It’s horrible to say, but with For Honor, you need to be prepared to die… a lot. This game is hard. But I don’t think it’s conventionally a hard game. I think it’s because we’ve been so used to, as gamers, first person shooters coming out, that any other style or games with different control schemes seem so alien to us at first. Trust me, stick with it. Practice makes perfect after all. Just don’t switch back to Battlefield 1 or Call of Duty too early, otherwise all of your hard work will be ruined.
The trailers didn’t do this game any justice. Following over the past few months, the game looked as if it was going to be some kind of hack and slash type venture. Guess again. The combat system is incredibly in-depth, and requires more planning and micro-management before swinging your sword towards your foe. We played this game on PC, and Christ if any game was built for a console and controller, this is it. If you are chasing this on the PC, then have some serious thought about investing on one of those Microsoft Xbox controllers or something similar with some analogue sticks.
To get it out the way, as I think this game is really about online matches, the single player is a little bland. The story campaign lacks depth, and what is offered to you is really more of an extended tutorial before hopping onto the Internet. It’s split into three sessions of around three to four hours of gameplay, one for the Vikings and two more for the Samurai and Knights. Each campaign teaches you about different fighting combinations of speed and strength.
Online play can be an absolute slog at first. Players have been around since the closed and open betas, so they have quite a bit of experience already. Mechanics work similarly to other titles on the market, meaning there is a leveling system in place. You level up the more successful you are on the battlefield, which equate to various armour and weapon unlocks, making you more powerful, fitter, so you don’t empty your stamina bar too quickly and also faster, enabling you to swing your weapons quicker than the enemy.
Each faction has a few warriors to choose from. Each of these playable characters have bonuses in various areas. For example, the super skinny characters are quick and generally use spears for longer reach, while the big fat ones are slow, but really do pack a punch. Each have their own advantages in certain situations.
Combat is where this game excels. It’s split into various different factors that will all come into play, so you must learn them. I advise watching their tutorial videos and try some offline fighting on the various difficulty modes before even thinking about going online. I tried for a few hours and found myself dead, pretty much most of the matches I played. Combat system uses a tri-mouse placement. I’m talking about PC here, as we experienced it but it’s very similar to controller play.
You can put your sword in three different stances by moving your mouse left, right and up to raise your weapon above your head. Do nothing, and your character will block attacks, as long as you make sure your weapon is the same direction as their swing. You then have light and hard attacks, swinging from the direction you have set your weapon. A body slam stun move is executed using your middle mouse button, and then you have parries which are well timed blocks and also dodges that you can use the space bar plus an arrow key on your keyboard to pull off. Sounds easy, and yes, the controls are pretty basic. But throw them in together and you’ve got one hell of a puzzle to sort out. Most skill comes from reading your opponent well, as visual cues in the form of flashing red arrows gives you a split second to react to their movement.
Gameplay can vary between duel modes as well as a domination style of gameplay. Duel modes can pitch up to two teams of four against eachother in a battle. These types of games are my favourite as you really only have one target to worry about at one time. The domination game modes are a capture and hold the points. It still pitches teams of four against eachother, but there are now mobs present. It’s similar to a League of Legends type setup. Mobs are weak, but are there to cause a bit of a nuisance.
Taking part in online matches lets the player unlock gear and weapons which can be equipped to give you a stat buff. The more orders you complete, the better the gear you receive and the more money and steel you make at the end of a match. You need this money and steel to unlock new characters as well as specialised weaponry and armour. It’s a great way to keep players coming back. The territory updates at the end of each monthly season gives each faction an overall score. I’m currently fighting for the Samurai on the game map, and we’re losing. This score is a global score which is determined over which team wins a particular game. There are buffs you can instil on the map which will help your faction further.
One thing I will point out, which hopefully will be fixed soon, is that its unbelievably unstable when playing multiplayer games. I have dropped connection countless times while trying to join a match, or even half way through a game. It’s so frustrating as loading times on For Honor are a little long. Could be down to the speed of my PC, but it’s not a slow machine and it trumps all over the recommended hardware to play.
Overall, For Honor is a refreshing take on what would usually be a hack and slash type game. The complex mechanics during combat play will keep players keen to get right, purely through the frustration of constantly dying. Yes, at first For Honor is a grinding uphill battle, but once you find your feet, it can give you some really intense moments of gameplay which is great. It is currently retailing on the Steam store between £39.99 and £69.99 depending if you want the season pass or not. Yes, expect some DLC coming in the future. Multiplayer is unstable but hopefully will be fixed soon.