Video-Game Review: For Honor
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It’s a rare sight when a large, multi-million-dollar game developer such as Ubisoft treks off the beaten path to such an extent as with their latest title, For Honor. Ubisoft has always been known to stick to the same formula for most of their games: open-world with RPG elements, an emphasis on exploration and world-building. This can be seen through their long-running franchises like the Assassin’s Creed series or the Far Cry series, and while Ubisoft has managed to get this formula down to a tee, it does tend to get a bit repetitive as they seemingly release the same game over and over again except with different settings. Fortunately, tactical hack-and-slash For Honor is almost the complete opposite of an open-world free-roam game, and Ubisoft somehow manages to execute it wonderfully. For Honor is a delightfully unique experience that offers a twist on the action fighting genre that you can’t quite find anywhere else.
For Honor has the player take the role of a soldier in one of three medieval armies: knights, vikings, or the samurai. These armies are named The Legion, The Warborn, and The Chosen respectively, and while you choose which army you wish to represent when you start the game, they don’t really have much of an impact on the gameplay itself. See, the multiplayer mode in For Honor is unique in that it takes the form of a persistent virtual war ranging over a large region split into several smaller territories. This virtual war is called the “Faction War,” and will be updated every time you log into the game. Every day, the Faction War is updated, and you can see how your army did the previous day. The Legion might’ve taken some land from The Chosen, while losing some land to the Warborn, and so on. This persistent war depends on the players’ performances within the actual matches in the game, and while this does add a distinct immersion factor in the multiplayer, it can become annoying as time goes on since there isn’t much motivation to keep up with the “Faction War” and you can’t opt out of it.
But I may be getting ahead of myself here, let me first explain how the gameplay in For Honor actually works. Unlike a typical hack-and-slash game (“hack-and-slash” meaning a game focused on close-combat fighting, such as with a sword), you can’t actually just hack and slash to your heart’s content. For Honor is a more tactical hack-and-slash, in that the player must carefully plan out how they want to attack another player before they do so. The player can either swing their weapon from above, the left side, or the right side, and if the opposing player blocks in that direction, they successfully parry the attack. This unique combat system is titled the “Art of Battle,” and makes battling other players in For Honor reminiscent to the well-choreographed fight scenes in medieval war movies. While it does take a few matches to learn the ins and outs of the Art of Battle system, once you manage to grasp the basics, it makes every battle a new and entertaining experience.
Going back to the Faction War, you can participate in the war by playing in any of For Honor’s multiplayer game modes. These game modes range from one-on-one duels to large-scale battles in which players must defend zones across the map. No matter which mode you play in, you’ll have to choose a character to play as before the battle begins, these characters being called “Heroes.” There are twelve heroes to choose from, four heroes per army (keep in mind though that you can still play as any hero, no matter which army you chose to participate in when you started the Faction War). Every hero has a unique playstyle, even more so if they belong to different armies. The “Conqueror” hero belongs to the Legion (knights) and focuses on hard-hitting heavy attacks, while the “Nobushi” from the Chosen (samurai) is a nimble, quick hero who can deal rapid attacks and run away before receiving any damage themselves. All the heroes can be heavily customized as well, in fact, swapping and editing armor will also give different stat boosts depending on what kind of armor it is.
For Honor is the medieval tactical fighting game I never knew I wanted. With its intricate and unique combat system, For Honor delivers a spin on the typical hack-and-slash game that you rarely get to see. While there are some slight annoyances such as the mandatory Faction War and connection issues in multiplayer, the beautiful visuals and entertaining gameplay more than make up for it.