Earlier this year, Ubisoft’s skill based brutal brawler For Honor launched on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Featuring a unique “art of war” combat system and small scale battles, For Honor stormed the gaming community and performed well critically. At its max, For Honor pits four players against four players in deathmatch and skirmish or king of the hill type game modes. The game also contains a 1v1 or 2v2 duel/brawl mode for a more intimate challenge. All told, the game forces players to either fight skill based battles with honor or use strategize to eliminate the other team.
For Honor is a thrilling multiplayer experience. The intent behind the combat system was to focus on player skill, so that players knew why they were victorious or defeated and what they could potentially do to win round two. The formula is successful, and players seem to be enjoying the competitive atmosphere, which has begged the question: Will For Honor vault into the competitive multiplayer market and make a name for itself in Esports?
Game director Roman Campos Oriola stated in an interview with We Write Things in January that the answer to that question depends on the player demand for a professionally competitive experience. He said that “it is something that needs to come from the community to actually be authentic and actually drive a real response.” In other words, should the game perform well enough and players opine their wishes to compete as an Esport, then For Honor could make the leap into the competitive gaming community.
As a player deeply involved in For Honor, the experience appears to be just shy of what I’d consider Esports worthy. The skill based approach is sound, and it works better than I could have possibly imagined. I can even stomach the fact that too many of the actual participants in For Honor fight with anything but actual honor (I can chalk that up to strategy or a strong desire to win). The question that For Honor needs to address before waltzing into Esports is how to equalize equipment to garner fair matches.
One of For Honor’s cooler features is its loot system. As your character gains reputation (or prestiges), you gain access to a wider and rare set of equipment. As you level up and complete different challenges, you also unlock additional equipment. In a major league setting, would equipment stats be nullified to create an even playing field, would loot be irrelevant due to the skill level of those present, or would players be allowed to sport gear (whether acquired or from an “approved” list) to strategically fit a team or play style? The two most obvious answers, in my opinion, anyway, would be to either negate equipment bonuses/effects or allow players to choose from a designated set of equipment. In doing the latter, players can design teams to fit certain play styles or strategies or to counter an opponent’s set up or play style.
The professional fighting community is one of the more popular facets of Esports, and For Honor would fit swimmingly in its niche category. There aren’t any other games like For Honor on the market or in Esports, and with the proper adjustments to the competitive scene (in regards to the game), For Honor could garner a pretty decent following. And as most games in the major league gaming setting, For Honor is supremely based on skill. At the least, it’s certainly worth a shot.
All of this, however, is still conjecture. Ubisoft is wisely observing the situation to discern whether For Honor would make an interesting Esport. Perhaps Ubisoft will release more information after the first season of For Honor (the multiplayer’s overarching purpose is for the three factions, samurai, vikings, and knights, to battle for the most territory on a map) based on the success it may have enjoyed. With round one just raging to a conclusion with the vikings in charge, the end of season one draws ever nearer. And following the season one conclusion could be a foray into the lucrative world of Esports and major league gaming.