For Honor: Ubisoft Brings a Surprisingly Deep Experience to Melee Combat


By: John Hartzog
This weekend saw the open-beta of Ubisoft’s new title, For Honor, become available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. This engaging multiplayer game finds you in the boots of a knight, samurai, or viking warrior, each with their own distinct move set and abilities, fighting it out for the control of various territories. Ubisoft had nine of the twelve classes available to play during the open-beta test. One Vanguard Hero, a sort of jack-of-all-trades, was available for each faction along with two more specialized units. Each of these units has a unique play style along with For Honor’s progression and customization system, there is plenty to keep you busy. That being said, I played quite a bit of For Honor this weekend and wanted to give a first impression of each of these long forgotten warriors.


The Knights of For Honor are versatile, sporting a good mix of defense with their armor, but at the same time being capable of dishing out brutal combos. Three classes available during the beta were the Warden, the Conqueror, and the Peacekeeper.


The Warden is the Vanguard Hero for the Knights. Wardens wear heavy armor and traverse the battlefield with a two-handed sword that they use with skill precision. I find that Warden is at its best when utilizing light attacks. For example, light attack when tapped twice opens up a guaranteed two strike combo (if the first lands). Also, a light attack after blocking a top attack initiates an unblockable counter. Finally, the Vanguard has access to a shoulder tackle that can be used after a dodge to guard break or charged for a greater knockback effect.


If a good defense is the best offense, the Conqueror might be for you. Sporting a spiked flail and shield, the Conqueror sports a superior defense with crushing counters and heavy combos. The Conqueror can charge his heavy attack by holding down the right trigger; this allows him to wind-up his flail at the cost of stamina, releasing this wind-up after a successful block is a great counter-strike to deal damage. The Conqueror’s light attack chain, Conscript’s Attrition, can start an infinite chain – just be sure to continuously switch guard stances to throw your opponent off and attack faster. I personally love throwing a heavy attack on at the end to cap a long chain for extra damage. By pressing back, the Conqueror can enter a perfect defense stance that blocks attacks from all incoming directions, however at the cost of stamina. You’ll want to use this while holding a point from multiple opponents.


The Peacekeeper is the silent assassin of the knight faction, sporting fewer defenses and range than the other knights; you’ll find this hero very mobile and swift. This class sports swift strikes and combos that add a bleed effect. If you’re as lucky as I was, you’ll take three quick stabs to the abdomen – and won’t last long afterwards as the bleed effect eats away your health. Timing is important with this class as your defense is only up for a short time, allowing a brief window to block and parry compared to the other classes. However, leaning on your mobility will allow you to swiftly sidestep and strike back. It wasn’t my best class but I was bested by them quite a bit in duels.


The Vikings are a brutal faction capable of tossing knights and samurai around on the battlefield, taking advantage of For Honor’s environmental kills. The Viking classes are Raider, Warlord, and Berserker.


The Raider is the vanguard class of the Vikings, being the easy pick-up and play hero. Raiders sport large two-handed axes and use them to great efficiency by stunning their opponents with taps and controlling their opponent with brutal guard breaks and throws. I had the most fun with this class, as raiders guard break can carry an enemy across the battlefield into a wall or drop them over an edge. Their large axe also makes them great against large groups making him a main-stay at point B on Dominion mode.


Warlords are similar to the Knights Conqueror class as they sport a sword and board. They excel in counter attacks, placing you on the defensive, but are fully capable of striking back once an opening appears. Pressing back will place you into the same full-guard stance, allowing you block from any direction. Additionally, you can initiate a board and blade swipe plus an unblockable head-butt attack, giving this stance more offensive options than the Conqueror has when in full-guard mode.


The Berserker class has dual-wield axes with savage precision coming alive in combat. Berserkers are insanely fast, capable of swiftly attacking with side-stepping attacks. With some practice, I found myself capable of initiating infinite chains – making short work of even the toughest opponent. While technically an assassin style class, Berserkers rely on their dancing double axes instead of bleed effects to end battles quickly – sometimes preventing an enemy from recovering from a mistake.


The Samurai faction is a heavily skilled based with its’ classes having multiple chain attacks compared to the Knights and Vikings. The samurai classes are Kensei, Nobushi, and the frustrating to face: Orochi.


Kensei is the vanguard class of the samurai faction. The Kensei are slow: wielding two-handed katana blades, but provides players with lots of versatility. I found the Kensei to have the most chain attacks and longest range of any vanguard class. The most interesting part of the Kensei’s move set is the capability to cancel its overhead finisher into a side strike blow. This throws off opponents guard, thinking you’re coming in with a top strike before switching it up with a side attack.


Nobushi are considered a hybrid-class with a long range pike, capable of applying a powerful bleed effect. Maintaining your range from combatants is the key to success when playing as the Nobushi – staying out of their range allows you to strike and apply bleeding blows without endangering yourself. Pressing dodge after an attack will allow yourself to keep your distance, while entering a hidden stance will make your guard direction undetectable for a brief period. Harassing targets and maintaining control of zones put the Nobushi’s long staff to excellent use and makes her a formidable sparring partner.


The Orochi is probably the most popular class that I saw during the beta – I found myself encountering whole teams of Orochi’s during Dominion mode… and for good reason. They are utter powerhouses who are a force to reckon with during matches. The Orochi is an agile character that leans heavily on dodging instead of guarding. Dodging left/right will launch a counter attack, inflicting decent damage. While dodging backwards, the Orochi can perform a dashing strike. In addition, this hero can dodge while recovering from their previous attack – allowing them to further harass you to an infuriating degree.

For Honor is an engaging take on melee combat bringing an accessible system to third-party melee while providing a depth of complexity found in most fighting games. Each class feels unique and allows everyone to find a hero that suits their play style. Ubisoft has brought glory and honor to the House of Montreal for sure. For Honor is now available for purchase.

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