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Honor Rules? For Honor Isn't Dark Souls

Oh, and using environmental hazards to eliminate the enemy is really okay.

Analysis by Jaz Rignall, .

Despite enduring similar disconnection issues to those outlined by Eurogamer earlier this week, I'm having tremendous fun playing For Honor's multiplayer. When it works, it's absolutely brilliant: A brutal and bloody fighting game that puts you front and center of a medieval battlefield, where it’s kill or be killed.

What I particularly like about the game is that in larger-scale battles, player versus player combat can take a variety of forms. Sometimes you run into an enemy warrior who's on their own, and engage them in a duel. This is For Honor's purest form of fighting – a battle of skill and reflexes in which the players attempt to outwit and outmaneuver one another as they parry, block, and counter-attack their opponent.

Oftentimes, though, fights are asymmetric brawls in which an individual has to take on two or more opponents at once. Whether that's a duel that's interrupted by an additional player, or an organized group working together to deliberately isolate and eliminate their enemies, this aspect of the game can be tough to handle when you're on the receiving end of a multi-opponent drubbing. While the game's revenge mechanic can sometimes make it possible to turn the tide of battle in your favor, much of the time, being outnumbered results in your hero being mercilessly scythed down.

Although this kind of situation can be frustrating, to me, it's simply part and parcel of combat. This is a battle to the death, after all, and I feel that it's perfectly reasonable for players to use everything at their disposal to secure a win, whether that's grouping together and overwhelming opponents using superior numbers, or taking advantage of environmental hazards in a 1:1 showdown to instantly kill an enemy by hurling them off a cliff, or pushing them into a spike trap on a wall.

For some, though, my point of view is controversial. It seems that there are more than a few people who like to play For Honor using a similar kind of Honor Rules system that players adopted while participating in Dark Souls' PvP combat. I'm fascinated by this, and I especially enjoyed reading the back-and-forth in this Reddit post in which the author ztar92 outlines a set of rules for honorable combat. Obviously, all participants involved in the battle would need to agree to this Code of Honor before fighting, but assuming they did, it would certainly make For Honor a very different experience from the chaotic battle it usually is.

What particularly piqued my interest was the debate over environmental hazards. Some feel that they're a cheap and dishonorable means to kill an opponent, while others reckon that it's perfectly fine to use them to your advantage. Not only that, but some argue that certain heroes are designed around countering their opponents with potentially deadly throws, and not being able to use their skillset to their fullest potential would put them at a disadvantage.

Needless to say, I'm of the latter mindset. While being on the receiving end of a deadly throw or shove can be a frustrating way to conclude a fight, I nevertheless feel that environmental hazards can add potential depth to combat that’s all about situational and positional awareness. Understanding this, and knowing which heroes have good throw counters so you can treat them with caution – especially when you confront them in a place that they can exploit – is something that I feel is necessary to playing the game well, and indeed adds to the tension and excitement when battling other players.

Interestingly, Reddit user BroWithTheFr0 created what is ostensibly a counterpoint to the above post, and that set off another very lively discussion. This user feels that Honor Rules have the potential to split the community, and he claims to have been raged at in chat by players who felt that he wasn't playing honorably. I don't know how true that is, but it does seem rather naive for players to expect everyone else to play according to their own self-imposed set of rules.

For Honor isn't Dark Souls, and it's still very early days for the game. Maybe as the community develops, some kind of Honor Code will be established amongst organized players – particularly for 1 vs. 1 duels – but it's going to take a while. And until such a time when that actually occurs, For Honor will continue to be a brutal and unforgiving game in which honor doesn't really have much of a role.

While I find the debate over Honor Rules and environmental hazards salient in highlighting the needs of some of For Honor's player base - perhaps Ubisoft could experiment with a hazard-free, "Honorable" dueling mode in an upcoming content update - I personally feel that half of the fun of the game is its "dishonorable" play. I love sneaky ambushes, catching someone as they round a corner and hurling them off the ramparts, and stepping into a one-on-one duel and helping my teammate best their opponent.

To me, these kinds of things bring a real edge to the battle, and makes the action feel gritty and realistic. As they say - all's fair in love and war.

For Honor Review

For Honor is a game of two halves. One is underwhelming; the other is brutal, bloody, and brilliant.

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Comments 9

  • Avatar for ojinnvoltz #1 ojinnvoltz 9 months ago
    Bow before engaging, don't use estus unless the opponent does so first, bow after engagement. That' s how I duel in Souls. But if I get ganged up by blue phantoms or there are already other malicious phantoms in play, that's the situation and you roll with it. Self imposed limitations are stupid and I'm stupid for using them in a competitive experience. The game is designed with those hazards for people to either take agvantage of or fall prey to. To ignore them is to ignore the game the developers designed. It's like those idiots who play competitive Smash. It's designed for hazards, items, and for more than just two people. To play 1v1 on final destination is to ignore most of the game.Edited February 2017 by ojinnvoltz
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  • Avatar for Thetick #2 Thetick 9 months ago
    I agree. If honor gets me killed, it seems really stupid for me to do it that way :). War is dirty and nasty and all about winning every (virtual) way possible.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #3 SatelliteOfLove 9 months ago
    Ring-outs are still Ws!
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  • Avatar for SebastianNebula #4 SebastianNebula 9 months ago
    Hazards are fine I just get annoyed by people going out of their way to push me off a bridge. I've come across players in duels who after trouncing them in 2 rounds refuse to leave a bridge or ledge in hopes that they can bounce back with cheap wins.
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  • Avatar for GaijinD #5 GaijinD 9 months ago
    As someone who grew up with Street Fighter, I'm amused that people are once again complaining that throws are cheap.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #6 VotesForCows 9 months ago
    Dave Sirlin's "playing to win" book has a lot about this type of thing.

    On a much more serious level, I've read that during the Vietnam war there was a lot of disparaging talk about the Vietnamese not coming out and facing the US conventionally. Its always the case that the stronger force wants the weaker to engage them on their own terms, but why would anyone choose to engage an opponent where they have the advantage?

    In Dark Souls I'm generally the weaker force when I'm invaded, so I tend to use a spell to disguise myself as a pot near a cliff, and try to kick my opponent off when they wander by. Makes me happy :)
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #7 VotesForCows 9 months ago
    @GaijinD Chun-Li's easy cross-up was very cheap in the early days of SFV, or so I heard in my messages from people I beat with it. 'Cheap' of course is always code for "I haven't put in the time to learn to beat your amzingly stupid tactic of doing a cross-up ten times in a row". Of course, once I went up the ranks a little I was annihilated for doing dumb stuff like that!
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  • Avatar for Jericho-GM #8 Jericho-GM 9 months ago
    I encountered similar things back in the heyday of Tekken 3. A friend I used to play with all the time had these imaginary rules so as to prevent "cheating", one of which prevented someone from hitting a downed opponent three times with the same move.

    And he would actually count it! He'd actually let me know that I've already done three hellsweeps in a row and so I should fight like a man or something and let him stand up.

    I always thought it was stupid but, hey, he owned the Playstation. And I still beat the heck out of him anyways... :-)
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  • Avatar for ChrisUniverse #9 ChrisUniverse 9 months ago
    I'll say what I said back in that Reddit thread:

    "In war, there is nothing more honorable than victory."
    - Klingon Proverb
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