For Honor ongoing impressions: Still fun, let’s hope it stays that way
After spending a few more days with For Honor, we now have a slightly better picture of what the game has to offer. If you haven’t read our review, check that out first to get an overall idea of what the game is about. This article will focus more on the general feel of the game, as well as issues you may run into after playing for a longer period of time.
Get a Controller
For Honor is best experienced using a controller of some sort. The keyboard and mouse control scheme just feels clunky and unintuitive. That being said, controllers have their own issues. After a couple of hours of play, your right hand will likely start to hurt. This is mostly because you have to bend your hand into a crab claw-like shape to be able to hit both triggers, the face buttons, and the right analog stick at the same time.
It feels like For Honor needs its very own arcade stick to really shine. I’ve had a little bit of success using a traditional arcade stick and using an external program to bind face buttons to different stances, but even that feels a little bit too clunky for its own good.
Know Your Environment
I mentioned this in my beta impressions article, but understanding maps in For Honor is as important as understanding your opponent. So many confrontations can be ended by throwing an opponent off a ledge or kicking him into a burning fire. This is perhaps what makes For Honor most like an FPS. You can just run into the open sword swinging, but it’s likely to result in your death. Find the high ground and you’ll have a much greater advantage. This gives multiplayer matches a cinematic feel. They sort of recreate movie duels where swashbuckling protagonists perform stunts by using the scenery to get the upper hand.
Most Confrontations End in Running Away
Unless you are playing in Duel mode, most confrontations are going to end with one player running for his life. Either he will expend all his stamina and run to let it recharge, or he will be on the verge of death and run to meet up with his teammates, find a safe space to use a boost and restore health, or maneuver you into position to kill you with the environment. This, comically, makes about fifty percent of any online match resemble a Benny Hill-style chase scene. It’s still fun and amusing at this point in the game’s life, but it would behoove Ubisoft to patch in something to force players to fight to the death. Even a small speed penalty for being low on health would suffice.
The Input Buffer is a Problem
For Honor’s input buffer seems unnecessarily large. There were many points where I would be attempting to execute a combo chain only to find that I’m executing a different chain than the one I wanted due to a button I pressed earlier. Reducing the input buffer and forcing the player to rely on a sense of timing will likely vastly improve the game in the future.
The Game Is Nowhere Near Balanced
I mentioned this in my review and beta impressions article, but characters are nowhere near balanced in this game. Take the Peacekeeper, for example. If you play a lot of Duels, you are likely to see a lot of this character. Her “drawback” is that her stances only last for a certain amount of time. However, high level play requires you to change stances several times a second anyway, making this drawback entirely avoidable. There are a lot of situations like this – neat little innovative drawbacks that somehow affect the U.I. or controls – and I’m actually happy that Ubisoft attempted to balance For Honor in new and different ways, but some simply do not work out.
Play Duels, Play a Lot of Duels
As I’ve said over and over and over again, this is a fighting game at its core. Unfortunately, there is no good place to learn the basics. There’s a tutorial that you can screw around in, yes, but it doesn’t quite have the functionality of a full-blown training mode. You can’t, for example, set dummies to act in a certain way so that you can learn how to counter their attacks. The next best thing is Duel mode, where you are put up against players of similar skill. Just a note, you’re going to lose and lose a lot when you first start but keep to it and you’ll get much better. The learning curve follows that of a fighting game as well, which means you are going to have to put in some serious time before you even start playing at an intermediate level.
On the PC, Instability is a Huge Problem
In my initial review I mentioned that the PC version crashed several times. Unfortunately, as I continue to play instability issues have continued to rear their ugly head. The game crashed when I alt-tabbed out of it. It crashed when I attempted to speak with people through Discord. It crashed when I plugged in a new controller while the game was running. Heck, over the course of writing this review I have encountered not one but three blue screens of death, something I haven’t encountered in over ten years! I honestly don’t know what makes For Honor such a resource hog compared to other current generation games but, buyer beware, you are going to have to wrestle with it quite a bit if you get the PC version.
Will the good outweigh the bad?
Despite the issues, the lack of balance, the crashes, and the hand cramps, For Honor has continued to keep my attention if only because it’s an entirely new game genre and we don’t see that very often. I worry that once the novelty of the genre wears off, For Honor will end up losing players. But Ubisoft can mitigate this by releasing new characters, new maps, and frequent balance patches. Of course, whether or not the game continues strong into the future will likely depend on whether or not Ubisoft wants to charge for this content. The ever-prevalent microtranscations are already leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many other gamers. But if Ubisoft handles this intelligently, For Honor could be the next big online multiplayer smash.
I, for one, can’t wait to see if For Honor gets a hold in the e-sports world. Could you imagine how hype those matches would be? Teams can win a tournament via decapitation! Now that’s something no other FPS can brag about.