I feel like I’m in a sort of Groundhog Day.
The push of Ubisoft towards massive multiplayer games is one I have had some apprehension about. The Division, while a good rounded game expected far too much time from a player for the cover-based shooting around. Steep hit the mark a lot more personally, a cold breath of fresh air for the dwindling snow sports genre. Even Watch Dogs 2, primarily a single player experience put a huge emphasis on the multiplayer gameplay, carefully embedding itself into the world. And let’s not forget Rainbow Six Siege, the first of these multiplayer-focused experiences.
For Honor is the next step in this multiplayer initiative and, out of the three above, is definitely a contender for the best. The unique style of team-based battling combines many of the well-known elements of PvP gameplay but with a healthy dose of hero-based gameplay much akin to Dynasty Warriors. As mismatched as this may sound, it actually works surprisingly well.
The multiplayer offers three modes: 1v1 duels, 2v2 brawls or 4v4 domination. Domination will likely be your bread and butter, with players working to claim three objectives across a map and push your score high enough to push the other team off of the map. This is done through your team capturing objectives and slaughtering the other team captains. Winning matches helps your faction overall, and over the course of time wins and losses gain or lose your faction territory, giving you
The combat is where the boys and men are separated, mostly from their limbs. It takes time, skill, finesse and the understanding that blocking is far more important than anything else. Blocking is done across three axis and your heavy attacks are thrown across them. You have quicker light attacks, as well as a grab move to manoeuvre your enemy around and do quick damage. Fighting is very much closer to a dance than a duel, each step taken in response to the step of your opponent, both of you waiting to strike.
While you pick one of three factions you aren’t limited to a specific faction’s character. Unlike other team games the characters are not simply different reskinned versions of the same fighting style, but all unique in their own way. You have characters ranging from the peacekeeper, a quick character designed to take effective use of parries; the nobushi, a fighter designed to strike quickly and keep the enemy at range; and the beserker, a heavyweight character who breaks through guards and delivers several quick and deadly blows. Experiment around, you may find several you enjoy.
On top of this, customisation is quite deep for each character, you get a variety of different armour and weapon pieces which modify your stats, as well a purely cosmetic changes such as gender, skin colour and armour colour scheme. One very nice piece of customisation is the ability to convert a piece of armour with the stats you like into another piece of armour with the style you enjoy so you can keep that sweet look and have all of the benefits of better pieces of armour you find.
What I also noticed in the beta is just how damn good this game looks. A modern graphics card will be able to drive this game hard and there are plenty of settings to tweak to find the sweet spot for your card including scaling and in-built supersampling. Combined with three soundtracks, one for each faction, it’s really easy to get quite engrossed in the fighting.
There is just one glaring issue with For Honor which for many is the make-or-break feature: The beta has some serious connection issues. There are no servers for the game, it is designed to be a peer-to-peer connection, which has lead to numerous connection losses and sometimes difficulty even connecting. Heading to the For Honor subreddit and browsing the technical issues thread nearly every comment is about connection issues. There is even currently a petition for Ubisoft to give For Honor dedicated servers over P2P, though it is unlikely to change their mind.
So will I be buying For Honor on release? Probably not. While the game plays, looks and sounds good the lack of dedicated servers is showing even in the closed beta and it will probably kill the longevity of this game. A game designed around competitiveness and reactivity needs dedicated servers. If you want to play this game as the purest of casual gamers then this lack of server will not bother you. However be prepared for some serious backlash regarding the servers. It is coming.