In the fall of 2011, when the last episode of Deadliest Warrior ran on Spike TV, we saw the door close on one of the more awkward TV concepts in history. Using historic texts, the knowledge of modern practitioners, and computer-assisted math, two groups would attempt to most accurately answer the sort of questions usually best saved for locker rooms or childhood basements. Who was the best warrior ever? A fun concept, but the show lacked a certain material quality.
Then in 2015, Ubisoft Montreal brought the concept back to the big stage in the form of For Honor. The game’s thesis is the ultimate question: who would win between Nordic Vikings, European Knights, or Japanese Samurai? The more we learn about the game, combined with our own hands-on experience, the harder it becomes to contain our excitement.
If you’re wondering how these three iconic warrior classes found themselves in a situation where they’re forced to eternally fight, we don’t have a thorough answer for that right now. In the meantime, the incredibly satisfying combat is the star of this show.
The three-zone position mechanic is the keystone of the moment-to-moment combat. When your weapon occupies one of the three zones (left, right, or above), you attack from that angle, and block all incoming attacks from the same position. There’s an indicator for where your enemy’s weapon resides, and the most elemental of your interactions involves scouting where it’ll be next. Like any good fighting game, controlling space and making the most out of your opportunities is the key to victory.
In a way, it borrows a lot from existing fighters both modern and classic. The reliance on simple systems and mechanics echoes Street Fighter, demanding a mastery of the basics in order to be competent in a duel. The weapons-based combat echoes SoulCalibur, with shades of Bushido Blade’s tense, everything-changes-in-an-instant action. It creates its own, wholly unique experience when pulling influences from outside of the genre, like Dynasty Warriors.
We’d heard about the one-on-one Duel mode and the four-versus-four big battle Domination mode, but UbiMontreal has three more modes planned, including a two-on-two Brawl. Removing the peon-level mobs that fill the space between the more intense PvP battles, the focus in Brawl is strictly on beating the other player, who has all the capabilities you have, and their partner. Unlike Duel, Brawl adds the extra paranoia of knowing that a second enemy could make a break from their station and double team you for an early elimination. In the closer matches, the second man could become a huge factor and really change the pacing of a fight.
The other two game modes, Skirmish and Elimination, include takes on the four-versus-four formula. Skirmish removes the objectives of Dominion, and instead puts each team in a deathmatch style situation. Elimination is that same idea, sans respawns. Interesting concepts that we will see more of as we get closer to that February 2017 launch date. Of course, that’s to say nothing of the single player campaign, which will follow members of each faction and shed light on the calamity that brought these cultures together and the conflicts that continue to tear them apart.
Each hero in For Honor has unique special moves, combos, abilities. Raiders can literally tackle foes and throw them off of ledges or into environmental hazards. Wardens can double up certain attacks with greater ease depending on their angle of attack. There are also multiple characters to play from each faction, 12 total, each with their own special moves and combos. If normal play wasn’t nuanced enough, now keeping your match-up in mind is a huge factor as well.
There are also various RPG elements embedded in the multiplayer. Equipment can be found and loadouts can be customized for each character separately. They can affect a number of factors like block recovery speed or how fast you can build up your “Revenge” meter, a mode that lets you hit harder and block more deftly for a short period of time.
All in all, For Honor is shaping up to be quite the game. If you want to get your hands on it early, sign up for the Beta here. Be sure to swing by our For Honor Wiki, and help build the knowledge base for this exciting title. And let us know what your looking forward to the most on Twitter and Facebook.