Ubisoft is well-known for claiming history is its playground, particularly when it comes to the Assassin’s Creed franchise. But For Honor looks to compete with the Assassins and Templars in the Ubisoft catalog in regards to giving players an entertaining experience steeped in historical context. Unlike the Assassin’s Creed series, however, For Honor doesn’t seem to take itself nearly as seriously.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t to say the snippet of gameplay we tried out didn’t come across as tight or extremely fun. But with For Honor stressing real-life competition more than an ageless war, the more easily digestible of the experiences by far seems to be For Honor.

When I began playing, I was immediately tossed into a tutorial that taught me the game’s basic controls and allowed me to get used to the tight, third-person camera. By pointing the right stick in one of three directions, my character would block correspondingly that way. I would also attack from the same direction that I was blocking in. If my opponent was not blocking in the direction I was attacking, unsurprisingly, a hit would occur. There were light and heavy attacks, guard breaks, special abilities, and I even stumbled onto a parry system.

Once I sufficiently learned the basics, I was tossed into a four-versus-four multiplayer mode called Dominion. Ubisoft’s take on Domination, Dominion has three distinct outposts around a given map. If one of the teams sufficiently clears out an area around one of these strategic hot spots, they can capture it for their team to receive points, but can also lose points if the other team takes it back. By killing enemies, you also earn points. Once a certain amount of points is earned, the enemy team can no longer respawn. When they all lose their last lives, the match is over and the other team wins.

Here’s where things take an interesting turn. Not only are you playing against four human-controlled opponents, but in a similar fashion to a MOBA, waves of mindless minions will spawn and head to the middle of the field. They become easy fodder for your blade to slow the enemies’ capturing of the field’s midpoint, and to add to the meter that unlocks your special abilities.

The real star of the demo, though, happened when we locked into combat with another human player. With everyone playing as the Knight class, one of three factions the game features (Viking and Samurai are the others), many of us were relatively evenly matched. An almost-epic game of rock-paper-scissors ensued as we guessed and anticipated our enemy’s moves and closed in for punishing damage, constantly changing our guard before finishing the other off with a flourish and a decapitation.

One-on-one bouts were epic prize fights with armor clanking and swords clanging. But if multiple players ganged up on one person, it was almost always lights out. The individual would be have to wait a few seconds to respawn, forfeiting the section of the field they were fighting for. Consequently, a strategic retreat, which goes against the very nature of most multiplayer players, is an extremely viable option here. Recognizing when to wait for reinforcements or falling back temporarily is key to winning the day, so the gameplay provides a fresh approach to a pretty classic multiplayer mode. 

Admittedly, we have yet to see much of For Honor. Its single player campaign, the other two factions of multiplayer, its customization options (both aesthetics and combat-related), how many maps it’ll ship with, and any modes beyond Dominion all remain unknown. But this brief first taste of For Honor was succeeded in scratching a multiplayer itch I didn’t even know I had.

For Honor is coming to Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC in 2016.

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