My Raider readies his axe as the catapults rain fire and stone upon the Citadel Gate. There are four of us, ready for war, ready to die, but most of all, ready to fight with honour. We charge towards the enemy, accompanied by an army, and our weapons cross paths, steel on steel. There is a capture point to the right, and one of the enemies goes to take it, but I notice him split from the ramble of his men. I run after him to try and slay him as well as capture the area, but he’s already waiting with blade in hand. We face each other for what seems like hours; nobody else is around, and the silence is deafening.
Moving in circles, weapons ready and shields prepped to defend, I attack. He counters with a block, then charges me and knocks me off my feet. I get up and surprise him with a sluggish wail into his rib-cage, following it up with an almighty thwack trailing from the sky straight into his skull. He falls to his knees at my mercy, and I crack the blade of my axe right into his neck.
All this came from a couple of minutes of one of the multiplayer matches, and ever since, combat in Dominion has been just as exhilarating. For Honor has some unbelievable moments, but outside the online content you’re left questioning why they even bothered with a single-player campaign.
For Honor is a strange beast; the online multiplayer has a lot of meat behind it, giving you plenty of game modes, great maps, and a fairly decent idea called Faction War that gives meaning to every match – that is if you care about the faction you represent. The biggest issue with the game is the dull and lifeless single-player campaign. It tells the story of how a cataclysmic event changes the world, and sets up a constant war between the Vikings, Samurai and Knights, all thanks to a real shit of a warlord called Apollyon.
The characters are forgettable, the voice acting is wooden and laughable at times, and the objectives become tedious and repetitive. It acts as more of a tutorial for the multiplayer – which is fine, but it goes on for too long. Yes, there are boss fights, and you get to see some pretty brutal cut scenes, but I’d rather have a much shorter tutorial with precise and efficient training.
Whenever you encounter another human being, whether in a Duel or a Deathmatch, your tactics and patience play such an important role in gaining victory. You can’t just go into battle by mashing the attack buttons – there’s much more skill involved. Each encounter starts with focusing on your target, then initiating a stance from where to block and attack from. You also have two attacks to choose from: a light attack and a heavy attack. If you attack from the left, your enemy can block by moving their stance to the left, or if you attack from above, your enemy can move the right stick up to block. If you are the one attacking, your light attacks can chain one or two strikes together (even more depending on the class), so predicting and countering where your opponent will move requires a great deal of focus. If you try and use too many heavy attacks, your stamina will drain and you’ll be left vulnerable. Takedowns are great, too: when your opponent is beaten, they will fall down, giving you the option to press one of two buttons to perform a horrific execution.
The skill really comes in when you factor in parrying and charging. By using a heavy attack at the moment an enemies attack gauge flashes red, you can knock them back and open up an opportunity to do some damage. You can also charge into an enemy and knock them off their feet or pick them up and throw them into environmental danger. Many maps have spots where you can push your enemy to their death, whether it’s a cliff edge, high bridge, or castle top. These moments are frustrating just as much as they are satisfying, but always help to turn the tides of battle.
The three factions (Vikings, Samurai, Knights) have four classes, and depending on your chosen faction they have different attributes to one another. I always go with the Vikings, and I tend to choose between the Raider (axe-wielding warrior with evenly spread attributes) and the Warlord (heavy and slow, but a strong and brutal combatant). There’s also the Berserker class and they use two smaller axes to fire off faster combos, while the Valkyrie is a female fighter with a swift spear and has exceptional takedowns. Each faction has similar warriors with the same kind of attributes, but obviously they look and fit into that faction style.
Online multiplayer is excellent, and each mode has its highlights. The 1v1 Duel is intense, and takes place over five rounds over different maps. Rounds can take a while if either of you are tentative with your attacks, or other times you can run in and push them over a high cliff (which I did, and it felt pretty damn good). 2v2 Brawls are essentially duels with two fighters on each team. Dominion is a 4v4 battle where you must capture three points on a map, and if your team gets to a thousand, victory can be achieved if you manage to kill all four enemies (who can’t respawn), but they can break this by recapturing without all members being killed. This is my favourite mode because it requires more skill, and when having no respawns threatens you, the fight gets a even more tense. There’s also a Deathmatch 4v4 mode, and a 4v4 Elimination mode which is the same as Duel, but with eight warriors as opposed to just two.
By winning (and sometimes by losing as well), you earn steel, and this is the currency of the game. You can buy new gear, recruit fighters, takedowns and emotes, and upgrade items in your inventory. You’ll level up like normal, and unlock feats as you do to give you bursts of speed, damage or more during a battle. One of the coolest ideas in place in For Honor is The Faction War. By earning victory online, you gain War Assets, and these can be sent to certain areas of a map. Over the course of a season (ten actual weeks), these War Assets will end up giving specific factions dominance in areas on the map, and the more a faction is in the lead, their banners and presence will be seen visibly on said map. For example, if Vikings are leading on the Samurai’s Overwatch map, Viking emblems and banners will be draped from the walls.
Whilst For Honor has a great online multiplayer, there are some real balancing issues. You can be a high level, and get drawn against a level one or two, or you can even get drawn against someone who is twice your level. The single-player campaign is pretty bad and there really isn’t any reason to keep playing unless you’re a fan of the way it trips over itself at every turn. Don’t let this stop you, though; if you’re looking for a new way to play online, For Honor is definitely worth playing.
Various modes in multiplayer are excellent
The Faction War is a neat idea
Brutal and strategical combat is refreshing
Single-player is dreadful
Balancing issues in matchmaking