The battlefields of For Honor were raging, as attendees at Gamescom and PAX dug into its multiplayer action and tried out more of the game’s 12 heroes . Now that the dust has settled and the wounded have been hauled off the battlefield, we’re taking a look at the six essential tactics we discovered during two hours of our own frantic, brutal multiplayer matches.
Environmental hazards mean instant death
Standing with your back to a cliff is a bad place to be. There’s nowhere to go but down, and if your opponent can break your defense and grab hold of you, they’ll be happy to show you just how far you can fall. Those aren’t the only instant-death traps you can fall into, however; if you get too close to a spiked wall, you might be shocked to find yourself instantly dead. No recourse, no chance of revival, just a brief wait until you can respawn. Enemies can also shove you into flaming carts or trees, and while being on fire won’t kill you instantly, that’s small comfort when you’re on fire. Be aware of your surroundings, or be annihilated.
Different heroes, different dynamics
Before diving into the multiplayer action on display at Gamescom, we’d been able to play as the Warden, the Raider, and the Kensei – the well-rounded Vanguard heroes for the Knight, Viking, and Samurai factions, respectively. All of them handle differently, but the same basic rhythms of blocking and slashing apply to all three. But trying out the Orochi – the nimble Samurai who represents that faction’s Assassin type – immediately made us adjust our thinking.
Where Vanguards hold their stances indefinitely, blocking left, right, or up top until you make them move, Assassins drop their guard after a few seconds (complete with a depleting meter, which you can see above), forcing you to hold the thumbstick where you want to block. We also seemed to get overwhelmed by multiple opponents a little more quickly as the Orochi; in those situations, retreat is a valid tactic. The Orochi’s speed makes them brutally effective offense players, though, able to interrupt or weave past the attacks of slower enemies and deliver rapid flurries of devastating cuts. It’s a fun change-up from what we’ve come to expect, and we’re eager to find out what the Heavy and Hybrid hero types will bring to combat.
Combos can rip through a block
Landing a good combo in most games can make you feel capable, skilled – even unstoppable. For some warriors in For Honor, it can actually make you unstoppable, if only for a second. Landing the right combination of slashes can light up your weapon, triggering an unblockable attack that will chop right through the defenses of anyone not quick enough to dodge it. If you’re on the receiving end of these, you’ll get a brief warning in the form of an exclamation point in the direction the attack is coming from (and, you know, all the light blazing from your enemy’s weapon), at which point you’ll need to resist the urge to block and duck out of the way.
Revive teammates to turn the tide of battle
So long as you don’t end up slammed against a spike bed or cut down by an execution, there’s a chance you could get a second shot at life if one of your teammates can reach you in time. This isn’t always possible in the heat of combat, but in the right circumstances, it can be crucial to victory. One of those circumstances is when your team has entered the breaking phase of a match, when all capture points are in enemy hands and you’re being eliminated with no respawns. In one match, our team leader – playing as an Orochi – was the last one standing while the rest of us slowly bled out. Rather than try to push back by capturing a point himself (thereby alerting our opponents to where he was and risking being mobbed), he avoided enemy contact and darted around the stage periphery until he could bring us back to life, giving our team the second chance we needed to rally and win the round. Sometimes, keeping a low profile is the best tactic there is.
You’re useful even when you’re dead
Waiting for a revive or a respawn doesn’t mean you’re out of the fight. Not entirely, anyway. While you bleed out, you can move the camera around the map, and if you’re communicating with your teammates the way you should, this makes you an invaluable spotter. Want to warn a buddy that two guys are en route to the control point he’s holding? How about guiding your one surviving teammate safely past danger so she can revive you? In the chaos of battle, having a tactical view, however brief, is invaluable.
Capture points give you an edge
Wresting territory from the other team in a shooter should be familiar by now; you clear them out, take the area, and then rush to the next area and repeat the process while your opponents surge back toward the point you just abandoned. Right? For Honor gives you some additional incentives to not only defend your capture points, but to treat them as a resource. If you’ve been banged up or are running from a tough opponent, your team’s capture points will immediately start to heal you when you enter them, and keeping them defended will earn you a steady stream of points that can eventually swing victory in your favor.
While we’re on the topic, each of the stages we’ve played has three capture points: two that are relatively remote from the main action, with no AI defenders; and the central battlefield, a pitched rugby scrum where players mix it up with the relentlessly advancing troops of both sides. Having to thin out their ranks and push them back makes the battlefields by far the toughest capture points to conquer. The enemy soldiers take just one hit to put down, but they can hinder your movement, hide more powerful enemies, and – if you’re not careful around them – do some real damage.
Finally, check out this sweet action:
Not only are the warriors and battlefields of For Honor beautifully realized, but a careful attention to detail shows in everything from armor decorations to warrior movements – and, yes, to the way a weapon slides across a blocking blade, kicking up sparks.
What new tactics will you discover on For Honor’s battlefields? You can find out when the game arrives for PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on Valentine’s Day, or you can get an early taste during the Closed Alpha from September 15-18. And for more For Honor in the meantime, check out our previous coverage: