e3 2016

For Honor

Five Things We Learned While Slaughtering Our Way Through For Honor
by Jeff Marchiafava on Jun 16, 2016 at 10:49 AM
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release:
Rating: Mature
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

We racked up quite the body count during our hands-on demo of For Honor. Here are the five big takeaways interested warriors should know.

We played through two full levels of For Honor's single-player campaign, which featured the Knights and Vikings factions. The first mission is entitled Lords And Cowards, and follows the Warden as he helps defend a castle during an enemy siege. The second mission is entitled Up The Beach, and follows a Viking raider as he and his clan attack a samurai stronghold (you can see part of this mission in our look at Ubisoft's stage demo). This was my first chance playing For Honor, and I walked away impressed with the gameplay. Here are five reasons why.

Slow It Down
Ubisoft Montreal has been lauding For Honor's combat since the game was first announced, and I now understand why. The entirety of the game is built on its swordplay, which forgoes the fast and forgiving beat-em-up action of most melee-focused games for a slow and methodical approach. Light and heavy attacks, blocks, shield breaks, dodges, and area-of-effect attacks are available to the player and enemies alike; reading your opponent's movements and anticipating their tactics is vital to survival. For Honor's combat initially reminded me of the action in Dark Souls, but the systems at play have more depth and nuance to them. Even after the end of my 45-minute demo, I was still learning new techniques.

Assume The Position
At the heart of For Honor's combat is the stance system. Each character has three stances they can switch between on the fly: left, right, and a high stance. Players switch between stances by moving the right analog stick in the corresponding direction. Switch to the same stance as your opponent, and you'll automatically blocks his or her attack – but that works both ways. As a result, combat plays out like a brutal dance, as you switch up your stance to mirror your opponent and fend off their blows, then change to a different stance and attempt to land your own. Each class of opponent has their own strength and speed attributes, requiring you reassess your strategy for each battle.

Getting Into The Swing Of Things
While the basics of For Honor's combat are fairly straightforward, there are more elements you must consider before becoming an expert swordsman. For Honor takes your character's weight and physics into account, so attacking from the left and then the right will be more fluid than performing two attacks from the same side. The same is true for dodging attacks – you'll have to dodge under your opponent's blade in order to completely avoid taking damage and set yourself up for a good counterattack. Gracefully fending off your enemy's attacks and landing your own requires you to use both analog sticks in tandem; the left to control your position on the battlefield, and the right to switch up your stance. An expert combatant will also take the environment into account, maneuvering their opponent towards and into fires, spiked surfaces, or over ledges. Once the combat clicks, cutting down your opponents is quite satisfying. Which brings us to...

"You're Sh-- At Dying"
Simply put, this is as close as you're going to get to a Sandor Clegane simulator. For Honor features big beefy dudes (though female characters are also available), slicing each other down in brutal fashion. Normal soldiers can be dispatched with a single blow, while taking on higher ranked foes results in knock-down-drag-out fights. Slowly winding up and landing heavy attacks on enemies and finishing them off with decapitating executions all help sell the experience. Game of Thrones and Vikings seem like obvious inspirations to both the gameplay and story.

Single-Player Is Looking Good
Ubisoft introduced For Honor as a multiplayer game, but the developer doesn't appear to be skimping on the single-player portion either. You'll play through all three factions during the campaign, which allows you to see the overarching story from all sides. The two levels I played contained plenty of spectacle, leading me down winding paths that served up plenty of skirmishes and environmental dangers. While it's too early to judge the quality of the campaign as a whole, the story should provide a good warmup before jumping into the multiplayer fray.

For more on For Honor, check out yesterday's story trailer and Viking gameplay demo.