For Honor's Tutorial Is Very Good

For Honor is a satisfying, layered fighting game that relies on "feel". You're fundamentally not going to get good at it unless you successfully program reactions to quick animation cues into your fingers. Without practising the basics, you'll be blocking and dodging like an idiot, totally unprepared for whatever this game's meta will become.

For Honor

Developing fighting game impulses is something obvious that, often, a tutorial leaves you to figure out on your own. For Honor's tutorial is a relaxed but firm reminder that, like any fighting game, it will take discipline to really master.

For those intimidated by a game that has the potential to be everything bad about RPG combat, you should know that the tutorial is refreshingly thorough. You'll leave it with exactly enough confidence to spar with a stranger who will inevitably kill you five times. To defeat that stranger, you'll have to seriously focus on the combat system's building blocks which, in the next few days, players will expand on very quickly.

I haven't played a good tutorial in memory. Recently, I picked up Bloodborne, and became so frustrated by its "run around and collect notes in this little garden" intro that I completely neglected to follow its instructions. That's the risk of a bad tutorial — it's so slow, boring and unnecessary that you spend the rest of the game crippled, but too stubborn to return to it. Worse are tutorials that launch players into a dramatic scenario, expecting them to pick up skills in the midst of a sudden emotional moment.

For Honor

For Honor's tutorial avoided all of that. I started with the Samurai class, the Orochi. You're in a castle training ground, a little King's Landing-esque. There are two dummies in front of you, and although the area isn't small, there isn't much else to do other than approach them. The game prompts you to lock onto the targets, switching back and forth between the two. You learn to guard and block from the left and right and air before a soldier enters from a back door. He approaches and you practise on him, eventually adding light and heavy attacks to your repertoire before defeating him.

It seems like a bread-and-butter tutorial, but a few things really struck me. First, it didn't feel overwhelming. I could focus on one thing at a time, unafraid that I was dipping my toe into a deep, dark sea of combat mechanics (even though I was). I was prompted to practise each thing two or three times, from each side, before progressing. That's good, because I'll often skip through these sorts of repetitions at the expense of sewing them into my reflexes. With fighting games, knowing how to do something is a poor substitute for having the impulse to do it. Also, after you fulfil each task, you can practise as long as you'd like before moving on.

For Honor

Sonic and directional clues from the AI forced me to think about timing. Before he swings from the right, you're prompted to block to the right with an arrow and a grunt as he lifts up his sword. Soon, the blocking becomes mechanical. Against a player, those cues are much softer, and I personally can have trouble pairing slight animation cues with controller actions when I'm picking up a new fighting game. So although it felt a little hand-holdy, it's exactly what I needed.

After you defeat the soldier, you're told to capture Zone A, which prepares you for the multiplayer game at large. You aren't immediately bombarded with enemies. You aren't let loose into a terrifying open world. You run through a somewhat linear path until you encounter some bad guys, which you promptly crush with your new skillset. A swarm of enemies attacks and with total ease, they're destroyed. It was a little Dynasty Warriors, but the low-key challenge was gracefully switching targets in between small and hard sword slashes.

At this point, you're cruisin' and feeling great about yourself. Before you're feeling too confident, For Honor introduces a few more mechanics: Dodging and guard-breaking, both of which appear quite simple in this happy little void. Then, you're told you've captured the objective.

I really dug the pacing of this. You start out on dummies and move to an easy AI, several very easy AIs and, finally, a moderate AI. The relative simplicity focuses you on skill-building, never really indicating how difficult it will be once you're up against another human. And honestly, that's a good thing. Already, players are getting very good. And to defeat them, you're given a not-overwhelming skillset to master in a safe, small and finite zone.

Fighting games are a war of confidence, and sometimes, of false confidence. Feeling good about the basics will get you into the right mindset to grind on the more advanced techniques. You might get discouraged facing off against other humans because the skill difference is so jarring, but on the bright side, For Honor is telling you that, right now, mastering the easy stuff is your path to success.


    In the tutorial in the beta, I felt like I was the greatest swordsman in the land, until they asked to to fight the AI guy and beat him 5 times... I then realised how much I instinctively button mashed, and how little I was using what they'd taught me.

    Don't even start me on how horrible I was at online MP...

    Best tutorial IMO is Demonsouls. The hidden treasure goodies for beating that demon was golden.

    Last edited 15/02/17 3:53 pm

    There is a FH 5v5 game mode where you all start facing an opponent in a 1v1 duels. My strat is to turn around and run from my enemy hoping to find a team mate to help me out. I am that good at this game.

    Last edited 15/02/17 6:43 pm

      You clearly haven't realized yet that the only way to win this game is to push people off ledges. That's why they called it, "For Honor: War of Ledges".

        IN LEDGE WE TRUST. This game needs more ledge.

        Last edited 16/02/17 10:27 am

    I have no idea what game you were playing. This is the worst kind of tutorial - Press this button combo X times... now forget all about that because now we move on and press this orhwe button combo X times... now forget about that because... etc... Presumably, at some point, you have to use all this, and then use the first button thing you did, which you can't remember.

    The default button setup and control defaults are terrible (playing on PS4) and so I had to start changing that immediately (there is no way I can play the whole game with the L2 button held in the whole time, enjoy your RSI in a few years everybody that does this). And then the tutorial doesn't show the actual buttons you have to press, you have to remember what you changed to what.

    At no point can you just play around, try the game, experiment, see what you can do, maybe try a few easy opponents. I'm not even sure I'm going to like the game (from what I've seen, I won't even get to find out) and you are making me learn every different possible skill before I can even try out the game.

    Let me get some easy progress in the game, let me experiment and maybe discover some things for myself, when I get into things a bit, maybe give me a chance to learn something a bit more complicated. Let me try out some more advanced things, and when I can do that reliably, maybe introduce something else. That's how any good game works and how to teach anybody, well, anything.

    The big problem is that I have made it about 80% of the way through the tutorial and I've been bored stiff for about 75% of that time.

    Hover does this kind of thing too. But at least there you can just button mash your way through that rubbish you aren't even going to remember anyway and get into the game where you can actually learn how to play your own way.

    Honestly, I don't know what the writer of the article was thinking, and I hope game designers don't taking this as encouragement to start doing this more and more.

    Also, I don't need to be told every 2 minutes about how the stamina bar works (meanwhile, the instructions for the throw and dodge combos appear once for about half a second and you are supposed to learn 3 or 4 different combos from that info).

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