This bringing-together of three of history's most iconic factions has all the hallmarks of a big budget movie flop, but when applied to For Honor's online battles, it's a surprisingly winning combination.
I'm going to skip a lot of the meat and potatoes of For Honor - you won't hear anything from me about the different character classes, or the move sets, or the perks you can acquire. No, sir. You can probably imagine all of that and, frankly, it benefits neither of us to spell it out here. Suffice to say, Ubisoft has torn pages from the FPS, RPG, and beat 'em up playbooks, then mixed them into a tuna pasta bake (something that's pleasingly its own thing).
Instead of focusing on what For Honor does that you might've seen before, let's look instead at a big tarp catalogue (what it does completely differently - ie; putting hand-to-hand combat into an online shoot 'em up structure... sort of).
As well as the sorts of game modes you'd expect from an FPS, For Honor also features an online jam called Faction War, which affects the gameplay globally - the Vikings, samurai or knights being awarded "territory" depending on how players are doing across every platform.
This changes which maps and battles can be played - with the world resetting every ten weeks. It's nice, and new, and deserves to inspire loyalty from its players. Or, at least, some small yelps of appreciation.
The way combat works in For Honor is by pushing on the left stick to control the direction of your weapon - either for defence or attack.
It's all in the timing, but you have to ensure that your blade is in the right position to counter your opponent.
Consequently, when facing off against an AI enemy or another player, it rather reminded me of rock-paper-scissors. Particularly when duelling against a real boy, success rests on spotting the feints, and second-guessing your opponent's moves. There's a pleasing ballet to the combat - the attacks, blocks, parries and breaks - and a decent balance between the various factions and classes.
There is a single player game in For Honor - or, rather, one for each of the armies - and though you get your money's worth, it becomes rather repetitive, proving to be little more than a tarted-up tutorial. The story, for what it's worth, is every bit as tedious, predictable, and dully-acted as you'd imagine - about as engrossing and appealing as when Geraint, the leader of your local amateur dramatics society, hired the community centre to stage his one-man autobiographical play.
The repetition is a fault which can be levelled at the multiplayer game too, albeit to a lesser degree. The basic combat is essentially the same for each character - though with individual moves, finishers, and perks. Furthermore, in both the campaign and online mode, AI enemies tend to be hero characters or waves of cannon fodder, which provide little in the way of challenge - and become just an irritation which has to be cleared.
It's almost a shame that it aims for epic battles, because For Honor is actually at its best when it's just two players duelling.
Alas, much of this has to be suffered; there's a lot of grinding in order to level up in For Honor - though, inevitably (this being an Ubisoft game), players can spend real-world money to buy the non-real things the game offers. Yes: that unpleasant taste in your mouth is entirely appropriate...
There's a bigger problem here, and it's something that isn't unique to For Honor.
Despite the irresistible novelty of the set-up, I think I've reached a tipping point when it comes to modern game graphics.
Though I didn't find a single dragon or orc in For Honor, I'm sick of photorealistic forests, castles and keeps. Were it not for the differences in the HUD, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a For Honor screenshot and The Witcher III.
Something which has happened with the aesthetics of games is that they've become so chronically interchangeable. Everything pushes towards recreating reality, without considering a deeper sense of art design, and how you might want your player to feel. It makes for a very sterile and unemotional game.
All the trees and castles and suits of armour and weapons look the same in almost every game which features them - and then they simply drop off-the-peg lightning in there. Snow, and ice, and fire, and lava, and rain, and so many bloody forests... everything shows such a profound lack of imagination that I found it pulling me away from For Honor. Give me Zelda: Breath of the Wild any day.
And it's a shame that it was so overly familiar and predictable, because beyond the visuals and the setting, this feels refreshing and new. Surely we're all over the whole next gen thing now, so can we please all start thinking a little bit harder about how we want our games to look?
SUMMARY: Decent combat, with some nice ideas and a mostly satisfying online offering - but also slightly repetitive, and wholly predictable to look at.
SCORE: Who cares?