Historical accuracy goes out the window in For Honor

Learning how to manage your stamina, dodge attacks and time your strikes are vital to victory in For Honor, which really rewards patience, skill and mechanics that can come only through hours of gameplay and practice.
Learning how to manage your stamina, dodge attacks and time your strikes are vital to victory in For Honor, which really rewards patience, skill and mechanics that can come only through hours of gameplay and practice.PHOTO: UBISOFT

For Honor settles an age-old debate many gamers have been at odds over since they started playing video games - in a fight between knights, samurai and Vikings, who wins?

That's the game's basic premise, being primarily a multiplayer fighting game where each of history's most badass warrior classes battle each other for dominion.

In a world where armoured knights, katana-wielding samurai and burly Vikings are locked in perpetual war, historical accuracy goes flying out the window in favour of satisfying swordplay, visceral combat and brutal executions.

The game's 18 short single-player missions - six for each faction - give players a good foundation for gameplay and combat mechanics. They feel very tacked on, though, as if they are there just to make the game feel like a worthwhile package.

It's very clear that For Honor was designed with multiplayer in mind. With four online game modes, from one-on-one duels to large-scale brawls with hordes of soldiers to mow down, fighting is the lifeblood of this game.

  • 8/10

    RATING

    PRICE: $69.90 (PC); $77 (PS4, version tested); $76.90 (Xbox One)

    GENRE: Multiplayer fighter

Combat is responsive and fluid once you get the hang of it. You strike your opponents from three different directions - top, right and left - and can also block your opponents' attacks from these angles.

The combat styles differ between the four different playable classes from each faction.

There's a standard warrior, a slower but tankier attacker, a fast but fragile attacker, and a hybrid of the previous two.

Each fighter plays differently, giving players effectively 12 different fighters to experiment with. Some, like the Warden, are relatively straightforward to play. Others, like the Orochi, take more practice and skill to master.

Like Dark Souls and Nioh, each death is a chance to learn something about your character. While it can initially be quite frustrating to lose constantly against a barrage of attacks you swore you have blocked or dodged, the satisfaction from besting your opponent after mastering a character is unparallelled.

Learning how to manage your stamina, dodge attacks and time your strikes are vital to victory. It doesn't pay to be overly defensive, which I quickly learnt in my first few hours into the game, as moves such as guard-breaking give the advantage to those on the offensive.

This also makes combat more fast-paced and exciting.

I started winning more duels after I became more aggressive, and it's also more fun to be on the offensive rather than circling around hoping not to get hit.

These on-the-fly tactics and the need to respond to your opponents' attacks within a split second make For Honor a mechanically demanding game, where you can't just blindly hit the attack button and hope to win.

There are a variety of map designs to keep combat interesting, as making use of the environment can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Some maps are, however, comically unbalanced. One particular map features a relatively narrow bridge, which let me eke out easy wins simply by pushing my enemies off the edge when they stood too close to it.

Despite being primarily an online game, For Honor still has some basic online issues to iron out. Multiplayer match-making can be a bit strange, for instance, with players being matched against others with much higher levels and skills.

Network issues and connectivity also continue to plague the game more than a week after its launch, with disconnections still occurring occasionally.

For Honor might be daunting for casual gamers or those who pick the game up occasionally, as it really rewards patience and skill that can come only through hours of gameplay and practice.

More competitive gamers will flock towards the 1v1 or 2v2 game modes, which are a true test of skill and mastery. But the 4v4 Brawl and Dominion modes are more forgiving, which makes them more suitable and fun for those not looking to get too competitive with the game.

• Verdict: For Honor could very well mark the revival of the multiplayer hack-and-slash genre. Fast-paced combat, fluid controls and a good variety of game modes make it intensely playable for hours on end.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2017, with the headline 'Historical accuracy goes out the window in For Honor'. Print Edition | Subscribe