In just two weeks For Honor will be out. Perfect timing for anyone whose Valentine’s Day plans usually revolve around wishing wanton murder on all the displays of affection that over-saturate that month. So what kind of a game is it? A scrape of the surface makes For Honor look like the bastard child of Highlander, Dynasty Warriors and the most magnificent beards in game development today.
And you wouldn’t be wrong to think that. While For Honor will ship with a single-player campaign and a multiplayer component that’s kind of like sex (beautiful between two people and fantastic between eight), it’s the more personal duels that strip the game down to a fantastic display of its rock-solid mechanics. And that’s because these duels are absolutely tense games of chess, which require some deft thumb control.
It’s not just about whacking each other broken and bloody, just in time to leave a quip from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There’s so so much more to the combat than that. Components which build on ideas pioneered in fighting games. Take Street Fighter for example, a franchise which prides itself on spacing. It’s that ability to control your zone that Street Fighter utterly excels at, with players often adapting and countering moves based on their positions within near, medium and far distances of each other.
In For Honor, that zone control is focused on up close and personal scraps, which makes complete sense in a duel. But it’s that very instant where you close the space and hammer away at your opponent that feels magical. But in the context of a three-dimensional setting, getting around your opponent is just as important as getting close to them.
Ducking, dodging and parrying are the keys to success here, but my favourite aspect of this puzzles comes from knowing my environment. The arenas of For Honor are filled with all manner of lethal pitfalls and traps, and knowing how to corner an opponent and force them into one of those traps is something that always puts a smile on my face. Hell, I’ve won most of my duels just by selecting the Raider class and using some cunning to trap my opposition and then take them for a last ride that ends with them at the bottom of a ravine.
And we’re just scratching the surface here. Even with two weeks to go, things can and will change when For Honor is released. I’m already expecting the Raider to get a serious nerf on his grapple skill, but that’s the beauty of this game. To get up close and personal, a tango de la muerte that somehow feels pure and devoid of any unnecessary distractions as you focus on what’s most important.
Which is decapitating the bastard in front of you with a flail.