For Honor Is Basically A Fighting Game 

For Honor is bloody and hectic. Each exchange of blows helps you learn how to fight an opponents. Underneath a mess of micro-transactions, For Honor hides the soul of a true fighting. We take a critical look at it in this video.


When I first booted up For Honor, I was dismayed. The game seemed awash in ugly and unsatisfying progression systems, the majority of which served to encourage microtransactions. Want some loot? Spend some in game currency for new armour and weapon parts for stat boosts. Eager to unlock all of a character’s moves?

Drop a few bucks to instantly have access to every one of them. The alternative was a long and sluggish grind uphill through levels that made you get everything piecemeal. It was awful. Exploitative.

After playing, I realised that’s not the real metric of progress in For Honor. For Honor is a game defined by statistical growth and increasing levels. It’s not about gear acquisition or skill unlocks. Instead, For Honor is a game of iterative skill development. It’s about mastery. For Honor is a slower paced fighting game and not a simple online brawler. The signs of progress are the enemies you defeat and the ever growing ease with which you dispose of them.

In some ways, this is pretty simple. Getting better feels, well, better. You feel in control. You feel confident. For Honor thrives off this feeling of fulfilment in a way I’d never experienced before. It helped me understand why people love fighting games.

My time in For Honor has focused on dueling, where I can more objectively observe growth. Early fights were a matter of chance. A furious combo here or heavy attack there could allow me to essential brute force my way through fights. There was some tactical thinking but I lacked an understanding of my character’s techniques and abilities. I did not understand the crucial mechanics.

But as I fought, I learned. Which does not seem like such a radical notion until we understand that the strength of For Honor over other fighting games is that the slower pace allows for easier analysis than if I was playing Street Fighter or Marvel vs. Capcom. With improved understanding of skills and basic techniques, I was now free to observe opponents and react to their behaviours. I began to read my enemies.

OK. On our first exchange, my enemy went for a grapple and followed up with two overhead strikes. On our second, they left out the grapple but went for the overhead anyway. I can work with this. His guard is lower at a distance and he’s eager to attack up close. If I dash in, I can set up for my own combo because he’ll be too focused on offence to parry me.

Shit. He switched it up. Attacking from the right. But he always attacks twice so- yes! There it is. Guard, use my own grapple for a big hit. Dash in. If he blocks my first attack, he’ll follow up with an overhead. Dash to side. Get the kill.

These exchanges last no more than twenty or thirty seconds but end up being less about the manual dexterity needed to pull off moves and more about understanding what the best options are in a given moment. Increased experience means a further understanding of the game’s space and an expansion of your options in any potential moment.

The more you fight, the more you know what you can do. The more you fight someone, the more you start to understand what you can do specifically against them.

Progression in For Honor comes in those moments where your tactical arsenal grows. Where you’re increasing knowledge finds applicability. It’s in the widening of your possibility space, the expansion your mechanical canvas and a growing knowledge of the tools and movements you can use to paint it red with your enemy’s blood.

This progression heralds a maturity as a player as well. Early encounters occur without a fundamental understanding of the rules, Thus, it’s easy to deflect blame to someone else for losses. But as you progress and your understanding improves, you not only begin to understand your own mistakes but you begin to appreciate your enemy’s success.

Loss provides opportunity, victory provides a satisfying confirmation of your knowledge and ability. Sure, you might run into a cheap tactic here or there but moving from less modal forms of fighting to something intuitive and varied is incredibly rewarding.

That’s the secret of For Honor and, perhaps, of all fighting games. Growth is measured in competency and victory. Not in loot boxes, armour sets, and cool emotes. The real progression system is the intangible expansion of knowledge and the growing mastery to use it in a fight. And because For Honor’s entry barrier is relatively low, many players can enjoy that kind of growth.

Not bad, For Honor. Not bad at all.


    • Its a poor one at that, the current meta only allows a few classes to attack. Its a fighter for button mashers.

      • I’ve found it to be pretty bland so far to be honest. It’s *incredibly* unbalanced. Button mashers indeed.

        • I watched it on Twitch, and it was quite clearly a fighter.. and quite clearly imbalanced towards a handful of classes.
          Hearing about the push for microtransactions and grinds just makes me nope right out on this one.

          • The transactions don’t hamper the game at all, its literally based off Siege’s “dlc” system.

            The reason why the game will likely not survive can be boiled down to three main issues;
            -Network infrastructure; peer 2 peer sounds great in an ideal world where everyone has decent net and no one would use the system for an unfair advantage.
            -Balance; this covers everything from the focus on speed/defence in 4v4, to the fact that certain characters are completely useless in medium to high tier play thanks to meta; which we will cover bellow.
            -Meta; it is the real issue with the game. There is no incentive to attack because there are very few attacks in the game that are hard to parry (read as attack speed. PK 50/50 lights+zone, Oro zone and top, etc). Then there is the fact that a lot of the duel/brawl maps are poorly designed for fighting in, with multiple characters being able to easily instant kill off any parry or other tech.

            The game needs some serious love if it is meant to pull a Siege and create a dedicated following.

        • You don’t really understand the current meta.

          There are two main issues with your statement/poorly constructed question;
          -PK and Warden are incredibly energy efficient, which is why they are top of the tier lists right now, they can 100>0 you in a relatively short period of time (PK can do it without any down time).
          -Running out of energy literally means nothing, all you have to do is keep backing up and not roll to pretty much guarantee not taking damage. There are few chase abilities in the game that work well out of guard and those that you use outside of block have ridiculously easy reads.

          The game is too noob friendly, it is designed to punish aggression thanks to not being able to parry after being on the receiving end of a parry. The only class that doesn’t have to pretty much rely on feints and poor reading is PK thanks to her lights being super fast (Orochi is fast, but up and right guard dance make him a joke).

          Both points taken into consideration before the fact that they are changing guard break to make it super noob friendly (back to beta mash out, rather than forcing you to time it and punish eager beavers).

          As a Warlord the only thing that I tend to lose to is PK 50/50 spam, her randomly thrown out zones or Shugz current heavy bug. Its part of the reason why is largely just mid tier skills right now. There is so much niche game play that must capitalise on mistakes being made rather than giving incentives for controlling the game.

          • You’re right I don’t understand or care about the meta. I just enjoy the game and enjoy smashing things with my sword.

          • Its completely fine to enjoy the game, but I think the matchmaking system is silly and will likely make the game horrible for you to play as you start to prestige more. Its nice at the start before everyone “gets” the meta, but after that its literally you walking around in circles trying to tease out heavies through feints or untechable unblockables resulting in chipping health off.

        • It literally is, the only level you can enjoy the game at is entry tier. After first prestige you work out the meta and everyone stops being aggressive (except pk and noob orochi).

          What I meant is that the game is way more enjoyable when people aren’t parry kings. Its more enjoyable when everyone was learning the game.

  • For Honor Is Basically A Fighting Game
    *Shocked face*
    No… really?

    Horrible title. Good article, but horrible title…

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