For Honor is a third-person action fighting game. However, it takes many a twist to your standard entry from said genre. First of all, to play this, you must be online (similar to Tom Clancy’s The Division) even if you are partaking in the short but sweet story mode. This is a bit of a ball-ache if you have the same provider as I do and your internet likes to take sporadic days off, but in 2017 shouldn’t really be an issue for most. The online world, here, is a bit like a big game of Risk. You choose whether you want to fight as a Samurai, Viking or Knight then compete in team games, team deathmatch, duels or other missions to win that area for your faction. A risky style to the online gaming which succeeds much sweeter than I was expecting.
Ubisoft aren’t paticlarly known as being inivators in the gaming industry. Nothing against the publisher here – Ubisoft have been involved in some of my favourite games of all time and they have cracked a certain type of game, but in saying all this, I was quite surprised when I saw this as an upcoming release, since it doesn’t quite fit their image and can only be said as a bold and brave move on their part.
I have to say that the story is quite weak. Basically, there was a natural catastrophe and then everyone decided to fight with each other. The Knights are trying to displace the Vikings acting like they want peace. The Samurais are fighting for the same reasons. However, by ensuring you play the story mode first, you will feel yourself caught in a sense of injustice and a messy fictional – as well as historical – world. The story doesn’t really add anything to this game nor does it have to. I, for example, felt a compelling allegiance to the Samurais therefore, irrelevant of the story, decided I would fight for them until my days are numbered.
First of all, you won’t get away with just whacking buttons repetitively on this game and will need to make sure you play the tutorials. These introduce you to the two different types of fighting in the game: duel mode and out of duel mode (I couldn’t think of something cooler to call it). In a sense, duel mode is the same as the lock-on target mode in a number of other games with you being able to quickly change who you are targeting by quickly pressing the same button again. However, what is so individual about this game is how you block. When in duel mode, there are three different ways to do this: block to the top, the right and the left, all performed by holding the right analogue in the correct direction. This, of course, all depends of from which area your opponent is attacking. Learning how to block efficiently isn’t easy, but I didn’t feel it was impossible to become good enough to get by. The blocking gets even more complicated with the range of different attacks with which you could be faced. The opponent may attack you from the three different angles or ran at you with a guard break, or hit you with an unblockable attack, or even roll at you. This offers a great variation and puzzles your mind into some quick moves.
Initially, I thought I was going to get quite frustrated with having to teach my fingers to learn a large amount of new button combinations but before long, I just really enjoyed it. When you perform an impressive combination block and counter with pushing your bloodthirsty enemy off the side of a bridge for a clumsy – but game winning – kill, you’re filled with a sense of pride for your faction and your fellow warriors. Sound supports the blocking fluidly with the sound clash of steel clanging ringing down your ears and even disorientating you the way you feel it would if you were really there (if only they had incorporated a VR mode as I feel this could have been quite easily achievable).
Where the blocking becomes slightly fidgety, is when you are in duel mode and are being attacked by those you are not locked onto. To block these attacks, you just need to block in the correct position. However, it gets quite baffling when you’re blocking the warrior in front of you and trying to do the same to a bunch of low-level fools hitting you with attacks weaker than Nintendo’s bond with third-party companies. Even though it was tricky to successfully block all attacks, it didn’t massively affect my experience of the game.
Similar to the defence, attacking your opponent takes a number of different forms. There are light attacks which take less stamina and heavy attacks which deal more damage (are slower) and use more stamina. Then you have the directions in which you can attack in – right, up or left. Once again, when you are fighting, the sound helps you become at one with the battle with realistic battle cries and grunts from the defeated. This game offers a range of attacks for both the casual and experienced gamer. I find myself attacking in the space before experienced, but after casual. You can string a great variety of different combination attacks together by linking moves. Each of these combinations are different compared to which character you have chosen. For me, Ubisoft have got the fighting just about right, and considering this game takes a whole new direction, they have done a fantastic job.
The story mode slightly disappointed me due to the time it took. You start off as a Knight, where you have 6 different missions; then you are a Viking with 6 missions and lastly a Samurai. Each mission only lasts around 20 minutes with the game not taking much more than 4 hours to finish. As I have mentioned, the story didn’t add up to much but it leaves a lot of scope for the ominous add-ons sure to be released in the future.
What I was very impressed with within the story (and the online modes) were the graphics. They were crisp and realistic and had me believing that I was back in this historical time even though it was clearly a mythical period. I have heard people moan that the game doesn’t run quick enough for their liking but personally, I feel that adds to the realism. You’re often a fighter who weighs more than the combined weight of Earthquake and Typhoon (you’re too young if you don’t know who they are) so why would you expect to be attacking quickly?
It wouldn’t have been right to finish this review without tackling what has been the games main selling point; the online mode. To simply help you understand this would be by explaining it as a big game of Risk. You can choose a faction (and can swap whenever you want) and take part in a range of different modes (I’m sure more will be added with updates and add-ons) to conquer areas for your team. Yes, I had a few issues with matchmaking but nowhere near as many about which I have been reading people complain. Also, when I was playing against others online, I experienced not a second of lag which is a rarity. I consider the online mode to be something that will keep my coming back. Agreed, you won’t find yourself playing this for 5 hours at a time like you would Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare or Battlefield 1, but you will by wanting to check it every now and again to ensure that your faction are always on top.
Of course, like any good online game, there are a range of different clothes, weapons, and extras with which to customise for your character. This didn’t grip me to the point where I wanted to spend any real money on these bits, but I did start to notice it was quite hard to gain the amount of points you need to buy some of the better goods. Obviously Ubisoft believe this game will be a slow-burner where people will continue to play for a long time and if the rest of the public are the same as me, then I have to agree.
Overall, I have to recommend this game to people who want to try something different or those who enjoyed games like Ryse: Son of Rome or Shadow of Mordor and want something similar to try out. I know that in the melee of a lot of great-looking games being released, you won’t be disappointed if this arrives in a brown package through your letterbox. For Honor is an experience – it’s individual and it is inspirational. It has its flaws, but it potentially opens up a new breed of game for the future.
The Scores on the Doors…
- Graphics: 8.5 – smooth and crisp (apart from trees)
Sound: 9 – a truly immersive experience
Gameplay: 8.5 – inspiring but at times fidgety.
Enjoyment: 8 – a fun ride which could have done with being a little longer (what my wife says!)
Overall: 8.5 – an experience that I worry too many gamers will miss but hope people check out.
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Players: single-player, multiplayer
- HDTV options: up to 1080p
- Sound: DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Directors: Roman Campos-Oriola, Damien Kaiken and Jason Vandenberghe
Producers: Stéphane Cardin and Yves Guillemot
Screenplay: Jason Vandenberghe
Music: Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans
Siv: Amber Goldfarb
Hervis Daubeny: Andreas Apergis
Apollyon: Catherine Kidd
The Orochi (Female): Courtenay Taylor
Mercy: Erin Cottrell
Holden Cross: Evan Buliung
Viking Warlord Stigandr: Fred Tatasciore
The Warden (Female): Jennifer Hale
The Warden (Male): Liam O’Brien
Okuma: Jonathan Adams
The Orochi (Male): Josh Keaton
Ranja: Julianne Grossman
Seijuro: Louis Philippe Dandenault
Momiji: Melanie Minichino
Runa: Nika Futterman
Ragnar: Noah Danby
Viking Raider Helvar: Patrick Seitz
Stone: Robert Montcalm
Gudmundr Branson: Robin Atkin Downes
The Raider (Female): Sarah Elmaleh
Ayu: Sumalee Montano
The Raider (Male): Travis Willingham
I have been a video game player since 1993 and a music fan since I can remember. I studied Film and Journalism at university and ended up becoming a Primary School teacher. Video games changed my life and sent me on the right track and have stayed with me ever since.