For Honor Preview

Dynasty Warriors ain't got nothin' on For Honor!

Despite the fact that I do minor research on what to expect at E3 every year, I had never heard of the game, For Honor, before stepping into Ubisoft's booth. Imagine my surprise to learn that it's a third-person medieval combat game that pits teams of four players against each other in epic battles. Even better is the non-traditional combat system where patience and timing are rewarded rather than superior gear and the ability to spam attacks.

For Honor eschews the fantasy aspect of most medieval games in favor of brutal combat and semi-realistic battles. Since this game is early in the development stage, I wasn't told about the story or even if it has a single-player campaign. What I did experience, however, was lots of bloodletting in a fun online multiplayer mode that reminded me of a thinking man's version of Dynasty Warriors.

Before the battle began, I was given the lowdown on how my heavily-armored knight controlled. Pressing the guard shoulder button put my character into guard stance, which is the main stance of combat. In this stance, I can attack from the top, left, or right, and the only way for my attacks to be blocked is if my opponent blocks in the same direction. If I see the enemy blocking high, I should match this so I automatically block any of his oncoming attacks. However, the enemy could quickly switch to the left or right and inflict damage if I don't also switch to the same direction while blocking.

Basic attacks can also be made while not in blocking stance, but they inflict very little damage and are only good for killing AI-controlled peons. Other useful abilities when not in blocking stance include rolling out of the way of enemy attacks, sprinting to other locations, and calling in arrow strikes and other massive AoE attacks, which work similar to the perks in CoD. It's also possible to revive teammates during battle which comes in handy.

After the tutorial, I jumped right into Dominion mode which pits four players against four opponents and also tosses in a virtual cornucopia full of AI peons. The goal is to reach 1000 points first, and that requires controlling all three zones and slaughtering the enemy. At first we all rushed forward and met in the middle, but eventually players discovered the nuances of peeling off and taking zones by themselves or with another teammate. Wading into battle and slaying smaller enemies is very empowering, but I tried not to let it go to my head as battling real opponents was much more difficult.

At first, fighting human-controlled enemies seemed like a medieval version of rock-paper-scissors as we both tried to match each others stances to block incoming attacks. There was a lot of sword clanging as our steel blades bounced off of each other, but then I started trying to outwit my opponents by faking a stance and then quickly switch to another attack. The key is being unpredictable but also anticipating the enemy's moves. This tactic worked pretty well until another enemy rushed in and I was two-teamed to my bloody demise.

I didn't know about For Honor when I walked into Ubisoft's booth, and now it's one of my most-anticipated games. My only complaint is that I didn't get to wade into battle as a samurai!

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