Let's get one thing out of the way, because it's a thing that really bugs me about For Honor: It is not a "new genre," no matter how many times Ubisoft claims it is. I don't care that it said it in the E3 presentation. I don't care that on Ubisoft's blog creative director Jason Vandenberghe is quoted saying "I haven't actually been able to really put a name to For Honor's genre."
Regardless of whether the genre has a name or not, it is not new. Not in the least. If you have played Chivalry or you've played War of the Vikings/War of the Roses, then congrats--you've already dabbled in whatever the genre is that For Honor fits into. I guess we could toss it in with hack-n-slash. Or we could very eloquently call it "Medieval-Weaponry-Shooter-Thingy." (Hey, it's no worse than the awful "toys-to-life" genre name for games like Skylanders.)
Okay, now that that bit of bookkeeping is out of the way, here's the good news: For Honor is a more polished game than either Chivalry or War of the Roses. In other words, Ubisoft is using the Apple definition of new, a.k.a. "If you're not first, at least try to be shiny." And that's fine by me.
Chop it down with the edge of my sword
In case you haven't played Chivalry or War of the Roses (and my eloquent genre name above didn't do enough to convey the specifics to you), picture this: Take a third- or first-person shooter, and then replace all the weapons with swords/shields/bows/flails/et cetera. Medieval weaponry.
That's pretty much what this genre consists of. For Honor has all the trappings of a Call of Duty or a Battlefield (including a twist on Battlefield's point-capture Conquest Mode), except instead of headshots you're stabbing people through the eyes with a four-foot blade.
Combat in For Honor is a bit like glorified rock-paper-scissors. The left analog stick controls your character's movement--pretty standard--but in combat the right stick is used to control your knight's sword stance. You can either aim your sword strike up, left, or right.
On defense, you'll want to match your opponent's stance. Going on offense, you'll need to anticipate his or her actions and try to choose a different stance. There's also a stun move, which involves punching your opponent straight in the face with your big metal-clad fist.
In terms of complexity, it falls somewhat between Chivalry and War of the Roses/Vikings. I feel like Chivalry has a bit more depth to its combat, although few players truly take advantage of it. War of the Roses is easier to jump in and understand, but as a result a lot of encounters devolve into people slashing each other as fast as possible.
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