The Art of War is Painting a Brutal Picture
Me, I’m a fan of the fantastical, especially in video games. The more outlandish or mystical the worlds, the more detached from reality for the sake of adventures and antics that couldn’t possibly happen for real, the better, in my opinion.
So imagine my disappointment when the studio behind one of my favorite fantasy games, Child of Light, announced at E3 a game that looks less like this…
…and exactly like this…
I wasn’t too thrilled, and if I’m honest, I’m still not too thrilled by For Honor and Ubisoft Montreal’s desire to create a game about medieval combat so realistic and visceral you can feel the weight and power sinking heavy-as-all-get-out swords into heavy-as-all-get-out armored warriors ripped straight from the history books.
But personal feelings aside, what the studio has put together so far is (judging from what I had the chance to try at E3) shaping up to become a strong alternative for competitive gamers looking to engage their online opponents with something other than guns.
Before my fellow expo-goers and I could get to that PvP stuff, we were put through a quick crash course in the basics of The Art of Battle, For Honor’s central combat system based around the warrior’s stance. With the left trigger (for locking onto targets) and the right analog stick, I was able to instantly switch between three different stances, from which I could unleash light and heavy sword attacks in a certain direction, as well as guard against attacks coming from that direction. Impressively, this relatively simple control scheme pulls off condensing these offensive and defensive abilities into a small number of inputs without making them feel flimsy or shallow. It’s surprisingly elegant execution for a game meant to be severe and brutal.
The tutorial over, Ubisoft immediately threw us headfirst into a match of Dominion, a 4-vs-4 zone-control mode that had our teams of knights (one of three different warrior types, including samurais and vikings, that will be in the final game) fighting alongside hordes of NPC grunts to gain control of three areas strewn about a besieged castle map and earn points faster than our opponents.
Amid the chaos of trying to push the enemy side out of each zone, cutting down grunts and unlocking Feats (special skills that range from healing to calling down a catapult strike), I got to really put The Art of Battle through its paces whenever I came across enemy players. Duels moved at a lightning pace, leaving me with only split-seconds to read my opponent’s movements and prepare the right stance before they could land a blow. I also benefitted from a guard-breaking bash attack and a dodge roll, which enabled me to create new openings for attack or quickly step out of a losing battle, allowing me a great amount of versatility in the process.
Capping this all off is what happened when my team had accumulated 1,000 zone points. At that point, the enemy team was forced into a state of Breaking, which rendered them unable to respawn. It was then that the match entered an endgame heat as we fought to bring them down before they could recapture zones and break the Breaking state. Needless to say, everything got a whole lot more intense in the final minutes before our team, after a furious flurry of flying steel, managed to come out of it victorious. With that, the demo came to an end and I was left to ponder things.
Like I said before, For Honor didn’t really grab me with its emphasis on realistic warfare with all its grit and flesh-splitting, but I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the fact that it is solidly made, surprisingly deep and full of promise for gamers who do like that sort of thing, even at this point in time.
Whenever it comes out (Ubisoft has yet to provide an ETA), For Honor will be available for would-be warriors on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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