For Honor is, like many games, mostly a multiplayer platform. Sure, you can play it on a single-player campaign, but storymode is short and over in a few hours. More designed to get you used to the battle system than actually be a story, though there is a story there. While it’s a bit heavyhanded and incredibly short, the campaign mode does serve as the backdrop to the endless rounds of multiplayer PVP. You don’t need to worry about speed-running For Honor, the entire campaign shouldn’t take you more than six hours to finish, and that’s on a completionist scale.
While most of For Honor functions on the same basic mechanics as your usual multiplayer capture the flag, it’s got its moments as a decent RTS at least during the campaign mode. Sure, you only control one character on your side, but your Hero is primarily responsible for any and all tactics used by your side during a campaign stage. Maybe you’ll have a companion following along, but generally you work alone and that’s really all you’re needed for. For Honor’s campaign doesn’t try to make itself pretty or deep or take up too much of your time. It knows exactly what you’re here for, and it’s as boot camp before you go ahead and slaughter your friends in PVP.
Honestly, how much story could you expect from a game premise that is essentially: Let’s throw knights, vikings, and samurai together and see who wins. Which is a pretty unique premise given that we’ve not seen it before, but it’s a mashup. There’s only so much legitimacy you can give that.
The story is rather surface-level, with every thing that might be left to subtext narrated to you so you don’t miss it. But hey, no one is playing For Honor for a deep, engaging story. And we’ve got a terrifying villain in Apollyon. We never see her face, she’s the most threatening of characters with no capability for empathy, she’s completely ruthless, and she’s usually stained in blood. Got to say, I love it when female villains are evil the way male villains usually are.
You primarily control the adaptable base class for each faction: the warden for the knights, the raider for the vikings, and the kensei for the samurai. You also get a chance to check out a few of the other classes on your way like the peacekeeper and lawbringer for the knights, valkyrie and warlord for the vikings, and orochi for the samurai. Yeah, you really only get to test out two of the samurai, but that’s alright. Getting to test-drive 8 of the 12 available classes is more than enough fun.
The combat system is basically what would happen if you decided to take that whole “counter attack the whole way through” thing from the first Assassins Creed and decided to make a whole hack and slash fighter out of it. Which is a pretty decent idea considering the counters were very, very fun in AC. That said, you’ve actually got to work for it here. Movement and blocking/attacking direction are separated between the two thumb-stucks which works pretty well, except that you can’t change which control is mapped to which thumb-stick. Outside of minor adjustments like look inversion and sensitivity, you can’t actually remap any of the controls which is a bit of a shame. Granted, Ubisoft has never really let you map controls, but it would have been super nice. My brain likes to think that the left thumbstick should be block/attack while the right should control movement – because generally left is camera and right is movement. For Honor gets it backward, your right thumb-stick controls your blocking or attacking direction while the left controls your movement.
Like in most Ubisoft games, there is a lot to see and even more to smash, and doing so nets you bonuses at the end of each stage. Those collectibles you get can be used to create your own vanity plate- I mean heraldic crest.
The campaign is short and replay value lies only in collecting more things you missed the first time around or giving yourself more of a challenge on harder game modes. Personally, I recommend just take things on the most challenging difficulty you want and then taking it slow through all the chapter stages so you don’t have to worry about running it again. But it’s not like that 6 hours will cost you much.
The biggest problem with the game so far has been its rocky launch that led to server outages last week. Ubisoft has responded by detailing the rewards they’ll be giving out to players affected by the server problems, which is at least nice even if it does little to make up for the outage.
Multiplayer is honestly where For Honor shines, and that’s exactly what it’s supposed to do. There’s a meta competition across all platforms tracking which of the three factions has the most points – and you can absolutely play a warden working with the samurai faction, for example. Plus, who doesn’t want to get locked into a duel to the death with their friends?
The combat is make-or-break with For Honor because that is what the entire game is. You’re dueling, sometimes three or four on one, and spinning around a battlefield like you own it. Maybe you’re like me and find the controls to be mapped a bit strangely, but it’s rather easy to get the hang of the controls if you give yourself the time. Expecting it to be something it isn’t does the game – and yourself- a great disservice. For Honor knows exactly what it should be, and it delivers on that promise.
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