For Honor is a game that's a long time coming and there's been quite a bit of hype surrounding its release.
Early betas and both open and closed betas helped to gather up good word for it and, now, on its first weekend of release, For Honor's multiplayer servers are teeming with players all ready to do battle with one another. What's been interesting so far about For Honor's early multiplayer experience is just how quickly players are adapting to the gameplay mechanics and just how finely balanced it all is. Indeed, that's one of the biggest positives that For Honor has going for it - its balanced matchmaking and understanding of multiplayer.
By all accounts, For Honor is very much that; a multiplayer experience, as the single player campaign is little more than a tutorial that you'll soon tire of. The setup of the game itself doesn't even warrant a closer look, because it doesn't really make all that much sense. Simply put, a band of vikings, samurai and knights have been forced together following a natural disaster and are locked into a continuous battle for supremacy.
The Legion - made up of ironclad knights - battle the Warborn - predominantly vikings, although it appears there's one or two Celtic flourishes in there - who, in turn, battle the Chosen - a cabal of samurai led by a merciless warlord. The singleplayer campaign flows through these three factions and gives you enough missions that will get you to grips with the strengths and weaknesses of the individual factions and the various classes within them.
A lot of thought has been put into the various classes in the factions, meaning that you'll eventually land on one that works for you. You might prefer a bit more defense and strong, slow attacks or you might prefer something faster and more sharper, but with a higher likelihood of taking damage. Both are accounted for and everything in between, so there's really no excuse for it not working for you - other than a lack of a skill.
That, in itself, is where the game works out as the balance. You have to practise at it in order for it to work for you. You can fight either one-on-one or in a large-scale battle, but the mechanics work the same. You can charge in, sword swinging and hope for the best or you can hang back and play a tactical game. There's little in the way of stealth, but the game rewards cunning and the parry / counterattack system works well.
Graphics-wise, it looks well on our chosen format and the animation and character design didn't seem cheap or forced. The customisation of the individual classes and the in-depth gear system holds up to scrutiny, with the single-player campaign offering you credits that you can spend on your multiplayer loadouts.
For Honor excels at getting you into the game and making it addictive. The fights - whether they're with bots or other players - can be drawn-out, grizzled affairs with the odds changing on the back of a hit or they can be fast and brutal, over in a matter of seconds if you mess up. It's all about how you play and the game gives you enough leeway to explore both.
Overall, For Honor is one of the best multiplayer experiences we've had this year and the community looks like it'll grow and grow. It's just a shame that the single player campaign was just an afterthought, as there was definite potential for something there.