|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
One of the most unexpectedly fun games that I saw at E3 2015 this year was For Honor. This was a multiplayer sword fighting game by Ubisoft, which recreates the feel of a medieval broadsword fight. It’s one part Dynasty Warriors, one part Game of Thrones one part Call of Duty, and I have come to enjoy calling it, “Super Brienne of Tarth Simulator 5000.”
You take the role of a noble knight clad in full plate armor and carrying around a gigantic two handed sword. You will have a number of different goals depending on what gameplay mode you are playing. If you are playing deathmatch, all you need to do is kill. If you are playing domination, you will have to take and hold various control points. Essentially, every mode that you would see in a normal shooter is here, except this time it’s played with swords.
As you wander the maps, which are made up of dense forests and crumbling castles, numerous peon soldiers will come to your aid. These simple soldiers will chip down your health if you allow them to, but also die to a simple swing of your sword. So if you are looking to simply earn points for your side (or to recover some health as every kill restores it a bit) you can swing your sword madly and make your way through them.
Fighting an actual player requires more finesse. When fighting against a player, you need to lock on to them, or else your blows will swing wild. While locked on, you can take one of three different stances based on what direction you press on the right analogue stick. You then use the R1 or R2 buttons to make a quick or heavy attack. If your opponent is standing in the same stance that you are, they will auto parry your swings. If a light attack gets parried, you are only at a small disadvantage, but if a heavy swing gets parried, you are left open for a very long time. Furthermore, if a light attack lands you only do a nick in your opponent’s health, meanwhile two or so heavy attacks will completely do an opponent in and even let you execute them with style. Finally, if you find an opponent that is fantastic at guarding, you can perform a guard break attack that clenches them and their blade, doing no damage but leaving them open. Of course, these attacks can be beaten out by both quick and heavy attacks.
The result is a game that knows its pacing perfectly. The reason why I said this game feels like Game of Thrones is that every sword fight has exactly that pacing. When you square off with an opponent you will circle around each other, switching stances, and testing each other with quick jabs, feeling your steel clash against theirs. Then, at just the right moment, when you see them drop their guard, you wind up your sword and land a heavy blow that slides in between their armor and cuts deep to the flesh. They are critically wounded now, barely standing on their feet, as you swing the sword around again one more time to lop their head off. Your opponent has been slain, because you had the better eyes and the better reactions.
But then there are so many other elements of the battle that are affected by these one on one fights. If you slay your opponent in the middle of an army of peons, then they will become scared, allowing you to slay them one by one easily. Slay enough and you can use killstreak style bonuses like healing, a buff to your own troops, or a called-in catapult strike.
And then there are the other players. The game is fantastic at setting up epic moments that you’d only otherwise see in a fantasy movie. Say that you are fighting against an opponent at a control point. You have traded many small blows, both of you are fatigued, and a critical error causes you to drop your guard. His blade finds your shoulder, and you lose a lot of blood, barely able to stand yourself. But as your opponent raises his sword above his head, another sword pierces him from behind, the sword of one of your allies. On the reverse side, it is nearly impossible to win a two on one fight, much less a three on one fight, but if you ever get into the zone and start parrying strikes from all directions, you feel invincible.
The big question is where the game will go from here. We only got to play one game mode, domination, and all characters controlled exactly the same way. Will For Honor include other characters, perhaps sword and shield users, archers, or pikemen? What other game modes will they develop? Ubisoft called it a multiplayer RPG. Will characters be able to level up and if so, what will leveling up grant them? Where will the game go from here.
As it stands, I would pay 10-20 dollars for For Honor, simply with the characters, map, and modes it has to offer right now, but with a little expansion and some deep thought, I would gladly drop 60 dollars or more on this game. It was easily just as fun as any Call of Duty or Battlefield, if not more. It was the game on E3 Tuesday that I wanted to come back and play again and again, in order to learn new tricks, new parries, and new attacks. I felt powerful when I lopped off my opponent’s head, storming their keep as a result. I was a knight. I was a champion, and I can’t wait to feel that rush of steel on steel again.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 26, 2015