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The unspoken rules of For Honor

Cliff notes.

For a game with the word honour in the title, you'd expect people to play For Honor like Klingons fight: honourably.

Sadly, this is not always the case.

I mostly play For Honor's 1v1 and 2v2 modes, which allow the brilliance of its combat system to shine free from the shackles of the team fights, scores of soldiers and capture the zone objectives you get in the 4v4 modes.

I view these duels and brawls as the video game equivalent of Klingons fighting as part of some super serious bat'leth-fuelled death ceremony, where doing the honourable thing is paramount.

It seems not all players have the same vision.

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Already an unspoken list of rules has emerged for For Honor's 1v1 and 2v2 modes that I've seen put into practice on the battlefield, with compliance sometimes signalled by emotes at the beginning of a fight. Let's run through this secret code of conduct:

  1. If you win your duel, don't help your teammate out. Watch patiently, perhaps chucking an emote or two to cheer your teammate on, for the fight to play out. Only after the fight is concluded should you get stuck in.
  2. Do not "health steal" from your teammate by landing the heavy final blow and thus triggering a health-restoring execution. This is bad form in the extreme.
  3. When a duel begins on a part of the map clearly designed to encourage chucking someone off a cliff or into some terrible pit for an instant kill, both players should move into an area where that's less likely to happen, before slashing each other to bits.
  4. Environmental kills are frowned upon as cheap. Do not chuck people into spikes or onto hot springs or into lava. Doing so isn't clever, not is it a good way to make friends. An honourable victory is one earnt through outsmarting your opponent with parries, feints and guard breaks.
  5. Do not behead your opponent if you had a good fight. Doing so is disrespectful.
  6. Following on from number four, upon victory do not spam emotes, particularly those that when repeated make your character look like they are masturbating.
  7. If you had a good fight, tell your opponent you had a good fight.
  8. If you stomp all over your opponent on your first match, to such an extent that there's a clear skill gap, switch to another less used hero for the second.
  9. And finally, do not rage quit. For Honor replaces rage quitters with full health bots. It's not nice.

The thing about this unspoken list of rules is that, in my experience, most people ignore them. I get ganked, beheaded and trolled all over the shop, whether I've been chucked off a cliff or not.

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What's interesting is the For Honor community is currently debating the rights and wrongs of playing honourably. Some feel the game should be played in an honourable way. Others say, damn honour - I'm stabbing everyone in the back and chucking everyone off a cliff. The win, these people say, is all that matters.

Reddit user BroWithTheFr0 highlighted the issue in a post that called on the community to not let "honour rules" ruin the game.

The debate, from what I've seen, revolves around the divisive environmental hazards, which players love to hate. Here's BroWithTheFr0:

"The developers put things in like Hazards (cliffs, fire, etc...) to make gameplay more varied. Creating an imaginary rule that scolds a player for using these is so stupid. There are parts of maps that are made specifically for the hazards to be used as the main threat (bridges+cliffs, geyser filled battleground). Yet every time you make use of them, someone quits or gets salty and flames you.

"I say we embrace the hazards," BroWithTheFr0 continues. "Learn to play safer when we're around them and punish any attempts for an easy kill."

On the other side of the fence, soundslikeponies calls on the developers at Ubisoft to de-power the environmental hazards.

"IMO something needs to change with either throws, cliffs, CGB, or level design because environmentals as they exist right now are extremely poor design. Games and especially competitive games are about weighing risk/reward and options.

"Right now there are many maps where environmental kills are so easy/overpowered that there's no point in trying to do anything else because who cares if they hit you six times, you just need to land the one-hit kill mechanic of throwing them off a cliff.

"'Just kill the enemy without ever letting them land a guard break' is a dumb non-solution to a really glaring problem with this game right now."

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The unfortunate situation we're now in is some players will abandon matches that are set on maps with lots of environmental hazards, such as Overwatch. Because there's no meaningful rage-quit punishment in For Honor at the moment, this happens fairly frequently. It doesn't help that For Honor often puts players in starting positions on 1v1 and 2v2 maps where you face off against an opponent on a narrow walkway clearly begging to tempt an instant kill attempt.

Personally, I like to play For Honor as if I'm Worf, son of Mogh, honourable Klingon warrior and secret best Star Trek character ever. I would never disrespect my opponent. Unless, of course, I'm losing, and a cheeky nudge off ledge secures the win.

But the real issue this raises is the thorny environmental hazard debate. Should they be effectively turned off in 1v1 and 2v2? Should there be an way for a character who can charge another character off a cliff to accidentally fly off themselves if they whiff? Or should players accept the hazards are a part of what makes For Honor fun, and embrace the pain?

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