This past weekend, Ubisoft put on a closed beta for their upcoming action game For Honor, even if the Englishman in me is highly irritated by the lack of a U in the title.
Even Microsoft Word is putting that damn squiggly line underneath it. Thanks, America.
Anyway, has the new IP impressed in its first flourish? Or has it been beheaded before it even reaches the barracks?
The tutorial in the beta was a good introduction into the game’s individual fight style and getting you used to the controls. It utilises light and heavy attacks like many action games but also adds in stances where you hold your weapon both for attack and defence along with block breaks, throws and other abilities.
It’s a fair amount to hold down early on but it does give you time to iron out the kinks if you so wish. The main hurdle, at least initially, is timing but also the seemingly simple control scheme actually masks what can become a rather complex style of gameplay.
There were additional strategies covered in videos during the beta, which is hopefully something you can practice yourself in the main game as it never translates the same.
If I watch Karate videos on YouTube, even if I copy them at home, it will not make me Bruce Lee no matter how hard I try.
That also adds the worry to those that do come in late that multiplayer matches might have a punishingly high learning curve. With so many different styles in each of the playable characters, combined with the controls and the potential for deeper tactics, it’s something that the game’s campaign may need to help players get used to rather than focus on an over-the-top, ridiculous story.
A knight, a Viking and a samurai all walk into a bar kind of thing, it’s definitely going to be that.
Having said that, the complexities it presents do seem attractive to the competitive gamer in me. Mastering a potentially tactical game has me a little weak at the knees but it’s also not enough for me to rush out to get the game on day one either.
As for game modes on offer, they allowed access to 1v1 duels, 2v2 duels and 4v4 domination. The first two are hero fights in a best three-out-of-five series that are pretty entertaining in the solo realm but can be frustrating with a tag team partner.
Those are basically a rush to see who can make it a 2-on-1 scenario the quickest. You can revive downed teammates but especially on the PvP servers, you really have very little chance of inspiring any kind of comeback unless one of the two is low on health to start with.
Domination is your classic control game mode where you try to rack up points by bossing three areas of the map for as long as you can. Once you hit a certain total, you then have to eliminate the opposition’s heroes to claim victory.
It’s a pretty fun mode that adds teamwork into the mix as well as hacking down numerous bots in Dynasty Warriors-esque way. This is the one that will probably be at the forefront of the game and possibly even the campaign but at the same time, this still needs a little tweaking in terms of balancing.
Customisation options for your characters as well were a nice touch, allowing me to make my savage Viking look as mental as possible and an added bonus is that seems to be unlocked through progression. So is loot to improve your character’s statistics but take caution with this one, the micro-transactions were visible and Ubisoft needs to ensure this won’t make it a pay-to-win game that makes players with thicker wallets the winners.
I also worry about locking out characters, with the need for six of the nine playable heroes needing to be bought through the in-game currency earned rather than an option from the start. That limits options for players but also suggests that they may be stronger than the starting warriors, which again would make me fearful over the balance of the game.
So, to put a long story short, I’m intrigued but not sold. Ubisoft have got me halfway there, they just need to make up the rest of the distance themselves. If they can nail a solid campaign, add a few more modes and keep everything on a level playing field, then this could be a real sleeper hit.
It’s something a little different from our usual big game affair, so at least sharpen your eyes rather than your swords on Valentine’s Day as to whether this one will be worth the wait.