There’s a lot to love about For Honor, whether it be the intense melee combat system or the detailed customization options. But every piece of For Honor’s multiplayer revolves around individual player skill, and every player must pledge their own skill to one of For Honor’s three factions. Instead of making this conflict readily noticeable in-game, however, For Honor opts to make it little more than a revolving board of numbers which updates every few hours.
Essentially, the War of the Factions is a global, ever-present event where players from all platforms join one of three factions to compete for territory across For Honor’s multiplayer map. The three factions are the Knights of Ashfeld, the Viking Clans, or the Samurai of the Myre. Naturally, each of these has their own brief history, which helps set the stage for why they are actively working to conquer various sections of territory throughout the For Honor universe.
What’s frustrating about aligning yourself with a specific faction in For Honor is how the game never really attempts to develop their background story or highlight the reason they fight in any meaningful way. The short single-player and co-operative campaign is meant to serve as a prequel to the War of the Factions event, but it doesn’t do much to make players feel invested in one particular faction over the other. Basically, For Honor’s factions exist for the sake of having conflict without ever really showing why they feel the need to fight.
Mechanically speaking, the three factions are present for the sole purpose of giving For Honor’s multiplayer community a set of simple teams and a way to earn rewards for dedicating themselves to a specific one. Picking one faction over another in For Honor has absolutely no impact on your game as a player other than the fact that you’ll forfeit some rewards if you end up changing factions during the game’s current Round or Season. So even though I’ve aligned myself with the Samurai because of their low numbers and underdog status in the closed beta, I’ve been able to play as a Warden in multiplayer — that class is ostensibly a member of the armies of the Knights of Ashfeld.
Honestly, the decision to completely remove consequence from player allegiance in For Honor feels awkward given the heavy emphasis the game places on the factions otherwise. I’ve found myself fighting side-by-side with Vikings and Knights more often than I have Samurai, which is just strange considering we’re all supposed to be at war.
I can’t help but feel that For Honor’s War of the Factions would have been a more competitive and engaging event for the community if character limitations were implemented for each faction, or that you could only fight against other players who were members of opposing factions. Fighting friendly Samurai might be good for matchmaking, but it just doesn’t sit well with me. After all, we’re supposed to be brothers in arms according to in-game lore.
Photos via Nicholas Bashore, Ubisoft