There’s a moment in For Honor when, with a flash of light, the camera locks into place and a white ring appears around the feet of your opponent. The heart starts pounding, fingers tighten around the controller a little more and eyes narrow at the screen. There’s nowhere to hide, nowhere to run. Only one of you will come out of this contest victorious and you’re going to do everything in your power to make sure it’s you.
Weapons clash, the sound of metal on metal echoes across the battlefield. Blocks, parries and dodges dominate, blood is spilled until one falls and the other stands.
It’s exhilarating stuff, and feels like a much fairer test of skill than in other fighting games. Agreed, I’m not a top player at all but there is a real sense of both combatants beginning the fight by sounding each other out, trying to sense a style or weakness before exploiting it. There’s no clock counting down or combos with dozens of hits to worry about, just good timing, reading of the opponent and knowing your character.
In a sense there’s a SoulsBourne element to it as you will die again and again as you get to grips with the various human and excellent artificial intelligence (AI) opponents but the learning curve is all part of the challenge. Each defeat teaches you more than a victory and yet there’s no feeling quite like the rush of emerging triumphant. It’s just a shame there is no ‘bow’ emote to show respect to an opponent who engaged in glorious combat until eventually succumbing to your blade. Plenty of celebrations, no way of showing they fought with honour.
Now if only they could get the Star Wars licence and throw in some lightsabers…