E3 2015 – For Honor Hands-On Preview: Blood and Glory

Every year at E3 there is usually one new game that takes me completely by surprise and becomes the one game that I won’t be able to stop thinking about until it launches. And this year it has to be Ubisoft’s For Honor. One of the few games that I have seen that has been able to truly capture the brutality of metal on metal warfare, and combine it with a deep but accessible combat system that makes each fight a life or death match up based on skill and tactics.

Battle Management

The short segment that we saw had two teams of four-on-four battling over three control points on a battleground that was filled with NPCs. The goal of the match was to reach 1,000 points by killing and controlling various points on the battlefield, except the middle location had a twist with how it could be captured, as it had two armies fighting for control of it. Using a heavily armored soldier, we were able to clear out enemy combatants with ease and turn the tide in our favor for our side to capture the point. But, at the same time, the other team was able to do the same, as well. 

While this does sound like a normal game of king of the hill, there are a number of factors that kept the round we played going back and forth. As one team reaches 1,000 points, the opposing team will no longer be able to respawn, but they can get themselves back in the game if one of them captures a point. This dynamic forces the leading team to push forward in a mad hunt for the remaining players, as that team can also reach 1,000 points or capture a point and level the playing field. This happened multiple time for both teams during our session, and created one of the most chaotic and fun times I have had on completely new game.

Defend or Attack

On top of everything that is going on, the biggest draw I had with For Honor was its combat system, which is difficult to describe, but works wonderfully. To start off, each player is in full armor and chain mail from head to toe, which makes them move a bit slower, but only such that they feel as if they have weight to them. Each character can either use a light or heavy attack from either a high position or left and right position which is determined by your stance. This stance is determined by the direction you tap on the right analog. To block an attack, you must be in the corresponding stand yourself, but holding the block button, which will keep you in your designated pose, flags your stance.

What this ultimately means is that, for a player to be able to block an incoming attack, they must match their opponents stance, which also means that they are now unable to get through their opponents defense, since their opponent is also in the correct defensive position since they match up. So, for a player to be able to get through their opponents defense, they will have to move themselves out of a defensive posture and open themselves up to attack, since they are no longer lined up. While this may seem like a deadly version of rock, paper, scissor, there really is a sense of ferocity as you are getting your head mashed in with a sword until you adjust your defense accordingly. 

All Together Now

The way that everything works together is simply fantastic. While no character has too much life, they are able to take just about enough damage before falling in battle and having to wait for a respawn. But, you are able to get picked up by a teammate if they make their way to your body in time, as well as heal yourself or use certain buffs such as calling in a small arrow barrage to help you out if you’re able to unlock them and don’t fall in battle too early. This rewards players who are lasting, but also those that are being aggressive. Anyone trying to hide, will quickly find themselves being put out quickly, as the ability for the opposing team to out number an opponent can mean a quick death. 

For Honor is easily one of the games I am looking forward to find out more about. So far we only know about one of the PvP modes available, and the three factions: Knight, Viking and Samurai. But with a system this deep, there is no telling how much more can be done, and what great things it will have to offer when it releases in 2016.