“For Honor” takes gamers to a fantasy realm of ancient war and combat with three factions consisting of history’s greatest warriors Viking’s, knights and samurai. With a unique combat system similar to top selling boxing and MMA games, plus a beautifully designed landscape background, “For Honor” looks to capture gamers with some added flavor and a different take on the genre.
Placing emphasis on control and stunning visuals, the development team of “For Honor” looks to give you the feel of being locked in an episode of the hit HBO series “Game of Throne’s.” Combat aside, this is successfully achieved with a beautiful background that is packed with so much action, gamers will stop momentarily to appreciate the movie like quality of the game. While tracking your way through the interior and exterior of the castle, you’ll notice many visually stimulating moments. The crumbling of the ash gray stone castle walls makes the game pretty intense while a blood-thirsty rival warrior is charging towards you with a war-torn chipped and rugged steel broadsword.
The first level that was given to be played was the knight’s story, here is where you get the basic understanding and motions of the game. Within the opening sequence, you are taught how to not only attack but guard up and protect yourself while in battle. You are given three stances which are used to counter and react to your opponents attacks. It’s great that the game opens up this way because you don’t get just a basic dry one on one tutorial, you’re actually learning on the move while simply guided through the castle cutting down enemies while the castle is under attack and infiltrated all around you. Though this is a learning process, this type of in-game story mode tutorial keeps you engaged and alert to your surroundings because this is still a part of the action-packed story.
This opening level is filled with movie quality visuals. Reminiscent of fight scenes from films like “13th Warrior” and “Centurion,” you can find arrows flying over the walls and striking down your fellow soldiers, while you and them attempt to push back the opposing forces attempting to overrun the castle. These push back sequences take place in each main courtyard adding intensity and teamwork to the game. This also pushes the tempo of the game and adds defense no longer for just yourself but your allies in need of assistance as you slash through hoards of multiple enemies to defend each section of the castle until you reach the main gate.
The combat system is simple enough to understand, but far from just a mash and slash. Though you will be using the right back triggers on both console systems for light and heavy strikes, that’s not where the instructions stop. Much like real life combat, there is strategy involved. You must switch between three different stances in order to strike and counter-strike with success. The stances are weapon held over the right hip, left hip and high head-level. To counter you must match stances with your opponent, if the opponent weapon is on his right hip, you must match that with your weapon over your left to be able to block without being harmed. Now once you block, you should be able to counter with a strike of your own but to ensure a definite hit, switching stances immediately would be beneficial. Throughout the game, you will be able to discover different combos and new moves to add to your combo arsenal. Like early on you can dash and dodge back to avoid hits as well as breaking stance guards, a grab, and toss.
As you continue to make your way further into the opening you are shown more things that can help you throughout the game, such as how to break the guard of those using heavy shields to protect themselves, pick up health and recharge your health. You are basically placed through a gauntlet of enemies in the opening level. Meaning you’ll be given the more weaker soldiers to fight who don’t counter as much and can be taken down with only two or three strikes, to a mid-level enemy who will counter more strike harder and guard more and finally a boss. Once you reach the boss, that’s when you will need to be more strategic and use everything you’ve learned to defeat him. In the boss battles, countering and timing becomes key. Making sure you fully pay attention to his stance and waiting for an opening to strike is best because the boss strikes are heavier and can do more damage once they get on a roll with combinations as opposed to earlier enemies. The best part of the boss battle is the once you completely weaken the boss, you will get to end the intense fight with a gloriously designed execution, satisfying the war-torn righteous hero inside of you.
At first, this combat system may seem complicated, but that could be in order to separate their game from other games similar to this, which allowing you to just rush through and slash like Jason in a Friday the 13th film. The early stages you might find yourself getting crushed, but once you grasp the basic context of how to strike, block, throw and grab, it’ll make chopping down rival faction member’s much easier.
“For Honor” and its boxing like approach sets the bar on a different level for this genre of gaming. By causing you to have to think and strategize on the fly while attempting to counter your opponents strikes, it gives the game a more life-like experience. The controls make you feel like you have total control of your characters movements and actions. The gameplay itself is rather smooth and doesn’t play stiff. You’re ultimately going to actually feel like you are a malicious Viking, noble defending Knight or subtle yet strategic Samurai. The visuals are enough to make you give the game a shot, but the realistic fight system is enough to bring forth a larger amount of interest from gamers.