Pre-order For Honor
In the months since our last preview of For Honor, the core gameplay is still much as we had described, but the developer has added some polish. The swordplay is quicker and more responsive, and the built-in tutorial does a better job of demonstrating the basics of playing your characters. For Honor is hitting shelves next month, so we took the beta for a spin.
Moves are easier to perform, information is clearer, and the game generally seemed to run smoother. There's nothing drastically different, but unfortunately, as of this writing, there were still some noticeable problems with lag and connection issues. The 2v2 and 1v1 modes fared better than the big 4v4 combat modes, but there is time for things to solidify by launch.
We also tried out one of the remaining characters, the Japanese naginata-wielding Nobushi, who relies on range and speed. They have the longest attack range in the game and great attack speed but extremely light armor. They're almost a support class that's not great in one-on-one duels but fantastic at helping out in multi-foe battles. Consequently, Nobushi players must rely on their range and speed to overcome more heavily armored opponents.
A big new addition to the beta is its faction meta-game mode. Each of the three clans are warring over the world, which is represented by a large colored map showing each clan's current area of control. The clan you pick at the start of the game determines who you'll be fighting for. The character class you choose does not. That means that if you pick Knights and choose a Samurai warrior, you'll earn victory for the Knights. All the game modes, including Brawl, Dominion and Duel, are part of this overall game mode. The matches you fight are where the war plays out, with the particular arenas determined by the current fronts of the battlefield.
Winning matches earns you a resource called War Assets. The better you do in any individual match, the more War Assets you earn. You can distribute the assets to any of the world's front lines. The more you invest in a given location, the more your faction controls it. The game world is updated regularly (about every six hours or so), and the world changes slightly. Each map is associated with a specific location and will have banners and other cosmetic changes, depending on who owns it. It's not something you can do single-handedly. Each player has to figure out the best way to allocate their resources to control the battlefields. More skilled players will have a bigger contribution to the fight. There's even a leaderboard showing who the most talented generals are for each side.
More importantly, there are rewards for the winning faction in the form of loot. The factions who control the battlefield gain access to specialized loot at the end of a season. Once a season finishes, which is about every 10 weeks, the game world will be reset and players can start all over to take over the world. It's designed to be a constant and persistent tug-of-war between all three factions. Since there are three factions, it's difficult for any one side to get too far ahead. In the beta, all three sides were evenly matched, separated by control of only a territory or two. As mentioned, there's nothing locked to by the side you choose. I saw plenty of Vikings playing Samurai classes, and vice versa. It might be a little tone-breaking, but it's better than trying to force equal balance between the three sides.
It's a neat concept and brings extra value to the game because you're not obligated to play against other humans to participate. For Honor rewards War Resources for both multiplayer and AI battles, so you're able to spend your time honing your skills against regular AI foes and still contribute to your faction's side. It's a clever way to give the game a single-player mode without locking that player out of the persistent online multiplayer. It's also nice that it doesn't completely dominate the online play. If you're in the game for the sword-fighting and honorable duels, there's nothing stopping you from playing it that way. You're not obligated to focus on the faction war in any way, shape or form.
For Honor is rapidly approaching its release date, and things seem to be solidifying nicely. The combat has smoothed out, and the flow of combat is becoming quickly comfortable. There were connection issues with the build, but it's not unexpected from a server beta test. More importantly, the Faction War concept is fleshing out very nicely. The ability to directly contribute to a global conflict has a lot of potential for giving a multiplayer-focused game a lot of extra replay value without locking out those who are interested in playing against bots. We'll have to see how it pans out when For Honor hits on Feb. 14 for the PC, PS4, Xbox One.
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