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Everything wrong with For Honor

An axe to grind with Ubisoft

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The menage-a-trois of murder and mayhem that is For Honor [official site] does a lot of things very well. You can be down to your last sliver of health, limping across a bridge like a deflated balloon and you still might manage to grab a giant knight in panic and throw him off the ledge. Victory has never felt so dirty.

But its matchmaking is a toxic dumpster fire and its user menus are a bubonic plague of mistakes and dumbfounding decisions. How in the name of the Pope did so much trash get through testing? Here is a rundown of how an evening with this medieval swordfest might go, which handily doubles as a list of all the things Ubisoft needs to fix.

Matchmaking queues

When you go into the queues it says “matchmaking started” but what that really means is “sit there and do nothing while I look for chumps”. There’s no loadout menu, no tinkering with armour or skills, no inspecting your stats, no revolving a character model and considering whether or not to make their shoulderpads pink. What you can do here is alt-tab out of the game and refresh Facebook a few dozen times. Then go back to the game and everything is ready to go. Except that it isn’t. The game has slapped you with a message saying…

You cannot join this session because it is full”

If this match is full then why did you even try and put me into it? Okay, okay, maybe it just filled up while we weren’t looking. That’s okay fighty game, it happens. You might easily assume at this point that the game will just auto-slot you back into matchmaking. But not For Honor – it likes to send you all the way back to the main menu. This is like a restaurant host taking you to a packed table in the corner and saying: “Oh no, there’s a family of five already here!” Then picking you up and carrying you back to the entrance before plonking you down at the threshold and saying: “Oh hi!” as if he’d never seen you before.

“You cannot join this session because it is full” is a message nobody should ever see. If a match is full, move on and find us a new one. If that one is full, do the same thing again. Just keep a little circle spinning in the corner or something. Find me a goddamn table, you massive jerk.

Press ‘T’ to chat but also maybe not chat

All right! We’ve hit the loading screen finally. This is where the two groups stand off and stare each other down. Let’s get everyone pumped up with some ‘GLHF’s and encouraging shouts of “VALHALLA!” I’ll just press ‘T’ and… nope. I guess that’s not working this time. Maybe next time.

Can you win fights just by looking angry?

I’ve been staring down the enemy in this loading screen for four full minutes now. War is hell.

Peer to peer notworking

Almighty Yggdrasil, we’re in! An actual fight! Okay, let’s go capture point C and take a swing at this big guy with an axe. VALHA—what?

WHY? I understand that relying on the player’s connections to host a fight makes sense in a duel. There’s only two of you. If someone quits, it’s game over anyway. But most fights in For Honor are these stonking 8-person gankfests of a point-capturing Dominion game. Meaning when someone critical to the game’s state leaves, you get an error message that pauses the whole fight for everyone. Sometimes you get outright disconnected, discarded back into the menu like a used toilette, forced to run the whole cursed gauntlet over again.

There’s a fun bingo game of error messages for these instances. “Recovering gameplay state” – “recovering network connection” – “please wait, configuring session”. How many have YOU collected? Anyway, thank you Ubisoft for concluding that a game filled to bursting point with rage-quitters and drop-outs ought to be built upon the sandcastle-like foundations of a gamer’s temperament.

There are no longer enough players”

Phew, the fight is over. That last Dominion match finished without disconnections or disgrace, thanks be to Odin. Now all we need to do is ready-up, vote on a map and then we can all fight again. Right guys? Guys? Oh no, four out of eight people have left. That makes sense – its a 4v4 mode. The other team must have been sore. That’s okay, the game says it is “waiting for players”. It must be trawling those packed matchmaking queues for suitable foes. We’ll just wait until this timer runs down and see what ha–

No way. I am back in the menus again. If an 8 person game doesn’t retain at least 6 people after the end of a fight, EVERYONE gets sent packing. It is seemingly unworkable for Ubisoft to just pause the timer and throw some new people into the pit.

This issue has a particularly contagious and life-sucking element. Because when one person quits, others follow, and people quickly realise that its faster to queue again from the start, dismissing the team and opponents at the end of every fight. After all, why wait around to be disappointed when you can just quit out every time?

Oh well. I guess this isn’t a big problem. It’s not like we have any war assets or something to allocate in these inter-match moments. Oh wait, that’s exactly what we all have.

OK. Let’s fight an Elimination match instead

“Did you mean a Skirmish match?” asks the game, putting you into a Skirmish match.

No, game. That is not what I meant at all. But I see where the confusion has come from, don’t you worry your stupid little head. If I press ‘X’ on this menu I can see the settings of this shared mode and if I press this toggle maybe I can turn off Skirmish entirely.

“Did you mean you prefer Elimination mode?”

No, I meant that I want to play Elimination mode exclusively.

“You now prefer Elimination”

Fine. Okay. Let’s just queue and hope for the best. There’s medium activity. There must be plenty of Elimination games going on.

“Welcome to a Skirmish match,” says the game, but in a quiet voice.

Well, I suppose I’ll just quit to main menu when this happens.

“Sorry, that option is now greyed out.”

Thanks, game. You have caused me to enter a stress-induced fugue state.

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Who am I?

Brendan Caldwell

Features Editor

Brendan likes all types of games. To him there is wisdom in Crusader Kings 2, valour in Dark Souls, and tragicomedy in Nidhogg.

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