was that it depends on peer-to-peer matchmaking, much like Siege does. But whereas Siege hardly has any issues with its netcode, For Honor’s P2P matchmaking system results in the frequent disconnections of players. For instance, one minute you can be starting a 4v4 match, and the next you’ll be involved in a 4v2 one because 2 players have been dropped.
I’ve waited a full ten months to review For Honor, mainly because I’ve wanted to give Ubisoft time to update their unique, diamond in the rough fighting game. I’ve been pretty much holding my breath and awaiting them to integrate some proper dedicated servers, and finally be rid of their atrocious P2P system. But alas, all that has been improved so far is the game’s lag—it is still wholly reliant on P2P. Will they turn things around as they have with Siege? Only time will tell.
On the positive side, Ubisoft has been releasing a steady stream of content. Just as with Siege, these content updates are free, at least on the surface. They each mainly take the form of offering 2 new combatants to play with. However, if you want to play them right out of the gate, you have to purchase For Honor’s Season Pass. All of us other peasants must wait to earn enough Steel, For Honor’s in-game currency, in order to unlock characters that you want.
Many people seem to complain that the newer characters overshadow the more standard ones. But in my playtime I’ve seen people who are as deadly as your bog-standard Warden, Raider, and Kensei, as those who can mop things up with newer ones, such as the Centurion, Highlander, and Shinobi. I believe that it’s just their bizarre perception that anything that is newer somehow is better, just because they haven’t figured out how to deal with them. Hence, you’ll get lots of whining and “OP” getting cast around wantonly.
Mechanics-wise, For Honor is as sharp (couldn’t resist) as ever. Every sword or ax swipe, thrust, and parry feels responsive. Each weapon also feel as though there is some serious heft behind it. Combined with the game’s sumptuous graphics, and you can really get immersed in some beautifully epic battles, whether playing the game’s 4v4, 2v2, or 1v1 modes.
I’d personally say that the 1v1 duels is where the game really shines, since it’s just you against a single opponent, with no distractions. Okay, I’ll also admit that For Honor’s duel mode also remind me the most of the Bushido Blade games of yore. The only drawback is the fact that the fighting arenas themselves aren’t really that big, and could have benefited from more verticality.
For Honor is a game in flux. It has stellar gameplay mechanics and a very unique theme that hasn’t been seen in a couple of decades. However, it is still being hamstrung and held back by its stubborn reliance upon P2P hosting. Until that major issue is resolved, the game will continue to spiral downwards. My hope is that Ubisoft will turn things around (as they stated the will) in an upcoming update.
For Honor features outstanding graphics that make its fighting gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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