Honor! What is it good for?

So a knight, a viking, and a samurai walk into a bar. Just kidding, they slaughter the patrons, burn down the bar, and then start hacking at each other until one of them manages to retain the majority of their limbs. Then the victor is shoved into a wall of spikes. Welcome to For Honor.

For Honor is a game centered around a decidedly pointless war that has been raging between the three aforementioned peoples for over a thousand years. The knights manipulate the vikings, the vikings raid the samurai, and the samurai seek vengeance against the knights. There is little story to be found beyond the simple premise of “war for wars sake”, but the gameplay is entertaining enough on its own that it doesn’t need a complex narrative to carry it.

A basic tutorial greets you when you begin the game and explains the cornerstones of the combat system. You warrior has three stances in which you position your weapon either to the left, right, or above. You stance dictates where you attack from as well as where you will block incoming attacks. The idea is to attack in a direction the enemy is not defending while also shifting your stance to meet their strikes. Depending on how open you think the enemy might be, you can choose to use light or heavy attacks to maximize your advantage.

Beyond this foundational knowledge, there are also many advanced techniques the player must learn in order to be successful. You can shove an enemy to break their guard and create an opening, but these guard breaks can be countered if met by an opposing break at just the right moment. Attacks can be dodged or even parried if the player uses a heavy attack in the matching direction at the exact moment of impact. Heavy attacks can also be feinted in an attempt to bait your opponent into making a mistake.

Learning to use all the techniques together, and to use them effectively, takes practice. A good place to get a feel for the game without diving headfirst into player vs player is For Honor’s story campaign. While relatively short, it offers twenty bite size missions in which to hone your skills and learn some of the more advanced forms of combat. It also gives you a taste of most of the games twelve classes, four for each faction.

Each of these classes plays differently and excels at specific strategies. I’m personally fond of Valkyrie on account of her leaping strikes and many ways to trip and knock opponents down. It’s a good idea to try them all so you can identify your favorites, as well as learning all their strengths and weaknesses for when you inevitably encounter them in battle.

Once you’re comfortable with your skills, the meatier multiplayer portion of For Honor offers many ways to showcase your prowess. You have game modes including intimate 1v1 duels, chaotic 4v4 capture and hold, and everything in-between. Playing any of these modes will net your chosen class experience towards leveling up and gear to customize your style and stats. However, it’s worth noting that gear stats only apply in the 4v4 modes. Gear anywhere else is purely for style.

A currency called “Steel” is also obtained from participating in multiplayer. Steel can be used to buy loot boxes, emotes, new execution animations, and more. A common complaint is that it takes far too long to earn enough steel through normal play to afford much of anything. Steel packs can be purchased with real money and this leads to something of a “pay to win” dilemma in the 4v4 modes where gear matters. A fully geared player can be notoriously difficult to kill, often taking on entire enemy teams and emerging victorious.

All of this conflict between the factions culminates in the territory based “Faction War”.You choose a faction to represent early on, but this can be changed and it does not lock you out of any classes. When a player finishes a match, they receive war assets that they can choose to spend attacking or defending a territory in an effort to expand their factions influence. The war is divided up into seasons and the seasons are divided up into five rounds. Each round lasts two weeks and whichever faction holds the most territory at the end of the round claims it. The faction that wins the most rounds at the end of the season is the victor. Rewards are doled out each step of the way based on your standing in the war.

For Honor is a game that’s easy to grasp, but difficult to master. It focuses on providing an intense and immersive combat experience and succeeds in that delivery. Some classes are more irritating to deal with than others, but personal skill and ingenuity will always serve you well.

For those that yearn to forge themselves in the kiln of war, they’ll find few better places to do so than on the battlefields of For Honor. Show each foe respect and conduct yourself honorably… or don’t.