On February 9th, Ubisoft released the beta version of For Honor, an action fighting game made for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows. The full version was released February 14th, and is a third-person, melee game. Upon starting the game, players select one of three medieval era-based factions to join: the knights, vikings, or samurai. While this doesn’t directly affect gameplay or restrict character choice, it is one of the main components of the multiplayer system.
Currently, there are twelve playable characters, four per faction, and each has their own unique fighting style. The four characters within each faction belong to one of four classes: the Vanguards, the Assassins, the Heavies, or the Hybrids. Assassins are quick and work well in duels, while the Heavies use much slower, but stronger, attacks. The Vanguard lies somewhere between the two, as they are the most well-balanced class. Hybrids, on the other hand, contain elements of the other three classes. These characters have some of the most unique and complex play styles in the game.
The storyline of For Honor takes the player through each of the factions, giving them a chance to use each of the characters. The story also contains numerous unlocks and chances to gain steel, the main in-game currency, and Scavenger Crates, which are used to obtain new gear. While the story is enjoyable, the main emphasis here is on multiplayer. There are five different game modes, each with the option of Player vs Player or Player vs AI. Most modes are played in rounds, best of five. Duel is simply a 1-on-1 fight. Brawl is 2v2, with each player starting in a duel scenario. From here, there are three modes for 4v4: Dominion, Elimination, and Skirmish. These 4v4 modes are the only ones that incorporate the gear equipped and the character’s four abilities. Each ability is unlocked as you gain renown points for completing objectives. Elimination is a 4v4 adaptation of the Brawl mode and the last mode using rounds. Skirmish and Dominion use a point-based system. In Skirmish, points are acquired by killing enemies, and the players can respawn when defeated. Dominion, as the central game-mode, contains elements of skirmish but also uses a king-of-the-hill playstyle. There are three areas on the map that can be controlled to gain points, in addition to those gained from slaying enemy players.
The biggest draw in For Honor is the combat system. Dubbed the “Art of Battle”, it completely alters the melee-battle experience. When entering combat, a held button put the character in guard mode. While in this, a three-sided shield appears on the screen. This shows the direction the player is currently guarding (up, left, or right). Directional markers also appear when the opponent is attacking, again, in their selected direction. On top of this, there is a light attack, as well as a heavy, a guard break ability, a feint-dodge, dodge-roll, as well as character-specific combos and abilities.
All in all, For Honor is an enjoyable experience. The battle system puts a completely new spin on melee combat, and it remains versatile via character choice. Each character plays different from the next, so playing, and eventually mastering, different characters keeps the game fresh and full of possibilities.