Stepping into the scream-ridden world of For Honor can be intimidating at first. Everyone has a sharp implement, half of the people on the map want to end you, and they’re going to try to do it in the grisliest way possible. Help is at hand though, and who better to get it from than the mind behind For Honor, creative director Jason Vandenberghe? Having taken an actual course in fighting with a longsword, he knows his stuff about both virtual and real-life duelling. So, unsurprisingly, I seized the chance to ask him how to dominate For Honor’s battlefield.
Block like there’s no tomorrow
This might sound like an obvious recommendation, but it was the first bit of advice to come from Vandenberghe’s mouth: “the first thing you need to learn how to do is block”. Your battles will be over in the blink of an eye unless you learn this basic technique. Remember to tailor it to the side you enemy is hitting from (above, left, or right) and time it for when they look like they’re going to strike.
Although Raiders and heavy classes can hold a blocking stance perpetually, Berserkers and other lighter-armoured fighters can only block for a couple of seconds, so keep those eyes peeled. Once you’ve blocked a hit, strike very quickly afterwards to take advantage of their open stance. Or you could break their stance and stagger them, giving you the perfect opportunity to barrel into their chest and impale them on various environmental hazards. So push down that urge to start swinging your shiny katana, war-axe, or flail, and exercise a bit of patience - I promise you, it’ll pay off.
Know your ideal distance
Getting close and personal might sound incredibly tempting, but according to Vandenberghe the more you “manage your distance”, the closer you’ll be to victory. As he put it, “every character has a range that they want to be at - and every character has a range that they don’t want to be at”. Raiders, Lawbringers, and Shugoki want to be as close as possible to make sure their heavy attacks hit the hardest, and their high health means that they can withstand blows. Which means that if you’re playing as a more agile Peacekeeper or Nobushi you want to stay as far away from them as possible. Only attack when their backs are turned, or when they’ve just struck. Then leg it.
“Keeping your opponent at a range that they’re uncomfortable” is likely to make them more slapdash as they’ll be getting impatient when trying to get closer to you. Don’t attack just because they’re getting sloppy, though. Staying at a distance means you’ll get to pick and choose when to hit; of course, from the other side of things your heavy attacks as a Raider are going to do zilch unless you’re within spitting distance of your foe. It’s worth using stamina to roll towards your enemy and close the gap if it means you can get a strike in, whereas lightly armoured classes will want to conserve their stamina so they can escape danger quickly and avoid the blows a Shugoki could easily withstand.
Teamwork is key
Another obvious one here, but Vandenberghe was eager to show how important this is. “Communication is at the heart of” For Honor. Although having four Raiders on your team might seem like a sure way to win hands-down, consider having your buddies “[take] on different roles”. A diverse group of fighters means you can counteract the distance tactic I outlined above. For instance, a Raider can distract a foe and make them back away from his heavy axe whilst a Nodachi sneaks up from behind, landing a blow when their back is turned.
Splitting into groups of two might sound like folly, but Vandenberghe says that as long as you keep “paying attention to what’s happening at each of the capture points” it can be a good way to divide and conquer. If it looks like a compatriot needs your help at a different location, don’t be afraid to run their way and give them a helping hand. From a tactical point of view, the last thing the enemy might expect is for other fighters to come flooding to the point they’ve almost captured.
Distracting your enemies is just as important as attacking them
In a 4x4 match your biggest risk is getting cornered by two players. Unfortunately everyone knows this is a winning strategy. The solution? Separate them. How do you do this? Kite. Kiting is when you stay at a set distance and use ranged attacks to taunt your opponent into following you. After all, think about how most people play games: it often happens that during boss fights taking out ranged foes first means your health isn’t whittled away during the main fight. Because ranged enemies are irritating. It is known.
Exploit this core gaming tactic without hesitation. If you keep seeing weighted daggers flying your way from an Orochi, or hear the swish of a Berserker’s throwing axe near your ear, you might break rank just so you can super quickly take them out...and now you’ve fallen for the kiting technique. Getting an enemy on their own is the first step to taking them out, plus if you’ve kited correctly they might be a tad irritated and more likely to make foolish mistakes. From a statistical point of view, Vandenberghe chuckles that “if you’re kiting people, then [...] those players are not earning points for their team anymore, are they? Because they’re wasting their time chasing you! And that’s great!”
So there you go. Four golden bits of advice to help you feel more confident in the midst of battle, straight from the horse’s mouth. So what are you waiting for? Go forth and conquer!