Hands-On With For Honor's Brutish Multiplayer

While we got to see an extended look at For Honor’s single player campaign at E3, the game’s hands-on demo at Gamescom focused more on multiplayer. In particular, the developer demonstrated Dominion, a 4v4 multiplayer objective-based mode that left us eager for more.

For Honor, a melee-based title from Ubisoft, puts emphasis on swordplay and close-range combat. There are three factions to choose from: samurai, viking, and knight, along with classes (called heroes in-game) which change slightly depending on your faction. The classes include the vanguard, a character with a steady balance of attack and defense; the assassin, a quick and efficient killer that lacks defensive skills; the heavy, a tank-like character with slower movements; and finally the Hybrid, an advanced class with a mix of elements and characteristics of other classes. These four hero types can be combined with a faction, to form one of 12 unique heroes.

In the demo I played, I chose to play as a vanguard under the samurai faction, and this combination creates a raider hero. The raider is a burly, muscly character that wields a large, two-handed axe. Each character has its own weight and playstyle, bringing variety to the selection. As Dominion Mode began, what I first noticed was how raw and real the combat was; each swing felt like it had weight, and I could adjust my stance to change the direction of my attack, block, and parry when in melee. For example, if my opponent holds his sword high, I should be wary not to hit him on the head and upper body. By viewing which defense stance your enemy has, you can deduce which direction is most effective to hit them. This is called the stance system, and it’s one of For Honor’s best qualities, bringing a more tactical and methodical approach to combat. 

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In Dominion Mode, the goal of the game is to capture three areas around the battlefield. These points of interest become outlined with the color of the team that captures it. In the middle area of the map, A.I. soldiers of both teams battle head on, and you can help capture that area by aiding the fight. Each time an area is conquered, points are allotted to your team. What I found most difficult was attempting to capture a location that had more than one enemy standing ground. Whenever multiple enemies attack you, For Honor steepens its difficulty curve, forcing you to rely more on a defensive approach before tackling offense.

By effectively blocking blows, you can activate Revenge Mode, where your character begins to glow and gives you a huge attack boost. If you’re careful, you can overpower your opponents by activating this. Also, when your team has control over one of the capture areas, your health will replenish progressively, also giving you an edge in fights, but making it harder for the other team to take you on. The team that reaches the highest number of points first in the match (about 10 minutes long) wins. To do so, it requires a fair amount of coordination with your teammates, pinpointing which capture zones to conquer first, and your maneuvers around the map.

I enjoyed what I played of For Honor, and while it can be difficult, once you figure out your tricks it can be absolutely satisfying. The stance system adds substance, and the overall match can be very dependent on your tactical approach, as well as dependent on how you approach each swing and blow. 

You can learn more about For Honor’s other multiplayer modes, such as Skirmish, Elimination, Brawl, and Duel here. For Honor releases for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 14.

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