**Please note: This is not a review of the full game. This is a first impression of a game that is still a work in progress, and changes to the game are still to be expected.
This past weekend, I got a chance to check out For Honor’s beta test, which was first mentioned at 2015’s E3. Very little was known about this game at the time; but since then, gamers have learned that there are 3 factions (Vikings, Crusaders and Samurai) at war with each other because of the influence of a mysterious figure known as Apollyon. In many ways, this game feels like a medieval version of Dynasty Warriors, which works well in many ways.
So how does this game look so far? Let’s break it down.
Gamers will be introduced to the plot via a cut scene which introduces us to Apollyon and their minions. While there is no concrete reason as to why these 3 factions were chosen, I would assume that gamers would find out in the single player campaign as the story is revealed. Beyond that, gamers are taken to a tutorial that teaches the basic movements (called “Art of the Battle”) of the game. I would strongly advise gamers to pay special attention to learning how to guard, because guarding and parrying are crucial to surviving the game.
Upon completing the tutorial, gamers can go in and customize their warriors. There are 3 types of characters per faction, which gamers can spend time customizing and leveling up. More will be added upon the game’s release, so I’ll have more on this in a moment.
The single-player campaign was unavailable on the beta, therefore the focus was on playing the multiplayer games. We were given three maps which could be customized between day, night or fog and even snow. While changing the weather didn’t affect the gameplay, I still appreciated the aesthetics of it.
Gamers were given the option to play 1 v 1 duels, 2 vs 2 brawls or 4 vs 4 domination skirmishes. All can be played against the AI or other players. The multiplayer modes are a bit more competitive than co-op as during the skirmish modes, gamers are simply tasked to take points and not too much else.
While the 1 v 1 duels are great for helping players learn the controls, I feel like the domination mode is what will hold on to players’ attention the most. Dominion mode is hectic, as you see dozens of men clash upon the battlefield (like in Dynasty Warriors) as you try to take out the leaders. This is where learning the controls come into play. As the field gets hectic, remembering the movements becomes key to winning. That being said, some gamers may find that remembering some of the movement and focusing on some of the buttons can be difficult, especially playing against an aggressive AI opponent.
The maps for these modes are nicely sized. They don’t feel like they are so big that players will get lost, nor are they so small that everyone is on top of each other.
Graphically speaking, the game does look gorgeous, and it’s a pity that it doesn’t take advantage of the PS4’s HRD system. My one small complaint, is that for a game of this caliber, it’s not as bloody and gory as I thought it would be. In my opinion, games like this should have all sorts of disembowelment and beheadings.
As mentioned earlier, players can customize their warriors. Upon completing a match, depending on your XP, the game will scavenge the field and give you loot which can range from sword hilts, to helmets, and many other pieces which can be used to upgrade your characters. Those pieces that you can get are also broken down in to common, uncommon, and rare parts, and have the capability to change your stats as you play through the game. This gives more incentive for players to keep playing. Players can also earn feats which can be leveled up as they play; and if they want to purchase items for their warrior(s), they can also earn in-game coins which can be redeemed for different packs which contain equipment and other goods.
This game has a lot of potential to fill a space for multiplayer games where FPS games have long been dominant, but there are (of course) a few things that will hopefully be ironed out upon release or soon after:
- The control scheme will probably be difficult for some gamers to master. While learning the moves may require a bit of practice, there are a lot of buttons you have to hold and manipulate during the course of a match; especially in domination. Portions of the game can be played as a button-mashing experience, but the moment you encounter an enemy AI or player that is not a minion, you have to concentrate more on them with the controls and it’s not always easy. Gamers will die many cheap deaths because they were overwhelmed by the other side’s aggressiveness while trying to fend off their attacks. Also, don’t be surprised if you are double and triple-teamed as well. There are executions that can be performed, but by the time you’ve finished fighting your enemies, you may miss the opportunity to do one, especially if you’re doing a lot of button-mashing.
- While co-op play is available, there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason to take advantage of it. Again, this is especially true of the domination mode. Most gamers will focus on racking up as many kills as possible, because of course the more kills you get, the more XP you’ll earn. The issue here, is that strategies can go right out the window, as there are so many variables during battles.
- One issue I had, is that most of the domination battles are fought in the middle of the map. The AI minions do not venture far from the main battle so it’s up to the players to grab the A and C objective points. Once you grab an objective point, there is not much of a need to stand around holding it as you will miss out on valuable points by not being in the thick of battle. We’ll have to see if this is changed for the game’s official release.
- While fun, the maps are pretty static. This is one of those games that could greatly benefit from destructible environments, as it would be fun to be able to play along the walls of a castle only at some point to have it crumble away from you at the last moments. It would also be nice to change the course of some of the skirmishes because a stairway is gone, a bridge falls, or a door opens. On some of the maps there are ways to close certain gates to prevent access, but it’s nothing really game-changing which would truly alter the course of a battle. Hopefully, down the road, this could be addressed in a future iteration of the franchise.
- The customizations are fun. With all of the ways players can change their warriors’ loadouts, this will be the bread and butter that will keep gamers playing this for a while. The idea of weapon parts being customizable and stats of certain items being raised or lowered based on how they work (similar to Diablo or other RPG games) is enjoyable. It’s also nice to be able to customize and level the feats during the course of a game.
- As far as getting into the battles themselves, the queues were quick. Rarely did I have to spend over 2 mins waiting for them to fill so matches were up and running in no time. There were a few gamers that quit during the course of a match only to be filled in by an AI competitor, so their absence wasn’t detrimental to the match. There were a few minor hiccups here and there – which was to be expected – but nothing game-breaking as of yet. Again, as this was the beta, things may change by the time this game is released.
Overall, For Honor looks like it will be a game that will add something somewhat unique to a crowded field of multiplayer gaming. It’s not as frenetic as Call of Duty or Battlefield, as it takes patience and skill to defeat your opponents. While the customization and different fighter types will keep gamers occupied for a long time, the main issue that may hurt this game is the complexity of the control scheme in the heat of battle.
Look forward to more information, as the game releases on February 14, 2017.
Did you get a chance to try out the beta? Give us your impressions below.