For Honor has finally released and by now it is know the game is basically a 3D fighting game. Everything thing from mix-ups and footsies to revenge meters and character abilities are a regular part of the game. This should mean For Honor suffers from the same problems that most fighting games do, but it doesn’t. For Honor escapes many of the problems of the genre in a way that hasn’t been done by AAA titles.
Perhaps the most obvious problem in fighting games is the input barrier. For newcomers moves can require hours upon hours of practice to fully memorize. This often leads to casual players moving on to other games before they even learn one character. For Honor eliminates these issues with its combat system. Every move a character is capable of is done with at most two buttons or a simple movement. Now what takes countless hours in other fighting games can be done in a couple of hours. This enables players to actually get to what many consider the fun part of fighting games in a single session.
Rising Thunder employed a similar tactic however it still had a problem where players would fall to zoning or combos they couldn’t or did not know how to counter. For Honor still has a similar issue however to much lesser degree. Moves are slow and indicated through both animations and on screen indicators. Each move also only has three basic ways to be avoided: dodge, block or interrupt with an attack. In turn players are less likely to feel lost because they know there are only three options for them and they can learn through process of elimination. Players will also have ample opportunity to test this because they can get into multiple back to back fights in one game rather than 60 second rounds.
Offensive moves and specifically combos are also very simple for a fighter. Most combos in the game don’t go over 3 attacks and rarely do they leave a player unable to do anything. By not having long combos, a player can feel like they have control and can do something to stop the combo. More often than not players really can do something to stop moves that seem unavoidable. Two prime examples are blocking after being stunned by a Raider or interrupting a heavy unblockable attack with a light attack.
Of course simplifying combos and inputs isn’t new, but hasn’t been done often because the fear of losing depth. While it is still too earlier to tell whether For Honor has enough depth to last years, there has been a serious effort to do so. Each of the small number of moves has utility and can differ from character to character. A Kensei’s heavy up attacks can become unblockable, Warden’s light attack guarantees another light attack if the first hit and so on. By giving each one of the moves a function beyond just its basic damage, players can plan and think strategically just like they would with a game that has many more moves.
For Honor don’t use unique original characters like most fighting games. In fact most of the characters in the game are more like archetypes and don’t really have a personality. Some people may say that his makes them boring however this makes the game easily recognizable and approachable. People just see Knights, Vikings, and Samurai which have likely have pre-established feelings and knowledge about. It may seem like a small detail however it creates common ground and an entry point for people. For Honor becomes the game where people can finally be the Knight, Viking or Samurai they’ve seen in other forms of entertainment. In turn the game becomes much more appealing to casual players than other fighting games with extremely unique character designs.
I don’t believe For Honor is the be all and end all of fighting games. The game still requires technical fixes, balance updates, and some of its mechanics (stage hazards, power ups, etc.) can make it feel cheap. With that said, For Honor is a step towards making fighting games more accessible to a casual audience. It won’t replace current traditional fighting games and I wouldn’t it to. Instead I hope the game could spark the creation of similar accessible games that use elements of the genre. These games could even be a gateway to more complex fighting games and bring in new players to the genre.