For Honor is a medieval melee-based action title that's set in a land totally ruined by a natural disaster - its people left to fight for their survival. This is where three warriors come across one pool of water, and although they could share it, a brawl ensues because of pure greed. These initial three fighters go on to form the three factions in the game: Vikings, Knights, and Samurai. It's a simple but effective backstory, and definitely reflects the way of the world, as the factions battle over resources to ensure their continued survival.
The conflict between Vikings, Knights, and Samurai is the main focus of the game, and it actually presents you with a message that seems relevant with today's war-torn parts of the world. In the recent For Honor alpha, there were three classes to choose from for each battle, coming equipped with different weapons and varying styles of play, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
On top of that, there were three modes that we got to try out: Duel (1v1), Brawl (2v2), and Dominion (4v4). Duel and Brawl are pretty self-explanatory, as the goal is to simply notch up three wins in consecutive fights to the death. Dominion on the other hand is very different, with two armies and four players per side facing off against each other; the aim is to capture certain points on the map and hold them from the opposition. You then have to whittle down the opposition's numbers until they're beyond regrouping. The team that first reaches 1000 points are crowned the champions.
Our favourite mode by far, though, was actually Duel, as we felt that the combat really excelled in a simple battle with just the one enemy to focus on. It was certainly very satisfying to outsmart our opponent, whether it was by dodge rolling out of the way as they charged straight off a cliff, or perfectly parrying their attacks.
Speaking of which, For Honor has a rather complex combat system. When facing off against an opponent, you will first have to lock on using the left trigger, and this must be kept held down to stay fixated on your foe throughout the entire battle. You'll then have to try and match your stance to your enemy's to ensure that your guard stays up so that they can't land any of their attacks. This is achieved by pointing the right analogue stick in one of three directions, up, left, or right depending on where the crushing blow is coming from. In the midst of all this, you also need to be looking for openings in your opponents defences, so that you can swap stance and get in either a quick or heavy attack depending on how big an opening it is. And as if that wasn't enough, you also need to consider your sprint attack, dodge roll, and even guard-breaks.
We really ended up enjoying the combat, especially the rock-paper-scissors-like stance system. That said, at first, it may feel as though there are a touch too many options to take into consideration, which potentially makes battles seem difficult to wrap your head around. We experimented with several different approaches - charging at our opponent, blocking as often as possible, dodge rolling out of the way - and although none were particularly effective over the another, our eventual tactics all depended on our opponent's style of play and class that they picked. In short, this is clearly a relatively deep system that you're going to have to get used to.
Overall we were left very impressed by For Honor, even in its alpha form. It's got a solid combat system - even if it'll take time to adapt to its complexity - plenty of variety in modes, and based on what we've played, the potential to be a major hit when it launches in February next year.
What are your thoughts on For Honor? Did you play the alpha? Grab a weapon and meet us in the comments section below.