E3 2015: Fighting For Honor In Medieval Times
The current vibe in the world of video games is all about the shooter genre. First-person or third-person doesn't matter much so long as there's high action and a lot of bullets and explosions. A small team at Ubisoft Montreal realized that gun combat isn't the only type of combat out there, creating the medieval sword-based world of For Honor and unleashing it on the unsuspecting masses at E3 2015. I got my hands on a demo of the game while at Ubisoft's booth, and I'm ready to put down my gun and take arms with a sword.
The basic principle of For Honor centers around three factions: the samurai warriors of The Chosen, the powerful Vikings of the Warborn, and the adept knights of The Legions. Each faction has its own fighting style that it uses against the other factions in battle, though each one is controlled is basically the same fashion. A brief tutorial instructed us on how to play, showing us the focus on sword placement when attacking a foe. Swords can be held either above the fighter's head or at either side before swinging, but if the opponent is holding his sword in the same place the attack will be countered. This creates a rock-paper-scissors approach to each confrontation, and I better hope I always come out on top. Once a player is defeated he or she can be spectacularly dispatched via Execution moves, each one more satisfying than the last.
The mode we played in this demo was called Dominion, essentially Territories from other multiplayer games, where teams were tasked with capturing and controlling three distinct areas on a map while also killing enemies. Each kill registered a point, capturing an area counted for 150, and the first to 1000 started the victory sequence. However, losing a conquered territory would deduct 150 points, so captured points needed to stay captured.
Did you notice above how I said 1000 points "started the victory sequence?" 1000 points doesn't not guarantee victory in For Honor, it merely keeps the other team from respawning after being killed. The team with 1000 points must then eliminate every opposing human player on the battlefield before true victory is achieved. This new wrinkle surprised a lot of the players I had joined in my demo, as everyone thought that 1000 points meant the end of the match. For Honor is bucking all of the multiplayer trends.
This interesting multiplayer format resulted in a match that started out tense and only gained momentum as it continued. Once our team reached 1000 points we made sure to keep every territory we had on lockdown, even getting the opposing team down to one fighter remaining, but that last kill proved to be an elusive one and he was able to capture a territory back for his team, bringing us under 1000 and bringing back his teammates.
I've never played a game with that type of multiplayer scenario before, but I truly enjoyed what I was able to do with For Honor. The sword fighting mechanics are an ingenious method of making an ordinary sword battle feel fresh, as the added directional mechanics means I have to plan my attacks even more carefully than usual. The map sprawled out in front of me with NPC soldiers and enemy players filling my vision, which made jumping into the heat of battle very exhilarating. Best of all this is a unique and different concept, one I've never played anything like before, and it's ideas like this that will keep the entire industry moving forward with varied game experiences in the future.
For Honor is not your typical multiplayer game, but it's still a ton of fun. I hope that many of you out there will give the sword a try at least for a little while; I bet you'll be mighty impressed with it.
For Honor slices its way to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC in 2016.