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For Honor, online disconnects and the problem with peer-to-peer

Chink in the armour.

For Honor's online play isn't working out well for some players.

Ubisoft's competitive online-focused hack and slash game does not use dedicated servers - much to the annoyance of some. Instead, it uses P2P (peer-to-peer) networking.

However, the game's P2P networking is set up in such a way that there is no host advantage, because there is no host. Instead, all players are connected to each other at all times.

The advantage of not having a host is clear: you avoid the issue of host advantage so many competitive online game suffer from. For Honor is a game in which up to eight players battle alongside hundreds of AI soldiers. There's a lot going on, and the last thing you'd want is to suffer from horrible lag caused by the host's connection.

But the disadvantages of For Honor's P2P system are being born out now For Honor is out in the wild and huge numbers of people are playing it. The networking system means if a player quits a match, the action pauses as the game attempts to reconfigure the session. This happens to me quite often, I'd say one in every couple of games. This is what it looks like:

There are a few problems with this. One, it messes up your timing. For Honor's combat shares much with fighting games, and there's an emphasis on timing as well as decent reaction skills. When the action pauses in the middle of a fight, you can end up dying through no fault of your own.

The other problem is people quit matches in For Honor a lot. There's no significant rage-quit punishment in the game right now. If you leave a game all you miss out on are the rewards you'd receive if you completed it. You don't lose anything you already have. So, people quit.

I've been tempted to rage quit myself. For Honor is like that. When you start a round of Elimination, which can sometimes go on for close to five minutes, and someone chucks you off a cliff after just five seconds, I admit, my trigger finger has hovered over the quit button.

Watch on YouTube

The debate about For Honor's networking has raged ever since the game went into beta. Now the game is out and people have forked out their hard-earned cash for it, the good, bad and ugly of online play has nowhere to hide.

It doesn't help that For Honor occasionally suffers from connection issues. I'd say one in four matches ends with a disconnection error, booting me back to the game menu. This can be particularly aggravating when you've spent five minutes getting into a game, only for it to collapse after just a few seconds.

Fuelling the debate is the video, below, from YouTuber CrowbCat. The video accuses some of lag-switching (I haven't experienced significant lag myself) and features gameplay showing what this looks like in-game. It's not pretty.

Watch on YouTube

It's worth noting at this point that For Honor's online problems are not all encompassing. I've seen many reports from players who are yet to encounter any issues. And I must stress that while I've suffered disconnects, I'm still having a lot of fun with the game. In short, the connection issues do not occur frequently enough to stop me playing.

But it's clear there are problems, and for some they are game-breaking, which is fair enough. You can't help but hope that Ubisoft, a mega publisher with billions of dollars of revenue, eventually gets its wallet out and supplies dedicated servers for For Honor. Fingers crossed that if the community continues to grow, Ubisoft will take note.

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