After what feels like a lifetime of waiting, For Honor is almost upon us with the imminent release date of 14th February… the perfect Valentine’s gift for someone you know who loves killing hordes of soldiers with an axe or sword. Ubisoft opened up their registers for a closed beta and a lucky large number of people got to test out the multiplayer aspect of this game of war. For those of you who wanted to play but couldn’t, the open beta will be from 9-12 February, a mere few days before release. I managed to spare a few hours in my hectic schedule to give it a go and wanted to share a taster of what to expect.
Now the initial trailer for the game shows a story of all out war between the Samurai, Knight and Viking factions all thanks to a bloodthirsty warlord named Apollyon. No aspects of the story mode were available during the beta of course, so I am hoping that it will be a campaign that allows you to play all three factions rather than having to stick with one and play it through three times. As little has been given away regarding the story mode in the build up to its release, as with a lot of Ubisoft recent titles, I don’t feel that the marketing has really been ‘out there’ enough for gamers to notice it (Rainbow Six Siege anyone?). As a lot of people have been streaming and sharing their gameplay, I’m hoping that it will encourage Ubisoft to build it up a bit more in these last 2 weeks before release.
The initial tutorial showed the basics. Learning how to guard is probably the most important as it will determine how you block an attack from an enemy player and where you’ll be aiming when you decide to slam your weapon into them. Guarding against the AI in the tutorial is pretty easy but be prepared for the hack and slash tactics of those who haven’t mastered the guard technique… which means me. It is also worth mentioning that if you decide to try your hand at a 1v1 duel with the AI straight off, you may get destroyed as the AI is actually quite punishing no matter what your level is. After the guarding, you have the light and heavy attacks but it doesn’t really cover off your abilities or executions which are quite handy to know about should you want to get an impressive kill cam moment or know how to throw a projectile. I may have missed the memo on these, but I ended up finding out about them when I was perusing the menus afterwards. It reminded me of when I recently played the Nioh demo and I feel that fans of Dark Souls would fair well with the combat style.
The game modes on offer were 1v1 Duel, 2v2 Brawl and 4v4 Dominion, all giving you the option to do PvP or PvAI. Whether more modes will be introduced is unclear at this stage. There was also an Events tab on show but I didn’t see any events live while I was online… of course I may have just missed these entirely! I favored the Dominion mode for a good old fashion battle in which you try to capture points and break the enemy team to win. These were very enjoyable actually but you do learn the hard way that you need to think about your combat a little as your stamina and health will run out rather rapidly if you just go wildly swinging your weapon about. I wasn’t a big fan of the Duel mode, mainly because I got destroyed and the 2v2 Brawl was ok but I would suggest playing with a friend if you’re going PvP as quick chat just doesn’t get the tactical message across as much as me yelling does.
There are orders (much like bounties or daily challenges) which you can complete in order to gain more rewards and XP. These may be simply completing matches or killing a certain number of AI or other players. I found that these are worth picking up if you’re planning on trying to acquire gear to make your character look and feel good. When I say feel good, I mean it brings up your gear score. That’s right, similarly to The Division’s gear rank, For Honor also has a gear system. I haven’t played enough to work out all of the benefits but your score will matter in how good it is at protecting you, regenerating health and possibly even reducing the amount of stamina required for attacks. It is worth applying the higher level gear, but whether this increased the likelihood of better gear dropping at the end of a game is unknown at this point. You can also upgrade or dismantle for salvage if you wish.
Speaking of characters, the multiplayer allowed you to pick and choose who you would like to play as but if I remember rightly from my initial decision, I sided with the Vikings and they became my faction throughout the beta. Although I could change hero, I stuck with my Viking raider mostly because I enjoyed swinging my mighty axe at people and once I got the hang of it, I didn’t fair too badly. The samurai and knights were also quite fun to play and you can unlock more warriors who bring different skills and weapons to the fray. You can customise your characters through clothing, emblems, tattoos and of course gear which allows you to bring a more personal touch to them seeing as you need to bring out their personality on the battlefield. That may sound sarcastic, but I did actually enjoy working out if I wanted runes tattooed on my female raiders torso or whether purple and green worked well with with helm I was stuck with.
Overall, I did enjoy the combat style and if you keep playing you get the hang of it after a few matches which will benefit you in the long run. The graphics were pretty crisp, the attention to detail is great and I did find it visually pleasing, even down to the light reflecting off my bloody body as someone drove their sword through my chest. Audio wise, I would like some more gritty battle music but I may have just missed this among the clashing of swords. I think a lot of people will really enjoy this game and like The Division, more people will play as time goes on. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I’m glad Ubisoft have created a game with a more detailed combat system. Will I purchase the game based on what I have played so far? If the story mode is good, then yes, but until I know what that story mode will consist of, I personally am a little reluctant to part with my cash based solely on the multiplayer.
To see a little bit of the game play, check out the video below for a show and tell of the menus, how the combat works and how terrible I am at the game (sadly, this was not the best demonstration of my efforts).