The combat in For Honor is great. Learning to battle properly requires that you first unlearn everything you thought you knew about fighting in games, like the cocky young apprentice picked up by a battle tested old master. But going in immediately on the attack feels stronger, sir! No, young padawan. You must be patient (here you are hit on the head to emphasise the point).
In For Honor the heroes have different attack ranges and speeds, but all the speeds are probably slower than you’d expect in a fighting game. The effect of this is twofold: firstly it makes your giant medieval sword feel genuinely heavy, to the point that when, for example, the Knight Warden grips their sword by the blade and smashes the cross-guard into their opponent’s neck, you sort of wince a bit. Secondly, it makes attacking without thought a terrible tactic; you will start your heavy attack, be unable to cancel the action, and your opponent will come in on the side with a quick jab, or parry your attack and proceed to kick your ass around the map. There is no way that you can win a duel in For Honor by button mashing.
You must stay back and watch your opponent, sizing them up. Eventually one of you will make the first move (sometimes it’s you, cautiously slashing at the air and backing up again; sometimes the enemy will run in with confidence). As you fight and play as more heroes you learn their idiosyncrasies. The attacks of the giant Samurai Shugoki cannot be easily interrupted with one of your own, so you must learn to dodge to the side or be confident in your parries. Viking Raiders have more range than you’d expect. The Nobushi, with their spears, are the absolute devil (I have still not found a surefire way to beat a Nobushi that knows what it’s doing). You find your favourites and dig into how to play as them. Right now I’m working on the Orochi, a Samurai hero that is fast but has a limited block window. I am not good enough to play as the Orochi.
Source: Video Gamer