By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong
WITHOUT a doubt, For Honor can be an immersive experience. Boot up the game and marvel as catapult shots fly overhead and arrows zing past you. Armor clinks and swords clash as your chosen knight charges into battle, hacking, chopping, and slashing. You breeze through the first few missions, then move to multiplayer mode, the heart of the game, eager to test your blade against other combatants. You enter the battleground, and your champion tears through the enemy ranks, only to meet his match. Another player steps up to face you in fair combat. You press a button and your warrior salutes. Your enemy does the same. You close in to start your duel, ready your sword — and take a lag spike to the face as your opponent teleports around willy-nilly, defying the laws of gravity. He zooms past you, slices you to bits, and the match is over. The immersion breaks, and you disconnect from the match due to your host rage-quitting. What you’re left with as you stare at the screen in disbelief is a game that sometimes proves to be enjoyable, but all in all can be both frustrating and lackluster.
Let’s get one thing clear: When it wants to be, For Honor works, and works well. The opening cutscenes and the premise of the game all match up to what is standard for Ubisoft releases. They look good and feel good. They show potential.
Gameplay wise, For Honor is both tense and thrilling. Featuring a combat system where players attack and block in three directions (up, right, or left), it plays out like a 3-D fighting game. A stamina meter prevents someone from spamming attacks, and players can chain charges together in sequence to create a combo. Players may also do feints and juke an opponent or dodge an oncoming attack by rolling sideways or backwards.
Combine that with a system where different classes have different fighting styles, and strengths and weaknesses according to their weapon type, and For Honor can show a surprising amount of depth. You’ll be striving to learn the ins and outs of your class. The game even allows you to personalize your fighter to your style by changing his armor and the emblem he wears to battle, letting you connect with him as he treks to the battlefield.
And when you do get to bring him to the fight, it all clicks together. Very well, in fact, For Honor’s multiplayer modes are stellar. The 1v1 and 2v2 aspects of the game — called Duels and Brawls, respectively — are enjoyable and are fought in a best-of-five series. These modes highlight what For Honor wants to be: a fighting game revolving around its unique mechanic. Older players have no advantage over newer ones, and the better player will win the round. Supposedly.
The problem is that while these modes work well, they don’t always work properly. For Honor uses a peer-to-peer multiplayer setup, and weak and unstable Internet connections provide a heavy advantage towards hosts and those near them. A game this heavily invested in multiplayer modes shouldn’t be using this type of connection. Lacking dedicated servers, it relies solely on players hosting their own. And not counting how difficult it can be to get into a match sometimes, it’s highly likely you’ll get thrown into a server too poor or too far from you for you to experience any enjoyment. Add that to the fact that the game becomes unplayable should any connection to the host be lost, and it puts a considerable shadow on what should be For Honor’s greatest selling point.
The 4v4 Dominion mode doesn’t fare any better. It feels disjointed with how the game sells itself. Lacking the same care it has in its Duels, it gives a Dynasty Warriors-esque feel where you can cut down respawning AI soldiers with a touch of your button, and yet you’re also all too likely to get ganged up on and killed by people who, ironically, do not have any honor.
“Well, I’ll just go Single Player,” you tell yourself. If multiplayer options are flawed, then surely going solo will let you avoid most of these issues.
Nice try. Single Player still requires an Internet connection; losing the link to Ubisoft at ANY POINT locks you out of your game, and even when you do get to play it, you realize that neither its story nor its gameplay is particularly thrilling or engaging. A lot of the feinting and juking you’ll be doing in multiplayer means nothing against the AI, and the sheer monotony of the campaign makes it more tiring than it should be. For Honor’s Single Player mode feels less like a campaign mode and more like a glorified tutorial.
Add that to its price tag, around P2,500 as of the time of this review, and it’s difficult to recommend wholeheartedly despite how beautiful it can look and play. If a game where Knights, Vikings, and Samurai going all out against each other seems appealing to you, and you have the net connection to handle it, the patience to learn the combos, and the stoicism to accept the multiple disconnection screens you’ll likely be seeing, then it might be worth a look.
Otherwise, as good as it can get, I’d recommend waiting for it to go on sale. Its flaws simply hold it back too much to recommend buying at full price.
- Great multiplayer (when it works)
- Good degree of customization
- Easy to learn, hard to master (so it’s easy to pick and play from the get-go, but has a learning curve to keep you interested)
- Looks amazing (Polished and immersive)
- At its heart, offers only three multiplayer modes (1v1, 2v2 and 4v4)
- Peer-to-Peer Internet connection results in varied user experience
- Boring to mediocre single player mode
- Requires you to be online all the time (even for fights against bots or practice mode)
- Longevity relies solely on multiplayer modes
9/10 if you have a fast and stable Internet connection
7/10 if you don’t