One of the most unique games we’ve seen in quite some time is coming early next year, and it’s set to reshape how we think of the terms hack ‘n slash: For Honor. The upcoming Ubisoft title isn’t quite like anything else that’s been released. The team from Ubisoft has released a new trailer from gamescom that introduces players to each of the game’s three factions. You’ll be put into the shoes of a Knight, Viking warrior, or Samurai, then thrown into single combat against other melee-equipped warriors. These aren’t your father’s melee battles though, as your true challenge in For Honor lies in its three-way “stance” system.
It works like this: When you face off against an opponent, you both choose a stance – high, right, or left. If you attack from the right and your opponent is in their right stance, they’ll block your attack (and vice versa). In other words, combat is about anticipating your enemy’s stances, changes, and attack timings, then moving your stances to block and quickly counterattack in a different stance. The fights take place against the backdrop of a larger battle, whether it be a castle siege or open warfare on a field, but they’re all about mano-a-mano contests.
We recently had the chance to play a sample level of For Honor as a knight taking on a rival group of knights who were storming his castle. Knight versus knight felt, expectedly, balanced – with the player’s character able to exert his advantage mostly through health pickups and his ability to “block break” opponents (knock down an opponent’s block, regardless of stance). While the cannon fodder enemies sport wooden shields, single combat was always a matter of two-handed swords, with warriors using speed and observation to overcome their opponents.
For Honor looks excellent, with detailed armor rendered in a variety of period styles, and a clear sense of pastiche (that is, a blending of elements from different eras to make a new whole). Battles move seamlessly from one challenge to the next, with no loading times. Background events occur all around players during fights, keeping the adrenaline levels high.
The detailed combat scheme in For Honor does a great job of making you feel like a true, sword-wielding tough guy. Weapon blows feel heavy and powerful, and enemies can be brought to their knees – literally – with the right kinds of combos.
We’re psyched to check out For Honor’s progress throughout the rest of this year, leading up to its release on February 14, 2017 (Valentine’s Day!) on Xbox One.