For Honor Xbox One Review

Fight or die, that’s the proposition here in For Honor and you don’t have the chance to think about it either.  Forgot to block or move out the way, it’s your head that will pay the price as you battle across the lands.

Gameplay

For Honor is the latest action fighting game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft.  You play the role of various historical characters including knights, samurai and Vikings all set in medieval times.

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For Honor is basically an online game that requires you to have access to the internet in order to play.  Yes there is a single player mode however you are still online when you are playing. The single player mode is essentially a five to ten hour experience that takes you on a journey and exposes you to the various factions and areas found in multiplayer.  Initially you are required to complete a tutorial which takes you through the paces in terms of attacking, defending, avoiding attacks, parry attacks, throws and special moves.  However once I completed this and moved into the single player mode, it again repeated some of these tutorials which were good in terms of refreshing ones memory, however were also slightly annoying at the same time.  You are also given a few difficulty choices that affect your reward multiplier from 1.0 to 1.75 with realistic being the hardest difficulty setting.

The single player mode is spread across three chapters each from the perspective of each faction.  The campaign guides you through varying tasks ranging from killing an enemy to capturing a point, destroying catapults and facing off against waves of enemies and more.  There are two types of enemies, the generic soldiers who with a single swipe of your weapon suffer an immediate death, versus the warriors that require you to have a strategy about you before you engage in combat.  For Honor is all about fighting, whether with a sword or a blade or your weapon of choice, it’s not the size that matters but how you use it that’s key to success. I won’t lie, with my first encounter I tried my luck at mashing the RB button for a quick attack and alternating between the RT for a heavy attack.  Needless to say my stamina faded fast and my enemy managed to block a significant amount of my attacks.  This left me exposed and unable to properly fight and resulted in my prompt death.  The instant realisation from this experience was of the need to manage your stamina, time your attacks and defend against your opponents attacks if you plan on surviving. 

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The controls are relatively easy to use with the Left Trigger locking on to your opponent.  The right thumbstick is used to push either left, right or up to correspond to blocking attacks from those directions.  Just prior to an attack, an arrow will show indicating which way the attack is coming from, and if you can press the right thumbstick in that direction you will successfully block the attack.  Choosing the correct stance is important if you want to block your opponent’s attacks.  Dodging and rolling are also suitable defences should you not select the appropriate action in time.  It took a little while to master this, but once you get the hang of it then its smooth sailing for the most part. 

Multiplayer

The heart of For Honor is of course with its multiplayer modes that will put you up against various other players across a variety of modes.  There are various competitive modes which are all variants of Deathmatch or capture the point style modes.  There is Dominion which involves two teams of four players as you fight to capture the various points across the map (usually 3).  Brawl mode is essentially a two versus two battle again set on similar maps where you work together to defeat your two opponents.  Next there is Duel which is a one versus one mode, essentially just like Brawl where you face off against a single enemy and may the best man win.  Skirmish is a four player versus mode where players gain points for killing enemies.  The team with the most points then must eliminate the rest of the team once their respawns expire to win the match.  I found myself playing Domination and Skirmish the most as they felt more balanced with various players and huge amounts of npc’s to kill.

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As I began to experiment in the various online modes one thing became apparent extremely quickly, and that was the speed at which your enemy will attack you.  The tutorial was excellent; however you had ample time to think.  When you’re out there in the online space that time was limited and I found myself missing blocks, using all my stamina and succumbing to my enemies’ special attack resulting in my very animated death. However, I soon found that there were other ways to defeat my enemies including the very important grab and throw technique which if used correctly saw me throw the most skilled fighter straight off the bridge to their doom.  I also began to use the guard break technique which with the press of the ‘x’ button will break your enemies guard allowing you to execute a quick light attack which will slowly but surely chip away at their health levels.  But the trick here is to move around and try to anticipate your enemies’ attacks, block accordingly and strike when their stamina begins to fade. 

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For Honor also entices you with steel which is essentially your currency that you receive for winning matches and achieving objectives.  You use this currency to upgrade your characters appearances, abilities and their equipment.  However the rewards feel small and can be quite a grind to earn enough currency to complete your desired upgrades.  On average I would receive between 30 and 50 steel for completing an online match, which didn’t seem like much when you look at the cost of upgrades and items.  However rest assured there are micro transactions to help you get there quicker if you’re so inclined.  It’s clearly not very well balanced in terms of reward which I would hope to see a patch that improves this.

Graphics and Sound

Visually For Honor looks amazing with fantastic lighting and beautifully created castles and towns from the medieval times.  I would often stop to look around, gaze upon the castles beauty and explore it as if it were my own.  From the flags blowing on top of the tower to the sun reflecting off the water outside the castle’s drawbridge, no detail was spared.  Even right down to the pots and crates that filled the inner walls of the castle were well detailed.  Each of the respective character classes are also well detailed with the ability to customise the colour and appearance of their armour which would be visible on the battlefield.

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Overall

I’ve spent that most part of all this week hacking and slashing, blocking, dodging and watching my head get decapitated as I played For Honor.  Yes there is a learning curve at the beginning but it’s completely necessary if you want to play the game the way it was intended to be played and survive in the process.  For Honor is a great title that will have some serious legs online and I encourage you to pick this up and give it a go, just don’t forget to block!

Rank8_5

For Honour, From the fechtbuchers – by Leon Peters Malone

The first thing to say when discussion how historically accurate the fighting here is that we’re not working from a complete picture. At best the Viking sagas provide guidelines but not definite techniques as you would see in kenjutsu or from the European fight manuals, in German fechtbucher. We can look at the equipment of the period, including full mail hauberks as well as surviving items in the ground, but it remains none the less, a created form not the combat forms used in history.

Even in saying that, for the Vikings very likely used shields walls. Their primary weapons being the spear and axe. The sword was very much a side arm and seax, in the last case a knife. As much for eating and general use as it was a weapon. Viking swords include the legendary Ulfberht, a steel blade easily the equal of modern materials. It’s this faction which is perhaps the most anachronistic, the most made up.

Compared to the samurai and the knights, you have clear and obvious comparisons to be made to the surviving documents and schools of fighting. For the knights, we have clear shouts out to the German schools of the long sword, seen in the Mordhau or Mordschlag. Otherwise in English, the Murder stroke, where you use the pommel to disorientate and stun a person in full armour. Even kill a person when unarmoured. To see the techniques of half-swording, both present in German schools and demonstrated in the manuals of Fiore dei Liberi is refreshing. They even appear in the Japanese schools, the blunt spine used to brace the blade.

For the samurai it’s also refreshing to see them using the range of weapons they have available. The najinata and yari, the yumi, the tachi, were their battlefield weapons. Not only that, they were also competent with their hands and feet. When it became too close for a sword, they were not defenceless. This is true of all the factions here and again, is a welcome sight and more than accurate to the accounts history has given us.

Written by

Paul Barbara

I'm 40, been an avid gamer since I was 5 (1981) and owned almost all systems possible in that time. I love podcasting, having produced over 230 episodes over the last 6 years and I get a real buzz out of discussing all this gaming news with other gamers. So tune in!

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