On February 14, 2017 Ubisoft released the Valentine’s Day gift of all Valentine’s Day gifts, they released For Honor. Nothing says true love like warring factions, executions and enough blood to fill the oceans as your heart pumps its last drop of life out of your hero. Like a box of chocolates, let’s dive into the story and discover what For Honor has in store for us.
Herstory (A Play on History)
For Honor does something not too many games have done recently and that’s give us strong female lead characters and an even stronger female villan, Apollyon. If you’re familiar with the Game of Thrones show on HBO or you’ve read the books in The Song of Ice and Fire series, Apollyon might remind you of Brienne of Tarth, only evil. I commend Ubisoft for this choice, it’s refreshing.
I was inclined enough to purchase the Apollyon Collector’s Edition from Gamestop. An Origin’s Note is one of the collectibles, the following is written on the note:
The young Apollyon grew up in the wilds. One year, a great Viking horde from Valkenheim descended on her village. There were not enough Iron Legionaries to defend everywhere at once–and so it was that a Lawbringer visited the village of the young warlord-to-be. He judged her people unworthy of defending, and rode away to safer lands. When the Vikings came, few of her people survived.
It proved to be just one of many horrors she would witness. And each one demonstrated to her clearly what the world demands of those who would live in it. There are predators, and there is prey. Humans are unique in that they decided which they are.
She spent her youth training to fight: as a criminal, as a soldier, and later as a Warden.
When she was sixteen, she finally found the Lawbringer who had doomed her people. She ambushed him, dragged him into the street, and then brutally executed him. Afterwards, she brought his armor to a blacksmith, and had it re-fashioned to fit her. She wears it still. It is a warning against anyone who would dare to use the law against the strong.
When the knights of Ashfeld grew tired of the Iron Legion’s disinterested rule, Apollyon was among the fifteen founding Warmasters of the violent and ambitious Blackstone Legion. Eight of those Warmasters tried to become the Blackstone Warlord. All save Apollyon died in the attempt. Now, she and the other six have taken demon names–as a reminder of what you must become to change the world.
She no longer speaks of her real name. Few still living have heard it.
Now that we know Apollyon’s motivation behind her actions we have a better understanding of what we’re getting ourselves into with For Honor.
Crampain (A Play on Campaign)
The Campaign is broken into the three chapters, one chapter designated for each Faction; Knights, Vikings and Samurai. Each chapter includes six sub-chapters, the final sub-chapter ending with a Boss Fight. Before you start the Campaign, For Honor has you work your way through the basic tutorial for moves and attacks. This is a great introduction to the games mechanics and gameplay. But Ubisoft made a mistake since Chapter 1.1 has you go through the tutorial again as you progress through the first part of the story. For Honor could have done without the introductory tutorial if they were going to include it in the first part of the story.
The Campaign for For Honor runs into additional inconveniences throughout the story. Occasionally as you’re working your way through a level the gameplay will stop and offer you a tip or remind you of what buttons you should press. This reminder distracts from the beautiful level design and the flow of the story’s progression. I think that Ubisoft could have offered the tips/reminders at the start of the Mission or Sub Chapter instead of incorporating it throughout the level. For Honor does get kudos for offering diversity in the gameplay. Some Missions required you to escort and guard a battering ram, capture and hold a control point. There was even a chase scene involving you riding a horse. These scenes/sections were well done and offered a break from the monotony of fighting. I wish there were more of these sections though.
Another issue I had with For Honor and it’s gameplay during the campaign were the boss fights. Minus a few of the first few sub chapters, I completed the majority of the game on Hard Mode. The AI was generic at best, even in Hard Mode. The general grunts were typically defeated in one hit while the Hero Class (Raider, Warlord, Berserker, Valkyrie) Enemies took a little more patience and strategy. When it came time for a Boss fight I found myself under prepared. The AI leading up to this event didn’t train or prepare me for an enemy that appears to have unlimited block breaks and limitless stamina. The Bosses also seem to be extremely fast at chaining their combos together. Hopefully Ubisoft can balance out the AI in future patches.
POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD
There were two Boss fights that stood out in For Honor, Chapter 3.5 when I fought the Warden to gain passage to Apollyon and Chapter 3.6 Apollyon herself. I spent a good 30 to 45 minutes fighting the Warden. He was a constant stream of attack combos and block breaks. On the rare instances when I was able to push him into the geysers I found that he didn’t take much damage but as soon as he pushed me into a geysers I died instantly. I ended up resorting to the tried and true troll method of ‘cheese’ to defeat the Warden.
When it comes to a Final Boss fight, Ubisoft handled the progression and pacing for your battle against Apollyon perfectly. The battle is broken up into three stages with each stage requiring a different strategy to complete. The first stage has you square off against 3 Hero Class enemies and Apollyon. I brought in 4 Poisons to this stage and made quick work of Apollyon’s goons. The second stage pitted me against Apollyon in close quarters on a stairwell. I relied heavily on parrying. The third stage granted a little more space but added the obstacle of avoiding the collapsing castle while fighting Apollyon.
Beautiful but not Lootiful (Play on Full of Loot)
For Honor is a gorgeous game. The level, character and environment design is top-notch. The time of day along with the weather is something to marvel at as well. Ubisoft has been stepping up their game huge with their games graphical capabilities: The Division, For Honor and Ghost Recon Wildlands. Now if only they could put this much dedication towards rewards.
For Honor is lacking in the loot section in a major way. Finishing story missions and completing multiplayer matches rewards you with a small amount of Steel and if you’re lucky armor or a weapon to equip to your hero. Please increase the reward drop rate Ubisoft. Please don’t take a year to realize the error of your ways (Cough! Cough! The Division.)
Multimatum Player (A Play on Multiplayer and Ultimatum)
The definition of ultimatum is; a final demand or statement of terms, the rejection of which would result in retaliation or a breakdown in relations. I’m going to focus on the last portion of the definition; “the rejection of which would result in a retalliation or a breakdown of relations.” Please read that sentence to infer throwing or breaking of controller (retaliation) and the disintegration of my mental fortitude (breakdown of relations.)
For Honor hasn’t changed much since both the Closed and Open Beta earlier this year. During the Beta’s only 9 Heroes were available to play but with the release of the ‘complete’ game we are introduced to 3 new Heroes, one for each faction. The Knights fourth man is the Lawbringer. The Vikings fourth woman is the Valkyrie (she cannot be changed during customization to a male model, big points from me for this). And the fourth man for the Samurai is the over-sized, over-powered, over-stamina laden Shugoki. These hero additions are nice only for the fact that it allows for more playable characters. We also see the addition of a new game mode with a 4 versus 4 Death Match mode. This mode is similar to Duel and Brawl. Hopefully Ubisoft balances the entire hero line up in the near future, yesterday would be nice.
For a more in-depth review of the Multiplayer please read my following reviews:
Final Conflusion (A Play on Conclusion and Confusion)
For Honor is something else. Now that statement can be interpreted in both a negative and positive light. For Honor is a gem and comes across as a passion project. One wouldn’t immediately think that an adventure/fighting game with a medieval setting would work but oddly enough For Honor does. For Honor might not fit into any specific gaming genre but there’s something about it that gets inside you. In typical Ubisoft fashion, what I consider typical based on my experience with playing the developers games, they deliver a unique experience that missed a lot of the markers but hits enough that make you want to come back for more. For Honor is a game that will grow on you because of its charm and unique fighting mechanics and strategy. Is it worth $60? I don’t think so. If you’re a casual gamer I would suggest waiting for a price drop. If you played the Beta and had fun than by all means, pick it up. At this moment in time I would give For Honor a strong 7 or 7.5 on the go to Scale of 1 to 10. If Ubisoft takes care of their game I could see myself changing my review score to an 8.5 or possibly a 9.