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For Honor Hands-On Preview – Duel and Die Honorably (PS4)

Wasn’t PAX West well over a week ago? Why are you writing about For Honor now? Yes, PAX West was awhile ago, but thanks to a little embargo from Ubisoft, I can now discuss what I saw and played regarding For Honor at the show. Most of which we’ve already seen at E3 and other preview events, but at PAX West, Ubisoft revealed for the first time a dueling mode with the game. And we got to play it.

The Dueling mode is 1v1, mono y mono versus another player. Ubisoft did not confirm at that time if you had the option to practice duels against an AI opponent. Dueling is far more difficult than playing the typical 4v4 matches, and it’s not simply because you can’t gang up on an enemy. The map area is smaller, which doesn’t give much room to maneuver, whether it’s jumping in for a strike or dodge-rolling away. There are also no healing spots, which makes every hit count—on you or them. The best out of five rounds wins the duel, and each round goes by in the blink of an eye. See for yourself below.

Yes, I’m terrible. But it was fun.

While the duels are fun, and they are a great way to practice your enemy chopping skills, the 4v4 matches are the best element of the For Honor multiplayer. We played a few matches of Domination mode, and we had access to three of the 12 different characters available. There are three factions and four characters per faction. Each character in the faction has their own unique role to play with the sword battles. The only characters we had unlocked were the vanguards across all three factions: Norse, Samurai, and Knight. Each faction has a completely different feel and attack method, so choosing a faction means a bit more than picking the Samurai because he looks cool. I assume that the various characters also play different roles within the team, which is something I hope we get to experience in the upcoming closed alpha.

I played my first match with the Samurai, which I thought I would like because he moves more quickly and strikes rapidly. However, his defense is weaker than the Knights, and if I went up against another Knight, it didn’t matter how many quick attacks I landed on him if he was able to get one good hit on me. I went to the Knight for the next match and felt far more at home. He’s not as fast, but his attacks are stronger and his defense is greater. I didn’t try the Viking because I don’t do so well with tank characters, and that’s definitely what he is—a massive tank with a horned helmet and an axe. Those who can master that character will be a chaotic force to be reckoned with.

In Domination mode, the goal is for one team to obtain 1,000 points. Points are earned from killing AI troops, killing opponents, taking control of the front line, and occupying the three control zones. You take control of a zone by killing any players in the zone and standing in it, enemy free, for thirty seconds. When a zone is under your team’s control, it serves as a healing point. Once a team reaches 1,000 points, the other team is “broken,” and no one can respawn. If the team with the advantage is able to kill all of the opposing players, then they win. If the broken team is able to kill opposing players and reduce the advantage team’s score to below 1,000 points, then the advantage/break state is over.

Teamwork is crucial for a successful match, with everyone talking to one another. If everyone runs in to kill everything in sight, the match will end quickly. Players have to guard control zones after conquering them, and players have to work together to coordinate controlling various fronts and keeping the enemy at bay. With our first match, we didn’t speak at all and we were obliterated. When we started to talk to one another and realize we all had unique roles to play on the battlefield, the matches went far more smoothly.

I’m not sure how long the For Honor multiplayer will hold on to players, but perhaps the alpha will change my mind. The alpha starts on September 15, 2016 and will run through September 18, 2016. It’s a closed alpha for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. For Honor will release on February 14, 2017. I can’t think of a better way to spend Valentine’s Day than beheading total strangers across PSN.