For Honor: Today is a Good Day to Die

Mike takes a look at Ubisoft's multiplayer shot at medieval warfare.

Preview by Mike Williams, .

Last night at an Ubisoft event, I had the chance to play the company's most unique and surprising announced title. For Honor is something new for Ubisoft, a 4v4 multiplayer action title featuring pitched battles between classic warriors. The trailer showed off knights, vikings, and samurai as potential combatants, but my demo was knights only. Sadness. I really wanted to take a crack at the samurai.

I had one series of expectations heading into my For Honor session. I figured the game would be a blown out version of Assassin's Creed lost competitive multiplayer. Visually, the game does share AC's artistic style, so I assumed it traded out the focus on hiding and subterfuge for all-out combat.

For Honor is nothing like Assassin's Creed.

Let's dive into the basic controls, based on the PlayStation 4 controller I used in the demo. L2 is a shared button for guarding and lock-on in the game. R1 is a fast light attack, R2 is a major heavy attack. Movement is the left stick. Right stick is where most of the action happens. Holding the right analog stick in one of three directions - up, right, or left - changes your weapon stance on the fly. Your stance determines where you'll guard and attack from.

In pitched one-on-one combat, you'll be holding L2 the entire time to keep your camera locked on your foe. If you see a light overhead incoming, simply hold up on the right stick and you'll block it. If your opponent is holding their guard on the right, you'll want to attack on the left or overhead to land a hit. For Honor is a game about timing more than guessing. A circular icon divided into three sections indicates the stances you and your opponent are holding, so there are less blind assumptions.

You could compare For Honor's combat to Bushido Blade, but it's less complex and prone to the random button mashing that characterized low-level Bushido Blade play. Once you understand the basic controls and icon system, you can reliably defend from attacks and poke at holes in your opponent's defense. In fact, with two players of equal skill, you could potentially trade blows without damage for quite a while. To prevent that from happening, there's two other available options. Square is a guard break, allowing you to slam your foe into the battlefield, and double tapping X plus a direction does a dodge roll.

One-on-one, For Honor's combat system works really well. There's nothing else that plays like it. That playability breaks down a bit when you're up against two or more players though. You can still block attacks from behind if you're holding the right stance, but it's harder to see and anticipate incoming attacks from multiple opponents and if they attack from different stances, you're pretty much screwed. If I went up against more than one player in For Honor's demo, it was a recipe for death. Most of the time, if I saw more than one enemy icon heading my way, I simply ran for reinforcements.

The only game mode available for the playable demo was Dominion. Either side attempts to hold three regions on the map. Two of the regions are forts on either side of the map, while the last one is wide expanse where AI-controlled cannon fodder fight. The static regions can be held by simply standing in their area of influence, while the mid-section depends on your team thinning out the enemy AI ranks to push your forces forward. Holding each area will offer up points over time, but you also gain a few points for fodder kills and player kills.

Once a team reaches 1,000 points, the mode's focus shifts. If you're above the point threshold, holding two or more regions breaks the enemy ranks. While in the broken state, the other team won't respawn: kill them and they're gone. Kill the entire team and you win. Your opponents can rally by taking regions back, but the stakes are raised considerably in the broken state.

The core of For Honor is different from the games I've played recently. It's not a fast paced as some first-person shooters, combat is slower and more deliberate. It's not Assassin's Creed. It's not even Bushido Blade or Dynasty Warriors, despite sharing some elements of those titles. The basic idea here is surprisingly solid, but the question is what Ubisoft is going to add on top of it. Do the other warrior types control differently from the knights? What other game modes are available? Is the game free-to-play or a premium title?

For a company that played it safe at its press conference, For Honor represents something new. The demo was pretty awesome, even if I'm not the best at playing it (my team won the first round and lost the second). I'm looking forward to seeing For Honor evolve and expand before release, but for now I can give it my early E3 2015 recommendation.

For Honor is coming to PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. No release date has been given.

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Comments 9

  • Avatar for Ralek #1 Ralek 2 years ago
    This has definitely been one of my highlights of the show sofar. Just the day before, I had this craving for Bushido Blade II, so on Sunday I spent like an hour watching Youtube videos and just did some reminiscing. It was then also the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the footage during the E3 conference, and I was basically instantly sold. It may not be Bushido Blade, but in this case, that is not necessarily a bad thing :-D It's good enough that it share some DNA with it, and what I saw sofar looked really amazing.

    I loved that it is 3rd person, it's slower and deliberate pacing, there seems to be a certain weight to all the actions and moves, as well as satisfying finishers, teamplay, which is something that was missing from BB one-on-one fight of course, obviously it looks gorgeous. It's cool that it got Samurais, Vikings and Knights, instead of doing just one of those popular archetypes, and I hope those will actually play a bit different, to have some diversity besides looks ... basically that is what I wanted Ryse to be, which did not work out quite so well (still liked it alot though). Maybe they could add in some Roman faction eventually, with Legionaries or such, than I would be totally satisfied :P

    Most of all though, it was just so refreshing to see a non-shooter based multiplayer action game for a change ... nothing wrong with those, but I watched all the conferences this year, and there were sooooo damn many of them, it felt like total overkill, esp. considering it was not exactly an untapped market in the first place. I feel For Honor offers something different from the crowd, and that itself deserves credit. Well done Ubisoft!
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  • Avatar for chiptoon #2 chiptoon 2 years ago
    I can't help but find it funny to see armored knights run like that.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #3 VotesForCows 2 years ago
    Very excited about this, its a real surprise from Ubisoft. Not a tower to be climbed in sight! The combat looks really intense. Will definitely be keeping a close eye on it.
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  • Avatar for hal9k #4 hal9k 2 years ago
    This looks novel - I can't think of anything else like Bushido Blade, since Bushido Blade. It seems to have an interesting balance between defense and offense. I'd love it if the samurai can Blade Grasp.
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  • Avatar for apoc_reg #5 apoc_reg 2 years ago
    For HonoUr
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  • Avatar for alexb #6 alexb 2 years ago
    This is in my wheelhouse, yeah.
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  • Avatar for RedStripe #7 RedStripe 2 years ago
    When this played at the conference I immediately thought of Bushido Blade. It's one of those games that will live or die by its mechanics and responsiveness. If they nail those it could be utterly fantastic. Though they'll then suffer the same difficulties that any skill game does: balance, maps, broken builds and getting a constant influx of new players who are able to learn the ropes without getting destroyed by veteran players over and over again.

    Really really hoping this will be great, Vikings over Samurai forever.
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  • Avatar for docexe #8 docexe 2 years ago
    I never played Bushido Blade, so I can’t really make the comparison. Even then, the mechanics of the game look fairly interesting and it certainly represents a breath of fresh air compared to other multiplayer games. It’s more than enough to pique my interest.
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