In the two weeks I’ve been playing Ubisoft’s “For Honor,” I’ve vacillated between absolutely loving the online fighting game and wanting to throw my controller through the window in frustration.
That’s not a knock on Ubisoft’s effort, either. In fact, if anything, it’s a compliment.
“For Honor” is unlike any online fighting game I’ve played before. It marries the kind of familiar battle modes found in shooters like “Call of Duty” — Deathmatch, Skirmish, etc. — with an up-close and personal fighting system that forces you to think strategically about every single button press you make.
When everything comes together in your favor and you manage to knock off a handful of opponents with some well-timed blows and blocks, it’s a beautiful experience. But when you mistime your moves, you pay hard. And then you throw your controller through the window.
It’s that moment-to-moment exhilaration, the sense that every battle can change in an instant, that makes “For Honor” such an exceptional game. It’s got some problems — there are a few control issues and a distinct lack of satisfying player rewards for completing matches — but give “For Honor” enough time and this deep multiplayer combat games will give you plenty in return.
The art of battle
“For Honor’s” combat revolves around what Ubisoft calls its “Art of Battle” system. Press the lock-on button, and a three-piece shield appears on screen representing the directions you’re guarding against or attacking from.
Hold the lock-on button and move the right stick to the left, for instance, and your character will get in position to block incoming attacks or swing from the left. There are only two kind of attacks, light and heavy. Seems simple enough, right?
When you get into real-time combat, though, you…