By Jarod Jones

There’s not a trace of pushing too hard in For Honor. You can tell the developers truly believe that burly warriors decked out in armor pummeling each other with weapons is as good as it gets. There’s a lot going on, from a confusing faction war metagame that sees players working together to conquer territory, to modes like Dominion where you fight to capture and defend points on a map. But really, it’s all just vanity. A flashy distraction from the game’s true heart, which is the combat.

It’s when you’re in a one vs. one fight that For Honor’s blade is sharpest. Each fighter can attack and block in three directions: left, right, and high. If your opponent goes for a high attack, an arrow indicating its direction will flash on the screen just before it connects, giving you a brief window to block. Sounds simple enough, but the skill lies in second-guessing your foe and waiting for precisely the right moment to block, attack, or dodge. As you slowly circle your opponent, wondering if they’ll make the first move, it’s genuinely tense. Especially if they’re another human player.

Nothing beats the unpredictability of facing another player online. You can play For Honor against surprisingly competent AI bots, but nothing beats facing another player online. And doing so forces you to dive deeper into the combat system, which goes way beyond mere strikes and blocks. Then there’s parrying, stamina, throws, guard breaks, and class-specific special moves, which deepen the game further. Bridges, ridges, cliff edges, and spike traps are particularly dangerous if you’re next to one and your opponent transitions from a guard break into a throw. Attack too often without pausing and your stamina will drain, making your attacks slow, which an opponent can exploit. There’s an impressive amount of depth and nuance to the fighting, which may be daunting for casual players. This could scare off those who lack a decent amount of patience.

Outside of the fighting, however, For Honor is very bloated. Customization is limited and tedious, a free-to-play-style storefront selling in-game currency for real-world money, and a tangle of confusing menus. And as time goes on, and hardcore players continue to hone their skills, it’ll be unwelcoming to newcomers. Stick to it though, and you’ll find a fighting game with wonderfully weighty combat and fun interactions. But if you want something accessible you can easily play, this may not be for you.

For Honor has earned 3.5 joysticks out of five joystick copyjoystick copyjoystick copyhalf joystickhalf grey joystickgrey joystick