For Honor E3 2016 Preview

Ned Jordan
In Short
Hands-on time with a knight and a Viking at E3 2016.
For Honor brought a pair of playable levels to E3 2016, both of which were taken from the game's single player campaign. The first mission put you in the role of a knight, the same class of warrior that was playable in E3 2015's demo of the game's multiplayer mode. The mission was probably taken from early in the game because it began with an introduction to the unique combat system the game uses to simulate sword fighting. When facing another knight, pulling the left trigger locks your focus on your enemy ' it's like squaring off against an opponent in the midst of battle. With the trigger depressed you will continue to face your opponent as the two of you move back and forth or circle each other looking for an opening to make an attack. While locked in a duel, you'll use the left stick to maneuver and the right stick to both defend yourself and direct your sword when you make an attack. It's important to remember that your sword is your shield because you'll need to use it to guard against strikes by your foe. Strikes can come from one of three directions, from either side directed at your left or right flank or from overhead directed at your head. Moving the right stick in one of these three directions will cause you to hold your sword in a guard position and deflect attacks coming from the selected direction. Conversely your enemy will be guarding himself from strikes from one of these directions and you'll need to direct your attacks to avoid his guard. When you strike you have your choice of doing a light or heavy attack. The light attack is a quicker attack, so it's harder for your foe to anticipate and react to block it. The heavy attack takes longer to unleash and gives your opponent a little more time to react to it, but it is far more devastating a strike when it hits home. There are also additional offensive and defensive moves. If you can't seem to break your opponent's guard but can manage to get in close, you can make a charge in an attempt to knock him off balance. Look for a good moment to use this maneuver, because if your opponent is backed up against a fire or some spikes, you can push him right into the trap. On the defensive side, if your opponent has the upper hand or has backed you into a corner, then you can attempt to do a dodge move and put some much needed space between you and your foe. Finally, if you best your foe, you'll have the chance to unleash an execution move if your timing is right. Pull off the execution and you'll dispatch your enemy in a particularly impressive manner and restore some of your health as a bonus.

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These fights require as much strategy as they do good reactions, so For Honor is in no way a hack-and-slash game. Go into a fight mashing buttons and you'll soon find yourself dead. There's a certain degree of tension each time you face an opponent and each victory will feel earned. Even more tense are the moments when you find yourself outnumbered. You'll have to watch both foes and be ready to guard against attacks that can come from a couple of different directions, and when you attack one enemy you'll need to be careful not to open yourself up to attack from the other. And while it may not be particularly honorable, you can look for an enemy engaged with one of your knights and deal a heavy blow from behind. All's fair in love and war, right?

Now back to the first mission, which opens with a castle under siege, takes you through a couple of early fights to teach you the game's controls, and then leaves you to lead the fight in defending the castle. As you slice your way through enemy foot soldiers you'll need to keep an eye out for the knights in their midst since they are the real threat. You'll have allied knights fighting along with you, too, so you'll have some help with those enemy knights. I don't want to tell you much more about this mission, though, as it culminates in a duel that looks to have major connotations for the story, and nobody likes stealth spoilers in their previews.

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The second mission involves some role reversal as you are now a part of an invasion force laying siege to a castle. This mission also gave me a chance to experience the other factions in the game as it had me playing as a Viking landing on the beach at the foot of a samurai castle. The lead in to this mission is pretty epic, and made me feel like I was watching an 11th Century version of the D-Day landings.

The Vikings and samurai aren't simply re-skinned knights, though, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. The Vikings carry heavier weapons that take more time and effort to use. A Viking feels more lumbering than a knight, but when a Viking lands a hit on an enemy it packs quite a wallop. The samurai are the opposite - swift attackers who rely on their speed to land a lot of hits. They're the weakest of the three factions, though, so they need to strike fast and often while avoiding enemy attacks as much as possible. Fighting as a Viking against samurai had a different dynamic than the knight-on-knight battles of the first mission. It was challenging trying to block samurai attacks because they came in quickly and the samurai were adept at constantly switching the direction of their attacks. The samurai certainly know how to take advantage of the vikings' slow speed to keep them on the defensive and on their heels. As a Viking warrior, I had to do my best to block a flurry of attacks, while patiently watching for an opening that would allow me to bring my massive weapon to bear. The Viking mission had a number of objectives to accomplish, with the ultimate goal of opening the gates to the fortress to let your allies through to storm the castle. Accomplish this and your reward is a one-on-one battle with the shogun warlord who rules the castle.

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For Honor is one of the games that I feel stood out from the crowd at E3 2016. After my hands-on time with the game I found myself wishing that I was able to spend more time with it. Each battle with an enemy knight or samurai felt like a chess match as well as a fight, and each victory felt earned. I not only outfought my opponents, I out-thought them as well. Even though I only had a small glimpse of the game, I'm really looking forward to seeing what For Honor will have in store for gamers when it is released in February 2017.

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Transmitted: 2/22/2024 3:04:07 PM