We Go Hands-on With For Honor
The For Honor Alpha was a lot of fun, so I jumped at the chance to play the Beta as well. While the gameplay itself didn’t seem to change much, this time around players had access to a new class in each faction, as well as many more maps to keep things interesting.
First of all, it looks like there are plans for both a day and night option on each map as well as different weather conditions like rain and fog. It’s not nearly as dynamic as Battlefield’s system, but it does add a lot to the scenery and immersion. Melee combat just tends to feel so much more epic when it’s in the middle of a storm, and fighting in a foggy graveyard was perfectly eerie.
“Melee combat just tends to feel so much more epic when it’s in the middle of a storm, and fighting in a foggy graveyard was perfectly eerie.”
The new maps featured more of the natural hazards we should be expecting too, like steam geysers and lakes. It felt incredibly satisfying to kick an opponent into a geyser just as it goes off and watch as he takes a ton of damage. The land has been reshaped by the elements to bring the three factions into contact, and it definitely shows.
With what seems to be the opening cinematic bundled in, we finally get a glimpse at the actual story behind For Honor and what the single player campaign might be about. Basically, one day the land went through an enormous shift, swallowing cities and displacing the population. The three factions have been fighting ever since, roughly a thousand years. It’s a bit far-fetched, but if you want to see Samurai, Vikings, and Knights fighting amongst each other then I think the story is the least of your concern.
The new classes were all pretty fun, but I spent most of my time with the Nobushi of the Samurai, a defensive long-reaching warrior wielding what appears to be a naginata. With a hidden stance and some interesting bleed combos, players should be careful in a duel. Wait for your enemy to make the first move, and then punish them with a swift poke. Attacking and then going for a guard break results in a very stylish combo involving a kick, and I used this multiple times to knock unsuspecting opponents into hazards. It’s a lot of fun, and definitely my favorite class so far.
The Knights gained a sword and dagger wielding fighter that was reminiscent of the Orochi. Very fast, very deadly. Some of the wild flourishes you can pull off with heavy attacks mean your opponent will need to be quick on their feet if they aim to kill you first. I found that keeping the pressure up and dodging whenever possible was key, but it was always a race to see if I’d gas out or not when fighting as the Peacekeeper.
“People rage-quitting is still the biggest problem, but network issues seemed to be less frequent this time around.”
With a shield-bearing Viking joining the fray, players got another option for a more defensive warrior. Unlike the Conqueror on the Knights’ side, the Warlord is a bit more aggressive and uses a smaller buckler to quickly deflect hits and then counterattack with full force. Shields aren’t really my thing so I played this class the least, but it was still fun and engaging. Ubisoft Montreal has outdone themselves in creating fun and seemingly balanced classes.
It’s a bit crazy at first but the more I play For Honor, the more it feels like what 3D fighting games could evolve into. What they’ve showed off so far isn’t really the same as other melee combat games like Mount and Blade or War of the Roses. Instead, it’s more like a mix between Dynasty Warriors and Soul Calibur. You can definitely button-mash your way to victory at times, but a strong opponent can use their skill to win without mercy.
People rage-quitting is still the biggest problem, but network issues seemed to be less frequent this time around. I only had one major hitch and one disconnect over several hours of play, which is a huge improvement from the Alpha. The matchmaking needs some work though, as I didn’t find new people once after a lobby would disperse. Instead I’d be left waiting until the timer ran down, then kicked to the map to search again. Having to back out and reset the lobby is a pain.
All told, things are looking up. For Honor has only improved with time, but the release is only a few weeks away. I for one am excited to not only embrace the chaos of the battlefield, but to see what they’ve got in store in terms of a campaign as well. The current mechanics and maps are quite promising, and I can’t wait to see how they utilize it all for people who want to play by themselves.