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For Honor is a third-person action video game published by Ubisoft for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game is set in a fictional medieval universe where four distinct factions (vikings, knights, samurai, Chinese Wu Lin) fight for domination of a land comprised of the regions Ashfield, Myre and Valkenheim. Primarily developed by Ubisoft Montreal, the game was released worldwide in 2017.
Development of the game began way back in 2012, but For Honor was first announced at Ubisoft’s 2015 E3 press conference with a CGI trailer and a gameplay demo. At the time, For Honor was the company’s first foray into the strategy-action genre, but the structure was supposedly inspired by many popular shooter games. During development, the team worked with a producer to create the documentary “Playing Hard,” which showcases the early stages of For Honor with additional information from team leader Jason Vandenberghe. On February 14th, 2017, the game was released worldwide for all three platforms. Upon initial release, the game received generally favorable reviews from both players and media outlets, eventually winning the People's Choice Award for "Best Fighting Game" in IGN's Best of 2017 Awards.
In the game, players can choose between several different warriors from three different factions, including the Iron Legion (Knights), Warborn (Vikings) and Dawn Empire (Samurai). In October 2018, a fourth faction, the Wu Lin, was added to the game via the Marching Fire expansion. Players choose to align themselves with one of the three original factions and join the Faction War, which stretches across all platforms, where they use War Assets to defend or attack territories on a world map of the regions. Each season, the three factions battle for domination over this map by playing in matches and accumulating War Assets until a final victor is determined after five rounds, or 10 weeks.
Dominion: A 4v4 multiplayer mode in which players must capture and hold multiple zones in a battlefield. Points are earned through occupying the zones and killing enemy minions that fight at point B. Players earn double points for staying on points A and C. When one team earns 1000 points, the other team starts to ‘break’ meaning each player on that team cannot respawn unless revived by another teammate. Once one of the teams are breaking the opposing team must eliminate all of their players to secure victory.
Brawl: A 2v2 multiplayer mode, where one duo must eliminate the other completely in order to win.
Duel: A 1v1 multiplayer mode in which a player must successfully kill the opponent 3 times in order to win.
Skirmish: A 4v4 multiplayer mode in which players gain points while killing enemies. When one team earns enough points, they must eliminate the players from the other team and win the match.
Elimination: A 4v4 mode with two teams of players that must eliminate the entire team of opponent players. The team that still has remaining warriors will automatically win the match.
Tribute: A 4v4 multiplayer mode where teams attempt to steal offerings and place them on their shrine. Each of the three offering gives the team a special power-up. The team to capture all three and defend them until the timer ends wins or the team with the most offerings at the end of the battle timer wins.
Breach: A 4v4 multiplayer mode where the attacker’s goal is to kill the Commander while the defenders must successfully stop the attackers. The attackers must complete a series of objectives such as leading the battering ram to each of the two gates, breaking them both down and, ultimately, slaying the Commander; on the contrary, the defenders must prevent the attackers from completing any objectives.
Within each faction, there are player characters called “heroes” that can be customized with a large array of gear, abilities, ornaments, effects, executions, shaders and more, similar to classes found in many online shooter games. Currently, there are 26 different characters to choose from, and many of them are available with male or female genders.
In addition to the multiplayer component of For Honor, there’s also a rich singleplayer campaign consisting of several missions that explain the origins of the world/conflict and the backstory for the various factions. In the campaign, players learn that a natural catastrophe called the Cataclysm wiped out many civilizations and resources from the world, forcing these factions into desperation and conflict as they struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic setting. The main antagonist of the story is a warlord named Apollyon who believes the three factions have grown weak, so she creates an age of “all-out war” by manipulating each faction to fight with their neighbors.
Since release, For Honor has had a large presence online across many different social platforms and communities. Currently, the game has nearly 190,000 followers on Twitter. 117,000 followers on Instagram and 378,000 on Facebook.
On Reddit, the r/forhonor sub has over 276,000 members where players discuss many different aspects of the game, as well as creating fan art, gameplay videos and memes surrounding the community. One example of this meme culture which stems from the For Honor community was posted on February 17th, 2017, by Redditor Sevanity (seen below), where it received over 11,700 upvotes and 311 comments.
Over the years, the game has added numerous references to internet and meme culture, especially with emotes and effects that are prominent in such online circles. Two examples of this intersection can be seen in a post from Redditor Miseroom on August 16th, 2019, depicting a Warden from the game standing in a T-pose with glowing eyes.
Another frequently seen reference to meme culture within the For Honor community is the labeling of each faction with various online terms/slang. For example, the Knights frequently reference the “Deus Vult” meme within their faction, while Vikings are commonly referred to as “neckbeards” and Samurai as “weebs.”
Stefán Karl Stefánsson Viking Voices
One of the biggest associations that For Honor shares with meme culture is that none other than Icelandic actor Stefán Karl Stefánsson (known for his role as Robbie Rotten in the TV show Lazy Town) voiced the lines for various viking characters within the game. Following his death in 2018, the game memorialized him with a special emote on the viking berserker hero that references his iconic song We Are Number One, seen in the YouTube clip below.
In addition to the emote, Ubisoft devs added another tribute to Stefán in the form of a bot named "RobbieBotten" in reference to his Lazy Town character. While playing multiplayer modes, bots are used to fill empty slots on teams, and a RobbieBotten berserker is sometimes included in these instances. The bot is unique as it's the only one with an effect, which features the rainbow over his head.
The r/forhonor subreddit particularly celebrated his memory following his untimely death, with several memes and posts commemorating Stefán’s presence in the game. On August 21st, 2018, Redditor AmazingArmchair posted about his passing and the upload became the sub’s top post of all-time, receiving over 27,000 upvotes.