Medieval fighting game For Honor is finally adjusting its ambitious and controversial online system and adding dedicated servers. The move, announced today, follows months of player complaints that the online-only fighting game’s connectivity issues made it too frustrating to play.
For Honor players have struggled with lag, slow matchmaking and random disconnections since the game’s February release. It’s unfortunate because For Honor’s combat system is like nothing else: raw, euphoric, clean and exhilarating as all hell. Ubisoft has told Kotaku that matchmaking, on average, takes 45 seconds, but personal experience and dozens of comments from Kotaku readers indicate that, anecdotally, matchmaking wait times can be upward of two or three minutes. Back in March, thousands of For Honor players actually threatened to boycott the game, forcing Ubisoft to address their complaints over server issues, balance and combat glitches.
The reason why For Honor’s online system felt shoddy wasn’t because publisher Ubisoft made a shoddy online system. Their network engineers faced some major challenges and dealt with them creatively—but maybe a little too ambitiously. “Making 4v4 fighting work over a network—it’s really special, because your exact position is much more important, and your timing is much more important than in a shooter,” For Honor game director Roman Oriola told Eurogamer. For Honor’s online system is different from a traditional peer-to-peer server, which often has a “host” player simulating a server. In For Honor, instead of one player acting as the “host,” all of the players will be constantly receiving and sharing data from each other’s systems. So nobody has “host advantage” and, allegedly, there should be more “reactivity.” Every player receives the inputs of all other players locally on their system. From those inputs, the game can simulate every fighter’s movements.
If everybody playing had perfect internet connections, For Honor’s network might be a groundbreaking success. But that’s not the case. “When there is a little bit of lag, or when somebody has a frame-rate drop, that adds to the load of calculation of what’s happening for each frame,” Oriola told Eurogamer. “So not only does it have to recalculate everything that is happening for all the people who are sending him information, but also it needs to backup on the things he missed because he was lagging or behind in terms of frame-rate. That’s the issue we are facing.”
Now, the people behind For Honor say they’re rolling out several improvements to the game, including dedicated servers. Looks like their current network situation isn’t viable for the game’s long-term health. “In conjunction to the dedicated server implementation, enhancing peer-to-peer stability and matchmaking remain priorities for the team,” the press release reads. Other new content includes two new seasons, competitive play with duel tournaments, ranked 4v4 and a more intense training mode for veteran players. When asked when the server change will be implemented, a For Honor representative did not give a timeline, adding that “switching to dedicated servers is a big task.”
The change is curious because even Oriola said that “If we were working on dedicated servers, we would have the same issues we have today.” Hopefully, For Honor’s developers have found a way around that.