For Honor – Loot > Content
For Honor, when you got announced back in 2015 I was truly hyped for you and for the path Ubisoft took with you. For Honor could have been so much, it could have shown that Gameplay is more important than anything else … and man, Ubi could fuck it up!
To understand For Honor´s potential we have to look at what type of game it is and what other games already exist in this genre:
For Honor is partof the “sword duel”- or “directional fighting”-genre, like I like to call ’em. It´s battle system is it´s biggest problem and it´s biggest strength at the same time, due to it´s complexity. Because of the complexity and difficulty of it. Additionally there already exist some games that fill this genre, like Mount and Blade or Chivalry.
Why is For Honor so interesting then?
Just take a look at the games and mechanics of this genre from a mainstream perspective: The graphics are really mediocre while the gameplay is very complicated with it´s different directions and timing based duels.
There wasn´t a good “starting point” for these games if you´re a mainstream gamer because it´s a very “nichy” genre. For Honor could change that. While it offers an amazing presentation and production value it keeps the challenging battle system and the “steel vs steel” style of it. As a result you get a mix of appealing visuals and a challenging but not hard battle system, which lures more gamers than ever into this genre. However that isn´t everything, due to the skill based combat, unlockables like better weapons would destroy the whole game, it would have shown that you don´t need level and item progression if you have a motivating gameplay but no, Ubi had to introduce the Loot.
Since I´ve shown you, why For Honor could have been a great game concept-wise, let me show you how the loot and level destroy the concept and balancing!
So, as you may know For Honor has the loot mechanic on one side, which will grant you random gear for your played hero after some matches or you can buy them in crates. The problem is, that in a game that´s based on fairness and equal chances items, that increase your stats are just a wrong move. Sure, every stat increase, decreases another stat and while this may sound and look reasonable it fails to balance them.
On one hand the stat compromises are unreasonable in some cases. For example, a new chest piece gives you increased stamina regeneration but decreases your revive speed, which stat will you need more? Exactly, the stamina regeneration, it will give you a far bigger advantage than a faster revive, truly balanced. On the other hand, different items, even if they would be completly balanced, would still provide an unfair advantage because you changed the “behaviour” of your hero, making him not as predictable as expected.
All these factors result in a customizable but unpredictable hero, removing a huge chunk of the skill based aspect of the game because you can´t know how your enemy will behave or what´s his weaknesses.
Last but not least, let´s talk about the level progression of every hero and why this is another try to balance the items.
Your hero has levels and depending on his level he will find and get loot/items´, so you won´t be able to find a lvl15 item as a lvl5 hero. This forces the matchmaking to seperate each level group into their own pool, dividing the audience of this niche game even more. Think about it, you´re not supposed to play with people that have lvl15 gear, that´s bascially a confession that the items destroy the balance. Luckily it doesn´t work and I played a bunch of times against lvl15 guys during the Open Beta …
They implemented the levels to balance the matchmaking and loot but all they achieved still were unbalanced matches, in which your enemy hits stronger and regenerates faster, if he ran out of stamina and a seperation of their community.
For Honor is a good game, I like it and it does a lot of things right. However it destroyes it´s core mechanic by introducing the items and their weak balance efforts. The way they tried to balanced it with the levels and matchmaking make me wonder why they implemented it in the first place, which could be seen as a “money grab” from Ubi, but who knows. Rainbow Six Siege works prefectly without a weapon/item shop and has a similar niche audience, why couldn´t For Honor do it like that too?
It´s just sad to see a good game suffering of it´s own or the publishers decisions …
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