Ubisoft’s upcoming hack and slasher has not received as much hype as I had expected. When the beta was announced, I felt like I was one of very few who were genuinely excited to see what it offered.
So I did. None of these are final impressions, and who knows what could change between now and release. But as it stands, here’s what I liked, disliked, and was deeply confused about in the For Honor closed beta.
The opening cinematic explains that a cataclysm wrecked the respective homelands of the Vikings, the Knights, and the Samurai, and they had a bit of a scuffle over a puddle and that sparked centuries of warfare. I’m all for ‘eternal battle with reasons lost to time,’ but the main reason I like it is that the villain, Apollyon, is a woman. That’s rare enough in games to be a huge plus, especially when I expected the Land of Bulky Dudes to be the main theme. Even though we don’t actually meet her in the purely multiplayer beta, I’m looking forward to a story in which she plays a pivotal role.
I was worried about the combat variety going in, and boy was I wrong. I picked up the basics in the tutorial, but the PvP has a level of strategy I never anticipated. Scoping out and sometimes guessing where the next attack was coming from, switching my block from side-to-side to guard and then striking my opponent; this didn’t lose its appeal over the time I spent in multiplayer, nor did it ever feel cheesable. Skill and reaction times will be much more important than mere hack and slash tactics.
Combat’s pretty damn good, basically.
I spent some of my free monies on the Peacekeeper Knight, a sweet Assassin character who looked like they fit my style. And boy, did they ever. Break guard, stabby stabby, oh that’s a nasty seven cuts you have there friend. Fun times, while it lasted, but a good heavy blow or counter-guardbreak would ruin my day, and I never felt like I was untouchable for long. Neither factions nor warriors are hugely overpowered, which bodes well for the longevity of the game.
There were three modes available at the time of the beta. The first is Dominion, and if you’re familiar with Overwatch’s Control maps you’ll know what’s up. Teams of four battle over points, and it had a refreshing ‘different but the same’ feel. Team play is vital, especially if you’re a squishy little Peacekeeper going 1 v 3 and your team are nowhere near you (COME ON GUYS WHAT THE HELL I KNOW YOU CAN SEE ME).
Duel is more of a 1v1 affair, with a lot of strategy and skill and oh no my Peacekeeper broke your guard and wrecked you how unfortunate. I honestly didn’t touch Brawl because I enjoyed the other two so much, and then the Beta ended before I even thought about it. Which can only be taken as an endorsement.
Yeah it’s here too. Cool antagonist aside, the plot seems threadbare, largely centring over who wanted to drink out of a puddle more after a catastrophe. Sure, we only saw the multiplayer trailer, but it seems like next to no thought went into the rationale behind the game. ”Knights and Vikings and Samurai wailing on each other because of thirst reasons” seems to be pretty much it.
I am not being overly dramatic when I call for the immediate and painful execution of serial disconnectors. They plague all online games, and are the worst part of the experience. Sure, someone’s connection may have dropped, or their power cut off, or they caught fire; I don’t care. Keep. Playing.
I get that this is a beta, and people don’t take it as seriously as they would in full, ranked games. But when the time comes, take a leaf out of Blizzard’s book and drop that banhammer HARD, Ubisoft, because these kinds of shenanigans are the main worry I have with going back to For Honor.
Yes I’m still contradicting myself, and yes, I see this getting praise for innovation, and yes, I can’t help but agree. I can’t really argue that they aren’t the best they could be for this kind of game, but I also really didn’t like them. Hold trigger and flick the stick while mashing buttons; it’s just not my cup of tea, never really felt intuitive. Am I salty just because I couldn’t get the hang of it? Maybe. Again, I only had a short time with the beta, so don’t sue me if it turns out they grow on you.
I also seriously think a mouse and keyboard with this scheme would make you hate like you’ve never hated before.
Seriously guys just take turns drinking the damn water, don’t start eternal war over a puddle!
Vikings and Knights can team up to fight Samurai and Vikings. There’s no restriction on characters in the big battles, which I feel negates the whole point of choosing a faction to begin with. Fixed in the main game? I hope so. I get that you’d feel like you’re only playing a third of the game, but still, commit to worldbuilding, people.
Before anyone starts yelling about how betas are about finding bugs, I know that. But I’m obliged to tell you that there was some weird junk happening up in there. There were plenty of bizarre connection issues, but also a lack of response, freezes, enemies spawning as if from nowhere, and a full on hard crash for my ever-suffering PS4. I watched a Berserker spawn in the freaking stratosphere, fall to Earth, and then axe my extremely confused face.
Overall, I’m still excited for For Honor, and my hype for the main story has not been dampened by my beta experience.
Brian received closed beta access to the game from Ubisoft.
For Honor is set to launch on February 14 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The open beta will be made available to all from February 10 - 13.