Friday, February 17, 2017

For Honor Thoughts

 For Honor Thoughts

You're Legacy will be painted in Blood

A bloodied battlefield, two warriors from different eras pace around one another, each looking for an opening, a mistake to capitalize on. You see an opening and engage, they dodge, strike and draw blood, you quickly counter attack and more blood falls. You move around each other dodging, blocking, swinging, a deadly dance of blades where one misstep means a swift death. The entirety of For Honor is what I described above, it is an elegantly designed blend of a hack and slash but with the complexities of any fighting game you'd find on todays market. Very rarely do we see a game come around that offers something that you can't find anywhere else on the market, and For Honor has definitely found it's spot to fill.

 The Weak will Break, The Strong Survive

For Honor is a complex beast with a steep learning curve, but highly rewards player skill by offering numerous classes to fit every play style. This is where it takes notes from its fighting game predecessor's and transforms them from a limited 2D/3D fighter, into a true battlefield where  warriors battle to the death. Each class has a move list, complete with combos, counters, dodges, blocks, and signature abilities. Every one of the twelve classes has had immaculate attention to detail given to them, from their appearance, gear, and of course mechanics. There is a break down for each class which are Vanguard, standard, straight-forward, and adaptable. Heavy, which are strong and highly defensive characters. Assassins, fast and agile characters with lower damage per hit, but can rack up damage quickly. Finally there is Hybrid which are a blend of two or more of the other classes. Each class is very unique in their playstyle and knowing your enemies is just as important as knowing your own. There is a stamina gauge as well which is needed for dodging, feint attacks, attack and all, so keeping it well managed while exhausting your opponent is just as important as attacking and defending. I constantly find myself switching my mode of attack depending on my adversary. A Conqueror may get guard broken more because of his defensive style, where a Shugoki may get a flurry of light attacks before he can react. Ubisoft has done an incredible job of making every class very balanced, creating an environment where any class can beat any other as long as you possess the skill and knowledge to overcome them. Very rarely do I lose a fight where I blame the game and not my own mistakes, making me want to get back into the fight and prove myself the superior warrior. The defense system is extremely intricate as well. Each attack comes from one of three different directions, above, left, and right. All characters will stay in a guard stance in the direction you choose (excluding the assassins who only stay in that stance for a couple seconds before returning to a middle stance) allowing you to block all incoming attacks from that direction. You can also parry attacks by hitting the heavy attack button when the attack indicator flashes or deflect by dodging in the direction of the attack right before it connects if you are an assassin class. You also have the ability to guard break your opponent, which is a grab essentially, but be cautious as this can also be broken or "teched" by hitting the guard break button right when it connects. A unique mechanic comes to For Honor as well called the "Revenge Meter", which builds by blocking and taking damage from attacks, and when activated gives you unlimited stamina, half your health as a shield, and super armor on some attacks. For Honor also has a "How to Play" option with a basic and advanced tutorial, free mode, practice duels, and more to hone your warrior prowess. The complex design of For Honors incredible combat creates a deep and satisfying system that rewards reflexes and skill the higher you climb its ladder of warrior legends, ensuring you won't put down the controller until you have mastered the art of war.

Your Warrior is You on the Battlefield

For Honor also has a very cool loot and gear system to it as well. Every class has unique armor, weapons, customization options, unlockable outfits, emotes, effects, feats, and of course gloriously gory executions. This allows you to tailor your warrior to your personal liking and playstyle. Each piece of gear has stats it augments, but the unique part is it never just boosts something, but rather buffs one stat, while simultaneously lowering another. This is great because it makes you really think about what is most important to you in terms of your playstyle. For example a weapon blade may give you increased attack damage at the cost of increasing stamina consumption, or a chest piece may increase damage caused by blocked attacks but reduce revenge meter attack caused. This lets you tailor your class to your exact playstyle, without giving you a completely overpowered character. Gear is awarded at the end of each match by chance, attained through scavenger packs in the heroes menu, and by leveling up occasionally after reaching reputation one. Each piece of gear has a different look, and gets even more savage looking the higher you climb in level. There is even a change look system that lets you change the appearance of a piece of gear you have to look like another at the cost of steel, acquired by completing games, and salvage, acquired by dismantling unwanted gear. There are also contract and event orders that award high amounts of experience and steel by completing different objectives such as winning 5 4v4 dominion matches, or completing 3 1v1 duels as a hybrid class. I love this because it makes you dabble with every game mode and multiple class types, while also rewarding you exponentially for your efforts. There is also a season mode called "The Faction War". At the end of each match you can deploy war assets to a selected area to help your faction attack or defend that area. Every seven hours the territories change based on how your faction performed, and where you deployed your assets. The better you do the more assets you can deploy, so the higher skilled players will inevitably contribute more in the long run. When the territories change it also changes which maps are available to play in each game mode, keeping the multiplayer fresh by cycling maps, and making you feel like you are really a part of the war.

A Battlefield for every Warrior

For Honor comes with a complete campaign for each of the three factions, but let’s be honest, that's not why we're here. The multiplayer is the main attraction of this title, and it has a decent variety of game modes and maps for you to carve a bloody swath through. the standard is 4v4 Dominion, which is a domination style mode with three points to control, and capturing each of the three rewards 100 points and an additional one per second, and later, taking an enemy controlled point not only rewards you 100 points, but takes 100 away from them. A and C are always captured by just standing on it, but point B is unique. You have a swarm of AI minions that charge to the center of the map from both the defending and attacking sides, and whichever side has the most minions in the center of the map controls point B, that's right, point B is the battlefield itself, and is controlled by your army. This mode feels very true to the war style For Honor is going for, with your soldiers at your back and you, the Hero, cutting through the meek and feeble until the enemy heroes come out to challenge your supremacy. Once either team hits 1000 points, the other team starts to break, removing their respawns and leaving you to eliminate the enemy heroes to win the match. However you can always "Rally" by taking enough points to lower the other team’s points below 1000, which will allow respawns to return to the breaking side. Feats also play a big role here, allowing you to regenerate health by killing minions, attack with projectiles, or even call in a catapult strike (which is awesome by the way). 

 There is also a 4v4 Deathmatch mode which is a best of five rounds elimination that also comes with power ups like speed boost, attack/defense boost, and health regen. The last two are 2v2 brawls and 1v1 duels which are the same, best of 5 rounds elimination with the only difference being the amount of players in the match. More often than not if you are in 4v4 or 2v2 elimination if your teammate dies you will get jumped by the other player’s teammate, leading to you both relying heavily on each other. You can revive your defeated comrades though, unless they have been executed because, you know, you need a head still attached to get up and fight... The true test of skill in For Honor definitely has to be the 1v1 Duels. This mode pits you against your opponent, no power ups, no interference, just two warriors fighting to death to see who will stand triumphantly atop the corpse of the fallen. There is nothing more stressful, yet exhilarating as battling against an adversary of equal skill as yourself. You will find yourself constantly examining, adapting, and baiting your opponent to try and get the upper hand in the confrontation. This is where the beauty of For Honor’s combat shines, and where the fighting game aspects of the game reveals itself. Adaption is key in any fighting game, as any fighting game fan will tell you, and For Honor is no different. One mistake can cost you to lose your head before you even know it, so patience definitely pays off here. Most of the time you will end up going with your bread and butter strategy in the first round, as you and your opponent feel each other out, and next round the adaptation really starts. You may notice your opponent likes to jump in and attack high, so you may start to block and counter attack. Then they may notice you block their first attack and rush in and guard break to thrown you into a wall or heavy attack, so you may answer this by attacking as they rush in, since they can't guard break while you are attacking. Battles go back and forth like that constantly as you and the warrior standing before you try to draw the final drop of blood so they may stand victorious. If you want a second chance, fret not! You can always rematch after the match is over by just hitting ready after the final screen shows up, so you can battle each other to your heart’s content.

 For Honor comes with its fair share of issues as well. The matchmaking can be spotty, pitting you against players well below, or above your skill level, finding a game can take close to ten minutes depending on how many people you queue up with and in what game mode. Frequent disconnects causing you to lose all the experience you would have got definitely gets frustrating. However despite all of this I haven't lost any desire to jump back in to the battlefield. I'm hoping the server issues and matchmaking are just a launch issue and get patched soon, but Ubisoft has crafted a great game with For Honor. If you are looking for a simple hack and slash game, For Honor is not the game for you. If you're looking for a title with solid mechanics, tense moments, and a great multiplayer with balanced classes and customization, then look no further. Now grab your weapons warriors and choose your side. Will you fight alongside the noble Knights, the savage Vikings, or the honorable Samurai? The choice is yours hero. Now steel yourself and prepare, because your legend is determined by only one thing, the trail of corpses left in your wake.


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