When I was a kid, one of my favorite games on the NES was "Defender of the Crown", a fantastic game about warring factions trying to take over the land after the death of a king. It was almost like a videogame version of Risk but with a Middle Aged theme and other fantastic features such as being able to storm and raid castles and hold jousting tournaments for land and fame. For Honor is almost like a modern day version of Defender of the Crown with the same idea of warring factions trying to take over land while engaging in brutal combat with each other. Instead of the three factions all being Knights like Defender of the Crown, For Honor is set in an alternate universe where three separate factions, Knights, Vikings and Samurai are all at war with each other. While the game may be a little light on features, It's battle system along with incredibly fun multiplayer makes this a great new IP.
For Honor is like someone took a bunch of videogame genres and mashed them all together. It's part third person action, part fighting game, part MOBA, The one thing For Honor really has going for it is the "art of battle" system. Instead of being just a button masher, the art of war actually brings a fighting game element to the game and it works extremely well and is the major highlight of the entire game. When holding the L2 button you will get into guard stance. From guard stance you can block and attack in three different directions. You can block left, block right or block high. You can also attack in these directions as well so the game almost becomes a rock paper scissors guessing game of when to attack and when to block your opponents attacks. If you see your opponent is attacking right, which is highlighted by a red marker on their guard icon, you hold right to block. Each character in the game has different speeds of attacking and each character has a plethora of combos as well. For instance, even if you block one attack, you may need to keep blocking as they perform a follow up attack. Some characters like Peacekeeper are incredibly fast and can chain attacks together like crazy, while other characters like the Warlord are slower with their attacks, but they can also perform a full block by holding down on the left joystick. With 12 different characters, four from each faction, For Honor boasts and fantastic and diverse cast of characters where each one feels completely different from another. The art of battle system is simple to use, but difficult to master, giving For Honor the feel of a fighting game and I could easily see this game become an e-sport in the future as well.
There are four different classes in the game. Vanguard heroes are the balanced, adaptable class. Heavy heroes are the tanks of the game. They are slow but dish out a ton of damage, have high defense and can protect capture points and save teammates in danger. Assassins are low defense, but are incredibly fast and can deal out damage with their quick strikes. Finally there is the Hybrid class, which are a blend of the other classes. While each character in the game fits a specific class, they each have their own perks which can be unlocked by leveling up characters. Some of them include giving a boost to soldiers on the battlefield, giving nearby teammates additional strength and defense, being able to use a single use bow to pick off enemies at low health, or at maximum level, can even launch an archer or cannonball attack that will canvas the battlefield and dish out huge damage to an enemy within the attack zone. You also have the ability to perform a guard break by pressing the square button. This attack will stun opponents and leave them open to an attack or you can press the guard break button again to throw the opponent. Throws can be your worst nightmare. Littered throughout all of the maps in the game are various traps that can instantly kill you if you are thrown into them. From spiked walls, cliffs, or giant holes leading to spike pits, you can easily get out of a fight if you. Killing someone with an environmental hazard is so incredibly satisfying if you pull one off, but of course can be incredibly annoying if you are on the receiving end of one of these kills. This adds another element danger to each fight, meaning you need to be on your guard and aware of your surroundings at all time. The environmental kills sound cheap but you can tech guard breaks and you can pretty much see your opponent setting one up by standing near a cliff or on a narrow bridge hoping you will come charging after them so they can throw you off.
Learning all of the characters can be intimidating at first, but thankfully For Honor boasts a number of tutorials, videos and AI battles to help you out. You can play every multiplayer match in the game against AI opponents and you still earn war assets for completing those as well (more on that later). The best place to learn how to play each character however is with For Honor's single player campaign. The story isn't anything too special but you do play through a campaign for each faction, swap between multiple characters, learn their combos and get an idea as to why these factions are fighting in the first place. The story is also pretty lengthy at well and should take around 8-10 hours to complete depending on what difficulty settings you play on. Completing the campaign for each faction unlock special cosmetic items which can be used in the multiplayer modes. The missions are fun enough that you can replay them and doing so on harder difficulties will boost your score. Each level also has a certain amount of smash-able items and landmarks to find as well.
Most of your time in For Honor will be spent in the online multiplayer portion of the game, and it should be noted that this game is an online only game, which means you must be connected to the internet in order to do anything in the game. Before even getting into multiplayer matches, you will be asked to choose a faction to represent in an only meta game called the "Faction Wars". Everything you due online will earn you war assets and said assets can be placed on different territories around the map to help you either defend or take over enemy territory.
The map itself updates every four hours or so and rounds in For Honor happen over the course of a few weeks. Finally, after six weeks, a faction is declared the winner and the season will end. Online mode consists of three different game modes. Dual and Brawl, Deathmatch and Dominion. Dual is a simple 1v1 fight and brawl is a 2v2 fight where the best of three out of five matches is declared the winner. Deathmatch has two different game modes. Elimination which is a 4v4 battle that plays out like dual and brawl and a team deathmatch style mode called Skirmish where every kill earns you points and once your team reaches 1000 points, your opponents stop respawning. The main game mode of For Honor however is Dominion, which plays out like game of Domination mixed with a MOBA. In this mode, there are three capture points on the map. One point is near your base, one is near the enemy base and the third is in the middle of the map. By capturing and holding points, your team earns points towards their total score. Like skirmish, once you hit 1000 points the enemy stops spawning. What makes it like a MOBA is that the middle point is occupied by soldiers from each faction fighting with each other. These soldiers are like minions from a MOBA. You have to take out the enemy soldiers so your soldiers can advance to take the point. This leads to almost a constant back and forth tug of war battle in the middle of the map for control of the middle point. All of the game modes are fast and incredibly fun and the art of war battle system makes all of the battles in the game feel unique and a battle of wits. There are many times where I have died and had tons of respect for my opponent because I got outplayed and there were plenty of times where I won where I felt like I earned the victory as well.
The one thing that really brings down the experience however is the system to unlock content in online modes. Sometimes after matches you can find will find random loot. At the start you can usually find some gear that is better off than the default gear each character starts out with. After a while of collecting loot, most of the stuff you find after matches is garbage and you are better off just discarding it for scrap that you can use to upgrade gear. If you want new gear for a character, you need to buy RNG loot boxes with steel. Oh yes, give that pitiful amount of steel you collect during multiplayer matches to the RNG gods and hope that you get something useful.
Don't want to wait to accumulate steel after matches? Buy it with real money of course. Now to be fair, most of the loot boxes aren't that expensive. I think that 500 steel is the most expensive one and there are numerous daily challenges that you can complete that will reward you with extra XP and steel so gathering steel for boxes won't take you that long but it should be noted that when you open a box, you get gear for your selected character only. Meaning if you have Peacekeeper selected, you will only get gear for her only. If you want gear for a character like Orochi, you will need to select them and then open another box. There are also taunts and new executions you can unlock with steel as well but they cost thousands of steel to unlock.
There are also problems with For Honor's always online requirement. You better make sure you have a good connection or else you are going to be constantly booted from games if your internet drops at all. There is also the issue that the game uses P2P instead of dedicated servers. Of course this means that there is a good chance that you will be greeted with a "connection to the match has been lost. Returning to the main menu" message quite a bit. While not a complete deal breaker, it can get annoying after a while.
Even with the connection problems and annoying system for unlocking items, For Honor is still a blast to play. Multiplayer modes are addicting and quick enough that you will find yourself saying "just one more match" and knowing that all your efforts are going towards your faction winning a war is addictive as well. Seeing the map update knowing that the Samurai or Knights have encroached on your territory and are now in the lead? Yeah we are gonna need to do something about that. Time to gather more war assets and take these Join Vikings by the way. We need all the help we can get.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. My earliest gaming memories come from playing Lady Bug and Snafu on my fathers Colecovision and Intellivision respectively. It wasnt until I was 6 years old and played a Mortal Kombat 2 arcade machine in a game room at a hotel that I truly fell in love with a videogame. I have so many wonderful memories of my dad and I playing Mortal Kombat on SNES every night after dinner. Throughout my childhood NES, SNES, Gameboy and Sega Genesis were the loves of my life. Here I am 29 years old and still as much in love with videogames as I ever was. And for the record... I enjoyed the Mass Effect 3 ending... sue me