For Honor Is A Breath Of Fresh Air – Hands-on Preview

As a fan of the old Kingdom Under Fire games, I constantly lament the fact that there will never be another instalment of the highly addictive strategic hack and slash other than a MMO that will probably never hit Oceania. Luckily, For Honor looks like the closest thing we will get to a spiritual successor, with Ubisoft’s surprise hit being easily one of the best games at E3.

In an in-depth demo we went hands on with two major levels in the game. The first being the first main tutorial mission, and the second taking place well into the main game, depicting a beach invasion of Vikings against Samurai.For-Honor-1The visuals and presentation astound from the start; with a cutscene of Viking boats crashing onto a beach raining arrows, it’s straight out of a big budget movie, and just as spectacular. This is as game that truly uses it’s budget, and it’s a real shame that the voice acting is simply not up to scratch, especially compared to the cutscenes and visuals. Dialogue is delivered in very flat tones, there is very little emotion behind anything, and turning point moments fall flat due to the almost comedic nature of the voices.

It’s a real shame because they take away from the bombastic nature of the spectacular visuals, which easily could be Ubisoft’s best looking game yet. Character models, attack animations, background environments and swarms and swarms of enemies make this game look absolutely spectacular. The very fact that you can walk right into these huge set pieces and kill every single one of these enemies is immensely satisfying. The level of carnage feels similar to Dynasty Warriors, but it looks about ten times better.For-Honor-2In terms of gameplay, this is where For Honor really shines. I compared it to Kingdom Under Fire earlier, and while this is true to a point, it doesn’t carry the strategic elements that KUF is known for. Rather, allies are automatically controlled to attack or follow, and the bulk of the strategy comes from the in-depth combat system.

You can kill regular enemies with a simple swing of a axe/sword, and while this may seem repetitive, the wonderful animations and satisfying connection of a sword against flesh makes this incredibly engaging. But it’s the 1v1/2/3 battles that really make this game shine. Utilizing a three directional defense/offense system makes this game utterly unique, challenging and most of all, fair. The so-called ‘Art of Battle’ utilizes the right thumbstick, and three directions to defend and attack with. You must match your opponent’s direction in order to block successfully, and must have a different directional input in order to land a hit against them. Switching quickly between stances to block and attack successfully is the very epitome of ‘easy to learn, hard to master’, as I found myself getting thoroughly trounced against higher tier enemies by ignoring the prompts and button mashing. This is a truly strategic game, one which also throws in the button mashing against lesser enemies as a nice variation between the two main pillars of gameplay. The mix between the two keeps the game constantly fresh and I can easily see myself spending hours refining and perfecting the Art of Battle.For-Honour-3Our time with the game only consisted of two levels, but it’s clear a great amount of care had been given to the combat system. The setting was also incredibly unique and refreshing, combining three different factions into one battlefield and playing around with historical non-fiction in almost fantastical nature. It really doesn’t follow any historical wars, but uses the background of the three distinct factions to mesh and create a completely new setting. It’s because of the flexibility in dabbling in fiction that makes For Honor so refreshing, and seeing as how rare other big budget games explore medieval combat games, it easily propels For Honor to the top of the list in must play games.

For Honor comes out Valentine’s Day 2017, but you can sign up for Alpha and Beta demoes right now. With the tight combat system and amazing presentation I can’t think of a reason to pass this over. Keep a close eye on what could be Ubisoft’s return to form.