When For Honor was announced at E3 back in 2015, the idea that Vikings, Knights, and Samurai are placed to fight against each other in an endless battle, that concept alone was enticing enough. But when gameplay footage was presented, the melee combat system created by Ubisoft Montreal made it a game to watch in the coming years.
We are now at 2017 and just a few weeks away from release. The Closed Beta for the multiplayer portion of the game has concluded and it's safe to say that Ubisoft has developed a strong foundation for a new series that could change how people tackle multiplayer melee combat, set in a medieval fantasy setting.
The Art of Battle
The melee combat system is called "The Art of Battle" and it's the real star in For Honor. It's a system that triggers a dueling mode against an opposing hero or player. Once you are locked on, there are three directions you can choose to place and position your weapon: above, left, and right. The position you choose will be your current state of attack and defense. For example - you choose the left stance - any attack you perform will be done in that direction. Same goes for when it comes to defense - if an attack from your enemy is coming from the direction your weapon is currently facing, you instantly block that attack.
That is just the basic concept of "The Art of Battle" system and that alone already requires a sense of strategy. While on a duel, attacking from above for the next few seconds could be the least efficient way to attack, but changing it up with the basic 3-hit combos found in most classes, for example going left, right, then left, will be more difficult for my opponent to defend against. There's a very small opportunity to react where your opponent is going to strike, the prompt showing where it's coming from is clearly visible, so reactions are tested each fight and the thrill kept me looking for the next bout after either hero dies.
Then, you add shoulder bashes, tackles, unblockable attacks, the revenge system, pushing your enemies off cliffs, stamina, class traits, dodging - there's so much tucked inside this system that it encourages planning your attack over constantly spamming the attack button until something falls. Let's not also forget those situations where you are outnumbered - you can win in these situations mind you, you just have to play it smart.
The Closed Beta provided three game modes and had nine classes to choose from, three from each faction. Some classes were easier to pick up compared to others thanks to their weapon and unique move sets. Some feel to be a counter master, while others can strike quick and get out of range and create a gap thanks to their movement. There's a series of playstyles to choose from for sure, and it will be bigger since the game will have twelve classes on release. The classes give a lot of flavor and challenge in each fight. Sadly, there's no class switch during the match, so before the match starts and you pick your class, you're pretty much locked in for the duration of the match.
For Honor is shaping up pretty well. It was a smooth beta session from start to finish and the combat system is one of those mechanics that feels right the moment you experience it first-hand. The full game will have five game modes and 12 classes on release, with a single player campaign to flesh out the story as to why there is such a battle between the three factions.
This doesn't feel like a Ubisoft game, which is a great thing if you look back at their recently released big titles. Ubisoft is still open to taking risks every once in a while, and this one in particular, has the potential in being yet another great IP that can join the ranks of well-established series' in the company's portfolio.
For those that missed their chance at the Closed Beta, an Open Beta was announced for all platforms and will begin on February 9 and end on February 12.
For Honor hits stores on Valentine's Day, February 14 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.