Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016

For Honor: A mediaeval battle

Vikings, Knights and Samurais are pitted against each other in For Honor.
Vikings, Knights and Samurais are pitted against each other in For Honor.PHOTO: UBISOFT

Ubisoft's For Honor was first announced at last year's E3, but as its release date draws near we are getting a more fleshed-out picture of the game.

The hack-and-slash title, which is set in the mediaeval period, pits three groups of the fiercest warriors - Vikings, Knights and Samurais - against each other.

Each different faction has its own unique characters and abilities, and they interact via a complex combat system which Ubisoft has named the Art of Battle.

At this year's E3, we got to try out a half-hour, one-to-one guided demo spanning two missions.

After that 30-minute session, I went from knowing almost nothing about the game to being a die-hard fan of For Honor.

In the first mission, which is a tutorial, players assume the role of a knight who has to defend a castle. Throughout the mission, players learn the basics of the game's unique combat system, which makes For Honor such a unique game.

The heart of the system is a one-versus-one duelling mode, where attacks can come from three directions - left, right and top - and there are three corresponding defences.

Players have to watch their opponent's body language and on-screen icons to know which stance they are in, and to match or change stances accordingly.

Doing well in battle is a matter of blocking correctly, switching directions to catch your opponent off guard, and chaining together attacks for greater damage.

Picking a direction may sound easy but, in the heat of battle, it can be difficult to keep a cool head. This combat system also makes it slower than the typical role-playing game, but when you get something right, it is oh-so satisfying.

In the second mission, players control a Viking who is assaulting a samurai stronghold - a more complex battlefield, with multiple enemies. Instead of just one-versus-one combat, I sliced and hacked my way through hordes of weaker enemies that can be easily dispatched with one or two hits.

More powerful enemies, which are marked with an icon above their heads, can be engaged via the combat system. Each of these enemies has a unique attack style; some have unblockable attacks, while others have a tendency to chain attacks in quick succession, but only from a single direction.

Players have to suss out their strategies, and use that knowledge and the environment - for example, you can throw enemies up against spikes - to defeat them.

For Honor looks set to be one of Ubisoft's hottest releases next year, and although I got to try only the single-player mode, I am sure that multi-player will be a unique, challenging experience as well.

Lisabel Ting

•Release date: Feb 14, 2017

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2016, with the headline 'For Honor: A mediaeval battle'. Print Edition | Subscribe