Opinion: For Honor is Honorless

Games likes For Honor, the new team-based, strategy hack-and-slash multiplayer title published by Ubisoft, do not come around very often. Set in a fictitious post-apocalyptic world that vaguely resembles our own, For Honor features three factions to play with: Knights, Vikings, and Samurai. Included in the experience is an approximately six hour campaign that explains the basis of the game and works as an extended tutorial, too. The main drawing of For Honor, however, is its appeal to competitive multiplayer gaming.

The concept of For Honor is pretty cool: you choose a faction to fight for, and you battle to control the majority of an overarching map. After each game is complete, you can manually or automatically deploy war assets that help attack or defend pieces of the map, and the majority of assets per segment will claim the territory per round. Game modes are periodically moved across the map, which allows players to place war assets in different locations.

All of this is well and good, and it’s a lot of fun. There are three game mode hubs with various sub-modes within. For example, Duels & Brawls contains four match types: PvP duels (1v1) and PvP brawls (2v2), along with the AI accompanied version of each. Deathmatch consists of Skirmish and Elimination and the AI counterparts, while Dominion contains a PvP and PvE match of itself. Within are various objectives, but the idea is to destroy the mindless soldiers while dueling the other players or bots.

Combat in For Honor is extremely satisfying, and the executions – if you’re able to spin one without being struck – are brutal. For Honor requires quite a bit of skill and strategy, as duels and one-on-one encounters can be fast-paced or methodically slow, each requiring its own strategy. Again, dueling another player or bot can be some of the most satisfying (or frustrating) multiplayer gameplay I’ve ever experienced. Needless to say, I’m hooked.

But I do have one enormous complaint about the entire multiplayer system and those who dwell within it: no one fights with honor. For a game called For Honor, the players battling fight with anything but. In reality, For Honor requires no one to battle with honor, as it offers players the ability to team up (4 on 1), utilize wall spikes, toss players off cliffs, and other means to slaughter enemies. Even so, the only piece that truly upsets me is the disruption of a perfectly fair duel.

I have already lost count of the number of duels I’ve been in that have been interrupted by either an enemy or an ally. There’s nothing more frustrating than being on the verge of victory, only to be stabbed and slashed in the back by one or more enemies. Likewise, there’s nothing like battling an honorable foe only to have your teammate(s) slash in from nowhere – dealing more damage to you than your adversary. There are, of course, a few exceptions to my anger toward this point. If my entire team is eliminated, and I have completed my initial duel (this is, of course, in an elimination match), then sure, swarm me. Sometimes it’s fun to build up my revenge bar, unload it on an enemy, and kill at least one of the three assaulting me.

Still, my interpretation of For Honor is a game that rewards players for battling honorably. Indeed, For Honor rewards players renown (and a trophy) for executing honorable kills, but I recently learned that a 2v1 is classified as an honorable battle. Worse yet, there’s no penalty for when allies harm or kill a teammate. More than once, I’ve been about ready to land a killing blow or in the midst of an execution when an overly anxious ally brings his/her weapon into contact with me – either killing me outright or interrupting my execution, which allows said enemy to potentially be revived by a friend. It’s outrageous and infuriating, and there’s no way to even talk about it via the in game chat options.

So what’s the point of this feature? For me, it’s a way to plead with gamers to fight with a little more honor – at least in a game titled For Honor. Be patient, and don’t worry so much about single battles. I’d also like to request some class balancing, as I’ve noticed some disparities between certain classes (but that’s not what this feature is about). For gamers, I think the best experience of For Honor will come from raising and maintaining one’s honor.