For Honor is a fighting game that surprised me. Ubisoft have released a string of well to do open world fighters over the last few years with games like Far Cry Primal and Watch Dogs 2, all of which embody a similar play style and controls. So it was to my complete surprise that when I started For Honor and tried to skip my way through the tutorial gloating “I ain’t no noob” the control and battle system involve confronting your enemy face on and using a series of maneuvers block their attacks and carefully think out your strategy to defeat them without the safety of hiding behind a rock or building. It was an intense and surreal experience combined with beautiful medieval era graphics and the choice of viking, knight or samurai which sounds odd but they oddly all work together to deliver a unique gaming experience.
The third person camera and melee weapons drew a Ryse comparison but this all disappeared when the complexity of the battle system and controls set in. It is not a passive game in which you can roam around freely and confront enemies with a few clicks so expect to not be checking your phone or getting easily distracted when exploring this world.
The single player campaign is as well as can be expected from a game of this caliber. It’s your standard nonsense backstory for your chosen warrior with not much thought being put into it and really you shouldn’t be expecting much from this. The game does shine in multiplayer mode and I found rarely any connection or lag issues when playing online.
The “Art Of Battle” as the game calls it is a throwback to battle games of old where you block in different directions, attack in different directions and pick up on what direction your opponent is attacking from and reflect this with your maneuvers. This is also reflected in the pace of the game demanding your full attention, I found everytime I tried to reach for my phone to check for those all important notifications, I would come under attack or miss a blocking instruction and as a result the game and my character suffered dearly. This sounds like it is annoying for the modern day gamer, but I enjoyed that it took me out of my world and demanded my full attention while I was playing, the only other game that has done this to me was Uncharted 4 : A Thief’s End.
Visually this game does not disappoint, the full 1080p 60 FPS looks stunning and the detail on each character and environments compliment each other to bring the game to life. A lot of medieval games are simple hack and slash’s with not much after thought about the level of detail in the design, this game delves deep into rich detail and this helped relieve my “wtf are samurai’s doing there” thinking.
Coming into this game a week after launch I found the wide range of tutorials with forgiving AI to be a relief to get my skill level up before taking on multiplayer against players who would otherwise completely destroy me. Every game mode is available in AI, which makes it easier to get a grip on before running out into the online community.
Multiplayer mode is not something you can easily jump in and out of. The rewards for winning are distributed in a currency called Steel and are difficult to obtain. Outfits and ornaments range from 10-15,000 steel and you usually get 15-20 per kill so it can take a while to build this up for purchases. If you want to try and hurry this up a bit you can partake in daily and weekly contracts that will give you additional currency to help.
For Honor is the medieval multiplayer game you have been waiting for. Delivering next gen graphics with an updated and not overly complex fighting system. While the single player campaign is largely forgettable it does give you a variety of different characters and types to play with in different game modes. The multiplayer is where this game exceeds, with a large range of different modes including daily and weekly contracts that vary, For Honor secures itself as one of Ubisoft’s best releases in the last 12 months.
For Honor is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Review by Alaisdair Leith