No Joking in ‘For Honor.’

A samurai, a viking, and a knight walk into a bar, or so the story goes in For Honor. If there was a punchline to that joke I missed it in this weekend’s beta. Ubisoft’s combo beater is an all out assault levity and mirth. The three factions are corralled in a never ending ring of destruction. Five game modes mark the battles in this endless conflict. As “Dominion” takes place, blood soaked courtyards and besieged fortresses fester and crumble around each escalating battle. Battalions of ill-fated minions repeatedly crash into each other in one of three, king of the hill style, objectives. Unobstructed, play vs. player fights, are in the two remaining zones. Glory comes from hill time and battle victories. The assault boils to a spitting peak when one’s team reaches one thousand points. In their moment of despair, the losing team’s PCs are unable to respawn. Then it is the job of the winning team to raze the remaining crop. But, morale can shift with objective captures and send both armies past the brink. Leaving the battle to be decided by the last player standing.

Fighting, like a good Paul Walker chase scene, will have you shifting to save your life. Attacks come from every direction but up, and in “guarded” position one can block and dodge those attacks with shifts towards or away from the direction of the attack. Initially the fighting feels very angular and sporadic. Soon though, patterns develop and a more fluid swordplay flourishes into a heaving bouquet of heavy hitting satisfaction. The gladiatorial game “Skirmish,” pits characters directly against one another in muddied court yards and ancient forests. The player arrangements quickly devolve into a cat and mouse chase after one team gains a kill advantage. Balance can be restored with a fortunate resurrection of a teammate. Though that occurs rarely.

The “War of Factions,” which progress between battles by allocation of “War Assets” seized in battle, is the grand measure of worth between each class. As a war should be, this krieg develops across all included platforms. Thus assuring that the samurai will take thrown away from the Knights when the game officially begins on Feb. 14th. As for the bar, most everything was destroyed. All that was left was a Bloody Caesar.

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