For Honor Closed Beta First Impressions

As gaming studios get more and more comfortable squeezing every last cent out of consumers, we all get more and more frustrated. We tend to preemptively see patterns in practices in video games coming out that concern us instinctively now, and For Honor has fallen victim to these knee-jerk reactions.

As a full priced Ubisoft game with three single player campaigns and a plethora of multiplayer options, For Honor presents us with a solid and fresh take on medieval fantasy. In my attempt to ignore the waves of naysayers and doubters I spent the better part of the weekend engrossed in For Honor’s closed beta, and I have to say – Don’t knock it ’til you try it.

During this beta, nine out of the twelve classes spread across the three factions were available for play, specifically excluding some of the heaviest and slowest hitters from each faction. Seeing as how a lot of the people I was playing with favored the bigger and clumsier picks, I decided to focus my efforts on the agile counter-attacker, the Peacekeeper. I discovered in a hurry that this game favored reactionary combat over simply hacking and slashing, and just like every player starting out, I died constantly for the first few rounds.

The combat style is both creative and constant, relying on the positioning of your weapons in three different directions to both attack and defend. The first frustration you might encounter is getting used to the timing of each type of weapon in relation to this style, along with the trial and error that comes with learning how to parry, riposte, dodge, deflect, break your enemies guard and manage your stamina.

Luckily the game comes with an array of options to perfect the techniques and moves of each hero in the form of training courses and free roam practice modes. Once you understand some of the basic concepts of the flow of combat, the difference in your style and skill is night and day. With this straight forward learning curve, it makes you want to keep practicing and allows you to be as complex and effective as you want to be.

With three fully voice acted and a hopefully fleshed out faction campaigns to start out with, the multiplayer will be what decides how long this games community will last. With several layers of options for straight death matches and player versus player (1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4), there is also Dominion, a four versus four zone control objective mode where the longer you hold more zones the more points you get, with total map control followed by the complete elimination of the enemy team ending the game.

Each hero in the game has their own abilities to unlock by leveling them up, along with an extensive amount of armor and weapon customization with both aesthetic and statistic changes such as damage and blocking efficiency down to the hilt, handles and blade of each weapon.

Starting with quick matches in Dominion, I quickly got used to the psychology of the games combat as well. Trickery and mind games are a large part of winning a fight, or escaping a situation you might otherwise have perished in. In a game called For Honor, sometimes the best way to victory is avoidance and foresight.

As I got used to my selected favorite hero, I took her in to see how I did facing a single opponent head on, and then two on two in those respective multiplayer modes. Even in those matches there are plenty of cheap tactics to be exploited and ledges to be thrown from, but they can be avoided and even reversed if you know what to look for. When you do find another player with a sense of honor and fairness, you find yourself in an endless chain of very enjoyable rematches, testing your actual skill against someone of equal footing.

No doubt, the game itself has a lot of promise. A lot of people who have played it past their initial frustrations are very excited for it, myself included. With that being said, Ubisoft has a lot of work to do to fix some of the connection problems that still riddles this game.

Trouble starting up, endless loading screens, disconnecting from friends and endless general connection issues plague this game. Seeing as how this is a beta, I wouldn’t be too concerned about it, but as it stands it’s scheduled to release on February 14th. Can they fix so many problems reported by so many players so fast? To make matters worse, their decision to connect players peer to peer means that the game completely relies on another players own connection to the game, meaning if the host of your multiplayer lobby has bad internet, the chances of disconnecting mid-fight are pretty high.

Throughout the Alpha and Beta tests, all of us only got bits and pieces of what this game will have to offer. It’s up to you to decide whether to wait and see if it can stand up to today’s standards. With the production value of this game as obviously high as it is and plenty of content out of the gate (especially compared to some other multiplayer only titles with half the content and no single player campaign at all), I can comfortably suggest this game at full retail price to any medieval lover or fan of up close and personal player versus player.

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Ray C.
Author: Ray C. View all posts by
Ray is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Virtual Crunch. He started gaming on his mother's old NES and a Sega Genesis salvaged from a dumpster when he was five, which spawned his love of gaming. You can contact him at RayC@virtualcrunch.com