Hands-On: For Honor

* For Honor from Ubisoft is scheduled to release on February 14, 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Travel and accommodations for this Hands-On Preview in San Francisco were provided by Ubisoft.

Last week, I got some extensive hands-on time with For Honor, a third-person melee game that takes place during the medieval time period. What the campaign/story is fully about is still unknown as of the writing of this article. I played the most recent build of the game on PC with an Xbox One controller.

I was able to play about two hours of the multiplayer and about forty-five minutes of a single player story mission. I have also had some hands-on time with this game during E3 2016 which you can read about by clicking on the banner to the right.

They briefly went over what to expect post-launch in terms of multiplayer content. There are three factions in the game: Knights, Samurai, and Vikings. You choose a faction to represent you once you begin playing multiplayer.

Your choice of faction has no bearing on what characters you can or can’t play as. Faction Wars are all about fighting for territory on the over-world map. Once you win a multiplayer session, you will be given postgame rewards. Some of these can either be used to help fortify your defense of an already taken territory or they can be used to help take over an enemy territory.

Your factions action will be seen on the world map and data from all three platforms, PS4, Xbox One, and PC, will be factored in. Faction Wars are intended to be a never ending fight and a reason to play as often as you like. There will be rewards for factions holding territory during Turns which last six hours, Rounds which last two weeks, and a Season which last ten weeks.

The twelve multiplayer maps will visually be affected by the Faction Wars as well. There can be four to six different variations of the maps depending on the status of the faction war.

This is going to be a platform style game in terms of its content release. Upon the completion of a Season, which again lasts ten weeks, there will be a slight break in the Faction Wars. During this break, the development team will be looking at the balance of the game along with adding new free content to the game. This could be new maps, weapons, gear, or cosmetic gear.

The goal here is to not divide the community behind a paywall. However, there will be rewards that can only be earned during a certain Season and can’t be earned again. It appears that these rewards won’t be overpowered or give anyone an unfair advantage. The development team really pushed the fact that these Faction Wars will be what keeps the players coming back daily or weekly during Turns, Rounds, and Seasons.

At its core, For Honor multiplayer is a melee based third-person combat game. Yet, it is so much deeper than that. Which character you take, what type you perks you have set up in your loadout, and what type of gear you’re wearing all affect the game play. It plays differently than most third person action games I have came across.

You have a ready position. This is activated by holding down L2. You then see a white circle appear around a nearby target and that is the enemy your attack will be focused on. While fighting a targeted enemy you will be in a bit of a cat and mouse type game during this brief encounter.

A small prompt appears on your screen while you’re in ready position. You use the right analog stick to either point down left, down right, or up. The goal here is to mimic your opponent’s stance. If you are positioned correctly when your opponent attacks you will block the attack taking some stamina from you opponent. If you’re set up incorrectly you will take damage.

Damage taken will be dependent on many factors, including which character hit you and with what attack. You have two attacks: a light attack, which you can attempt to chain multiple hits to do decent damage, or a heavy attack, which takes slightly longer to execute but deals large amount of damage.

During the encounter you want to use light and heavy attacks together to do extensive damage to your opponent. If you do enough damage and your opponent’s health falls to a low level you will be given and execution prompt. This deals a fatal blow with a really freaking cool animation.

At this event, three new characters were introduced as part of the twelve character roster that comes with the launch of the game. The first is Peacekeeper, an assassin hero in the Knight faction. Being an assassin type hero, the Peacekeeper relies on good attack damage and speed, with few abilities that can cause your opponent to bleed out over time.

Next is Shugoki, a heavy hero in the Samurai faction. Being in the heavy hero class, they have the highest health points and one of the most powerful attacks. The trade off is that they are one of the slower moving and attack heroes in the game.

Finally you have the Warlords, who are heavy heroes in the Viking faction. They are short to medium range heroes who mix an aggressive move set with good defensive properties. Having the ability to block while attacking makes this type of hero very versatile in the battlefield.

Balance is something that I was very concerned about while playing at this event. During a couple of short conversations with the development team they assured us their data from previous Betas is showing them very good balance. They will continue to look at data from future Betas and, as previously stated, once a Season is complete more balancing will be done if needed. Again, all data is gathered from all platforms to ensure the Faction Wars are fair and correct across all platforms.

There are a ton of customization options in the game as well, ranging from gloves, chest, helmet, weapon, all the way down to the colors of the faction you choose to represent. A lot of what I just mentioned has stats attached to them as well. For example, you could equip a heavy-duty shield that increases your defense but decreases your stamina. Or gloves that increase the reach on your weapon but cause you to be more affected by ranged attack, these are just basic examples. You can also have preset loadouts on each different character. As you can see, there is plenty to do in this multiplayer.

Now, for the multiplayer game modes that were shown.

Domain: (Shown before and in previous closed Betas) A conquest/capture/control type of game mode. We played a four vs four warrior mode with AI to aid the teams. The AI are very small and weak but they do help with holding a zone that you have captured. Domain isn’t much different than most capture based modes in other games.

Capture the zones and the more zones you hold the more points you get while holding them. The team with the most points at the end wins. You can revive your teammates if you get to them before they bleed all the way out. However, if a teammate is executed by the other team they cannot be revived.

Elimination: (New mode not shown before) Pretty much what is sounds like. Kill the other team. No AI in this mode. We played another four vs four. You can again revive in this mode as long as your teammate wasn’t executed. However, once executed, or not revived in time, they will not be able to auto respawn until the end of the round.

You play best of five so the first team to three wins get the victory. Working together as a team of four is very important in Elimination. You can guard the downed bodies so that the other team can’t revive. You can run as a group and put the other team in two vs one, or even four vs one situations and help yourself or teammates complete execution style kills so that revives are not an option.

Playing as a team is key in this mode as well as Hero balance. It does you no good to go with four heavy heroes or four quick heroes. Having a diverse group with good communication is key to victory.

Boosts were also introduced to us at this event. Boosts are temporary advantages to each hero. Some basic examples of this are an extra defense area that you put out for you and your teammates while in combat. You can also have an increase to agility or attack speed/damage. This is another factor of the game that, if used at the right time, can swing the entire outcome of a round or maybe even an entire match.

I was able to play a little bit of the single player campaign as well, though it’s still very hard to get a good feel for exactly what is going on in the game’s campaign. However, something that is becoming more and more clear is that each faction, and maybe even each type of hero, will either have their own campaign or the game will have you play certain heroes and certain times based on how they want to tell the story. But based on how quiet they have been about the campaign they must have something pretty cool hidden up there sleeves.

I was given access to two missions from the campaign. Based on my personal schedule and the difficulty of the first level I played I was unable to have enough time to play the second mission. I played a mission called Sabotage, taking place near the end of the Knights.

Without getting into any kind of spoilers, it appears that there is some infighting going on within the Viking faction when it comes to resource management. Playing as the Peacekeeper hero you are sent into a Viking camp that is moving and hoarding resources that other Viking camps could use. Your job is to sneak in and destroy the elevator that is being used to move the resources.

For Honor is coming along nicely. What I was able to play at this event compared to what was offered at E3 last summer shows a vast improvement in all areas of the game. I am still concerned about the heaviness of the heroes and what to me still feels like very slow attacks and moves even with the faster classes of heroes.

However, after spending more time with the game and talking with the development team about what they are trying to accomplish I have a better understanding of what the goal is. Like I said, this is a third-person melee combat based game. But what I think they are really trying to accomplish is a fighting style arena brawler.

You will have your hero and know what your plan of attack will be, however your plans will change based on what type of hero you encounter or gets in your way on the way to your objective.

For Honor is scheduled to launch on February 14, 2017, with another closed Beta planned for late January. Check out the video below for a quick look at some gameplay.


Written by Dave Hunt

Dave Hunt

Podcast Co-Host
Reviewer/Features Writer

Helping people in games is the most fun I have ever had.

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