Ubisoft tends to get quite the reputation for either their endless sequels or titles that might as well just be sequels with their shameless open-world game homogenization. It is for this reason that the multiplayer and melee-focused action title, For Honor, caught the eyes of many curious on-lookers, including myself. I mean, having knights, vikings and even samurai duke it out in brutal melee combat just seems like a recipe for chaotic fun, especially if it is well done.
When getting onto the actual demo, however, I did not expect to play, well... single player content. Before I was hit by the wave of disappointment of not getting to try out the multiplayer -- or at the very least being able to play as a Samurai right away -- the single-player content actually seemed surprisingly solid in For Honor.
Unfortunately, the demo itself only had you playing as a knight. Nothing against knights, but they are simply not as cool as samurai or vikings. Still, as you are tossed into the fray, you -- and a squad of mostly useless NPCs knights -- start making your way around a castle under siege. So, in tutorial-like fashion, it teaches you much of the basics like shifting your guard/attack stances and learning the timings to either attack or defend.
Even as I was learning the fundamentals, I was pleased to notice that the controls felt great and very responsive. Running around felt smooth and attacks have a strong sense of weight behind them, even more so after you viciously decapitate foes. Essentially, the core concept of combat is built around attacking, or defending, from three different angles and mixing it up with light/heavy attacks, or pulling off a guard break for those that are too defensive.
I learned that it is actually much better to be relentlessly offensive and hoping you are not being too predictable than trying to plan counterattacks, as the window for an enemy being stunned after a blocked attack is not very long and can easily lead them towards another, almost free hit. It also shows that if you are in a situation where it is two against one, those two people are at a big advantage.
Anyway, aside from teaching the basics, For Honor's single-player demo does a good job at making true one on one confrontations feel rather tense. Though you cleave your way through many fodder enemies and move about the castle with occasional exposition, at the end of the demo you are the chosen knight for a duel to settle the siege. And, while the character you are playing as talked about his opponent lacking experience mid-battle, the enemy itself felt close to what I would imagine a human player would be like in that they are just as capable as bringing you down as you are them if you are not paying attention.
For Honor definitely expects fighting to become second nature, and -- for what fun I had in single player -- I can only imagine it being even much more so against equally skilled human players.
It is rather strange going into a demo expecting multiplayer mayhem, only to walk out of it rather pleasantly surprised by the single-player content. Either way, the demo for For Honor did more than a solid job of whetting my appetite for the supposed early 2017 release. It looked, played, and sounded excellent from the single-player mission alone, and considering how multiplayer is supposed to be the forefront focus of the final game I found myself far more interested in the final product.
Those that have their eye on For Honor will be be happy to know that it not only seems promising from a gameplay standpoint, but also that it is likely to have worthwhile single-player content as well for something originally pitched as a purely multiplayer experience.