Prepare for battle! Here's everything you need to know before starting For Honor.

For Honor takes players back to the unforgiving medieval period, through a new multiplayer-centric experience from Ubisoft. With a focus on expansive online combat, it's important you know as much as possible before jumping into the game's bloody battlegrounds.

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What is For Honor?

For Honor is a brand-new franchise from Ubisoft, with a heavy focus on chaotic multiplayer warfare. Taking place in a relatively untouched period in video games, the title explores an alternate medieval setting, in a world devasted by large-scale conflict.

Learning from the company's recent endeavors with Rainbow Six Siege and The Division, For Honor's online focus makes for a deep ecosystem built around extensive combat. Featuring three major groups — Knights, Vikings and Samurai — players pledge allegiance and earn war credits for their chosen factions.

With the period change, For Honor also comes with a focus on merciless close-quarters combat. This results in a significantly slower pace than your average hack and slash, with an emphasis on timing and consistency over pure firepower.

Combat basics

For Honor's combat is based on a complex battle system known as The Art of Battle, which delivers unmatched precision and skill to melee encounters. Unlike your average RPG swordplay, where preset moves are mapped to individual buttons, For Honor's combat system gives players fine-tuning over their approach to weapon handling.

A large portion of For Honor's gameplay builds on these swordplay mechanics, with both patience and timing required to excel in battle. Known as the Guard system, players must consider both their personal sword positioning and that of their enemies, to maintain a balance of offensive and defensive maneuvers. This results in slower-paced but immersive conflicts, with skill and consistency behind each of your encounters.

Guard Mode

Guard Mode is the basis of For Honor's complex combat system, essentially handing off sword control to the player when activated. Entered by holding down LT, this is used for the majority of encounters across For Honor's game modes. This will prepare your hero for both attacking and blocking, while also locking onto a nearby enemy. To switch between locked targets when multiple heroes are nearby, quickly lift LT and push it back down to toggle to the next available hero.

Blocking

Defensive actions are one of the core pillars of For Honor's combat, and they're the primary way to protect yourself from incoming attacks. Available when in Guard Mode, blocking will repel enemy swings if your sword has been correctly aligned. To align your sword, move the right stick in the direction indicated on-screen when in Guard Mode.

Attacking

Attacks are the second major component of For Honor's combat system, comprised of light and heavy variants. Similar to defending, attacks are most effective when aligned via Guard Mode, accessed by holding down LT. To avoid having your attack blocked, try to move the right stick away from the angle currently blocked by your opponent.

Heavy attacks are much more damaging attacks, activated by pushing down RT. However, due to their nature, these attacks take longer to perform and require more stamina. Light attacks are a quicker and less exhausting alternative but lack the damage provided by a heavy blow. These are activated similarly to a heavy attack, by pressing RB instead.

While attacking an enemy, make sure to act quickly and realign your block as soon as possible. By getting yourself a clear shot at an enemy, you'll also be opening yourself up to attacks.

Even though it may be tempting, try to avoid button mashing to deliver repeat attacks. Although you might get lucky on an enemy, skilled players will easily counter this. By taking combat slowly and analyzing your enemy's actions, you'll be more likely to emerge victorious from your encounters.

Advanced combat

Outside of For Honor's core combat systems, various advanced moves are also accessible across all heroes. These moves offer further complexity beyond simple attacks and blocks while adding another factor for your enemies to consider in battle.

Guardbreaks

Guardbreaks throw the enemy out of Guard Mode with a quick shove. This move is especially useful against defensive players as a way to counter consistent blocking. Triggered by pressing X when close to an enemy, guardbreaks open a perfect opportunity to deliver a succeeding blow.

Throwing

For Honor's maps are full of various environmental hazards, making the throw mechanic another effective move against heroes. Executed by pressing X twice, throwing can be used push an enemy backward and quickly escape from a risky situation. With For Honor's various ledges and cliffsides, a single throw is sometimes all you need to finish an intense duel.

Dodging

In addition to a traditional block, dodging can be used to evade incoming attacks from enemy heroes and soldiers. Press A in combination with a left-stick movement to perform a dodge roll in any direction.

Parrying

Parrying is achieved after successfully countering an enemy's sword swing with your own attack. This leaves your opponent in a startled state, opening a window for an almost guaranteed hit.

To perform a parry, wait until your enemy is about to throw an attack in your direction. Align your guard to match your enemy and press RT to perform a heavy attack. Your enemy will be thrown backwards as a result, with the opportunity to deliver some easy damage.

Chains

Chains are a more complex form of combat, rewarding players for using a specified combination of light and heavy attacks. The requirements for a chain differ between heroes, with the particular sequences detailed in a hero's moveset. To view each hero's moveset, press the Menu button and select Moveset on the menu that appears.

Executions

Once you've depleted an enemy's health, an option to perform an execution will sometimes be offered during a short window of time. Performed by pressing X or Y once an on-screen indicator appears, this ends the fight with a cinematic heavy attack.

For Honor factions

As mentioned, the conflict of For Honor is centered around three factions – knights, vikings and samurai. Four heroes are available per faction, with each falling into one of four universal categories across the game's entire roster of heroes. This gives each hero comparable alternatives in other factions, with similar strengths and weaknesses.

When first jumping into For Honor, you'll be required to pledge allegiance to one of the game's three factions. Although this won't hugely change your gameplay experience, it feeds into some of the larger aspects of For Honor's ecosystem. Here's a breakdown of each faction in For Honor and its available heroes.

Knights

The Knights are a staple of medieval combat, draped in shining armor with heavy swords and shields. With a noble attachment to the surrounding lands, they'll give anything to protect their homes and their people. The Knights consist of four class types: Warden, Conqueror, Peacekeeper and Lawbringer.

  • Wardens are well-rounded and among the most accessible heroes for newcomers. While they can easily adapt to any situation, they fail to notably excel at any tasks.
  • Conquerors are a heavier variant of the Knights, bearing a medieval flail and shield. These heroes are a formidable defensive class but are restricted by their slow attacks.
  • Peacekeepers are fast and stealthy heroes, bearing small daggers in both hands. While quick to kill at short range, their vulnerability makes them hard to master.
  • Lawbringers are a hybrid class, relying on brute force to deliver heavy damage. Although heavily armored, their slow movement speeds make them easy targets.

Vikings

With an animalistic approach to combat and a fierce appearance, the Vikings will slay anything in their path toward victory. After sailing the seas in search of a new home, they won't give up without a fight. The Vikings' roster consists of the Raider, Warlord, Berserker and Valkyrie.

  • Raiders are the Viking's well-rounded hero, with balanced armor, damage and maneuverability. Wielding two-handed axes and hefty armor, the class is a great entry point into the Viking faction.
  • Warlords are a defensive hero type, using a sword and shield in combat. Although not capable of delivering the heaviest of damage, Warlords can stand their ground and overcome any threat.
  • Berserkers are quick to act, charging straight into battle with their dual axes. This can be used to overcome their weakness of light armor, by striking the enemy prior to being noticed.
  • Valkyries are a heavily-armored assassin type, with the ability to perform complex chains in combat. Equipped with a shield and spear, Valkyries are able to hunt down their targets with unrivaled efficiency.

Samurai

With a focus on the art of combat, the Samurai form their approach to conflict through the generations of experience. After shaping their culture around their homeland, the faction looks further afield for new territories to conquer. The Samurai faction houses four heroes, known as Kensei, Shugoki, Orochi and Nobushi.

  • Kensei are jacks of all trades, with intimidating swordplay and balanced abilities. With years of experience and training, Kensei can adapt to situations on the fly.
  • Shugoki are the brutes of the Samurai, with heavy armor and a hefty club. Although they may not have the agility or elegance of other faction members, they still prove successful on the field.
  • Orochi are the faction's assassin, aiming for a swift and clean kill. With light armor but stealthy abilities, this hero type is only recommended for more advanced players.
  • Nobushi are the Samurai's hybrid hero, with the ability to attack at a longer range than any other fighters. Between their light armor and lengthy staff, keeping your distance is key when playing as this hero.

The Faction War

The Faction War is a somewhat convoluted aspect of For Honor, which many find to be confusing when first getting started with the game. Even with the help of a brief introductory video, it's hard to understand why you should even care about the feature in the first place.

Simply put, The Faction War is an ongoing conflict in For Honor, influenced by player performance across all multiplayer modes. Taking place across the globe, The Faction War allows your multiplayer achievements to contribute to a larger community-wide conflict.

As an individual player, your contribution to the conflict is made via War Assets. Earned at the end of multiplayer matches, these can be invested into The Faction War to help your faction. At the end of a season, rewards are distributed among players, based on their faction's successes.

In the end, For Honor's Faction War isn't something you'll be hugely invested in, but it provides the opportunity to earn some exclusive rewards.

Game modes

For Honor ships with five multiplayer game modes at launch, ranging from a traditional deathmatch, to intense 1v1 duels. These take place across a roster of twelve multiplayer maps, each with four to six variations depending on weather conditions. However, we can expect more maps and game modes to arrive over the coming months, via post-launch updates and downloadable content (DLC). Here's a breakdown of every game mode currently offered in For Honor's multiplayer at launch.

  • Dominion is For Honor's 4v4 objective-based game mode, requiring players to control a majority of a map's zones to earn points. Like the widespread Domination mode seen in today's triple-A shooters, Dominion heavily promotes communication and working as a team. On all maps, three objectives will be available to control: two control zones and a front. Unlike traditional control zones, the front is packed with dozens of AI-controlled soldiers, making for a truly hectic battle zone. Points will be earned for controlling these zones, with the winning team declared after one thousand points have been accumulated.
  • Taking place in five separate rounds, Elimination is a 4v4 deathmatch with a twist. Provided with only one life per round, there's more pressure than ever to stay alive. In order to win a round of Elimination, simply wipe out the entire enemy team. The winning team is declared after three out of five rounds have been won.
  • Skirmish is a traditional team deathmatch experience, pitting players in a 4v4 fight to the death. With respawns enabled and AI-controlled soldiers, Skirmish captures the scale of large-scale conflict without a focus on objective play.
  • Pair up with a sidekick and get ready to fight to the death in Brawl, For Honor's 2v2 game mode. With no respawns, your duo must successfully eliminate the enemy team in order to win. Split into five rounds, you'll have to achieve three wins before taking home a victory.
  • Duel is a game mode built entirely on the concept of 1v1 duels. Rarely seen in multiplayer games nowadays, Duel requires players to eliminate their opponent in five individual rounds. Putting your skills to the test, this is a great way to train with For Honor's combat systems.

You should now be ready to face the challenges of For Honor. As a newcomer, make sure to try the game's tutorial before playing online, to get a brief understanding of the mechanics.

Already played For Honor? Have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments.

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