I had no idea what I was getting into when I went to play Ubisoft’s For Honor. All I knew about it prior to standing in line to play it was that it was called For Honor, and it was from Ubisoft. Actually, one friend of mine had explained the game to me the day before, but I was much too inebriated to remember what he said… but I digress. Anyway, I’m glad I went into this (more or less) completely blind and with no expectations since it turned out to be my surprise hit of the show.
Actually, I did have one expectation going on: that this would be a shooting game. Could you blame me? With The Division, Ghost Recon, and Rainbow Six stations all within eyesight, I had good reason to suspect this too would be another pew pew pew type of game. Boy, was I wrong. This was the complete opposite of a shooting game. Instead of guns, you use the first and most deadly of arms: the sword. A medieval game from Ubisoft? Okay, I’ll roll with that.
Upon entering the dark room which was only illuminated by monitors, I went to a kiosk and found myself staring at this slick looking feudal warfare game. After selecting our character (I picked a bad-ass warrior chick… because girls in armor are awesome!), we were briefed on how combat works before diving into a full match. We were told about parrying, which is the single most important mechanic of the game. Parrying itself is rather simple, as all you need to do is hold down the right trigger to initiate it. However, you need to watch the enemy in order to parry blows correctly.
Depending on where the enemy holds their sword is where you will aim your right analog stick to deflect the attack. For example, if an enemy hold his sword to his left side, you must press the analog stick to your right. The same goes with defending your left side. To defend from higher attacks, you have to press up. All of this is also telegraphed by arrows on the enemy which let you know where they will attack from.
It’s a deceptively simple mechanic to learn but it will take time to fully master it. Just when I thought I had it down, the enemy would switch attacks quickly or midway through an animation and I had to be ready to counter whatever came. I became annoyed when I mistimed or misjudged an attack, but also felt the desire to try again because I knew I had made a mistake and wanted to learn how to get better.
After the tutorial, we were set up to play against a team of four other players (leading to a 4 v 4 match). We weren’t alone however as each team was backed up by about 50 or so NPC units. These foes were easily dispatched with one or two sword strikes, so doing parries against them wasn’t necessary.
Our objective was to capture three control points on the map and hold them for as long as possible; gaining points by maintaining control over the points and of course by killing other players. The goal was to reach 1000 points to win. If a team neared that goal and captured all of the control points then the other team would be unable to respawn. However, if even one team member captured a control point then they would be able to respawn. This of course lead to a lot of back and forth between our respective teams as we each tried to control as many points as possible. It was chaotic but fun as hell.
The most tense parts came when facing opponents one on one. Since both of you can be in defensive stances, the only way for you to try to beat your opponent is by opening yourself up for an attack and hoping they would do the same. This meant that you had to look out for that one moment when they would try to attack you in order for you to do your own attack. It’s a risky move, but considering that guard breaks are limited, you have no choice but to take that chance. The only problem here was when you would be ganged up by several opponents. This meant either running for your life or suffering a merciless and brutal death.
While I had fun with For Honor and wanted to play more of it, I have to wonder what its longevity will be. From what I saw, this seems to be a straight up multiplayer game. If it has no central story to ground it, I fear this may end up being another Titanfall or Evolve. However, I did only play one single mode in the game and I’m sure there will be more variety in the finished product. Who knows, this may become the medieval equivalent of Call of Duty and we all know that no one plays that for its story.
This is definitely a game worth keeping and eye on.