A KNIGHT, A VIKING AND A SAMURAI WALK INTO A BAR...
Like medieval MMA, For
Honor pits three very different disciplines of warriors against each other in a tense series of battles. It’s part beat-’em-up, part action game, and takes more than few cues from paper-scissors-rock. That is, if those three items were all big bludgeoning pieces of metal.
The three factions (which never existed at the same time so put away your history books) are locked in an eternal war, and the linear campaign has multiple protagonists from each. There’s a plot and well-produced cutscenes with some engaging voice acting: Jennifer Hale plays the Warden and does the kind of job you’d expect from the voice of Commander Shepard. The notion of a huge war between real historical archetypes in an entirely made-up setting is a little weird, but it’s sufficient to drive you from one encounter to the next.
The missions themselves constitute a solid introduction to the game’s combat system and its various classes, with multiple difficulty levels and rewards for good performance to encourage re-play. Hidden collectibles feel like a bit of an afterthought, however, and at its core this is still primarily a game about hitting people with swords, and there’s a satisfying heft to every swing of your sword and poke of your spear. You really do feel like you’re belting someone with a heavy, lethal object, although this comes at the expense of some fluidity. It’s a slow, lumbering game, which makes sense given that the characters are all enormous, armoured beefcakes. It’s better produced than most fighting game campaigns, but is probably best thought of in that light regardless.
What’s unique here is how you fight. Your chosen warrior blocks and attacks in one of three stances – up, to the left, and the right – which leaves two sides open. That’s true both on your prey and your attacker. Subtle visual clues indicate which direction that big, brutal swing is coming from, but the ferocity of the attack can send you for six. Block enough attacks and your enemy will be left wheezing, offering the perfect opportunity to strike. Patience and planning are key.
Single player’s the introduction to the various multiplayer modes. While their format won’t surprise you – a riff on Domination, and a few head-to-head battles – the sheer amount of tactics you can employ will. There’s a dizzying array of customisation options (as well as annoying, galling microtransactions) to bolster your stats. At times the selection of gear is a bit too overwhelming, but don’t let it worry you too much.
For Honor is a rare kind of beast. Slow, at times plodding, but utterly engrossing and with more layers than a rich Bavarian. It’ll test your wits, but reward in spades.
BELOW “You must be *this* tall to be mashed with a spiky club. Lucky you!”
ABOVE Each class - Viking, Samurai and Knight - fights very differently to the last. You’ll ache over your favourite.
TOP “Let me scratch that itch for you.”