With the For Honor closed beta, we finally got a chance to check out Ubisoft’s competitive multiplayer brawler for a weekend. Featuring a couple of playable maps and game modes, the beta shows that the team-based fighter is coming along quite nicely, though it’s not perfect.
For Honor Closed Beta
Developed by Ubisoft Montreal / Published by Ubisoft
Coming to the PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
The first thing I tried was to get into the For Honor closed beta early Friday (Jan. 27), but server issues kept me from connecting until the evening. Once I did manage to login however, I got to check out the brief tutorial, which shows players the basics of For Honor’s melee warfare.
The combat in For Honor takes a bit to get used to, but it’s very fun. It’s essentially a complex, strategic and violent version of rock, paper, scissors. Players can dodge, block and rush down opponents, but when it comes to attacking, it’s a combination of light and heavy attacks plus a directional input in order to strike from specific angles. Players can bring down their axe or blade from the left, right, or from the top, as well as block in the same direction to negate incoming damage. Attacking also uses stamina, so players can’t be reckless when pressing the offense, or they’ll leave themselves exposed to counters. That makes combat slow and strategic, and to be successful and slay rivals like a boss, players have to mix it up quite a bit to remain unpredictable, so it can get challenging. It’s also tons of fun, as beating down foes and executing them is awesome.
It does takes a little practice, though. Fighting against a rival one on one is easy, but when you’re surrounded, it can get a little hairy. Switching between two or more enemies is pretty tricky in chaotic moments as players have to let go of the targeting button and quickly press it in order to focus on another enemy, and it can mean the difference between staying alive or ending up dead. Unless you have your defensive skills and targeting down, you’ll be slayed in no time.
Players get to select from the three factions: Vikings, Samurai and Knights, and each one looks different, but plays similarly. Each faction however has different classes within them, with balanced strikers, damage dealers, and the tanks. The different classes are a joy to play and offer different strategies to players, and they are unlocked with frequent play. Players also have access to Perks, which work as killstreaks to assist in the battlefield.
The multiplayer gameplay modes in the closed beta were pretty entertaining, with players rushing into battlefields to help their teams take control of the stage in Domination. Players have to rush to three specific points and hold the fort long enough to control the location, while destroying smaller A.I. enemies to push the front. It can get hectic pretty quickly as players rush from zone to zone and face off against squads of A.I. foes and other online players, but it’s also quite thrilling and action-packed. Players can either team up and face off against A.I. opponents, or go in and battle other online players.
There’s also a competitive one on one mode called Duel, which is also pretty enjoyable as well. Here players take on each other in a series of rounds, and show off their skills to see who’s best. These battles lead to some tough and nerve-racking encounters, and I love the fact that two players can engage without distractions to see who’s better. It’s promising stuff.
The War of the Factions mode available during the closed beta was also pretty fun, with players choosing a faction before starting and warring against each other for territories, perks and rewards. Players had to participate in battles and gameplay modes to help their faction to take over the map, and at the end of the beta, the winning team would get rewarded. It was an entertaining reason to get into fights, and I hope to see it return in the full game.
Now one flaw I noticed is that players kept leaving the game, and this would lead to them being replaced with A.I. warriors. At the moment, it feels like there’s no penalty for rage quitting (though it’s most likely due to initial server issues as I got randomly kicked out myself quite a few times), and players will be at a disadvantage with A.I. characters rushing about with no clear strategy or teamwork in mind. It’s not a big issue now, but I’m sure it could cost players in the main game, so I’m looking forward to seeing how this will be dealt with in the final release.
While the closed beta was brief and plagued with some issues at the start, I had tons of fun in the short time I played For Honor. The combat is tricky but rewarding, and the gameplay modes are varied and entertaining. While I would’ve loved for even more people to participate in battles instead of the capped 4v4, For Honor is looking like a engaging and challenging melee multiplayer that looks like it’ll be played for a good, long time.