Although the game isn’t out yet (it’s currently due to release in February 2017) Gamecritics was given some “alpha” codes to get an early hands-on. A number of features were disabled and large portions of the content were not available, but this limited slice gave a very good idea of what the full title will deliver… And it’s kind of awesome.
Essentially, the game offers three types of warriors — Vikings, Samurai and Knights. Each faction has four classes, and players can choose their favorite, leveling up each type individually based on player usage.
It was gratifying to see that no matter what warrior is chosen, it’s possible to be either male or female. As an example, below is the male Berserker.
Functionally they’re identical, and it’s noteworthy that the female model isn’t half-naked or sporting voluptuous breast armor. Although these images represent just one class, the rest are designed similarly. For a publisher who’s had some trouble representing female characters in the past, this is a huge step forward.
Beyond gender, every character model is highly customizable. Armor and outfits can be bought or earned, and new gear often gives stat boosts of various kinds. Each category shown above also has several sub-categories for further modification including material type, color, pattern, and more.
The hook to the gameplay is that it’s pure melee combat with its own unique system — players can quickly change between upper, left, or right stances with their weapons. When facing off with an enemy, it becomes a deadly dance of trying to match your opponent’s position to block their hit, while also looking for an opening for your own strike.
The types of play that were active in the alpha were a 1v1 and 2v2 duel and a 4v4 capture-point mode. All of these modes were able to be played with real people online, or with bots — another great add. It’s unconfirmed in the alpha, but For Honor is also supposed to have a full campaign (cooperative?) in addition to the multi modes.
For something called an alpha, it was in great shape. Graphics were sharp, controls were tight, and it had great presence.
Although it’s too early to say definitively, it felt like fast characters were dominating matches by being able to get their hits in quickly while larger, slower characters could deal devastating damage only if they weren’t interrupted or whiffed. Of course, a lot will rely on learning each character’s specific traits and skills, and they all had several unlockable skills with various effects.
One of my favorites was a character wielding a morning star. Basically a tank class, he could greatly increase his defense by sacrificing some speed, and could also gain health for every successful strike blocked. A large Viking character could easily pick up others and toss them off of ledges or into pits. The light ‘Warden’ Knight class could toss a firebomb and had an area-of-effect heal, and there are many more.
While PvP is a huge part of For Honor, the capture-point maps feature a central battlefield populated with random grunts. In these areas, the game feels less like Dark Souls (intense duels) and more like Dynasty Warriors (mowing down fodder).
In terms of cooperation, teamwork is usually an important part of any online multiplayer game, For Honor takes it to an extreme. Facing off against one enemy is tense, but going up against two is suicide. It’s just too hard to fend off attacks from more than one front. As such, players will need to depend on their teammates far more than in the average multiplayer title. The ‘buddy system’ is how business gets done here, and it is highly suggested to travel the maps in pairs. Lone-wolfing it isn’t going to get anyone very far, guaranteed.
The final release is still a few months away, but For Honor already looks and feels fantastic, and the final version is only going to offer more content and feel even more polished. February’s going to be an intense month!
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody's looking, and his favorite game of all time is a toss-up between the first Mass Effect and The Witcher 3. You can catch his written work here at GameCritics and you can hear him weekly on the @SoVideogames Podcast. Follow Brad on Twitter and Instagram at @BradGallaway, or contact him via email:
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