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Hands On With For Honor's New Training And Arena Modes

Hammering steel.

If you’re looking for ongoing support, Ubisoft have become one of the most reliable developers out there. Here we are, over a year since For Honor’s release, and we’ve just entered Season 5 of the blade battler. Far from just being a couple of new arenas, characters or weapons, Ubisoft are still hard at work on the underpinnings of the game itself, and Age of Wolves brings with it an all-new tutorial and training modes designed to bring newcomers up to speed, as well as helping established players to hone their skills to a lethal edge.

Those new additions are called the Apprentice Trials and the Warrior Trials, and they’ll give you a much more in-depth route into the game’s systems. Compared to what was there before, the new mode feels much more involved, and exciting even, which is no small task for a tutorial. You’re awoken by a scavenging bird, amid a castle aflame, with ash fluttering all about you. It’s a touch more dramatic than the old tutorial.

That said, you begin with stance matching and guarding manoeuvres that fundamentally aren’t much different from the previous training section, though each successful match or guard now earns you points. Each section then gives you a grading once you’ve successfully passed, with the option to repeat a task if you feel like you can do better.

Attacking is up next, followed by a taste of combat, and here the scoring system seems a little out, with receiving damage reducing your score by ten, while your own blows gain you either 50 or a 100 points. There’s little surprise, despite not being anywhere near perfect, that I achieve another A grade, and the promise of perhaps returning here to achieve a better score seems less inviting.

Dodging and rolling is followed by Basic Guardbreaks and throws, and here you start to see some of the newly added timing gauges which are designed to help you perfect your moves using a visible window of opportunity. Everything has a more involved feel about it, and I don’t feel like it’s taking it easy on me either. It’s around here I get to eat my words and take a B rating for Stamina training. Perhaps I will be back again to improve. On top of the main training requirements, there are also optional objectives, and come the end of it it’s all totted out and the game will dole out suitable rewards. My 91% completion leaves a little room for improvement.

The Warriors Trials move onto the tougher stuff, pushing you to practice more advanced techniques, and for longer, so that you can become properly accustomed to them. From Parries and Field Moves through to your Revenge Meter, this has it covered, and the scoring is much tougher here as well, begging for you to try the same challenge over and over to do better. Overall, despite it fundamentally giving you the same grounding I felt much more prepared for battle following the new Trials than I did previously, and much more excited to play more.

For those that have been playing for the entirety of the last year, it’s the Arena which is probably going to be of the most interest, and here you can basically build your practice around a particular enemy or specific moveset. You can choose from a variety of arenas to go up against any of the character types, with three levels of difficulty available. You can then have them perform either custom movesets of up to four moves which they’ll use randomly, or a preset moveset, though there are only two options to this thus far. Besides that, you can also have hit data displayed for really drilling down into achieving your highest possible damage output. It feels like a genuinely useful tool, and one which returning players will hopefully latch onto, especially if they’ve been struggling against one particular enemy type.

Ubisoft deserve some serious kudos for making this kind of addition over a year into a game’s life, and For Honor’s unusual position as a competitive brawler is strengthened by a tutorial and practice arena that is more in keeping with serious 2D fighter. This is the kind of benchmark support that Ubisoft are becoming known for, and for new and returning players, now is the perfect time to (re)join the fight.

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