Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Hands-on: ‘For Honor’

'For Honor' masters the art of the duel

For Honor is the most engrossing game of rock-paper-scissors you’ve ever played. Developer Ubisoft Montreal’s upcoming hack-and-slasher manages to make one-on-one combat thoughtful and intense, even against an AI opponent.

Following in the tradition of large-scale action games like Dynasty Warriors, players control a knight, viking, or samurai who leads an army through a massive battle, alternating between fighting hordes of weak foot soldiers, and one-and-one duels with enemy commanders. Though Ubisoft kept mum on how heraldic knights, vikings, and samurai would wind up squaring off against one another, they did say the campaign would feature sub-campaigns for each of the three factions. (I can’t be certain, but the structure sounded like the three-parts would tell different acts of a single story from the various sides’ perspective, a la Starcraft.)

That said, based on the cutscenes from the pair of modified single-player levels the developer showed us, it’s safe to say that the historical accuracy and narrative cohesion will both take a back seat to making excuses for cool swordfights.

As you might expect, it’s those one-on-one duels that make the game stand out. When players run across an advanced opponent, you simply press a button to engage them, triggering a Zelda-esque lock-on system, which facilitates tense circling and other strategic movements. Once engaged, players can set one of three stances: left, right, or high. Your stance determines what direction you’ll swing your weapon, as well as what direction you’ll guard against. In other words, you need to match the direction to parry your opponents strike, and hit them in a different direction. When attacking, players can choose to use quick strikes, which are hard to parry, or heavy attacks that do more damage.

For Honor screenshot
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Both players can swap stances until the last possible second, so it’s possible for attackers to feint, and defenders to overthink and move out of position based on the angle of a strike. What’s more, while an indicator always showed what “direction” your opponent was using, some fighters’ actual stances did not correspond to left, right, and high. A samurai with a long katana, for example, pointed his sword straight in the air in his “right” stance. It’s a game that requires many short bursts of intense concentration, which can become surprisingly challenging to sustain.

In addition to the actual weapons, you can also grapple with your enemies, throwing them backward and disrupting their defensive stances. Some characters will have modified abilities. When playing as a large viking “raider,” grabbing an enemy on the run would allow you to ram them into a wall. And if that wall is covered in spikes, or is a ledge that your opponent can get flipped over, so much the better.

If things feel like they’re getting too hairy — maybe you just barely won your last duel — players can find power-ups in every level to give them an advantage. The power-ups, which you can use immediately or stash until you’re in a really tough spot, range from healing, strength, and armor bonuses, to a catapult strike. While some power-ups will fall along the level’s main path, you can expect that the more powerful ones will be hidden away.

Though duels rule the day, there are other moments where your expertise can turn the tide of battle. In a level where players must defend a castle from a siege, players have to help their army repel waves of enemies, a mix of duelists and footmen, to staunch their flow into the castle. In the second level, where a viking army invaded a Japanese castle, players had to help a wall of shield-bearing soldiers push the combat line across a large courtyard.

It’s clear that For Honor isn’t going to change the way we think about video games, even within the altogether-rote category of repetitive action titles: However, in mastering a single type of gameplay within its limits, it may have carved itself out a compelling niche.

For Honor arrives on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on February 14, 2017.

Pre-Order on Amazon

Topics
Mike Epstein
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Michael is a New York-based tech and culture reporter, and a graduate of Northwestwern University’s Medill School of…
Nintendo confirms that it won’t be part of E3 2023
Pikmin and Bulborb in Pikmin 4.

Nintendo has confirmed reports that it won't be participating in E3 2023, meaning the gaming trade show will be missing one of its key vendors when it returns in-person this June.
"We approach our involvement in any event on a case-by-case basis and are always considering various ways to engage with our fans," a Nintendo spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. "Since this year’s E3 show didn’t fit into our plans, we have made the decision to not participate. However, we have been and continue to be a strong supporter of the ESA [Entertainment Software Association] and E3."
After taking 2020 and 2022 off and being digital-only in 2021, this year was supposed to mark the grand return of E3, which was once a dominant game industry trade show that attracted every big video game company. Although Sony hasn't participated since 2019, it still came as a shock in January when IGN reported that both Nintendo and Microsoft would not be attending E3 this year as well. It appears that the report is true, as Microsoft has not confirmed any E3-related events outside of its independently run Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase.
Nintendo skipping E3 2023 not only takes away a vendor that dominated the show floor in previous years, but also raises questions about whether or not the company will hold an exciting Nintendo Direct around then. While Nintendo typically holds a big showcase with lots of first-party game announcements around June every year, in 2022 it only held a third-party driven Partner Showcase in June. Now that we know it won't be at E3 2023, we're left to wonder when exactly then next big Nintendo Direct will be. 
E3 2023 will take place between June 13 and June 16, but don't expect Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft to have a big presence there.

Read more
Summer Game Fest returns just before E3 2023 next June
The official artwork confirming Summer Game Fest's return on June 8, 2023.

Geoff Keighley has confirmed when Summer Game Fest will return in June 2023. It will begin with a live kickoff show on June 8, 2023, placing Keighley's game announcement alternative less than a week before E3's grand (intended) 2023 return.
Unlike past years, Summer Game Fest Live Kickoff 2023 will feature a live audience, like Geoff Keighley's The Game Awards. It will take place in the YouTube Theater at Hollywood Park, with tickets going on sale in early 2023. It will still be livestreamed across platforms like YouTube and Twitch, though. It's currently unknown who's participating, how long Summer Game Fest will run afterward, or if it will feature a Summer Game Fest Play Days-like element for fans. Still, Keighley says all of that info will be revealed ahead of the event next year, teasing what people can expect. 
"In keeping with tradition, we'll have tons of exciting announcements from the developers that are pushing the games industry forward, and will once again highlight other publisher digital events, demos, and more surprises to be announced in the coming months," Keighley says in a press release. 
That June 8 start date, and the other Summer Game Fest events likely to follow, put Keighley's show just ahead of E3 2023. The ESA and ReedPop plan to bring E3 back between June 13 and June 16, 2023. With five days of lead time on E3, Summer Game Fest can coexist with the long-running gaming conference and encompass the plethora of publisher showcases that tend to precede E3.
Geoff Keighley made it clear that he wants Summer Game Fest and E3 to coexist for a while. "We've had extensive conversations with ReedPop about E3," he said in an interview with Epic Games Store. "I think it'll kind of fit together and flow kind of from what we're doing into what they're doing and stuff. E3, to me, is this kind of master brand that represents gaming news in June."
With the start date of Summer Game Fest confirmed, the coexistence of these two summer gaming events is a reality. Summer Game Fest returns on June 8, 2023.

Read more
Ubisoft and more offer ways to play purchased Google Stadia games elsewhere
The protagonist of Assassin's Creed: Valhalla shouting in battle and wielding two axes.

Google recently announced that it plans to shutter its cloud gaming service Stadia in early 2023, leaving players who used it as one of their primary platforms in an awkward situation. Google already promised to refund people for their Google Stadia hardware and software purchases, but people are still losing access to games they enjoyed and save files they possibly dumped hours into. Thankfully, some developers are working on ways to help Stadia players.
The most notable studio to help Stadia players is Ubisoft, which was Google's earliest partner for the technology via an Assassin's Creed Odyssey demo. "While Stadia will shut down on January 18, 2023, we're happy to share that we're working to bring the games you own on Stadia to PC through Ubisoft Connect," Ubisoft tweeted. "We'll have more to share regarding specific details, as well as the impact for Ubisoft+ subscribers, at a later date." Thankfully, the Stadia versions of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6, Immortals Fenyx Rising, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, and Watch Dogs: Legion support cross-progression, so players won't lose their save files. 
https://twitter.com/UbisoftSupport/status/1575922767593078793
Ubisoft isn't the only developer to help. Developer Muse Games is giving Embr Steam codes to those who played its comedic co-op firefighting game on Stadia if they email the developer with screenshots of Embr in their Stadia library. Meanwhile, IO Interactive confirmed that it is "looking into ways for you to continue your Hitman experience on other platforms," as the World of Assassination trilogy was available on Google Stadia. 
There's still the matter of the five Google Stadia exclusives: Gylt, Hello Engineer, Outcasters, Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle, and PixelJunk Raiders. So far, only one of those games seems like it will be saved. PixelJunk Raiders developer Q-Games said in a blog post that "we hope to find a way to continue to share the vibrant worlds of Planet Tantal in the future, and we’re open to discussing opportunities to find the right publishing partner to make it happen.. Tequila Works, tinyBuild, Splash Damage, and Bandai Namco Entertainment did not respond to requests for comment from Digital Trends.
While the shutdown of Google Stadia is disappointing for players like myself who enjoy cloud gaming, at least players will be get refunds, and in some cases get the game for a new platform.

Read more