I think For Honor is a great game, and I can’t stand playing it.
I was an early champion of For Honor, at least on a theoretical level. I played the open beta and loved it. I thought it was the most unique, exciting, visceral fighting game experience I’d had in a long time, and I couldn’t wait to play the full version.
I bought the game at launch, and that’s when the stuff really hit the fan.
The first thing that turned me off was matchmaking. I will readily admit that I’m not the most competitive player when it comes to fighting games. I’m a filthy casual, a pleb, but I still enjoy playing them against the right people.
For Honor’s matchmaking at launch, at least in Duel and Brawl, was regularly pitting me against players way beyond my skill level. I was getting feinted and guard-broken like crazy. I could only get my butt kicked for so long before I called it quits.
Worst of all, the four-player modes—what I considered the more casual option—were just frustrating examples of how microtransactions and gear levels can ruin a what could otherwise be a fun, goofy experience with similarly unskilled friends.
After a few weeks, I finally played through the campaign and then gave up on For Honor altogether.
Given all that, you might understand how, sitting down for a demo session of the game’s upcoming Arcade mode at a recent pre-Gamescom Ubisoft event, I wasn’t feeling all that optimistic.
Then I actually played it. And I fell in love all over again.
Arcade mode is unique to For Honor in that it’s a purely PvE experience. You fight against bots in a mini-campaign to unlock gear that you can then bring into the other multiplayer modes. There are several different difficulty levels, ranging from Common to Legendary, all based on your character’s gear level, but you can still take on higher-level challenges with lower-level gear if you’re feeling up to the task. Every campaign is randomly generated except for the handcrafted ones that Ubisoft will periodically introduce as live events once the mode launches. Best of all, random buffs and debuffs will make every experience unique. Oh, and you can play the mode cooperatively with one other player.
I wasn’t super confident in my abilities when I sat down to play, but after a quick trip to the trainer, I was back on my feet. Wielding my trusty kensei, I sliced and parried my way through a Common game with no problem. Moving on to the next difficulty level—Rare—I faced a slightly more difficult challenge, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. It was a fun, empowering experience, and instantly reinvigorated my passion for the game.
Finally, there was a way for me to jump back into this game that I really do love, earn the gear I needed to compete in the 4v4 modes, and stand a chance online. Not only that, but the actual campaigns themselves were a blast, and the unique modifiers will make grinding for gear a much less monotonous task than it otherwise would be. Even hardcore players will get enjoyment out of the higher-level campaigns, unlocking new gear or just testing their skills.
Then I made the mistake of asking the developer who was there about the price.
Reluctantly looking up from their phone with the sleepy-eyed glare of a person who just could not be bothered to fully recognize my presence, the dev responded, “I don’t know. I think it’s like 40 bucks or something.”
Forty bucks was almost as much as I paid for the game itself. That was absurd.
Since then, Ubisoft has announced the Marching Fire expansion’s release date and price. It’s actually $30. Still, that’s half the price I paid for the game at launch. Worst of all, while you can earn all the heroes included in the expansion if you grind hard enough, and play the new 4v4 Breach mode a week after the expansion launches, Arcade mode will stay locked behind that $30 entry ticket.
As a filthy casual who only recently went back to For Honor after Games with Gold brought some fresh blood to the game’s Xbox One servers, effectively paying $30 for one mode is a big ask, especially when I couldn’t really care less about the new heroes. The fact that it’s dropping on October 16th, during the busiest release season of the year when games like Battlefield V and Red Dead Redemption 2 will almost certainly chew up all of my free time, makes the prospect of essentially rebuying half the game even less savory.
Arcade mode is the best addition to For Honor since dedicated servers. I just don’t know if I’ll actually ever play it again.