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For Honor Is The Fighting Game For People Who Don't Like Fighting Games

Suriel Vazquez
 

Strutting around an alcove atop a dilapidated castle as a Shugoki – a hulking brute wielding a giant kanabo club weapon – I see a Valkyrie quickly approaching. I’ve fought her before, and I know her playstyle: Go for the guard break to disarm defenses, then relentlessly attempt to push the enemy off the edge.   I know what’s going to happen before we fight: thinking that I think it’s ridiculous to go for a guard break five times in a row, that’s exactly what she plans to do. So I club her five times in a row, shutting her down and whittling away most of her health.

Desperate for a kill, she jumps backward into a defensive stance, hoping to charge forward and knock me off the edge. I don’t see it coming, but I don’t have to: My hulking body can withstand a single hit without flinching, so when I spread my arms to go for a bear hug, I swipe her up mid-charge and finish her. After playing it for over a week now, I have no doubt For Honor is a fighting game. It taps a lot of the same highs as a fighting game, and I’m eager to keep digging into its intricate and rewarding combat system.

But you wouldn’t call For Honor a fighting game at first glance; parts of how it’s put together, both in and outside of matches, may make you think it hews more closely to other genres. But the more I play it, the more I think that’s the most brilliant thing about it: By borrowing heavily from other genres, For Honor ends up being the fighting game for people who don’t typically like fighting games. For Honor and traditional fighting games have a lot in common. You can pick from several characters, all of whom play differently; some characters fare better against others, etc.

That’s a large part of the appeal of these games (being able to find a character that speaks to you in some way and making them your own), but I won’t delve too much into it here, since these characteristics also apply to all manner of class-based games, like Dota 2 or Overwatch. For Honor’s combat system divests it from other class-based games and establishes it firmly as a fighter. The core of this system is a sort of “rock, paper, scissors, plus,” an educated guessing game where every option has an appropriate response. Blocking beats attacks coming in from the same direction (right, left, or up), guard breaks beat blocking, and attacks (or a reciprocal guard break) beat guard breaks.

  This cycle maps neatly to a traditional fighting game, where…

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