With For Honor, Ubisoft have perfected the difficult task of creating a balanced and rewarding melee combat mechanic for a third person fighting game. Melee combat can be really tricky and usually ends up either being a thankless button mashing exercise, or so complex that it is only really enjoyed by the top tier of players. For Honor on the other hand hits the mark perfectly, the basics are simple but there is a level of sophistication and depth to it, that ensures those who want to learn all it has to offer are in for a long and rewarding journey.
Knights, Vikings, and Samurai have been fighting a perpetual war for thousands of years, so long they have forgotten what they are even fighting over. Every Time they approach an opportunity for peace, the warlord Apollyon is working in the background to ensure the battles continue. The story is not the strong point but it is a fun 8 hours that has some incredible set pieces and boss battles.
It seems strange that we are talking about a Ubisoft game that doesn’t feature an open world element. Even in the single player campaign, For Honor is much closer to an Arena Battler. Most of the fights are one on one, but part of a larger battle. This works to reduce the madness, but still gives the battles a sense of grand scale.
Combat sounds simple but is actually pretty complex, and hugely satisfying. When you enter a battle or “dual mode” you have three positions to choose from. Right, left or top as indicated by an arrow on screen. This choice is where you hold your weapon, block incoming attacks, or attack the enemy. For example if your opponent attacks right, you need to block right, if you then attack top, they need to then block top.
As you put together blocks, counter attacks, guard breaks, recoveries, feints and mix fast and hard attacks, you start to build your fighting style. Combat is heavy and brutal, and while it may appear slow at first, because you are thinking about what you are doing, when you pull off a combo it is all the more satisfying than if you just mashed the buttons.
As mentioned you have the three factions to choose from, within each faction there are four classes giving you 12 characters in total to select. Classes range from the well balanced Vanguard, the light but fast Assassin, the slow but tough Heavies, or the Hybrid which is a combination of all three. The campaign gives you a taste of all three factions so it is worth playing through to discover your favorite.
Each faction, and class, has its own set of skills, weapons, and fighting styles, so there is a lot to master. The single player campaign acts as a tutorial of sorts but it is the multiplayer modes where you will really be tested.
Multiplayer has five modes:
- Domination: Is the best, this is a 4v4 capture the zones mode. You must battle to take control of the points scattered across the map and then hold them, players earn points by holding the positions.
- Brawl: The smaller 2v2 mode is a simple elimination mode, kill the other team to win.
- Duel: Is a straight up 1v1 death match.
- Skirmish: Another 4v4 mode where player fight to earn points, the team to get the set amount of points then eliminates the others to win.
- Elimination: The final 4v4 mode requires that you eliminate the whole other team to win.
Overall: While some elements could have been fleshed out a little more in the story the overall package is incredibly enjoyable. This is the best melee mechanic we have seen in a third person fighting game like this, and the multiplayer offers a lot of rewarding gameplay. Hopefully this is just the start for something new from Ubisoft.