Treat Story mode like one big tutorial
For Honor’s token single-player mode might be a little short, but that doesn’t mean it can’t help you prepare for the war ahead. Compared to online players, the AI of For Honor is painfully predictable so use this solo campaign to practice your skills with some of the game’s key systems.
Since you can ramp up the challenge by levelling up each mission and increasing the difficulty (you can do this on the pre-mission launch screen), this is an ample time to drill guard break, external block and the ability to fight multiple enemies at once. These three skills are vital to slaying with the big boys/girls online.
Guard break is important, so master it
Watching the trailers and b-roll footage of For Honor might convince you its combat is all about blocking, parrying and slashing - then you head online, get whacked in the face with the butt of sword and get kicked off a bridge to your death. This is the block-breaking power of guard break and it’s one of the most spammed moves used by online players.
To perform a guard break, highlight an opponent with by holding L2/LT, then press Square/X. A broken red shield will pop up showing it was successfully activated. Two presses will potentially send an opponent flying back (use this near bridges and ledges for an instant kill), while Square/X followed by R1/RB will throw in a cheeky light attack on top.
Parrying and counter guard breaking are your friends
Now you’ve learned how to break your opponent’s block and open them up to a stumble or a quick slash of your blade, it’s time to learn how to defend against them. On principle, counter guard breaks work a lot like parries - you need to initiate your own guard break the moment your opponent’s strikes you (the sound of a shield being struck will offer you a helpful warning).
The window for success is tiny, but it’s there to be found if you practice enough. Being able to counter this move will mean everything online, so drill it plenty. Parrying, where you interrupt an enemy strike and use the opening to hit them, works in much the same way. This time, you just need to meet their blade with yours in the right position in mid-air.
Defend smart with external block
Some players online will fight with a certain level of respect in 3v3 matchups - however, some are just plain douches and will gang up on someone if they’ve already defeated their own opponent. It’s intimidating, but it’s not impossible to counteract - they key is using your block to protect yourself as much as possible.
So choose an enemy to target by holding L2/LT and use the right analog stick to block any attacks coming left or right. Since you’re now locked to an enemy dead ahead, blocking their strikes for above, left and right still works the same way. You might not block every hit in such a blitz, but patience can see you evening the odds with deadly accuracy.
Your Revenge meter can make all the difference
Getting your armoured backside handed to you in a duel or a mob can be a little disheartening, but that doesn’t mean you’re without any form of backup. For Honor uses a system called Revenge that fills via an amber coloured bar at the bottom-left of the screen (being hit and successfully blocking will help fill it).
When this appears, press Triangle/Y to temporarily boost the strength of your stats. This buff can mean the difference between a win and a loss in a duel, so use it when you’re against the ropes and far enough to not get caught. It even adds a sliver of life to your health bar, so use it wisely.
Always use executions - they boost your health
Executions are a staple in most PvP games these days, but they’re usually just for show. Not so in For Honor. Executions, which are initiated by killing your opponent with a heavy strike (R2/RT) then pressing Square/Triangle (X/Y), also provide you with a slight boost to your Renown.
There are other benefits too - players executed in 4v4 Dominion will receive a three second respawn delay, while anyone unlucky to be dispatched this way won’t be open to revives by teammates. Just keep in mind executions can be interrupted, so be careful if an enemy teammate is active nearby.
Decide which Feats work best for you
Feats are essentially a set of special abilities or buffs that you take with you into battle. They’re mapped to your D-pad and usually have a one-time use during a single match or battle. These perks might seem throwaway, but they’re actually a vital part of For Honor’s wider combat system.
For Honor players define duels as ‘critical’ and ‘non-critical’ - for instance, duels where respawns have stopped or ones where a loss would enable a foe to revive his teammates would be considered critical. These are times to use your Feats - since this perks include unblockable strikes, arrow barrages and health boosts, you can see why they’re so powerful.
Experiment with Heroes and Classes
There are currently 12 different Heroes to choose from in For Honor, with each one split into four classes - Vanguard, Heavy, Assassin and Hybrid. Vanguard’s are the standard, well-rounded avatars, while the Heavies offer power over speed. The Assassin can dodge much faster, but its strikes don’t deal as much damage, and the Hybrid offers superior parrying but with a longer weapon (making them much harder to use).
Don’t be afraid to try each Hero out and see how well it suits your playstyle - be sure to study how long attack animations last and use this frame data to help you overcome your opponent in a duel.
Upgrade your Hero with gear
When a match draws to a close, For Honor will ‘scour the battlefield’ to find you loot (this being XP, Steel (For Honor’s in-game currency) and gear. These are usually pieces of armour or weapons that can buff your character’s stats.
However, in any other game such items could create an imbalance in battle - not so in For Honor. These upgrades only affect your stats in 4v4 Dominion. In any other mode (ie, Deathmatch and Duel & Brawl), these upgrades will only serve an aesthetic value so don’t worry about another player kicking your face off with buffed up stats in 1v1.
Always be aware of your environment
The nine launch maps of For Honor are built to facilitate 1v1 duels above all, so there are plenty of narrow bridges and ledges to clash steel upon. However, since dodging (moving the left analog stick and pressing Cross/A) is a vital part of your arsenal, rolling off a nearby edge is an easy self-inflicted doom.
To keep yourself safe from environmental suicide, have a quick glance over your surroundings before rushing to meet your opponent. If the scenery in the middle or on your opponent’s side looks treacherous, goad them with an Emote (press Triangle/Y) and draw them over to you instead.
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