For Honor: Multiplayer Problems
Most multiplayer games use peer-to-peer networking as a cheap and easy way to connect players. Running dedicated servers and writing the accompanying connection code is costlier and requires a greater degree of developer involvement with a game, post launch. If you play Overwatch or any of the Call of Duty franchise, then you’ve experience multiplay via this technology. It’s cost and convenience are offset against its technical weaknesses. The player that hosts a game has a potential speed advantage and if they quit the game will pause while a new host is found among those still playing. Then there are exploits and cheats that can be used by unscrupulous players such as lag switches and DDoS attacks. Thus, P2P networking is far from an ideal alternative to dedicated third party hosts.
During its beta test, it became very apparent that For Honor had issues regarding its use of P2P networking. Developers Ubisoft opted for a variation of this technology in which all players are connected simultaneously to each other when playing competitively. Unfortunately, this does not bypass all the issues associated with a dedicated host. The weak link in this multiplayer chain still remains the player with the poorest connection and it has a tangible impact upon game play. Furthermore, the sheer volume of people playing For Honor from various parts of the globe means that matches are regularly blighted by lag and subsequently players quitting mid-game. I have experienced this frequently and it often impacts on the outcome of multiplayer or ends will all parties leaving.
At present, there is no major penalty for “rage quitting” a multiplayer game in For Honor, beyond the loss of the rewards that you would’ve received if you had stayed the course. Thus, it is something that some players will do the moment something doesn’t go their way. For example, if you die early in a group game, then you have to wait out the round, which is far from ideal. Quitting resolves this. Furthermore, if you are a more competitive player who is concerned about your bragging rights or statistics, then abandoning a game is a convenient way to keep you’re your record unblemished. Combine this option to quit, with more specific exploits and you find yourself playing in a community were a substantial percentage of the multiplayer games you play end questionably. This is not exactly good publicity for a game that has been developed to set up a new franchise and become a mainstay of competitive gaming.
For Honor has a nuanced combat system that is based around timing, anticipation and skill. Button mashing is not really an option when playing online against other people. It seems risible that Ubisoft would release a game that is patently skills based with such a flawed networking system in place. Now it is fair to say that not every online game is problematic. The majority of games that I’ve played online since I bought For Honor have been perfectly adequate. However, problem matches are sufficiently common place to be noticeable. Even a casual player such as myself has encountered them and recognises that for the meantime they are a reality. It remains to be seen whether Ubisoft will do anything about this issue, if there is anything that can be done. I cannot see them implementing any major changes in this release of the game. May be there’ll be some revisions made to multiplayer in the sequel. Assuming that the player base sticks around long enough to warrant one.