On its face, Ubisoft’s For Honor—a third-person melee battle game—has a very straightforward set of controls. One button for heavy attacks, one for light, and the control stick which determines what direction you’re attacking from and defending against.
Add in a few additional commands such as a shield-bash charge, a dodge, and the ability to cancel a large attack before committing, and it doesn’t appear that the complexity increases too much. As someone who’s most recent fighting game experience comes in the form of 1991’s Street Fighter 2, it was a lot to take in at once but I thought I could get the hang of it quickly.
A Twitch channel I can be regularly found watching often features For Honor and while I recognize that they’ve played the game for years and years, they made the gameplay and general strategy look smooth and straightforward. O’ was I caught unawares when I installed the game to join them.
There are the usual move combos which populate almost every action game—for example two light hits followed by a heavy would do bonus damage or stagger the enemy or the like—but I was certainly unprepared for the sheer number of micro-mechanics that are an essential part of battle success.
Hard feints, soft feints, counter-guard breaks, unblockable attacks, parrying, ripostes, throws, zone attacks, stamina recovery, minion management, environmental damage, and more mechanics all combined in a flurry of “welcome to the deep end.”
I recognized very quickly that I am not good at For Honor. Maybe because I was playing against (much) higher-ranked foes by being in a party with the streamers, maybe because the weight of all the information being crammed into my head was too much all at once, but I spent most of the matches flailing around trying to minimize the detriment I was causing my own team.
At game installation, I had 3 heroes available to rank up, customize, and play around with, and three others that I could use in matches, without any other benefits. After a full afternoon of playing I had amassed roughly 1200 steel—the game’s currency.
To fully add a single character to my roster it would take at least 23,000 steel, and there are in the neighborhood of 20 different characters. For a one-time purchase of 25,000 steel I can soft-unlock 6 more characters, but again it would take another 48,000 steel to fully recruit those same characters such that I could upgrade and customize them.
Doing some napkin math, I estimate it will take me about seventeen lifetimes before I earn enough steel to purchase even one category of characters—I seem drawn to assassins—let alone the whole lot.
As my time available for online and offline gaming dwindles with age, I find it important to concentrate and focus my time on games that pique my interest, provide a feeling of satisfaction, and ideally I’m not total garbage at.
Will For Honor stay on my playlist? I think it may, if for no other reason than I enjoy playing with the streamers, but I don’t think it’ll be a game I can truly invest the time it deserves to get my abilities up to par.