We spent some time with the For Honor closed beta last weekend, and here’s how it went

For Honor is a title we’ve been keeping in the back of our minds for a little while now. Having appeared and two consecutive E3’s, and always introduced the most passionate team at Ubisoft’s already exuberant press events, For Honor looked like the sort of game that could take the devil-may-care smack-em-up multiplayer shenanigans of games like Chivalry and War of the Roses and give it the structure necessary for co-ordinated team multiplayer. Last weekend’s closed beta confirmed our suspicions.

For Honor‘s closed beta allowed us to run through a simple set up phase — pick your faction, design your logo, and jump in. The game runs you through it’s controls which on the surface seemed (thanks in part to the game’s Street Fighter-esque move list screen) to be far more complicated than they needed to be. After sinking an hour into the game, this initial impression gave way to accepting that the controls simply had a bit of a learning curve.

I’ve been trying to settle on a way to describe For Honor‘s combat and the best I’ve come up with so far is “large scale boxing match.” There’s a Punch Out!!-esque quality to the combat, timing your blocks and attacks to maximise their destructive potential and create opportunities, making sure you’re always moving from side to side, keeping your opponent on their guard. In amongst all of this, if you’re playing beyond the 1v1 duel mode, you’ll also have to pay attention to the game type.

The For Honor beta featured three modes of play — 1v1 duels, 2v2 small team fights and 4v4 big team fights. Of the three modes, the 4v4 fights were where we spent most of our time. 4v4 was a standard control point game where the aim was to control the three available points for as long as possible and beat the hell out of the enemy team in the bargain. By far my favourite part of this mode was taking my gigantic fear engine of a Viking and plowing through the on-field enemy minions as though I was playing Dynasty Warriors. Many a human-controlled opponent stopped to watch as I cheerfully ground their AI troops into a fine powder.

I was also able to move beyond my bone-crushingly powerful Viking into other classes. Each faction has a total of three unit types built around a combination of strength, speed or range. This allows for the putting together of strategic team comps in the 4v4 to deal with whatever the enemy team throws at you.

I can see there being a very dedicated community that rallies around For Honor but what interests me is how many of them will stick around longer-term. It’s a risky move to release a dedicated multiplayer title in today’s saturated games market, especially when the multiplayer games that people do play are, as in the case of Overwatch, are tough to distract from. From what we can see, For Honor seems to be marching to the beat of its own war drum. Whether the folks at home will march with it remains to be seen.

We’ll have a full review of For Honor for you when it launches on February 14. For Honor is coming to PS4, Xbox One and Windows PC.

If you’re looking to try it for yourself, you can when the Open Beta launches February 9-12 on all three platforms.