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Interview

Jason VandenBerghe Provides New Details on For Honor’s Single Player Campaign

When For Honor was revealed initially as a multiplayer title back in 2015, many fans had one question in the back of their minds: Will For Honor include a single player campaign?

Ubisoft Montreal answered that question back in 2015, but didn’t have something to show for it until this year’s E3 where we got our first glimpse of the campaign in action. However, we still didn’t really know a whole lot about it. A lot of times when a game focuses so much on its multiplayer, single player campaigns are shoehorned in for the sake of having them there. I recently sent Ubisoft some questions to get a better idea of what For Honor’s single player campaign will be like, and it’s sounding like there’s something for everyone to look forward to when For Honor releases early next year.

All questions were answered by For Honor’s creative director, Jason VandenBerghe.

 

ONLYSP: For those that might be unaware still that For Honor has a single player campaign, would you mind giving us a brief description of what the game’s campaign is about?

Jason VandenBerghe: In For Honor’s campaign, you will play a tale of war that stretches over three chapters. You will play first as a Knight, then as a Viking, and lastly as a Samurai–and you will play mainly as three key heroes who are central to this tale (in addition to a few other warriors from the For Honor cast along the way).

The world of For Honor is never peaceful, but when the warlord Apollyon and her Blackstone Legion launch a new set of attacks, the Vikings clans and the Emperor’s elite are plunged into a war that threatens the very fabric of civilization. Apollyon’s message is clear: humans are made for war, and she means to return the people to their natural state. In the Knights chapter, you will discover Apollyon’s plans from the inside. As the Vikings, you will summon your people out of darkness, and cross the seas to plunder your enemies. And as the Samurai, you will fight to hold your people together and try to stop the dark forces driving the land deeper and deeper into war.

ONLYSP: Are you focusing more on gameplay in the campaign over a deep and engaging narrative, or would you say it’s a good mix of both? Are there cinematics to drive the story forward?

VandenBerghe: The focus of the campaign is on pulling you straight into the world of For Honor by giving you glorious enemies to fight against, loyal friends to fight alongside, and thrilling battles that need winning–and that will be lost if you aren’t there to turn the tide.

Yes, we have cinematics along the way, and our goal with the narrative is to bring these characters to life. Who is the Warden? A member of an incredibly elite order of warriors, but one who has grown disillusioned and is looking for a cause. And boy, does the Warden find one.

The gameplay has to be great for this to work. Each mission will offer you a new kind of battle and a new kind of challenge to overcome. Sometimes you’ll be with your army, sometimes you’ll be alone. Sometimes you’ll fight against invaders, and sometimes you’ll fight your own forces. And sometimes you’ll play as a completely new type of character.

Most importantly, we want you to feel why you are fighting to raise those stakes. Apollyon is a tough customer, and if she gets her way, the world will be left bleeding. Can you stop her? Can you bring your people out of darkness? Or prevent them from falling into it in the first place?

It’s going to take a hero. More than one, actually.

ONLYSP: If you were to have gone with a more historical setting for the game, what would that have been like?

VandenBerghe: It really wasn’t ever something we wanted to do with this game. The core question of For Honor was “what if Knights, Vikings, and Samurai all met on the field of battle?” and that just isn’t something I am interested in attempting through the lens of history. It never happened! That’s one of the reasons why it’s such an interesting question!

I think of For Honor as being inspired by reality. We have tried to bring to life the legends that we have been telling ourselves about these warriors for hundreds of years. We want to create experiences that seem like the kind of things those legendary warriors we all know and love might have gone through, but we never set out to reproduce the actual ancient world.

My hope is that you’ll step through the looking glass into our warrior’s wonderland, and that what you find on the other side is so cool that you’ll forget to ask whether or not it happened exactly like this.

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ONLYSP: When you were originally developing For Honor, was a campaign mode in mind? Did you look at any feedback regarding other multiplayer-only experiences, like Titanfall, Evolve or even Ubisoft’s own Rainbow Six Siege?

VandenBerghe: Yes, we wanted to do a campaign from the start. Knights, Vikings, Samurai! That concept just screams for an explanation, and a place to bring some of those legends to life.

We also knew that our mechanic needed to be worked out in a multiplayer environment first if it was ever going to work. The first big prototype development phase was entirely multiplayer-focused, and that really paid off.

The more that people played it (and played it, and played it), the clearer it became to everyone that we should not only have a campaign, but that we had a chance to really go for it, to create a story that would allow players to dive face-first into the world and characters of For Honor.

We pitched what we wanted to do, everyone loved the approach, and so we went for it.

We hope you like it!

ONLYSP: Each faction in For Honor (Knights, Vikings, and Samurai) each have their own missions in the campaign mode. How varied will the missions be in terms of objectives and locale?

VandenBerghe: We’re going all over the place. The campaign world is divided into three big regions (Ashfeld, Valkenheim, and this horrible swamp place called The Myre), and each has a totally different approach to its look and feel. We’re going to give you big smash-and-burn missions, solo insertion missions, and everything in between. You’ll attack, defend, and maybe do both at the same time, and the cast of allies at your side will always be changing.

Mix that in with a bunch of specialized set-pieces and boss-fights, we feel like you’ll be good to go on the variety side of things. You’ll have to tell us, though.

ONLYSP: How big do you anticipate For Honor’s campaign to be in terms of length and content?

VandenBerghe: The best way I know to answer is this way: if you pick up For Honor only for the campaign, we want you 100% satisfied with your purchase when you finally decide to put down the controller.

So that means there’s a minimum expectation on number of missions, locations, extended play, etcetera. And we’ve got all that.

How big will For Honor’s content be? As big as we can make it, man. As big as we can possibly make it.

ONLYSP: Have you continued to refine the fighting controls for the game since you revealed For Honor at E3 2015?

VandenBerghe: Absolutely. We have a core team devoted exclusively to combat, and those developers are only getting better at this as we go. We have a bunch of new stuff we’re testing right now, in fact, and we will continue to look for ways to improve the game all the way up until the release.

One good example of this is the addition of the Revenge Meter in the demo this year. It’s a meter that builds up as you block incoming attacks, and after it fills up you can trigger Revenge Mode, which makes you uninterruptible for a few seconds. It makes turtling a strong option when outnumbered, and helps you take out tough enemies in clutch situations. Last year, we didn’t have that system, and we really love what it has added to group fights and fighter strategy.

All of our controls are getting constant tuning and polish, and that’s going to continue into the foreseeable future.

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ONLYSP: When watching footage of For Honor (I have yet to play it–missed it at E3), the combat looks pretty challenging, but when reading previews from other outlets covering the game, they say it doesn’t take too long to get the hang of. How has player feedback been regarding the combat system you’ve created?

VandenBerghe: It’s exactly like you said. Players are usually intrigued (and maybe a little intimidated) when they first see it, but we’ve gotten to the point where pretty much everyone can pick up the basics in the first minutes of play. There’s a wide spread of skill levels, of course, but we’ve honed the basics to the point where we’re really happy with how easy it is for players to get inside the game.

We believe that a lot of the worry from players that haven’t tried it comes from the fact that what you are seeing is so darned new.

It’s a rare privilege to be able to share something like that with the world. We’re pretty excited about the reception. We’re looking forward to finding out what happens when we release it into the wild.

ONLYSP: One thing I noticed when looking at threads and the subreddit for For Honor was that many people are wondering about the level of gore in the game. Will For Honor have gore in the campaign or online modes?

VandenBerghe: There’s quite a bit of gore in the game right now, actually. It’s just that we focus that payoff in the finish-kills, in those moments of glory. I don’t really have much interest in making design decisions that will lead to the same gore-strewn battlefield every single game. I want those moments to be payoffs that are all the more satisfying because they are less common.

In For Honor, the violence is a sort of necessary side-effect of the job at hand, not the point.

 

For Honor releases on the PS4, Xbox One and PC on February 14th, 2017. Stay tuned for more details on For Honor’s single player campaign as we have them by following OnlySP on our Facebook and Twitter channels.

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