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We Played Ubisoft's New IP, For Honor

by Bryan Vore on Jun 16, 2015 at 09:45 PM

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Ubisoft announced its brand new game, For Honor, at its E3 press conference and we played it to see how it works.

If you haven't seen the trailers, For Honor features an alternate history take on battles between knights, vikings, and samurai. The playable demo at E3 only showcased knight faction character, the Warden. This jack-of-all-trades uses a two-handed longsword in battle, featuring a balance of attack, defense, and speed.

What separates For Honor from the pack of massive army action titles like Dynasty Warriors is the unique "Art of Battle" combat system. Players hold the left trigger to lock onto other warriors and bring up a guide for one of three stances. A flick of the right stick jumps between a left, right, or high stance. If you match a stance to and enemy attack from the same direction, your character will block it. On the other hand, you want to change stances and attack quickly (R1) or heavily (R2) against an opponent who isn't currently posing in a way that matches you current slash. This results in combat that's not just a competition in who can mash the buttons the fastest. Every battle involves a rock-paper-scissors evaluation of your opponent for every moment of the battle until one of you falls.

The Dominion multiplayer mode pits two teams of four against each other for control of three zones: A, B, and C. A and C represent traditional tower bases near each team's spawn point. B represents the front line where weak NPC soldiers constantly battle it out in a futile scrum. If you take your hero into battle against these foes you can slaughter them easily for meager points contributing to the overall team tally, but killing player characters and capturing points are the most significant contributions to your team's victory. The first side to 1,000 points "breaks" the other side, preventing any respawns unless the rival team can rally back.

If you manage to get on a roll in combat, you'll be awarded feats. For the Warden, the first award is Slayer, which awards double the points for killing NPC soldiers. Level 2, Inspiration, causes your soldiers to push harder against enemy forces. Level 3, Focus, allows you to heal yourself on the fly. And the final feat summons a catapult and target a specific section of the map.

While we all played Warden Knights to adjust to this unique combat approach, the final game will feature several character types for all three factions. Ubisoft wouldn't talk about other classes or character upgrades at this time, but promised they'd add diversity to the battles.

As this early phase in development, Dominion provides a unique take on melee battles while encouraging you to dash all over the battlefield to claim and retain as many battle points for your team as possible. One on one fights could go either way between two rookies, but if you have 2, 3, or 4 characters against one, you're practically guaranteed to fail. This constant threat of always reinforcing the right zone at the right time keeps things interesting and forces alternate strategies 

The final game will include several more multiplayer modes and a dedicated single-player campaign. Ubisoft will not speak to anything outside of the demo we played, so stay tuned for any further news in these two areas.