“I need help! I need help!” I hear the Vanguard Knight shout to my right. “They’re here. I’m surrounded!” I hear our Samurai Assassin companion call out. “Hold that line! Hold the line!” I find myself shouting to nobody in particular as my Viking Raider attempts to fight off a horde of enemies surging my way down the middle of the battlefield. I pick one up clear off his feet and toss him into his companions. Exhilarated, I laugh and start swinging my axe in a berserker rage. Such is the typical interaction between For Honor heroes in a match of Ubisoft Montreal’s upcoming melee action game.
I recently got a chance to play several rounds of For Honor‘s Dominion PVP mode at Ubisoft’s San Francisco offices. Prior to the match, we were given an overview of the game.
For Honor features three main factions to choose from: Knights, Samurai, and Vikings. The war between the factions is pivotal to the single player story campaign, but in PVP combat, teams can be comprised of a mix of all three. Since the factions utilize different weapon sets and combat styles, the hero types for each class play differently. Mixing and matching teams is key to forming a balanced team. Plus, how awesome is it to have all three fighting together on the same team?
Within each faction, there are four different For Honor Heroes.
- Vanguards are well-balanced Heroes. These are good all-arounders strong on both offense and defense.
- Assassins are offensive specialists, great at one-on-one duels. However, they can quickly get overwhelmed if outnumbered. Assassins are great at roaming the map and taking out any enemy heroes defending a point by themselves.
- Heavies are exactly what their name implies: big, strong tanks that can soak up a lot of damage and defend a point, while taking out waves of enemy AI grunts.
- Hybrids are sort of a mixture of all of the other classes. It appears they mostly utilize spears and other weapons with long reach.
As previously mentioned, the faction Heroes play differenty. I noticed that my Viking Raider felt much slower than my Samurai Kensei, but when he did land a hit, my opponent felt it.
We were then given an introduction to the game’s personalization and customization systems. Players can swap out three different armor pieces (helmet, chest, and shoulders), and customize three different weapon parts. There are also several different unique Feats, which are passive and activated powers that can quickly turn the tide of battle if used at the proper moment. All of this will allow players to build the ultimate warrior to fit their preferred playstyle. There are also a variety of visual customizations to give your hero a unique look with some personal flair so they are instantly recognizable on the battlefield.
The Art of Battle
One of the most unique things about For Honor is the revolutionary Art of Battle control system. Character movement is mapped to the left stick, while three different battle stances are mapped to the right. Light and heavy attacks are mapped to the R1 and R2 buttons, Matching your opponent’s stance increases your chances of blocking incoming attacks, but if you want to land a hit, switching to a different stance at just the right time is extremely important. There is also a guard break button that can take your opponent by surprise and leave them open for a critical hit, or even an instant kill if they are standing near a ledge or other environmental hazard.
This system can be tough to get the hang of at first, but once you pick it up, combat becomes extremely fun. It feels like a game of rock-paper-scissors that rewards timing and quickness. After a while, I was able to pull off some impressive combos that made me feel like a force to be reckoned with. That is, until the other team came at me with more than one person and gave me a reality check of just how quickly things can change in For Honor.
During the demo, two teams of four players battled it out in Dominion mode. The goal of the mode is to earn points by capturing three different points spread throughout the map. Teams earn points by holding the points and killing the opposing team’s players and AI-controlled grunts. Once one team scores enough points, the match goes into a sudden death mode, and if all the players from the other losing team are eliminated, or the timer runs down, the match is over. The other team can get out of sudden death mode and stage a comeback by capturing points.
Dominion feels like a constant tug of war, and communication between teammates is the key to victory. Knowing which points your opponents are trying to take and responding appropriately is the difference between a win and a loss. The two side points were the easiest to capture, as they are the least defended, while the middle lane is the toughest point to hold, as it is constantly overrun by hordes of AI mobs.
In addition to the 4v4 Dominion mode, For Honor will feature a 2v2 Brawl mode, a 1v1 Duel mode, a 4v4 Skirmish Team Death Match-like mode, and a 4V4 Elimination mode.
For Honor Closed Alpha
Players will have a chance to get their hands on the game during the For Honor Closed Alpha, running September 15 – 18. To sign up for the Closed Alpha, visit www.forhonorgame.com.
For Honor will be available Feb. 14, 2017 on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.