Recently, I had the pleasure to spend some time playing Ubisoft’s upcoming competitive multiplayer game: For Honor. This is a game that many Soulsborne fans, myself included have been following since its announcement at E3 2015. Early impressions from the trailers and other marketing materials left me increasingly intrigued. Despite seeing the game at E3 in June, it wasn’t until recently that I really grasped just what For Honor is all about. Let’s talk a bit about how the game plays, and how it measures up to some lofty expectations.
Premise of For Honor
For those new to the title, For Honor is an upcoming and unique competitive multiplayer game with a story campaign component being released early next year by Ubisoft for PS4, Xbox One and PC. I say unique because I struggle to find a game to compare it to. It has things in common with Battlefield, League of Legends, Paragon and of course Dark Souls. It pits two teams of 4 against one another, with the objective being to capture control points on the map, bleed out the other team’s reinforcements, and ultimately wipe out the other team when they can no longer respawn.
Each player will pick from one of a dozen hero classes, each with their own unique abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. I was not able to see all of the possible heroes in the demo, but we were given the choices from the factions of Samurai, Knight or Viking. The Samurai featured high attack and low defense, the Knight had high defense and low attack and the Viking was a balance of both. Each hero has a male and female variant, along with multiple skins for each to customize how you will look in battle. These skins look downright wicked and will definitely be coveted by the game’s hardcore elite.
Each map has 3 control points with one in the center, and one to the left and right. Controlling these points increases your score, and once your score hits 1000 your opponents can no longer respawn. This makes capturing these points imperative, because you can win a match even if you never kill another player before your team hits 1000 points. The center control point, called “The Front”, is where your NPC troops will do battle with those of your opponents. This makes for some amazing moments where you are tearing your way through a horde of NPC enemies with your human enemy in sight, but agonizingly out of reach. It all has a very Lord of the Rings like feel, where you, the champions, are wading through the grunts to wage inevitable combat for the fate of your forces in the center.
Combat: Duels, Battles and Tactics
The combat of For Honor is easy to pick up and hard to master. It has exceptional depth and leaves one with the feeling that through practice, one could become a devastating force on the battlefield, even when outnumbered. The game features tri-directional targeting, meaning the player can aim high, left or right when attacking and blocking. Players can dodge, roll, parry and guard break opponents as well, with some characters even able to pick up and throw other players, often to their death. Each hero has different abilities, making for some unique and memorable combat and duels.
It’s difficult to articulate just how fighting another player feels like in For Honor, because they feel so personalized and awe inspiring. It all feels like a slightly slower version of Dark Souls, with more emphasis placed on your stance, your reaction time and your positioning in relation to the enemy player. You also deal significantly less damage, so the duels tend to last a bit longer than Dark Souls, at least in terms of meaningful combat. Because every moment counts, as the scores keep on climbing you can’t take it easy and beat about the bush. You clash swords, swing, block, parry, dodge and swing some more. You are motivated to win your duel and move on to the next objective or duel, making for more action packed combat.
As I started to get the hang of the gameplay, the Ubisoft representative standing with me was regularly dispensing tips for battlefield success. He showed me things like dropping on opponents for a 1 shot kill. Or that after capturing a control point you can heal if you stand within the area, which was vital as you often need it! You can also throw enemies into traps and push them off structures to their deaths. Our team barely squeaked out a victory, with me dueling the last player on the opposing team to a stand still, only to have my teammates rush in and finish him off. It was an amazing rush! By the end of the session I was hooked. While by no means good at the game, I began to understand it’s bigger concepts.
For Honor has all the things that make for a great competitive game: an intuitive tutorial that teaches you the basics of combat and strategy, fantastic customization in appearance and character selection, great level design that is both fun to play and watch and heart-pounding gameplay that leaves you wanting more. If Dark Souls 3 invasions have left a poor taste in your mouth because you felt you were the better player, but found yourself in a situation where the outcome did not reflect that, For Honor is the game you have been waiting for. Not only will skillful players be able to dominate the battlefield, duels between highly skilled players will be intense, memorable and likely to result in either hate mail or friend requests. 10/10 would play again. Bring on the beta and official release!
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