For Honor

is at the mercy of one’s In­ter­net con­nec­tion

Business World - - WEEKENDER - By Alexan­der O. Cuay­cong and An­thony L. Cuay­cong

With­out a doubt, For Honor can be an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. Boot up the game and marvel as cat­a­pult shots fly over­head and ar­rows zing past you. Ar­mor clinks and swords clash as your cho­sen knight charges into bat­tle, hack­ing, chop­ping, and slash­ing. You breeze through the first few mis­sions, then move to mul­ti­player mode, the heart of the game, ea­ger to test your blade against other com­bat­ants. You en­ter the bat­tle­ground, and your cham­pion tears through the en­emy ranks, only to meet his match. An­other player steps up to face you in fair com­bat. You press a but­ton and your war­rior salutes. Your en­emy does the same. You close in to start your duel, ready your sword — and take a lag spike to the face as your op­po­nent tele­ports around willy-nilly, de­fy­ing the laws of grav­ity. He zooms past you, slices you to bits, and the match is over. The im­mer­sion breaks, and you dis­con­nect from the match due to your host rage-quit­ting. What you’re left with as you stare at the screen in dis­be­lief is a game that some­times proves to be en­joy­able, but all in all can be both frus­trat­ing and lack­lus­ter.

Let’s get one thing clear: When it wants to be, For Honor works, and works well. The open­ing cutscenes and the premise of the game all match up to what is stan­dard for Ubisoft re­leases. They look good and feel good. They show po­ten­tial.

Game­play wise, For Honor is both tense and thrilling. Fea­tur­ing a com­bat sys­tem where play­ers at­tack and block in three direc­tions ( up, right, or left), it plays out like a 3-D fight­ing game. A stamina me­ter pre­vents some­one from spam­ming at­tacks, and play­ers can chain charges to­gether in se­quence to cre­ate a combo. Play­ers may also do feints and juke an op­po­nent or dodge an on­com­ing at­tack by rolling side­ways or back­wards.

Com­bine that with a sys­tem where dif­fer­ent classes have dif­fer­ent fight­ing styles, and strengths and weak­nesses ac­cord­ing to their weapon type, and For Honor can show a sur­pris­ing amount of depth. You’ll be striv­ing to learn the ins and outs of your class. The game even al­lows you to per­son­al­ize your fighter to your style by chang­ing his ar­mor and the em­blem he wears to bat­tle, l et­ting you con­nect with him as he treks to the bat­tle­field. And when you do get to bring him to the fight, it all clicks to­gether. Very well, in fact, For

Honor’s mul­ti­player modes are stel­lar. The 1v1 and 2v2 as­pects of the game — called Du­els and Brawls, re­spec­tively — are en­joy­able and are fought in a best-of­five se­ries. Th­ese modes high­light what For Honor wants to be: a fight­ing game re­volv­ing around its unique me­chanic. Older play­ers have no ad­van­tage over newer ones, and the bet­ter player will win the round. Sup­pos­edly.

The prob­lem is that while th­ese modes work well, they don’t al­ways work prop­erly.

For Honor uses a peer-to-peer mul­ti­player setup, and weak and un­sta­ble In­ter­net con­nec­tions pro­vide a heavy ad­van­tage to­wards hosts and those near them. A game this heav­ily in­vested in mul­ti­player modes shouldn’t be us­ing this type of con­nec­tion. Lack­ing ded­i­cated servers, it re­lies solely on play­ers host­ing their own. And not count­ing how dif­fi­cult it can be to get into a match some­times, it’s highly likely you’ll get thrown into a server too poor or too far from you for you to ex­pe­ri­ence any en­joy­ment. Add that to the fact that the game be­comes un­playable should any con­nec­tion to the host be lost, and it puts a con­sid­er­able shadow on what should be For Honor’s great­est sell­ing point.

The 4v4 Do­min­ion mode doesn’t fare any bet­ter. It feels dis­jointed with how the game sells it­self. Lack­ing the same care it has in its Du­els, it gives a Dy­nasty War­riors- es­que feel where you can cut down respawn­ing AI sol­diers with a touch of your but­ton, and yet you’re also all too likely to get ganged up on and killed by peo­ple who, iron­i­cally, do not have any honor.

“Well, I’ll just go Sin­gle Player,” you tell your­self. If mul­ti­player op­tions are flawed, then surely go­ing solo will let you avoid most of th­ese is­sues.

Nice try. Sin­gle Player still re­quires an In­ter­net con­nec­tion; los­ing the link to Ubisoft at ANY POINT locks you out of your game, and even when you do get to play it, you re­al­ize that nei­ther its story nor its game­play is par­tic­u­larly thrilling or en­gag­ing. A lot of the feint­ing and juk­ing you’ll be do­ing in mul­ti­player means noth­ing against the AI, and the sheer monotony of the cam­paign makes it more tir­ing than it should be. For Honor’s Sin­gle Player mode feels less like a cam­paign mode and more like a glo­ri­fied tu­to­rial.

Add that to its price tag, around P2,500 as of the time of this re­view, and it’s dif­fi­cult to rec­om­mend whole­heart­edly de­spite how beau­ti­ful it can look and play. If a game where Knights, Vik­ings, and Samu­rai go­ing all out against each other seems ap­peal­ing to you, and you have the net con­nec­tion to han­dle it, the pa­tience to learn the com­bos, and the sto­icism to ac­cept the mul­ti­ple dis­con­nec­tion screens you’ll likely be see­ing, then it might be worth a look.

Other­wise, as good as it can get, I’d rec­om­mend wait­ing for it to go on sale. Its flaws sim­ply hold it back too much to rec­om­mend buying at full price.

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