Society has posed many thought-provoking questions throughout history. “What is the meaning of life?” “Is humanity inherently good?” “Did you think this was your land?” “Does Pineapple go on pizza?” We’ve argued these questions with varying degrees of intensity. They inspire anything from a friendly debate to a literal war.
However, one question has been more divisive than any other. One question has wrought more havoc in people’s lives, raised more blood pressure, and ended more friendships than any other query. What is this ultimate question? This debate for the ages?
“Who would win in a fight?”
It may not seem like much, but anyone who has wandered into the wrong message board can tell you: this question can ruin lives. The combatants change, but it still boils down to the same question. It’s been the basis for novels, episodic shows, movies, and many video games.
2017’s For Honor poses this question about historical warrior societies, and lets players fight it out to find out for themselves. While, initially, this was just a matchup between Vikings, Knights, and Samurai, more warrior societies from across the history of the world have joined the fray in the years since For Honor’s launch. As active as the game remains, we may see even more before the end of this game’s lifecycle.
Flurry of Facts
- Released in 2017, this game initially featured three factions. However, two more have been released since launch.
- For Honor remains in active development six years after its release.
- There have been two full expansions of the game, with Shadow and Might being the first, followed closely by Grudge and Glory, and then an entire game update: Marching Fire, released in 2018.
- Every Year has four new seasons with themed content, including new hero classes, new skins, new game modes, and entire new factions.
- For Honor is set to release the first season of Year Seven on March 16, 2022. The season will focus on blind faith and deals with an Inquisition that has fallen upon Heathmoor.
Scouting the Fields: The World of For Honor
The world of For Honor was precisely like our own until natural disasters rocked the world sometime in the first two centuries of the second millennium. This Great Cataclysm caused cliffs to rise where none were before, lands to fall into the sea, and entire continents to break apart.
What’s left was dubbed the land of Heathmoor (likely set somewhere in what remained of northern central Europe) and became a place of constant strife. It’s implied that the Knights and Vikings live more or less where they had before. However, the Samurai migrated to the region, followed by the Wu Lin and the Outsiders.
It’s here where the storyline campaign begins, as a legion of Knights led by the warlord Apollyon seeks to carve out a new empire in the ruins of the world.
In contrast, the game’s multiplayer portion is set after this, with the different factions involved in a never-ending series of skirmishes (mechanically represented by the “Faction War” element). Each season of content has a light narrative attached to it, but these primarily exist to provide a theme and an in-universe explanation for the new elements introduced to the game.
Picking a Side: Factions
For Honor’s content is organized mainly into factions, the first four of which correlate to real-world warrior societies. The exception is the last faction, which comprises characters from parts of the world that don’t easily fit into the first four.
They primarily represent a theme that applies to the looks and lore of the heroes and units within it, as there isn’t any mechanical difference between the three primary classes. In practice, a faction is just a lore explanation to divide the character classes and make it easy to tell who is on what side at a glance.
- Knights – These warriors are based on Western European culture and feature Heroes and Minions dressed in High-Gothic armor like plated mail and hauberks. They have a diverse list of Heroes.
- Vikings – These raiders are based on the fantasy interpretations of Norse raider cultures. Their Heroes wear mainly leather and fur armor and even have the stereotypical horned helmets. Their heroes have a slight tendency to be focused on power.
- Samurai – The last of the elite warriors of Feudal Japan have migrated to the land of Heathmoor and now make their home in the Myre area. They dress in the curved armor and kabuto common to their depictions and have the most versatile skill sets in their classes.
- Wu Lin – These rugged survivors have just recently arrived in Heathmoor, dressed and armed as if they were straight from the Three Kingdoms era of China. Each class has some kind of dodge action available, so they become very dextrous opponents.
- Outsiders – This is an eclectic bunch, and they are made up of characters that won’t fit anywhere else. A Pirate from the Golden Age of Caribbean piracy. A Medjay warrior from Ancient Egypt and an Afeera roughly equivalent to an Arabian Mamluk. They only have Hybrid heroes amongst their ranks, and they overwhelm their foes with a dizzying area of skill sets.
Choosing your Weapon: Classes
After you’ve decided what faction you want to play today, you can choose your class! (Unless you don’t have the Complete Edition, in which case you’ll have to spend time doing some unlocking!)
Initially, the different factions had versions of these three classes and some faction-exclusive hybrids. However, in the years since its release, For Honor has added more heroes to each faction and two whole new factions (one exclusively hybrid classes).
Each Hero Class has unique skills and weapons, giving them a unique play style. While players who Main the Conqueror won’t be entirely out of their depth if they switch to a Shugoki (both of which being Heavy classes,) they’ll still have to learn how to use the Shugoki’s abilities and feats best, or they’ll find themselves facing a quick and brutal death. Currently, 32 heroes and classes are available for players, with two more scheduled to be added later this Year.
The Three Primary Classes
The Heavies – The Heavies are precisely what they sound like. They’re big, beefy heroes focusing on defense and taking as much damage as possible.
- Conqueror (Knights) – These hulking former prisoners were armed with a flail and a heater shield and told the path to their freedom was through the enemy’s blood. Their abilities are centered around healing themselves and defending against enemy attacks, making them movable walls of malice.
- Black Priors (Knights) The Crusades may never have happened in Heathmoor, but don’t try telling that to these holy warriors. They use a kite shield and an arming sword to forward the goal of their fallen leader, but it’s the former that most of their fighting style centers around. They use that shield to trip, flip, and subdue opponents even as they defend their allies.
- Jiang Jun (Wu Lin) – Tall and noble, these heroes serve as commanders in the Wu Lin army and emulate the ancient Guan Yu in their style of dress and weapons. Their brute strength and the massive reach of their Guandao mean they can square off with multiple opponents, and a tree will fall of age before a Jiang Jun tires.
- Shugoki (Samurai) – The Shugoki are like glaciers. They do not move fast, but they are every bit as inevitable. These massive warriors shrug off blows that would stun even another Heavy and deal out massive, uninterruptible blows with their Kanabo clubs.
- Hitokiri (Samurai) – It would be accurate to call these creatures forces of nature rather than soldiers. Their double-bladed Masakari axes fit their aggressive kit very well. As they fight, they build up momentum and enter a state where their attacks become unblockable, and they can chain endless attacks against any opponent unfortunate enough to be in their path.
- Warlord (Vikings) – The Warlords are made up of the Vikings whose strength and durability made them natural leaders. They focus on using their sword and shield to capitalize on an enemy’s mistakes and move and counter-attack faster than a Heavy has any right to.
- Jormungandr (Vikings) – A cult of deformed monsters, they use their massive war hammers to beat the breath from their opponents and drain their stamina.
The Assassins – These lightning-fast units focus more on dealing as much damage as they can as fast as possible to avoid getting hit.
- Peacekeeper (Knights) – Armed with a short sword and a dagger, these masters of stealth and deception heavily use counter-attacks to bleed their opponents dry. If you thought you were playing Assassin’s Creed but somehow ended up on For Honor, this is the class for you.
- Gladiator (Knights) In Heathmoor, Rome didn’t get a chance to fall, and the Gladiator is going to make that everyone’s problem. They’re armed with a trident and a small shield, and their kit is full of tricks to pin their opponent and keep them stun-locked in a chain of attacks.
- Nuxia (Wu Lin) – True Assassins, these warriors use a pair of hook swords and vicious speed to be everywhere their opponent doesn’t want them.
- Orochi (Samurai) – If a Samurai decided they wanted to be a ninja, this is probably what you’d end up with. Their kit has multiple ways of dealing death to their opponents from near or far. They carry a Katana, but it’s far from their only source of damage.
- Shinobi (Samurai) – This is a ninja if they told you up front they were a ninja. They use their Kusarigama and unprecedented maneuverability to reposition themselves wherever they want.
- Berserkers (Vikings) – Ever heard the term “the best defense is a good offense”? These guys literally invented it. They use a pair of hand axes to overwhelm their foes with an impossibly fast flurry of blows that quickly chain into other attacks.
- Shaman (Vikings) – Merciless Viking Savages. The Shaman uses a hatchet and a dagger to cause their opponents to bleed, and the smell of that blood drives them to more fantastic feats of speed and strength.
The Vanguards – These are the paragons of their respective factions. Their images are what come to mind when you think of the terms “Knight,” “Samurai,” and “Viking.” They are balanced combatants that use speed, strength, and defense equally.
True to their name, they’re also the first classes most people end up using, as they’re the ones that are unlocked from the start of For Honor.
- Warden (Knights) – The Warden is one of the most versatile units in the game. They use a longsword that can be wielded in one hand or two and a suite of diverse abilities that will always keep their opponents off-balance.
- Warmongers (Knights) These firebrands are as flashy and effective as the Flamberge Greatsword they wield. They are one of the few classes capable of using Corruption in combat to debuff their foes and follow up with various attacks.
- Tiandi (Wu Lin) – If you’ve never heard the term “blink tank,” it will become one of your least favorite terms. These swordsmen are almost impossible to hit, and they use their incredible speed and mobility to demonstrate their mastery of the Dao sword.
- Kensei (Samurai) – A Samurai is frightening. A Samurai armed with a sword designed to cut through horses is more terrifying still. The Kensei may be the slowest Vanguard, but they make up for it with the longest reach and the most exciting finishers in their class type.
- Raiders (Vikings) – Think of a Viking. That image in your head of the tall, broad fellow with the leather armor and the long axe? That’s a raider. They have some of the highest damage attacks among the Vanguard and can reposition their enemies wherever they want.
The Hybrids – These classes initially mixed parts of the three primary categories to make something more unique. As time has passed, the developers have ramped up their design work and let their imaginations fly. Now, the hybrids have a mix of mix-and-match classes and “oddball” classes that wouldn’t fit anywhere else.
- Lawbringer (Knights) – These champions of law and order stride across the battlefield wielding a halberd. Their abilities are focused on disabling their opponents, and the versatility of their weapons means they’re prepared to counter almost any attack thrown at them.
- Centurion (Knights) – Where the Gladiator is a flashy showman of a fighter, the Centurion is a soldier through and through. The short reach of their Gladius is made up for by the enthusiasm with which they wield it and the myriad ways they can chain attacks together to debuff their opponents.
- Gryphon (Knights) – This is less a Class and more of a singular Hero. Holden Cross wields a Bardiche with deadly efficiency and uses a diverse range of attacks learned from across Heathmoor. He’s also an excellent supportive fighter, as his kit lets him heal and buff his allies.
- Shaolin (Wu Lin) – After the Great Cataclysm, life didn’t change much for these reclusive ascetics. Now, they travel with the Wu Lin, using the range and speed of their staff not only to chain attacks but also to reposition themselves in the blink of an eye. All of that is before they break out their unique Qi Stance abilities.
- Zhanhu (Wu Lin) – Formerly, the Zhanhu were the masters of artillery. They may have left their cannons behind, but they still use gunpowder and a kit full of bursting with burning effects to dish out burn damage to their enemies with their Changdao greatsword.
- Nobushi (Samurai) – Masters of the Naginata, these women warriors control any area in which they stand. Their weapons’ range and the viciousness of their attacks leave their foes bleeding on the ground.
- Aramusha (Samurai) – Why settle for one Katana when you could have two? The Aramushas use their Dual Katanas to chain attacks endlessly, and all they have to do is remember which side they struck with last.
- Kyoshin (Samurai) – Want to play a Heavy but don’t feel like playing a Heavy? The Kyoshi has you covered! It has everyone else covered too! (It’s also perfect if you were a fan of Zatoichi.) These blind swordsmen use all their senses (and their concealed shikomizue swords) to block and counter any attack launched toward them, no matter how many foes they face.
- Valkyries (Vikings) – The gods favor these women. If you have a problem with that, they’ll happily use their spears’ range and shield bashes’ speed to send you to talk with the gods yourself.
- Highlanders (Vikings) – They may not have been Vikings originally, but these warriors have memories nearly as long as the Claymores they wield. They only have two stances to switch between, which means they only have two stances to master.
- The Pirate (Outlanders) – Fighting with a flintlock in one hand and a cutlass in the other, the Pirate is one of the few characters with a primary ranged attack. Unfortunately, she knows it and is happy to pair this unfair advantage with her speed to rush an opponent with an assault unlike anything they’ve ever seen.
- The Medjay (Outlanders) – Hailing from what remains of Egypt, the Medjay uses two axes that can combine to form a staff, giving them a choice between speed or range at a moment’s notice. This choice makes them twice as challenging to play but twice as deadly once their unique styles have been mastered.
- The Afeera (Outlanders) – These Mamluks are walking Blunt Force trauma. They use a mace, shield, and an incredibly acrobatic style to bludgeon their opponents from every direction at once.
Prepare for Battle: Customization
You’ve picked your faction and decided what hero you want to play, but it would be dull if everyone looked the same.
Fortunately, For Honor offers endless customization options for the various heroes. The game provides different skins that make your hero look like someone else entirely, like most MOBAs. For Honor takes it several steps further by offering the opportunity to play most heroes as either men or women AND by letting people change pieces of their outfits and their weapons.
Although the selection for clothes and weapon parts starts small, there’s a virtually limitless way to combine the unlockable pieces. Your character can slay in multiple senses of the word!
However, unless you bought the Complete Edition of For Honor, you’ll have to spend a lot of time using the in-game currency to unlock the costumes, outfits, and heroes.
The Horrors (and Glories) of War: The Combat
At its heart, For Honor is a war game, meaning that the most essential part will be the combat system. So how does combat in For Honor work?
The developers once described it as a “traditional shooter, with swords.” However, it is more like a cross between Dynasty Warriors and Soul Calibur, with elements of a traditional RPG sprinkled in for flavor and customization.
You control a single character in a third-person mode, running around and killing minions by the dozens like a traditional hack-and-slash title.
Until you run into an NPC or another player, and the lock-on system engages. Prepare to defend yourself because you’ve just entered a brutal fighting game where the camera is free-floating, just like your character’s head could be if you’re not careful.
Conflict is fast-paced and rewards tactical thinking and mastery of a combat style more than lightning-fast reflexes. Players cycle through different stances, attacks, and guard positions in a constant attempt to either slip through or break an opponent’s guard to damage them before ending them in a particularly brutal attack animation.
It’s a clever system that is easy to learn but difficult to master for even a single class, let alone the more than 30 classes currently offered.
As a player battles through individual matches, they will unlock different feats for their hero, allowing them to become more deadly with each successive victory. These feats offer passive and active boosts and will massively change combat depending on how a player builds their character in each match.
But anything can happen in a battle, and if a player ends up fighting more than one non-minion opponent at a time, combat can start to feel a little less fun and a little more like a button masher.
While a player engages with multiple opponents, the stance system becomes less reliable, and positioning and weapon-facing become paramount. Players will have to bide their time and build their Revenge meter, hoping to build up enough to activate their super-strength and defeat one opponent to even the odds before they’re cut down.
The Battlefield: Modes of Play
When I start a game, I always begin with the Story campaign (because I usually embarrass myself in competitive play, ask anyone who’s seen me play as Birgitte in Overwatch). However, the real meat of For Honor lies in its multiplayer.
- Story: Fun but concise. It nets you practice with the games’ system and some in-game currency to start unlocking various items, but otherwise, it isn’t super necessary. It only took me about seven hours, and I’m a terrible player.
- Duel: A one-on-one, best-of-five match between two players, where the first player to die loses.
- Brawl: Double the opponents, double the fun. This is the same thing as a duel, but with two teams of two players each.
- Elimination: A larger version of a Brawl, with two teams of four players squaring off on a large map.
- Dominion: In this mode, two teams of four players and endless minions fight for control over critical areas of a map, similar to “King of the Hill” in other MOBA games. Players gain points by killing other players and minions alike, and the first team to 1000 causes the opposing side to Break. Players on a Breaking side will no longer be able to respawn, and the last team to have a player standing is victorious. However, if players on a Breaking side score enough control points, their forces will Rally, and they’ll regain the ability to respawn.
- Skirmish mode works like Dominion without control areas. It’s a straightforward Death Match between two groups of players.
- Tribute mode: Another four-on-four match. If you’ve played Capture-the-Flag in another MOBA, you’ve played Tribute mode. Tribute sees players attempting to capture artifacts and return them to their base to gain points.
- Breach is the newest mode, the most complex mode, and honestly? It is, by far, my favorite mode! Players take up arms on either side of a castle’s siege. Attacking players control a ram attempting to break through gates and progress through three phases of a historic siege before trying to kill the castle’s Commander. Defenders, meanwhile, do everything in their power as they attempt to halt the siege, destroy the ram, and protect the Commander. If the Commander dies, the Attackers win. However, if the ram is wasted or the Attacking players run out of respawns, then the defenders are victorious.
Question: Is For Honor still updated?
Answer: Yes! Every Year, four seasons are released, each with a new set of content and an update to the lore.
Question: Does For Honor have a Single-Player Mode?
Answer: It does! It’s short, only designed to last about seven hours (and it can be completed much faster by experienced players.) It has not been touched, updated, or expanded since its release, so it’s both short and outdated. It’s still fun, though!
Question: Does the storyline in For Honor affect the multiplayer?
Answer: Technically, yes. Any “story” is told in concise videos that advertise upcoming releases and mainly explain how new elements are introduced to the game world. There’s also technically an ongoing narrative with the multiplayer updates. However, the lore and story primarily provide a theme to the releases in a season.
Question: What’s your favorite faction and class?
Answer: I’m Team Knight all the way, and I love few classes as much as the Gryphon. (Though I’m not above playing as a Shaman when the mood strikes.) The Gryphon’s lore, the weapon he wields, and some of his available outfits make him my Main anytime I play some For Honor.
For Honor Overview: Conclusion
For Honor has been operating for almost seven years and shows no sign of slowing down soon. The team behind it still offers support and updates with a scheduled regularity. A massive base of daily active players also remains, meaning you won’t have to wait long to jump into a multiplayer match.
At this point, For Honor has outlasted most other contemporaries in its genre and still holds up nearly a decade later.
There are many reasons to fight. For Love. For Power. And, of course:
Wait. Was that too cheesy? I’ll try again.
Whether you choose to play as a Heavy, an Assassin, a Vanguard, or as something else altogether, the fact remains: You have all the weapons you need.
No, wait. That’s still not right… Ah! I know…
Now, all that’s left is for you to get out there and show the land of Heathmoor what you can do as you strive to answer that all-important, eternal question:
“Who would win in a fight?”