I’ve played about two hours of For Honor’s beta and I am glad I did. Not only did it make me more excited about the game but I also came away impressed with the amount of depth it has. There are a few concerns that I have but I think they could be addressed properly with some thought.
For Honor is a game all about melee combat. Basically, you face off against other characters that are either AI controlled or player-controlled. Aside from the tutorial I mostly played against other people. Even though the beta was multiplayer focused you can be squared up against an AI bot.
What separates For Honor from other similar games is its distinct combat system. Once you come up against your enemy you pull the left trigger to lock on to them. From here you have a variety of options. Pushing the right thumbstick up, right or left, sets your stance in that direction. Two attack options are available your quick, light attack and your slow, heavy attack. If your stance is to the right you swing from the right. Blocking attacks are crucial and you block attacks by holding the same stance that your opponent uses when they attack you. For example, if you see your opponent is in a stance to their left then you need to be in your right stance to block it. Same goes for you, if you attack from your left stance and your opponent is in their right stance then they will block your attack. Hitting them requires you to move your stance in order to attack and break through their defense. That sounds basic but there are a variety of actions and tactics to use. Strategies will also vary by player and what type of fighter they are. Other actions include dodging, rolling, throwing, breaking blocks, parrying and so much more.
“More” is the key word here. For Honor has more depth in both its combat and its multiplayer aspects than I would have guessed. Not only are there various actions to perform in combat but there is also the higher damage dealing combos you can perform and various executions. That’s not even mentioning counters and the fact that certain maps have hazardous environments that you can use to score one-hit kills. If, for example, you manage to throw your opponent into water or off high ledges (which feels great by the way). Facing off against another person is thrilling. After facing off in several one-on-one duels I thought I was getting the hang of it. A rookie mistake because once I was pitted with someone who really knew what they were doing I didn’t stand a chance. My takeaway from that is that anyone can be good but you do have the ability to truly master the gameplay and be an elite fighter.
Speaking of fighters there are three different warriors to choose from including a knight, a samurai, and a Viking. In multiplayer you have to choose from one of three factions. No matter which faction you choose you can still choose any of the three warriors. The beta had three modes Duel, a one-on-one mode, Brawl, two-one-two, and Dominion, four-on-four. Brawl is pretty much two duels happening at the same time and it can be quite interesting as the match progresses. For example, if your teammate loses against their opponent then you have to defeat their opponent as well. In my experience when this happened the other opponent didn’t attack until I lost or I defeated his teammate first. This was sort of a respect thing that was nice since taking on two people means you are probably going to lose. That’s not to say someone might not attack, there are always those people who are jerks. Dominion is the only mode in the beta that was objective based. Two teams of four have to push forward taking the opposing team’s territory until they are pushed all the way back. In this mode, you have a large group of AI bots on either team. Pushing forward allows them to capture the next territory but if the opposing team kills them then their forces move forward to capture territory. During combat, you have to switch between attack the opposing team’s bots and players. From what I played Dominion seemed like it was a hard game to win at. Your team needs to be on the same page at all times and you can’t take on more than two players at once if you want to survive.
Like most multiplayer games For Honor has a customization and leveling system. Once again I was impressed by the depth of the systems. Everything from armor, weapons, and perks can be leveled up and customized. Different armor pieces can be swapped for better ones that you randomly get as loot after matches or you can purchase them in-game. Weapons work the same way. With weapons, you can even change their grips and handles. In both weapons and armor, every upgrade or new piece can change the stats of your warrior. An incredible amount of time and care can be put into setting up the perfect warrior to match your style. Each warrior handles a little bit different too. Vikings are slow but deal more damage than the other two warriors. Samurai is fast and highly agile but they deal the least amount of damage. Knights are in the middle. I didn’t play enough to see if maybe you could increase your speed or power enough to match the other two.
After matches, you gain resources apart from the experience and loot you can collect. These resources are used to assist your faction in areas on a map. For Honor’s world map is divided among the three factions. Along the borderlines are different areas where factions hold control. Every player’s resources have an effect on how much further that faction pushes into an opposing faction’s territory. Every six hours the map is updated to show how much it has changed. When you play you can see a round number and a season number at the top. This determines which round and seasons the multiplayer world is in. Rounds last weeks and seasons last even longer. At the end of every round, the faction with the most territory gets greater rewards. Faction’s that win at the end of the season have even greater rewards.
My main gripe with the game was a matchmaking issue, more specifically pairing opponents up. Often I was pitted against players that were a much higher rank than I was. Quickly I would get killed and that wasn’t very fun. This happened multiple times. Also, in Brawl, it didn’t always seem fair to have to take on two opponents without some sort of health boost or assist. Certain times I would beat my opponent but then have to take on the next one with little health. I hope they figure out a way to pair people with similar skill levels balance out the experience a bit more before launch.
Overall I had fun and was impressed by For Honor. The more I play the For Honor beta though the more I realize I might not be able to go toe-to-toe with more skilled players. That said, I am excited to check out the campaign. Either way, this game is more prominent on my radar than ever. For Honor releases on February 14th so keep an eye out for it.