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For Honor beta impressions: The art of combat

For Honor preview.jpg

The past weekend the For Honor closed beta took place, and after a dozen matches, and a few terrible results on my part, I fell in love with the game. For Honor offers something new which I have never experienced before. Think of it as a Lord of the Rings hack and slash game, with a bit of a traditional PvP feel to it. It was surprisingly satisfying, and something that slowly grew on me.

TL;DR: For Honor is an exciting new IP that delivers refined, precise, and brutal combat - but is it the same game when playing with high latency?

For Honor - What SA gamers need to know

  • Tested: MWEB ADSL with 4Mbps download speed & 512kbps upload speed
  • Tested: SKyFi Fibre with 30Mbps download speed & 10Mbps upload speed

For Honor is all about prediction and fast reflexes. When on defense, you have to stop the enemy from attacking a certain part of your body, (by using the three guard points to block attacks). Know that spamming never works out when on attack, as one correct block from your opponent will leave you stunned and vulnerable for attack.

The above plays a role when you connect from a country with higher latency than your opponents. I found that it was an issue in the beta as attacks were not landing properly, and I lost a few battles due to poor connection issues. However, MWEB's server master played the PC version, and according to him "the latency was good." which is something South African gamers will be happy to hear. He played on MWEB's ADSL connection, while I played on a fibre connection.You might be wondering why he had a better experience than me when it comes to the latency - his explanation boils down to MWEB's gaming prioritization perk. "MWEB prioritises gaming to pretty much every game devs host of choice, and we have tuned our network to use the fewest amounts of hops to get to the servers; and thereby reducing latency - however I can't say the same for Skyfi, thus the importance of having an ISP that cares for gamers."

MWEB is currently busy with testing to see if they can do anything to improve latency, but as our server guy explained to me, "For honor is hosted overseas, so 20ms will always beat the average 160ms SA gamers will get."

We need to keep in mind that we played a beta and that Ubisoft will most probably work on the netcode to deliver the best possible latency before the final game releases. Lastly, I would say, that the latency wasn't a deal breaker for me, and I can recommend the game without hesitation. The gameplay video at the end of the article will give you a good indication of what it's like to play For Honor with a South African Internet connection.

For honor screen.png

About warriors & factions

When I saw the game at first I thought that I would have to swear my allegiance to one of the three available factions, but after choosing one to do the tutorial with, every character for every class system was available to play with. Yes, this means that in a traditional battle, say a 4 vs.4, I had Vikings fighting alongside me, with Knights. If you have not guessed it, I chose the Samurais because I loved the look and the unique characteristics of them.  

Each of the warriors in a faction have their own skills set and battle style; which needs to be mastered in order to get the most out of them. I made the terrible mistake of buying a new warrior as soon as I completed the tutorial, and jumping into a 1V1 with this new character. It did not go that well and ended with my head on the floor next to my kneeling body. 

My demise was mainly due to my lack of patience as I did not want to sit and learn the attacks of the new warrior. In For Honor, combat is everything, and I advise you take the time to learn what you can about each warrior.

As I stood in front of an enemy, guarding their attacks as I predicted their swings at me with their huge axe, my heart started racing. It is pretty intense, and nothing has quite come close to the experience. You can kind of say the game lends its combat inspiration from Dark Souls, but in a way For Honor's tactical approach by giving the player control of guarding stances, gives the combat a more refined feeling to it. 

In a 4V4 which I went into with my brother, we entered a "control" game mode where we had to fight other players, and smaller weaker warriors, over three areas. Just as we got Zone B, the enemy started taking Zone C. It was a constant blood bath as we fought off the enemies, and adjusted our approach to their warriors they were using. We knew when we came face to face with Lawbringer, we had to attack fast as his health and defense was high, but his attacks were slow.

For Honor (1).png

For Honor & the art of combat

Then we have battle skills, like the "arrow barrage" "player buff" or "healing" that can make or break a battle. One of my favorites has to be the Kensei's arrow barrage, which calls down a wall of arrows when used. This was great during a 4V4 as it would wipe out all the smaller AI soldiers which fill the main battlefield. Then we have skills that help boost the attack of a fellow team mate, and another buff that heals etc. I would guess that when the full game comes out, playing with a well-balanced team would be the best bet.

The combat in For Honor sometimes feels all over the place, especially in a 4V4. You would be dueling an opponent, and your team mate would come in and start slicing him apart. You can deal friendly fire, which makes sense, but also the grouping up on an enemy kind of feels like bullying. It is fun and all to all take down an enemy at once, but when it happens to you, it is not so much fun. It is in the 2V2 and 1V1 modes where the combat truly shines. Here it is just you and your enemy, so you have read their attacks, and try your hardest to defend yourself and come out victorious.

From the cross platform faction war that sees PC, PS4 , and Xbox One gamers fight over land, to the beautiful landscapes that For Honor has to offer in game, Ubisoft  has a jewel in their hands. With a few combat tweak here and there, and a polished-up net code, For Honor could be a game you would want to pre-order.

For Honor releases on 14 February 2017 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Check out a hands on video below, and watch me go from cursing the world, to getting MVP in a match. 

Marco: Twitter | MWEB GameZone: Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

"pretty intense, and nothing has quite come close to the experience"

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