What would happen if samurai, vikings, and knights got in a fight? This age-old question is the basis behind For Honor. And it’s a lot of speedy, frantic fun, even if its progression system does its best to slam on the brakes.
For Honor (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Out Now)
For Honor is, expectedly, a very pretty game. While the color palette can feel a little brown and muddy at times, that’s arguably fitting with the theme of endless, violent conflict with the thinnest of plots to justify it. It also sounds great, with a soaring score and a nice mix of grunts, clangs, and clashes. That said, one wishes the story were slightly more complex than more or less “These guys have popped out of a hole. Stuff them back into the hole.” Although you’ll be too busy goring Vikings to care.
For Honor smashes together Dark Souls‘ fencing combat, fighting game timing and skills, and 3D brawlers in what might be the most ridiculously fun and challenging gameplay so far this year. You have three stances; left, right, and overhead, and switching between them is crucial because you can only block attacks if you’re matching a stance. Fortunately, you can hop between stances quickly, albeit not fast enough to get the drop on your enemy every time, so any duel in the game becomes a juggling routine where you shift stances, parry attacks, and try to get the upper hand. More than stance matters: Bigger players can chisel away at your health even if you block, while more nimble attackers can get behind tanks quickly and end them messily.
Adding to the fun, this game takes hilarious glee in fighting dirty; shoving your foe off a ledge or setting him up to get backstabbed by another player isn’t just a viable strategy, it’s actively encouraged, especially since a lucky rookie can put an experienced player to bed if the latter gets overconfident. The game even encourages being a total dirtbag: Remember to look up, because archers are everywhere.
So the combat is a blast, and good thing too, as the game isn’t terribly deep. Like any multiplayer game, a lot depends on who you’re gaming with, and how much you enjoy deathmatch or capture-the-flag as, at the moment, every game mode is pretty much those with some bells and whistles added on. The single-player game, surprisingly, is fairly substantial, if a little short at roughly eight hours, although the boss fights are surprisingly fun.
Good thing too, because you’ll grind. A lot. The game’s economy is painfully stingy and oriented towards microtransactions. While each class is available to play for each faction at boot, only “unlocked” classes can be decorated with loot both useful and cosmetic. To get the really fancy stuff, you’ll essentially have to play the game for three straight months. Presumably there’s a fix for this of some sort on the way, and no fancy outfit can compensate for not grasping the game’s mechanics, but it is grating.
Theoretically this is unlimited, being a multiplayer game, but realistically, we spent twenty hours just crawling ruins and smacking other players with a hammer, and this will likely be in the rotation for hardcore fighting fans for a long, long time.
For Honor is a ridiculous amount of fun in the playing, and it offers both a substantial challenge and a change of pace for multiplayer gamers. Provided the game’s economy is fixed, fighting fans looking for a new challenge will find a lot of it here.