Ubisoft revealed its new historical hack ‘n’ slash title For Honor during last year’s E3, and reception from the community was resoundingly positive. The game promised a unique tone compared to other similar properties by demanding players be tactical and precise with each strike, where out-thinking your opponents instead of just smashing buttons to slaughter massive waves of enemies all at once is the path to victory. The game debuted with its competitive multiplayer on display, but at this year’s E3, Ubisoft showed off the game’s single-player for all to see.
The core design of For Honor is built around fighting one adversary at a time. Players can run in swinging their weapon around, but this is a fast way to be skewered on the sword of some of the more formidable enemies. The better strategy is to take on a guard stance, parrying incoming blows (by using the analog stick to block in the direction from which the attack is incoming) while trying to land your own hits on your foe’s undefended areas. It is a clever system of rock-paper-scissors that suites the competitive nature of multiplayer, but the single-player experience gives the combat a rather different feel.
The single-player mission available on the show floor took me on the quest of a knight, one of the three warrior factions that make up the ranks of For Honor, each with varying speed and damage. The primary threats in the game’s missions essentially operate as AI-controlled player characters, with waves of enemy grunts to serve as cannon-fodder and an occasional Warden offering a steeper challenge. Unfortunately, here is something about outwitting another person in the systematic duel combat of multiplayer that gets lost in the single-player. The demo occasionally threw two or three of the tougher enemies at me, but the guard stance only targets one enemy at a time, and using unlocked sweeping attacks on enemies that can block you only works about as often as a coin toss. This left me baiting them along in a manner that allowed me to fight them one-on-one, which quickly began to feel routine.
The competitive element truly feels like the driving force in For Honor, and while the single-player may seem to lack this, it is not to say a solo side of the experience is unwelcome. The demo admittedly became repetitious, but it can be saved if the final game doesn’t solely rely on isolated skirmishes to carry players through the entire campaign. Fans will be able to see the conclusion of this themselves when For Honor launches on February 14th, 2017, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.