For Honor

For Honor is an upcoming hack-n-slash video, the closed beta for which ended over the weekend. I had the opportunity to play that closed beta for all of about twenty minutes this afternoon, and the TL;DR is: it looks like a lot of fun, but I’m still not sold on the $60.00 price tag which it will inevitably command.

What is it?

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Well… if I told you that it was Dark Souls meets Call of Duty with a little sprinkling of League of Legends for flavor, would you have any idea what i was getting at?

No?

Well, here’s some gameplay footage I captured, wherein I fail to kill anything and get kicked off a cliff for my trouble:

For Honor’s perfectly preposterous backstory appears to be that some suspiciously targeted supernatural event brought together a whole bunch of Southern Europeans, a whole bunch of Northern Europeans, and the Japanese (for some reason) in what appears to be an alternate dimension. The Europeans (both types) and Japanese immediately started killing each other, because if they didn’t it wouldn’t be much of a game, now would it?

You get to pick either the Southern/Central European Knights, the Vikings, or the Japanese. From each of these you pick from one of three classes; a well-rounded combat character, a heavier duty, defense oriented character, and a harasser. The actually goal of the game is to kill everything in sight.

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For Honor has, easily, the best melee combat engine ever produced to date. For those who don’t know, melee combat is always terrible, or at very least, was always terrible until Dark Souls waltzed in to clean up everyone’s act. For Honor takes Dark Souls’s meaty, chunky, heavy combat mechanics and turns them all up to 11. Everything is now meatier, and chunkier, and heavier – everything from the way your character moves, to the way your character holds his/her sword, to the way you execute your enemies with what he might reasonably suppose to be glee.

The game’s big selling point is, shockingly, research. Apparently the fighting styles in For Honor, which include but are not limited to:

  • Holding your greatsword by the blade and beating your opponent’s head in with the pommel
  • Barreling shoulder-first into your opponent
  • Holding your sword by the hilt in one hand and the blade in the other to more effectively block incoming attacks
  • Not using scabbards, which are apparently for pussies

are all examples of how medieval warriors actually fought.

That makes sense; combat in For Honor manages to actually look like combat, rather than the beautiful but highly choreographed ballet-with-swords we usually see in movies and TV.

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The Call of Duty comparison comes from the evident multiplayer focus. Maybe the finished game has some kind of campaign, but everything about the beta screams multiplayer focus. That’s fine, but you run into the same issues you always run into with such games – is it really worth $60.00? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on you more than the game, I think. For my own part, I think I will probably end up picking up a copy from Redbox, renting it for two weeks to the tune of $42.00, before finally caving and just outright being the thing.

2

The League of Legends thing is relatively simple: you get minions and control points.  That’s pretty much that.

So: it’s a multiplayer focused hack-and-slash which, at this point, appears to be an impressively well-executed tech demo. For people who devote many, many hours to multiplayer games, I suspect it of being a must-have. For RPG people like me, it’s fun – though it has a difficulty curve like the angle between a brick wall and the surrounding pavement, to be sure.

Why is it?

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Well, like I said: melee combat sucks, almost invariably. There’s lots of technical reason for this which I am aware of off the top of my head, which almost certainly means there are 8,000 more which would never occur to me in a million years. The bottom line, though, is that melee combat sucks.

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For Honor appears to exist specifically to put an end to the status quo, at least as far as melee combat goes. No more will we be flailing mindlessly at supermutants with all the visceral chunkiness of a small, greasy dildo. No more will we be forced to sit back and watch scripted quicktime event assassinations. Fear not, citizen, For Honor has arrived.

Did you suck a big bag of dicks when you played it?

Oh, hell yes. I got one kill, and I stole that from somebody else. That new melee combat engine Ubisoft is so proud wasn’t just a bitch to get working right; it’s a real motherfucker to learn how to use.

The old tools (mashing ○ until everything’s dead) simply don’t cut it anymore – at least not as far as For Honor’s concerned. The melee system consists mostly of blocking until the moment to strike presents itself, and For Honor has taken the novel step of requiring it’s players to match their stance to that of the enemy in order for a parry to be effective.

That’s not necessarily bad, though. Just means I’ll have to play it more, once it actually comes out.

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