Knight and Samurai fighting, For Honor screeshot

Before I’ll start sharing my experience with the For Honor close up beta, juts so you know that these impressions are based on the beta stage development of For Honor, and things might change by the time the game is officially released on February 14th. Oh, the beta didn’t offer the option to play the single-player campaign, just the multiplayer. I also played the beta on the PlayStation 4, not the PC.

For Honor was one of my most anticipated games for 2017. When it was first announced I was so happy to finally see a game that doesn’t follow the overall trend of first-person shooters and RPGs and bringing a game with a new type of gameplay mechanics. I was always wanted to play a competitive game on the PS4 where I can slash other players with swords and other weapons from historical times. I mean, how cool is that being able to use a Japanese Katana sword, a longsword, Nodachi or a Great Dane Axe to smash other people in a great competitive multiplayer match?

I signed up for the beta the moment they made it available on Ubisoft website and waited patiently until the day comes where I can play it. OK, this day came and I got an email that I was chosen to play the beta, I was so excited. I also given three other close beta keys to give to friends. Of course I did just that, because I really wanted to make my friends happy, but I also wanted to play with them and even against them.

Obviously I was following the news, reading articles about the game, watching gameplay videos on YouTube. However, there is nothing like playing the game in first hand and see whether or not this game was worth waiting for. Of course the beta isn’t the full game. That being said, I was more interested to see how the gameplay mechanic works, check out how the P2P works in practice and get overall impressions about the game to see whether or not it fits my gameplay style and whether I should buy it or not.

First of all, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to features.  I first played the tutorial and I through that there are only handful of moves that I can do. Little I know that there are some more moves and combos. As you progress through the game you’ll discover the depth that this game has. I mean, I compare this to an FPS game that I love playing, but I also compared it to a game like Nioh that is also has its similarities in terms of melee combat system. I haven’t got too much experience with those type of games, and I didn’t play any Dark Soul game, so for me, For Honor is a fresh new experience.

Progression System

Before I talk about the gameplay, and other stud, I want to talk about  the  progression system. For Honor has a great progression system that keep you want to strive to become better. You can equip different items for each part of your weapon that improves its stats and level. You can change your character clothes items that also influence the statistics., and you have ability items which you can use in the 4-vs-4 matches. This means that you’ll see players playing around different builds to align them to their gameplay style. So it’s not like let’s say Overwatch, where any item that you buy and use is just a cosmetic item and has no influence on the stats of the characters. You have your basic moves and ultimate ability and that’s about it. So this is a great feature about this game that I really like. There is also a level progression system as well.

I love having a progression system in this game because it make the game look and play less flat. It’s a melee combat game after all, at least most of it (there are some long range abilities in 4-vs-4), so it’s a bit flat in terms of movement dynamics compared to FPS games. The arenas in this game are nice and you can get some environment kills every once in a while, but the overall gameplay is bit static compared to a game like Overwatch which is not realistic and more arcade-style with fantasy characters and very unusual moves and abilities. So I think that adding this customization build depth adds more to the game and make it more interesting to players, especially those very competitive players who intend to spend a lot of time optimizing their gear to match their favorite gameplay style.

Game Modes and Maps

From what I was told, Ubisoft will introduce more games mode in the full version and in the near future. So the modes that I play were just 1-vs-1, 2-vs-2 and 4-vs-4. You can play each of these mode against AI or real players and also create custom matches with different game mechanics set before the match begins. For example, you can play against your friends in a 2-vs-2 match and disable the option to use abilities.

There area a nice variety of maps to choose from, some can played at night or daylight. I love the map design, some more than others. Having said that, I didn’t really feel that the map has any real benefits in this type of game, at least not compared to shooters where positioning is much more important. If you play Overwatch you probably know what I mean. There is use of elevation and being able to sneak around enemies and surprise them, something that you really don’t get to do in For Honor. You do have some of that in 4-vs-4 matches, but it really kind of dull compared to the amazing dynamics of a game like Overwatch or Battlefield, which are range combat oriented.

Who can you can’t win against four players when it’s just you left? check out this video by googleygareth YouTube user.

Graphics andAnimation

The map design look really nice with very atmospheric visual effect. It really makes you get into the mood of the game. The character animation in this game are just extraordinary, and I was surprised to see how polished it is. I can understand that in a relatively slow-paced game, it’s easier to insert more frames into the character animation and it also supports the gameplay itself, because it allows players to penetrate moves in-between those frames and punish your enemy. For Honor is more casual in that sense compared to games like Mortal Kombat X where I personally find it very hard to read moves. Although there are some characters that are faster than the others, the game gives you visual and even audio cues that allows you to read the move prior to the attack and counter it.

I have below average reaction time, but still I found For Honor to better suit a player like myself. I was able to read the players moves and react to them. Of course it’s harder when you have a slow character and fighting against a faster character, but I didn’t felt like totally useless.  In fact, if you read the moves well and learn to counter attack, it works in your favor, and you can take advantage of the mana depletion and attack back without your opponent being able to even react.

2-vs-2 Seems a bit broken to me

The 4-vs-4 and 1-vs-1 mode are good but the 2-vs-2 seems broken to me. My problem with this mode is that you play with another player (I played with a friend) against two other opponents. My big issue that I have with this mode is that once one player die, it’s almost a guaranteed death to the other player, because the player that kills you go and help the other guy to fight against his opponent. There is the ‘Revenge’ ability that suppose to stabilize that and help you get extra power when you manage to lay down more attacks or make more blocks, but this game isn’t really fair towards a player that is being attacked by two (ore more) opponents.

There is an option to quickly dodge attacks from different directions, but again, the chances to be able to defeat two players is low, unless the difference in the gameplay skill is substantial. I’ve seen a player killing four players, but as you progress through the game and get better, you’ll find it hard to do that.

Gameplay Mechanics

I think that the the gampeplay mechanics are really well made. Blocking, parrying, feinting, throwing, dodging, combo-ing attacks really works well and you can really feel that intense one-vs-one melee combat experience. In some ways I wish there was more health for the characters, so a fight can’t be over in like 10 seconds at times, but the combat felt really good. I used the PS4 controller with vibration, and blocking attacks feels so authentic. This is just a day and night difference compared to when the vibration is turned off, you really have to try it if you play on the PS4. I don’t how it works for the PC with a controller, but it might be the same.

The relatively slow movement allows the fight to create an complex fight. At least compared to a shooter where you can take down an opponent in a split of a second. The stamina management is a must-have feature of course, which prevents players to just spamming attacks and carefully calculate their moves. That being said, I really loved the stamina management in Nioh where you can continue your attacks and defensive moves if you remember to recollect some of the lost stamina using R1. It works wonderfully well and create a smoother and continuous fighting experience.

This is actually one of the things that I wished were a bit different and played more like Nioh. It creates funny moments that people just spam their attacks and once their stamina is depleted, they just run away waiting for its to regain, especially the fast moving characters that you can’t reach them with your slow character. I think that running should also consume stamina, so people just won’t be able to spam their moves and run away to avoid getting hit. There are some tweaking that need to be made in this game, and I’m pretty sure that those will be further adjusted based on user’s feedback before and after the game is released.

Ranked Mode?

In For Honor there isn’t anything like ranked mode from what I’ve seen, at least in the beta. This means that new players have a chance to fight against very skilled players. The match making doesn’t seem to differentiate between players at different levels. I wish there was a ranked mode like in Overwatch which allows you to play against players in your own skill, not based on the level, but based on a progression ranked system like Overwatch.

So players at a certain rank won’t matchmake with players that are much more skilled than them. I think it can also give the game its competitive setup that it needs to motivate players to spend more time practicing and ranking up and know know, maybe make this game available as an eSport, just maybe.

Is For Honor Can Get Boring Fast?

I enjoy playing the beta of For Honor, but I personally wouldn’t have played it without friends. It’s not like Overwatch that I can play without friends and still enjoy it because the game forces group gameplay and requires voice communication to be able to coordinate strategical moves.  Games like Overwatch are much more dynamic, and I found For Honor to be more flat when it comes to gampelay mechanics. I might get bored playing it quite fast because the lack of dynamic group gameplay experience, which I found really critical for competitive online multiplayer games, It was still a lot of fun to play with and against friends, but I just don’t see myself enjoying it in the long run. I do compare it to Overwatch because these are two competitive multiplayer games and when I play those type of games, I search for a game that can give me great satisfaction playing it over and over again. It’s all about the replay value in terms of fun factor and having a game that can entertain you every time you play it. In that regard, I find For Honor a bit lacking, but again, new modes might change that.

OK, I know this was heavy, so hey, check out this video by yung mestro YouTube user, I’m sure it will put a smile on your face 🙂

(Not Final) Conclusion

So to some things up. I found For Honor (beta) multiplayer to be really fun to play with friends, with great depth, very polished and beautiful art design and superb animation.  I love the faction war thing, the loot system and the ability to create your own preferred build for your character. There aren’t too many character to choose from, but I’m sure more will be added in the near future. Just in comparison, in Overwatch there are more than 20 characters to choose from, and even there I always eagerly waiting for more characters.

The 2-vs-2 seemed broken in my opinion, and I think I think it needs some tweaking and I hope to see more modes that can really better support the very unique gameplay mechanics of this games.  I love the opening movie, the tutorial is really nice. I love the gameplay mechanics, and it felt so good playing it with the vibration turned on my PS4 controller.

Whether I buy this game when it comes out, I’m not sure, probably not. It’s one of those games that are fun to play, but skippable. I would probably only buy it if many of my friends played it, but based on what I’ve seen, this is very unlikely to happen. For me there is still Overwatch, my favorite multiplayer game on my PS4 (I’m also playing Paladins beta). I love the concept of the game a lot, but it doesn’t really translates to an amazing multiplayer gameplay experience – at least not as I thought it would be.

I had my worries back then, because I knew that melee combat, in some type of games, can get boring pretty quickly because the lack of dynamic available during a match. This is just the beta, and the final game might add more stuff. This is just my opinion of course, and you might find the game much more fun to play and get a completely different experience. For me, it’s just isn’t enough, but I am on the fence and haven’t made up my mind yet.

What’s your experience with the beta? I want to here what’s your thoughts about the game after playing the closed beta?

Image credit: Ubisoft