Video Games

For Honor game review

I already reviewed the beta and talked a bit about what For Honor is. So for this post I’m just going to summarize my final thoughts.

First off, let’s get Story Mode out of the way. It is, in a word, an abomination. To say it’s a glorified tutorial is a slap in the face of good tutorials. It’s a disjointed, nonsensical, poorly written mess covered in cheese sauce. I have not a single positive thing to say about it except that it’s blessedly short—which is the only reason I was able to power through it.

For Honor is a multiplayer game. Buy it for the multiplayer and only for the multiplayer, lest you be forced to ask yourself how the hell a viking berserker with two axes at hand was jailed in a cage made of wood and rope.

The multiplayer on the other hand, is really, really good. The centerpiece of it all is the “Art of Battle” combat system. It is fun, innovative, challenging, deep, and rewards both twitch skill and tactical thinking. Each of the twelve playable characters feels unique and requires a significant investment of time to properly learn. This along with the many customization options and gear upgrades is what gives For Honor its long term playability.

One of the biggest things that stands out to me as compared to other PvP games is how each and every engagement with another player feels significant. It almost doesn’t matter what game mode you play. Whether it’s 1v1, 2v2, or 4v4 deathmatch or dominion, the gameplay always comes back to individual engagements. Sure, some teammates may join the fray now and then, but you’re still always locked onto one opponent, trying to win that duel in the moment, regardless of whatever else is going on.

Despite all the goodness on offer, a few issues dampen the experience. Sometimes play is very smooth, other times it feels laggy and unresponsive. Parrying is incredibly inconsistent. Matchmaking often results in poorly balanced teams. The maps all feel samey same and the servers have been flaky.

If you like competitive play and melee combat, For Honor is an absolute must. I’m not a fan of PvP and even I enjoyed it. That said, it has pretty much run its course with me. The more time goes on, the more people who excel at this sort of game pull away from the rest of us. PvP matches seem to get harder by day. Pile on the technical problems and I suddenly want to throw my controller at the wall. A sure sign it’s time to move on.

Video Games

What is For Honor like?

A buddy asked me that question, and while I’m still an utter noob, I think I can answer in very general terms.

For Honor is an intense, intimate, over the shoulder, medieval, online, PvP, melee, battle arena. K? Let us work through that mouthful back to front, Pulp Fiction style.

Battle Arena

Gameplay takes place on small, relatively confined maps. By confined, I mean they don’t have a lot of separate, enclosed buildings or areas. Everyone is confined to the same general play space. There is no hiding or pew pewing from range. You are combatants in a ring, duke it out.

Melee

For Honor is all melee all the time, and it uses a novel system dubbed the “Art of Battle”. You know how some things are easy to do but difficult to master? Yeah well that doesn’t apply here. The mechanics are difficult to start with and nigh impossible to master. Make no mistake, this is a skill based game where a deep understanding of the mechanics is paramount. Twitch skill will help you a great deal, but by itself, it’s not going to get you very far.

Online PvP

There is a ‘Story Mode’ that is basically a glorified tutorial. You should not buy For Honor for the campaign, and if you never play it, you’re not missing much. It’s all about one on one player versus player battles. Though the second player in that equation can be either a bot or human—your choice. There are offline practice modes, but you will not earn any XP. This game requires you to be online for it to have any real value.

Medieval

Sort of. There are medieval, viking, and samurai elements to represent the three factions. The main point though is that the technology level is such that you fight with swords, axes, shields etc. The setting would be considered low fantasy maybe?

Over the Shoulder

This should be fairly self-explanatory. In free roam the view is third-person, as you can swing the camera around 360°. As soon as you lock on for combat though, it’s strictly over the shoulder.

Intense and Intimate

For Honor has a handful of game modes that feature 1v1, 2v2, and 4v4 configurations. That said, the vast majority of encounters are 1v1, which is why I say it’s intimate. Furthermore, each and every encounter feels significant. They aren’t fleeting as in shooters; you don’t suddenly die to a killstreak or stray grenade. Each match is a series of meaningful duels where several blows are exchanged before the result is decided—hence, intense.

That’s For Honor in a nutshell. You fight as a knight, viking, or samurai using an innovative melee combat system. You do this to rank up, unlock more options, and earn better gear. Each faction has a variety of warriors to choose from  with unique skills, moves, and customization options. There is no shortage of things to unlock or purchase with ‘Steel’, a currency you earn by simply playing. The depth of the game is in its mechanics and customization options; if you’re looking for story or lore, look elsewhere.

Video Games

For Honor beta review

I was able to spend some time this weekend with the For Honor beta, or rather, pre-release demo, seeing as it’s a bit late for testing. The game drops in two days. Beta testing semantics aside, I was pleasantly surprised with the game.

The things that stand out the most to me are how beautiful the game looks and the depth of its combat and customization systems. At the most basic level, For Honor is all about thrilling melee combat. Its unique system, dubbed the “Art of Battle”, delivers on that in spades. This game is the complete opposite of a button masher. The best way I can think of to describe the combat system is that it’s like a tactical dance.

You must move in time with your adversary to block their attacks, or take the lead to launch a successful attack of your own. You can block attacks, dodge them, or parry them. You can attempt to attack around your enemy’s guard, break their guard, or if you have the right ability, attack through their guard. It is one of the most innovative takes on melee combat I’ve seen, and it’s outstanding.

The beta has nine playable characters—three from each faction. Each character has a unique set of abilities, feats, and combos. Some of these are fixed, but many can be swapped out with different options that you unlock over time. The way these special abilities interact with the combat system makes each character play very differently. I can definitely see that to be successful, you’ll want to find a character that suits your style and master their nuances. Jumping around from one to another isn’t going to get you very far.

As far as customization goes, you have a number of options to make each character your own. You can change out armor pieces. You can change the patterns on each shoulder, your back and chest, your leggings, and left arm. You can change your color scheme or add custom ornamentation. You can also add symbols and images to create a theme for your warrior. To be completely honest, visual customization is not generally something I give a shit about, but in this game, where the character models are large enough to see the details in play, and you’re typically locked in in 1v1 encounters, the customization really does add something.

On the technical side, the beta played fine. I was able to join matches and group with a friend. I didn’t notice any significant lag or framerate drops. Loading times are quite long, but that’s not something that bothers me a great deal. You can set up private matches with friends, solo with bots, or a combination thereof, which is an absolutely fantastic feature given the learning curve of the game’s systems.

So I’ll be jumping all over this game, right? Eh, probably not. While I can appreciate what it has to offer, the focus is clearly on multiplayer PvP, which is not generally something I enjoy. There was no story mode to try out, so whether it has a strong single player campaign remains to be seen. If my friends go wild for it, I may pick it up; if not, I have plenty to keep me busy until Horizon Zero Dawn comes out.

 

Video Games

Assassin’s Creed III game review

Of the three AC games I’ve played, this one is undoubtedly the best, though it’s still far from being a great game. Compared to its siblings I thought it had more variety, a more compelling story, and better integration with historical events. The Naval missions especially were a welcome change of pace.

I enjoyed building the Homestead and liked how each of the artisans had a developed backstory and unique personality. The whole crafting system, while a good idea, was badly implemented and rather pointless. The outfits were decent, though the system (or lack of system) for changing outfits leaves much to be desired. The primary weapons were lame in that the best ones could be purchased early in the game and I used them throughout. On the plus side, I really liked the Rope Darts; those things never got old.

This game, much more so than the others I’ve played, followed along with the historical narrative. I saw the Boston Massacre, I led the Tea Party, I went on Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, I was there when the Shot Heard ‘Round the World was fired by no one knows who, I fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and played Bocci with George Washington. The locations were all very meaningful to me as well being from the area.

The story, aside from the historical bits, was very well developed with several twists and turns. I won’t go into details, but I enjoyed it along with most of the main characters. Haytham and Charles Lee in particular were very well done and well acted. Unfortunately, the main character, the character that you play, has the personality of a tree stump.

On the technical side, I encountered a few glitches and had one hard freeze, but on the whole, no major issues. Gameplay was typical AC, though a bit simpler than previous installments. All told, I put in an enjoyable 43 hours and 34 minutes, though towards the end, I was ready to be done with it and move on to something new. This is after all, still an AC game. There is a great deal of time spent running/riding from place to place, though having numerous fast travel points around New York and Boston helped in that regard. There is also much slogging through mundane and repetitive side missions, which are mostly optional, but when presented with an activity my personality does not allow it to go unfinished. That said, there are several I didn’t complete and I certainly can’t be arsed to go for the Platinum Trophy.

All in all, a good game, not great. If you’re interested in the time period and events surrounding the American Revolution then it’s worth the $10-20 you can get the game for nowadays, otherwise, you can pass and rest assured you’re not missing out on much.

//Forgot to mention, audio balance is horrendously, inexcusably awful.