View Full Version : The Flow of Battle - Tempo - "Frame Advantage"

09-02-2015, 08:53 AM
Upon examining many videos and wonderful comments form people who had a chance of playing the game and talk to the devs... and others who have been examining stuff... I now have a feeling that I got a pretty good understanding of the game's underlying mechanics. As I've never played, my notions are likely be very incomplete or flat out wrong. But I still risk detaling my impressions here, in the subject that is most dear to me when it comes to melee in games: tempo.


This concept goes by many names. It concerns "who can act first after doing what". If I attack and you block, who can act first? If we both attack as soon as we can, right after you block me, who will land the strike? In classic 3D fight games, such as Soul Calibur, this concept is so important, that players feel the need to be aware not only of who can act first after a certain strike is blocked, but also how sooner. It is said that the fighter who can act first has the Advantage. And the length of this Advantage is measured in frames (the game runs at 60fps). Ther result is that we end up studying charts like this:


Those red and blue numbers mean how many frames he has as disadvantage or advantage after each of the attacks land, are blocked, parried, etc.

I certainly don't have enough information to write down such a chart for For Honor. However, I may still mount up something like it, though simplified. When we're dealing with Frame Advantage, it is key to consider certaing brakepoints. One such key breakpoint is whether or not my Advantage is big enough so that I can not only start my attack, but also hit you before you even can act/defend yourself. When I can land this Guaranteed Hit, we say I'm Punishing you.

I don't have the frames in For Honor, but I figured out some important breakpoints. Somethings give only a small Advantage. Others give enough to Punish. And a very specific one gives enough to punish with a strong attack.


But before I get to the juicy part, lets talk some semantics. The names I proppose here aren't to be official or correct or anything. It's just so we can understand eachother. These things can be named in many different ways. So, what I mean by x is y (in this thread, at least). There are three (maybe a 4th, but lets not complicate things at this point) kinds of parries:

Normally parrying a fast attack = Block

Normally parrying a strong attack = Guard Crush

Timing the strong attack button at the momment you parry any attack = Deflection

The Block looks like attacking the enemy's sword, repelling it and halting the combo. The guard crush has the defender staggering back - he actually loses a little health and allows the opponent to continue the combo. The deflection looks like binding swords for a little while, the shrugging/sliding the enemy's sword away - also halts combos.


Here is kind of a chart, listing the attacks and what happens to the attacker if the attack hit or get blocked/guard crush. + means a short advantage; ++ means an Advantage big enough for a fast Punishment; and +++ one big enough for a Strong punish. The negative signs (-; --; ---) mean the other side of the coin, naturally.

Isolated Fast Attack - / -
Fast Attack Comboing into Another Attack + / ...
Isolated Strong Attack - / -
Strong Attack Comoing into Another + / -
Guard Break (breaking; not crushing) ++ / ...
Guard Break throwing opponent in a wall +++ / ...

DEFLECTIONS: Finally, any attacker who gets deflected ends up --. And if you deflect your enemy, you're ++.

DODGES: Dodging an isolated (or last in a combo) strong attack leaves the dodger ++. However, dodging a fast attack that comboes into another fast attack leaves you -. In this case you still gotta parry after the dodge. Not such a good business. This is assuming you're in range for the second attack. If it's a back step, I dunno who has the upperhand. And another detail is that some attacks include a special back step in their execution. In this case, if this special back step evades anything, you win, like the Oni finishing the Developers Walthrough.

One very important observation is that the small Advantages are very hard to confirm just from watching the videos. I'm particularly uncertain about isolated attacks hitting... and about strong attacks crushing. But I still bet 50cents on what's on the chart. :p

SOME GUIDELINES (And Other Breakpoins)

Now lets move to some suggestion. What should a player do when he is...?

+ Your fast attack beats any attack he try. If he is good, he probably won't try to attack you. In this case, sometimes you should try strong attacks, guard breaks or front dashes; to pressure him. Keep in mind, though, that he can intercept these with a fast attack. So, make sure sometimes you actually use fast attacks, so he knows his place and stays defensive. Make him respect your Advantage. This is how you get the opportunity to sometimes pressure him with the slow stuff. It's also worth noting that he can prolly dodge anything (though dodging fast attacks isn't cool).

++ The standard thing to do is Punishing your opponent with a fast attack, which still allows you follow up with more attacks. And follow up attacks are harder to read and parry. So, it's almost a no-brainer. In very specific circumstances you might wanna do some Guard Break throw to use the enviroment, or try a strong attack (which can be defended) if you're really in a hurry to kill the guy.

+++ Strong attack... unless... nothing. Just strong attack, seriously.

- Attacking is likely to get you hit before you land. Normally, you should defend. If you're somewhat far from your opponent, a back step is a good bet. If you're close, though, try to parry/deflect. If you notice your opponent tends to pressure you in these situations (with strong attack or guard breaks), risk using fast attacks from time to time. Strong attacks will pretty much only trump your opponent's guard breaks. So, only use it if you really expect guard break spam. In a nut shell, defend and sometimes risk fast attacks.

-- Accept the fact that you can't defend a fast attack, but keep sharp to defend its follow up. Be prepared to defend against a strong attack, though people will usually prefer to use the fast ones. In case you're deflectted, you have time to dodge a strong attack - even roll away from it. In case you're guard broken, I dunno if you have time to dodge a strong attack, but you surely can still parry.

--- Pray you have enough health.


Slightly extrapolating the matter at hand, I propose we talk about how this geeky stuff may relate to classes we haven't seen (much), yet. How do you translate a heavy style in the gameplay mechanics? Classic games have been doing this for a while. The anwer is: make them thrive from impact. If I'm a heavy dude it ight be that your attacks are slightly faster. This will matter quite a lot if we're even - can both act at the same time. However, if I block you, I'll have the Advantage. This Advantage can be bigger than usual, to compensate for my inferior attack speed. It can in fact more than compensate for it. So, when we're even, you're faster. But after impact, I'm essentially faster. This impact thing can be about making my Advantage bigger, or Disadvantage smaller. It can alter some breakpoints, though huge caution is advised not to go too far. As for turning usual Disadvantage sinto Advantages... that is also very dangerous for balance.


This is all very abstract, so let me try to give an example. Say I have a shield and flail and you have a katana. Lets assume that normally, after a guard break, the victim has enough time to parry a strong attack, but not enough time to dodge. But since I have a shield, we can determine that I should suffer less from guard breaks: recover from them a tad sooner. I'd still not have enough time to parry a fast attack (that would prolly be OP). However, it could give me enough time to not only parry, but also dodge a strong attack. A subtle difference, that would give me more options.

A similar example would be a shield grating a slightly bigger advantage upon performing a deflection. It wouldn't be enough for a guaranteed strong attack (OP much?), but it could be enough to negate the opponent enough time to dodge.

And the frames are not alone. They a friend called Pushback. And this is another trademark of heavier styles. Assuming that all styles end up at a tiny disadvantage after crushing teh enemy's guard with a strong attack combo, it'd prolly be OP to grant a style an Advantage in this case. It'd be a daring breakpoint to cross. However, you can grant the heavies more Pushback in this situations. If my flail send you flying upon crushing your guard, you'll end up far away from me and your tiny advantage won't matter much, because you can't even reach me with a normal fast attack.

Now we're bringing range into the picture. If you have a cumbersome rifle, I'm bare-handed and we're 60 yards away from each other, who can attack whom? My answer is: we can both attack eachother. You can prepare your rifle and shoot me from where you stand. I can run up to (or walk, even) you and punch you. From this range your attack is faster. But if we were toe to toe, my punch would be faster than your cumbersome rifle. My point is: the main element of range is speed.

The Bigger Stick

I guess we're almost sure we'll have a naginata (kind of spear) class. Some of us are very curious as to how the class will play. I learned in these very forums that spears are largely underestimated by many people. They were usually the primary weapon in real battles. They're not only rangy, they're also deceptively fast. My suggestion for treating spears in For Honor is actually not largely fueled by this piece of realism. Instead I suggest long weapons are treated how they arre in the classic games, like the cumbersome rifle in the example above.

The long weapons should have slower attacks, but longer. This means that if we're even and close to eachother, your sword beats my spear. However, if we're at a relatively long range, at the edge of my basic attacks, you won't reach me if your basic strikes. To catch me you'll have to use some slower lunging move, or even manually advance, then strike. That essentially makes you slower at my favorable range. Add different degrees of Pushback to this mix, then suddenly heavy and/or rangy styles become very interesting.

And what about the dual wielders? I hope that all this talk about tempo made you think about how tremendously important speed is. So, although it may be tempting to make a class much faster than another, this is likely to result in balance issues. We certainly don't want OP classes rampaging in the game. So, an alternative to dual wielders could be giving them more combo options/longer comboes. I'm not sure if this would be much less likely to OP... just a thought really.

Overall I'm tremendously pleased with the tempo in For Honor.! It seems very similar tot the one in Soul Calibur. An that speaks volumes. I'm sorry for the length of the thread. I hope I didn't bore you too much. I also appologize for the lack of references. If you want some, just ask and I'll try to find it. I figured this would be better than crowing the original post even more. And writing this down was a little tiresome. With sharp references it would have been very tiresome.

I look forward to repplies, questions, critiques, etc. Cheers!

09-02-2015, 04:27 PM
i dont think frame counting will be a thing in for honor cause...... lagg. This could be a big problem. Hopefully there will be next to no lagg but most ubisoft titles..... well.

A very impressive post and the next step to learning how to win a fight before we even can fight, XD first step being training with a controller.

09-10-2015, 04:54 PM
Pretty interesting stuff; that frame advantage chart is nuts.

09-15-2015, 08:01 PM
Frame advantage I don't think will be so problematic on console but PC might see more problems with Frame advantage.

But to be honest Ubisoft games tend to be quite laggy, especially if you aren't in mainland Europe or America. I mean I'm in the UK and the best game I've ever played without a lott of lag was AC 3 and Black Flag, all other games such as Far Cry 4 tend to be laggy, I just hope For Honor isn't.

09-18-2015, 10:28 AM
Glad to see I'm not the only fighting game player who's interest was grasped by this game. I don't think we'll have a good grasp on "frame advantage" for this game until we know more about the factions and their classes. The devs have noted that Samurai are faster and more precise strikers but we all know the balance for that is they have to commit to a lot of their actions and their lack of defense and armor will spell quick death for one that whiffs and is punished for missing.