Also On: Xbox One, PC
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
When Ubisoft first revealed For Honor, I pushed it off thinking of it as yet another multiplayer only, Evolve-esque experience. I expected something similar to Lord of the Rings: Conquest back on Xbox 360. I was completely wrong and taken aback when I finally got my hands on For Honor. Not only was the experience a good one, but it had substance to it. This is not a game that you can just breeze through in a day or two and have mastered, this requires dedication and skill.
For Honor's fighting system is not a typical hack and slash, it requires you to play smart and methodically. When guarding you select either left, right or up to defend. You choose which direction to do so by watching your opponent and observing the clues that show you which direction they are going to attack from. Similarly, you need to read which direction they are blocking to select how you want to come in for your own attacks. This goes back and forth until one of you makes a fatal mistake and it is all over. Fights can last seconds or minutes depending on how evenly matched you and your opponent are.
For Honor is at its heart, a fighting game. Under the deceptive coat of paint lies a difficult to master fighting game. A system of parries, counters, light and heavy attacks, blocks and precise timing lend themselves more to a Mortal Kombat than to a hack and slash. For Honor is definitely firmly in the realm of a technical fighter with all of those mechanics at play. This can be thrilling to players who crave systems like that, or a turn off to someone who comes into this not fully understanding what it is they are getting into. Regardless of how you feel about the system, dubbed "The Art of Battle", it will require a substantial amount of practice to master. Ubisoft has created something totally new and unique with For Honor, and it is something I would like to see them expand on in the future.
To encourage different playstyles, Ubisoft included 4 character classes in each of the 3 factions for a total of 12 unique characters. There are your fast and light characters, your slow heavy tanks, your mid-range all around characters and a long range character that utilizes tools and distance. Each faction has one of these classes, but they all play so differently and are so well balanced you can play as whoever you are comfortable with and never really feel like you are overmatched by an opponent simply based on your respective character choices.
The multiplayer is both incredibly deep and incredibly satisfying. With several options to choose from, between one on one to massive team brawls there is something here for everyone. For Honor manages to balance the thrill of competitive play with the ease of access that a more casual gamer is looking for. If fighting solo isn't your style and you would prefer to sit back and assist your team in other ways, you can truly be an asset in the larger team based modes. If you want to fight one on one with another player and prove once and for all who is the better fighter then by all means, go out and start dueling. Ubisoft doesn’t expect everyone to be comfortable doing any of this right away though, and has included a mode that allows you to fight AI, and various methods of combat to become more comfortable with the mechanics of fighting. This is a great idea for new players and a good way to feel out which class and faction suits your playstyle.
Far from being multiplayer only (although certainly multiplayer focused), For Honor's campaign is short and a bit underwhelming, but incredibly fun nonetheless. You have three chapters, one for each faction; Knight, Samurai and Viking. Inside each of these chapters you have 6 missions that allow you to get a feel for just about every playable character you have access to in multiplayer. The story is paper thin, and the constant switching between both characters and factions prevents you from ever feeling any kind of real attachment to the characters. I think Ubisoft knew this going in though, and intend for the campaign to be used as a 5 hour tutorial/practice arena for multiplayer, as the mechanics remain the same. If you get a grasp on the game early however and dive into multiplayer with no trouble, there is really no incentive to return to the single player.
For Honor is a unique, one of a kind experience that pulls influence from some of the best fighters out there. Unfortunately it is a singular experience. After the 25 or so hours I spent in the game for the review I am quite done. This is not a game that you will be able to jump in and play unless you maintain a level of competency with the mechanics. This is not a Call of Duty where you can come home on the weekend and play for a while and be fine. You have to actually work to be and stay good at For Honor. I hope to be drawn back in later on down the line with something new or some added game modes, but for now I feel that I have exhausted all that there is to do in this world.