Review: For Honor

 The game has standard third person controls for keyboard and mouse until duel mode is activated.  Ctrl enters duel mode at that point Alt swaps between valid targets and the player strafes facing their target.  While in duel mode moving the mouse changes stances rather than changing the camera, attacks are performed with left mouse button for light attack and right mouse button for heavy attack.  All keybindings can be rebound as needed, though in testing mouse acceleration is an issue in duel mode.  A controller is recommended for this game, though the mouse and keyboard are fully functional.

The visuals are impressive with the power of AnvilNext 2.0 on display.  Whether it’s the physics of an explosive catapult shot impacting a group of enemies, or the viewing the draw distance of a vista from a mountain or castle wall, the engine renders it all in great detail.  The shadow detail and lighting are ok, though some light sources such as torches and fires don’t interact with the player to cast a shadow.  Though while the draw distance looks great and the physics are impressive, the texture resolution on some objects is a bit lacking.

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When the game is first booted up you first hear a light string piece, though the music in the multiplayer mode is minimal.  There is some percussion during fights and in between rounds, with a chorus harmonizing during the end of each match to set up an epic moment.  In multiplayer the minimal music could be seen as the removal of distractions, in single-player while the battle cry of soldiers, the clanging of steel and the sound of stones slamming into walls is atmospheric.  The lack of music seems like a missed opportunity to make the scene even more epic.  The game has separate sliders for music, sound effects, dialog, and a master slider as well as baked in voice chat for multiplayer.  The built in voice chat also supports push to talk or an open voice chat setup.  Voice chat can also be set to a different input and output than the default device if preferred.

The graphic options menu is very well done, the game shows which card is in your system which in turn shows you how much VRAM you have and how much VRAM each setting will use.  Going into the options menu from the main menu will also allow you to run a benchmark which will approximate performance, this is key as the game uses frame polling in multiplayer.  If the framerate is consistently below thirty you will be disconnected from the game.  Everything expected is here fullscreen options, multiple quality presets with various types of post processing, shadow, and environment detail. With the minimum requirements being an i3-550 or AMD Phenom II X4, 4 GB of RAM and a GTX660 or AMD Radeon HD6970 with at least 2 GB VRAM.  The recommended requirements being an i5-2500K or AMD FX-6350, 8 GB of RAM and a GTX680 or AMD Radeon R9 280X, or better.  This game should run on a variety of systems, though multiplayer will be an issue if your internet is not fast enough.

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The biggest performance issue comes from the online system, there are no dedicated servers the game uses peer to peer connections for matches.  If your connection is good enough this will not be an issue, but if the host has a slow connection this can create issues as it introduces lag, sometimes preventing movement for up to fifteen seconds or throwing off timing for parries and dodging.  This is a serious problem as the lighter characters such as the Assassins need to parry or dodge, they take more damage from blocking than the heavier Vanguard or Heavy classes.  This becomes a bigger issue when dealing with rage quitters, the game doesn’t have proper host migration, so if the host leaves a match the game ends and players are kicked back to the multiplayer menu.

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PROS

  • Combat system allows for depth and strategy
  • Each hero is unique and interesting
  • A lot of variety in gameplay among the different game modes and maps
  • Well done menu system with transparency for how each setting will impact your system

CONS

  • Peer to peer connection introduces performance issues for players with bad internet connections
  • Sound design was a missed opportunity to set up a more epic campaign
  • The campaign feels rushed, solely existing to serve the multiplayer
  • In-game currencty can be purchased which could unbalance the economy based on how the game is balanced in the future

Final Thoughts

This game is a bit of a tough sell, the primary focus is multiplayer.  If the community dies there is no game left.  Also despite Ubisoft promising not to split the community with DLC there are no details on pricing of individual items, as the game stands now you start with the Vanguard heroes unlocked and the other heroes are five hundred steel each, which can be gained in minimal playtime.  The microtransactions in a full retail game are also a discouraging sign as it’s too easy to add a hellacious grind to encourage purchasing unlocks.  The key moving forward is proper game balance, between the microtransactions and the gear upgrades anything beyond a light touch could throw the game well out of balance.  For Honor is currently available via Steam, Amazon or the UPlay store, the base game is $59.99, the deluxe edition is $69.99 and the gold edition is $99.99, the season pass can also be purchased for $39.99.  At the end of the day, the recommendation is to try it, wait for a price drop or see if the community is still going down the line.  While it’s not a bad game there are too many questionable things going on to recommend the game at launch.

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