[Humble brag ahead] Being the descendant of a knight, who else would be the perfect candidate to join the Blackstone Legion? Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to faithfully recreate my family crest in-game, but putting aside my disappointment for Ubisoft’s wrong spelling of For Honor, I gave it a chance to win me back with the promised glory.
Getting the obvious out of the way first, For Honor’s visuals aren’t anything amazing for a AAA title, but they do bring a sense of grittiness to the battlefield. With small details littered throughout the maps, there’s plenty to look at, but in my opinion the best detail would have to be the damage the characters receive. Just had a Viking axe swing down upon your helm? Expect to see a red gash down your forehead. The music is barely there, preferring a foreboding ambience to dramatic orchestral suites. However, every crunch of a chest-plate and clash of steel feels real.
Calamity brought The Legion (Knights), The Warborn (Vikings), and The Chosen (Samurai), all together, and a lack of resources led them to war. Or story starts with the Knights, narrated by the warmongering Blackstone Legion commander, Apollyon, as we follow the Warden through his changing loyalties and scepticism. Players will be witness to the reforming of the Viking clans, and through the eyes of the Emperor’s champion; the possible realisation of peace. Being fleshed out by the various characters and voice acting, this narrative feels unique, and has somewhat of a lasting effect on the player.
Story Mode is very linear, following set scenarios in each of the timelines with only a few easily found “items” and points-of-interest to diverge the player from their path. With a few different difficulties, you get to choose your EXP modifier for trade-offs in UI and helpful hints in game. For Honor’s combat system, titled the “Art of Battle”, kicks in when locking onto another player or AI, though the latter becomes tedious when you understand their patterns. Both you and your opponent can choose from three directions, left, right, and above, from which to attack and defend. In lower difficulties indicators are present to show which way your opponent is defending or preparing to attack from, prompting you to defend from the same or attack from another direction, however in higher difficulties all you have to go off is visual cues from your actual opponent. Along with the standard light and heavy attacks as well as all encompassed combos, there is also a guard-break to leave the opponent stunned, and a shove to chain on top and nudge them towards some environmental hazards. So much fun, but oh so dirty.
Online on the other hand, is a whole new experience. Being P2P means long wait times, interruptions mid-match when the someone decides to leave, and just connection issues in general. I will say though; I don’t think I’ve experienced any lag. The combat is fluid, and it seems like the other players are sitting right next to you, rather than half a world away. As for what you’ll be playing though, there’s Dominion (control points), Duel and Brawl (1v1 and 2v2 fight to the death), and Deathmatch. Dominion and Deathmatch are actually an interesting take on the competitive multiplayer formula; first your team must reach 1000 points through holding the points or killing enemies so they can’t respawn, and then eliminate every opposing hero. Beginning to lose can steamroll your team, but if you’re quick you may still be able to revive a fallen comrade, earn 1000 points yourself, and come back for the win. Once finished, troops can then be deployed on the battlefield for the Faction War; a cross-platform competition between the three factions. At the end of the season all members from the winning side will be granted bonuses, so I’m just hoping there’s a few more recruits for the Knights of the Blackstone Legion somewhere out there.
Speaking of heroes, For Honor has 12 of them, all usable regardless of which faction you align with. Classes are roughly split into balanced, heavy, assassin, and special, though each of the 12 have different Feats and movesets to give them the advantage in battle. As a character is played with, new customisation options open up, featuring new Feats such as healing in battle or calling down a catapult, and of course equipment and cosmetics. Customisation is key to finding what works best for you, and intimidating your opponents out in the field, especially when each piece of equipment can change your damage output, stamina recovery, or even your revenge time.
While all this is extremely fun, and I’ll definitely be picking up a copy for myself once I return Callum’s PS4, I can’t help but feel the intense and calculated duels that many people are looking for quite often seem to be missing. In Dominion or Deathmatch, where respawning is a given, it’s all about dispatching your opponent quickly, rather than working out his patterns or ensuring your own survival. Indeed, encounters quickly devolve into mindless hack-and-slash in an attempt to fell your enemy before he does you, and cheap kills such as throwing someone off the edge or into flames become even more prevalent than they were in the Story Mode. It still doesn’t change the fact that For Honor has got to be another step in the right direction for Ubisoft, and I look forward to seeing where things go next.
Maybe spelling things properly would be the way to go.