For Honor is an action fighting game hybrid released in February on PC, XBOX One, and PS4, made by Ubisoft (I know, I know, put down the pitchorks). In this video game equivalent of Deadliest Warrior, we see three factions--Knights, Viking, and Samurai--fighting for control of territory. Aside from the factions, characters are broken down further into classes: Vanguard, Heavy, Assassin, and Hybrid. If you're on PC, the game will require Uplay and a Uplay account, regardless of where you purchase it or what you use to launch it (Okay, maybe pick the pitchforks up a little).
The Warden is a straightforward, easy to learn vanguard, but like other simple classes, that doesn’t mean he is useless. His top light has a counter-attack property, letting him intercept a vertical attack and deliver a crushing blow of his own. His top light also leads to a second guaranteed light if it lands. The Warden’s zone attack is a quick right swing with a wide arc. Opponents have to choose to block it or the double top light. In addition, the Warden possess an unblockable shoulder charge. The distance can be increased by charging it. When it hits, the charge leaves his opponent unsteady, allowing either the double top light or a heavy attack. If the warden uses the light attacks, he can immediately begin another shoulder charge. In addition, the charge can be cancelled early by a guard break instead. Dodging beats the charge, but guard break beats the dodge. This rock paper scissors makes the vortex very difficult to escape for some classes. Try an immediate light attack, if you’re lucky it will interrupt the vortex.
In a game with strong defense, the heavy Conqueror is king. His shield staggers opponents when he blocks, interrupting combos regardless of the attack thrown. The conqueror has an allblock stance, allowing him to block attacks from any direction. His zone attack is easily the worst of all characters, and the Season 3 patch managed to actually make it worse by shrinking the radius. His heavy attacks also have superior block on the beginning frames, allowing him to block an attack and attack at the same time. His light attack chain is infinite, provided he changes direction after each attack. The danger of the Conqueror comes from his shield bash. The bash itself is unblockable, and drains stamina when it hits, but it also leads into a heavy attack that can combo back to the shield bash, rinse and repeat. The bash can be dodged, and the heavy attack can be blocked, but if the conqueror manages to vortex you in a corner, you are in for a real bad time. Avoid environmental hazards when fighting a Conq.
I hate the Peacekeeper. Always have, always will. An assassin, her light attacks are dangerously fast. She has a sidestep heavy attack that allows her to dance around your attacks and deal damage. Her guard break can apply up to three stacks of poison. All assassins have what is referred to as a Reactive Guard. Where other classes can set the direction of their guard and it will remain, assassin’s guard remain only a few seconds before needing to be reset. To Compensate, all assassins can dodge into an attack, an action called a deflect. Each assassin has different follow-up options. For the Peacekeeper, whenever she deflects, she can drive her sword into the enemy, causing them to bleed. It is not unusual to die from dots while the Peacekeeper does her damndest to make sure you can’t get within twenty feet of her. It is really annoying. Fuck Peacekeeper.
A hybrid that was very weak on release, changes have seen the Lawbringer come into his own. Ostensibly a counter-attacker, the Lawbringer has numerous combos built around his shove attack. The shove can be initiated after a dash, or, more importantly, after blocking any attack. This ability to immediately go on the offensive after blocking an attack is unique to the Lawbringer, and the options for combos out of the shove are varied, making the response a 50\50 at best. If he decides to parry an attack, he can follow with an unbreakable attack or an impale that pushes you backwards pretty far. Like the Conq, avoid the environment when engaging a Lawbringer.
One of two classes released with the opening of Season 2, the hybrid Centurion is arguably the best class in the game. His attacks are fast, combo well, and are littered generously with unblockables and stuns. If you have your back to the wall, be wary. The Centurion can and will 100-0 you if he gets an opening. The best way to fight is to do your damndest to stay calm and get a parry in. Watch for opportunities to counter-gb in his combos.
Released with Season 3, the Gladiator is a newcomer on the scene. He is quick, and his trident lets him range many other classes. He has a toe stab that can be used to deal a small amount of damage, but should the opponent be out of stamina, it sends them to the ground, open for a heavy attack. If the opponent is not quick on the draw, this can be done repeatedly; most classes will be at critical health by the time their stamina returns. As well, after a heavy or light attack, the Gladiator can skewer the enemy with his trident. If a Gladiator manages to deflect, he can skewer then as well. This causes the enemy to bleed. The move can be cut short by throwing the enemy in a direction, causing a smaller bleed, but if they bounce against the wall or fall down because they are out of stamina, they are open to a heavy attack. They can release a quick light attack on a dash, or strike their enemy with their shield and follow with a heavy. Both the skewer and toe stab can be inserted into combos at enemy time, make them very intensive mix-up specialists.
Like the Lawbringer, the Raider started in a poor spot. Now he is a top tier power on the battlefield. His zone is an unblockable attack with a wide arc and surprising forward reach that deals more damage when it is used in a combo. Every heavy attack, including his zone, can be quickly turned into a top light attack that stuns. This ability to change the heavy to a stunning tap is available so late in the animation, the window to react to it might literally be beyond some people’s reaction speed, turning the encounter into a series of guessing games and 50\50s.
Heavy attacks have superior armor, light attacks have superior block, the Warlord can be a hassle to deal with. Their throw has massive range on it, allowing them to pin you to a wall easily. He also has an allbock stance with superior block properties. The only good news is that their damage is on the very low side. Nevertheless, the sheer range of tools puts them towards the top of ability.
The Berserker is a class that has long been in need of some love. Focused on unrelenting attacks, the Berserker has an infinite chain of alternating heavy and light attacks. Sadly, blocked lights immediately stagger and interrupt combos, making it hard for him to keep momentum. At release, after four consecutive attacks the Berserker gained superior armor. That has since been reduced to two attacks, helping him build pressure. But the Berserker has no tools to open up a target. A defensive player that won’t give you an opening is almost impossible to effectively fight. Feints are your only option. Like all assassins, the Berserker posses both reactive block and deflect. The Berserker deflect is easily the best in the game. When a Berserker deflects, they guard break the opponent. This is at least one guaranteed heavy attack, however, it can be a finisher depending on the opponent’s stamina. See, the Berserker’s forward throw is a brutal punch to the chest that deals stamina damage. If the enemy is out of stamina, this knocks down and allows the Berserker to land a side heavy top heavy combo unopposed for anywhere from 60-90% of an opponent’s health. Their zone is a quick to release four strike spin that can be used as an initiator.
The Valkyrie has fallen out of favor lately. A hybrid with a healthy dose of mixups, knockdowns, unblockables and fakeouts, she is subject to severe punishment should her attacks miss. Learn how to dodge her sweeping strike and she will be hard pressed to topple you.
The second hero released for Season 3, the Highlander is a curious break from other classes on a fundamental level. The Highlander possesses two stances: offensive and defensive. His stance is defensive by default, but if he holds his heavy attack, he transitions to offensive. His guard break turns into a devastating kick. Releasing the attack results in an unblockable attack before reverting back to defensive stance. Most attacks have superior armor, and light attacks have a crushing counter attack. In offensive, he cannot block, parry, or guard break.
Kensei is a class built around mindgames. If you don’t like feints, false attacks, or fishing, don’t play Kensei. Her combo finisher, any of them, can be released by an unblockable top heavy. More than that, this attack can be soft feinted into side lights or side heavies. These soft feints, the heavies at least, have superior armor. Her light attacks are quick, and she has deceptive range, even with how absurdly large the nodachi she wields is. The key is knowing when to feint and when to let fly.
The Shugoki was home to a very unpleasant exploit that allowed him to unleash a charged heavy attack. Not only would this land before the animation actually completed, making it impossible to parry, it would also strike twice. Since he is built around being impossibly slow and hitting hard, this would instantly kill most other classes. The bug has thankfully been fixed, so Shugoki players have to fight properly now. How they do this is based around mostly light attacks and headbutts. Guard breaks near walls allow them to charge and grab an enemy, dealing significant damage and, for some reason, healing the Shugoki. If the Shugoki is at critical life, this grab is an instant kill. This move has downsides though, missing will heavily damage himself. They have innate superior armor. This armor is removed when hit, and reactivates after approximately three seconds. It will take two strikes in rapid succession to stagger a Shugoki. Don’t let off the pressure if you get the opening.
Originally a plague, the Orochi has lost favor due to Raider and Lawbringer changes, as well as the introduction of the Centurion last season. Those that have stuck with Orochi can be difficult to handle at the best of times. Quick dodges, very fast lights, and one of the best zone attacks in the game, fighting Orochi can be tricky. They attack either from top or right, the problem is the time to react to an attack they throw out is minimal. The upside is their reactive armor, and their deflect is the weakest in the game, leading to an unblockable light or an unblockable heavy that can be dodged, and leaves them vulnerable to damage during the animation.
These ladies might be the worst to fight, behind Centurions. Their naginata have massive reach, and they naturally stumble further back than other classes when parried. This means that, unless you have one against a wall, a guard break after parrying is usually not an option. They can also backstep after blocking an attack. Their Hidden Stance allows them to completely dodge an attack while standing still. With numerous poisons, and a passive that ups their damage against poisoned targets, getting the better of a Nobushi will almost always be a real test of skill and patience.
Released alongside the Centurion with Season 2, the Shinobi is, well, interesting. Their Kama allow for some ranged attacks, and even ranged guard breaks. They have a double dash, and an acceptable deflect that can poison the enemy. They are middling most of the time, though a good Shinobi can keep you off balance long enough to kill you without taking damage. This is countered by the fact they have some of the lowest health in the game. Landing a heavy attack can easily take a third of their life. Sidestep the double dash kick and punish.
Each of the original 12 characters can be played immediately. However, to earn loot and Rep progress, they must be purchased for Steel, I believe at around 5k per class. Steel is gained from finishing matches and orders, or can be purchased for cash. I don’t know how the DLC characters work exactly, since I have the season pass so I already own them. I do know that their unlock price is 15k steel each, but I don’t know if you can play them without doing so, like the base classes.
Domination will likely be one of the three game modes you play extensively. A 4v4 setup, the goal of domination is to reach 1000 points and kill the enemy team a final time. Three locations on the map can be captured, doing so gives a 100 point boost as long as you hold a location, and +1 points per second while held. If a member of the holding team remains at the location, this increases to +2 per second. Caps are laid out mostly the same throughout the maps, with one near each spawn and a central cap to contest. This center cap has mooks that spawn. Unlike other caps, the center requires you to kill all opposing mooks. Once your minions have pushed about halfway through the point it will flip to you. Remaining does not boost the rate like the other caps. Each mook killed grants +1 points. Player kills give you +5. After you reach 1000 points, the enemy team will break. Respawns for broken teams are disabled. Kill the broken team and the round is over.
Elimination is a 4v4 version of Duel with buffs thrown each. Member of each time face off in isolated 1v1 duels across the map. Sometimes it is a series of 1v1 duels until a single person remains standing. Other times teams break from their opponent and look for ganks instead. Other times, teams come together and have a big melee. Killing the enemy team wins a round, best of 5. Rarely played, usually only when daily challenges roll for elim, and even then almost always against AI.
Elimination with a twist of Domination. Your goal is to reach 1000 points and kill the enemy team, like Domination. However, there are no capture points in Skirmish. All points come from killing mooks and players. Points earned for doing so are raised. Like Elimination, rarely played, and mostly against AI.
Two warriors enter, one leaves. Duel is the second game mode you will be likely to play. A best of 5, it takes place on modified sections of the maps. Routes in and out of areas will be blocked off, and most environmental hazards will be removed, except for ledges.
The final of three modes you will probably be playing, it is Duel, but 2v2. Same maps as Duel, though environmental hazards are added back in.
Story Mode! Co-op! Daubeny! Has collectibles for decorating your multiplayer classes.
Multiplayer battles take place on the Faction Map. Seasons are broken into five rounds, with the winner of a round determined by who owns the most territory, and the season by who won most rounds. A season lasts 10 weeks, with each round lasting 2 weeks. Territory is updated every eight hours. This is mostly forgettable window dressing. You can place your war banner on a contested piece of territory and then just forget about it. It, however, does have an affect on what maps and variants you place, as each will have different mooks, time of day, and weather, based on who controls that territory at the time.
For Honor has some great customization options. Each class will have three armor pieces (Head, Arms, Chest) and three weapon pieces (Blade, Handle, Shield/Offhand/Pommel/Guard). The looks can vary wildly within a single class, from ornate and intricate golden laced axe heads, to rusted, dull, chipped iron bearded axes. There are also colors on outfits to change, plus paint patterns, engravings, and symbols. Multiple emotes, effects (Emote effects, idle effects, and execution effects) like a giant sunbeam, even faction specific effects (Knight hellfire, Viking lightning strike, Samurai cherry blossoms). Classes have numerous executions and they can be brutally awesome.
Some of this customization has direct affect on the game itself. Health restored from executions is based on length of the animation, so choosing which two to equip actually has strategic merit. The time an enemy is considered executed and thus unable to be revived varies by execution. The gear you equip also have varying stats. These stats are disabled for Brawl and Duel. Each piece will have three stats, with bonuses and penalties following one of two patterns.
Your choice as to what you prefer. The overall level of the bonus and penalty is determined by item level. The item level available to you is determined by the reputation level of the class you are using.
Season 3 has added Legendary rank gear beginning at Rep 7.
The combat is action oriented, progression has distinct RPG mechanics, but For Honor is a fighting ass fighting game. Character effectiveness is measured in startup, I-frames, miss recovery, reach, confirms, punishes, the whole nine yards. The more hectic game modes, Dominion and Skirmish, can lean away from a lot of the technical aspect thanks to the unrestricted 4v4. Success in Duel, however, is going to take knowing your character and knowing your matchup.
For Honor has faced an uphill battle. Flicker attacks, unlock exploits, and obfuscated game logic create frustrating experiences. That being said, Ubisoft is making an effort, though admittedly at a pace that has upset many of their players. Some issues have been present since launch in February. The patch released with Season 3 was a step in the right direction, but many changes they have announced that would bring people back are still being worked on. The flicker fix, for instance, was pushed back because the change created issues in the game logic. Having said that, there is
a lot of fun to be had in the game. The animations are top fucking notch, the executions are brutal, and their emotes are some of the best I’ve seen in games (Pony Lawbringer might be the king here). Combat when the game clicks is immensely rewarding. Most classes have female and male options, with the woman actually wearing armor (Or at least equivalent clothing to males). No iron bikinis here.
Kensei, Berserker, Conqueror reworks