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"Honor. What do you know about honor, you who has never faced true fear? Learn what honor is before pretending you are a warrior. Know this before you step onto that thin red path where no misstep is allowed. The path that only ends when your legs fail to support you, and your heart stops beating. The path where sadness goes along with pain and where glory is the color of blood. This narrow path only goes one way, a way covered with enemies and brothers. And it will take you without any shame into the hands of death for the name you were given and for your descendants. For honor."
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For Honor is an original property made by Ubisoft Montreal and announced at E3 2015 on June 15, 2015. It is a competitive third-person melee fighting game mixing speed, strategy, and team play with visceral close range combat in multiplayer action.

The sound of shouting and clashing metal fills the air. Fallen enemies and allies alike litter the battlefield. Every encounter is a brutal, tactical fight to the death. Kill or be killed. For Honor puts a blade in your hand and sets you loose in a medieval battle.

Players side with one of three factions - the Legions (Knights), the Warborn (Vikings), or the Chosen (Samurai) — duel one another for control of the battlefield. The game takes place in a low fantasy universe where these three Fantasy Counterpart Cultures exist next to each other and are locked in an endless war with each other.

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The game uses an innovative combat system called the "Art of Battle", where players lock on to their dueling opponents and can then choose to position their weapon from above, left, or right, able to attack, defend, or deflect enemy attacks on the same position. The addition of dodging, movesets, and guard breaks make fights more complex and skill-based, where fights are not determined by random button mashing, but careful observation and prediction of enemy stances and movement, and the fate of the fight could be decided in just a single mistake.

The game also has a story mode, where the three factions fight not only one another, but also the bloodthirsty warlord Big Bad Apollyon, who orchestrates the war between the three factions to satisfy her bloodlust. It was released for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC on February 14, 2017.

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A new update, Marching Fire, containing a new Chinese faction, the Wu Lin, and a new 4v4 Breach mode, was released on October 16, 2018.


Our Honorable game provides examples of:

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    General Tropes 
  • Anachronism Stew: There's quite a mishmash of historical equipment from different periods in each faction's gear, along with what's made up out of the whole cloth. It's not such a problem since this is a fictional setting that's upfront about running on Rule of Cool.
    • The Samurai wear armors that mix together elements from the Heian to Edo periods pretty haphazardly, and the rigid sections aside from the helmets are depicted as being made of wood. While there is some archaeological evidence of wooden armor being used in the Yayoi period (ca. 300 BC – 250 AD), the lamellae and plates of armor were made of iron and/or rawhide from the Kofun period onward, meaning it's probably safe to say that no historical samurai ever armored himself with wood.
    • The Conqueror's cylindrical great helm, coat of plates, tabard, and shield are all twelfth to thirteenth century Crusader era equipment, the Warden's Longsword and full Maille with elements of early Transition armor, combined with his longsword, hail from the fourteenth Century while the Lawbringer's full plate armor and anti-armor pollaxe are from the late medieval period, fifteenth Century and later. The Peacekeeper's fighting style and weapons are derived from early Renaissance sixteenth Century dueling manuals (Her outfit is, to be frank, just a dirty Assassin's getup with a helmet.)
    • The Centurion's three main armor sets are based off of armor from different eras of Roman history. He has Republican Lorica Musculata, Imperial Lorica Segmentata, and Byzantine Klivanion.
    • The Highlander has sets based on the modern kilt, as well as others based on the early modern great kilt and medieval léine that modern kilts derive from.
    • The Assassin's Creed weaponsnote  take it even further. The Highlander gets a claymore taken from the late eighteenth century while the Valkyrie gets a spear and shield from around 50 years before Christ.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: So much so that a lot of players refer to the game as "For Fashion" due to the sheer amount of customization options.
    • One of the main rewards for advancing in Reputation for each hero is unlocking more cosmetic options, including color palettes, symbols, material colors, and embossing for armor. At certain Reputation levels entire outfits (with color palettes and symbols) will be rewarded.
    • Steel can be used to purchase other outfits, as well as ornaments, emotes, executions, and cosmetic effects, and certain cosmetics can only be acquired by completing the Story missions on various difficulties.
    • As of Season 6, any weapon or armor piece rewarded at the end of a battle unlocks that piece's appearance as a customization option, though this requires use of Steel or Salvage depending on the piece's rarity.
  • Anti-Frustration Features
    • The Duel and Brawl modes use variations of the regular maps, with some environmental hazards removed and ledges blocked or closed off, making it harder to use the environment for easy kills. Revenge mode was also disabled in Duel mode post launch, preventing the combatants from exploiting the momentary power up.
    • The spawn locations were also changed on a few brawl maps, placing them away from the environmental hazards at the start, since players would regularly move to those locations before starting the match.
    • Originally if someone left a duel they were replaced with a bot. This was later changed so that the remaining player automatically wins instead of having to waste time fighting the AI.
    • The appearance of weapons and armor can also be changed to match that of other pieces in the player's inventory(provided they are the same rarity), allowing players to keep their desired appearance without sacrificing combat effectiveness.
  • An Adventurer Is You: Each Hero plays to different tropes surrounding its core theme and comes with its own set of emotes to characterize them from each other.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: In Breach mode, the attacking side has an arbitrary number of respawns available. Once those respawns run out, they lose. The number can be replenished by breaking down each gate, and it doesn't cost anything if the downed player is revived by a teammate.
  • Arrows on Fire: Both flaming arrows and boulders can be seen raining down during the battle.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Low-level AI heroes are easy to kill. But once you start hitting level three and higher AI opponents, even an experienced player will started being in trouble because of how skilled they are. Bosses will even tackle, push, or throw players right into environmental traps (you know, how you do to other opponents all the time). They even adapt their AI to your fighting style, learning which moves you're best at countering, and will respond to player pings and messages.
  • Ascended Meme: General Tozen's "You are a Raider... Legendary!" line became deeply memetic within the fandom. "Legendary" is one of the titles a player can earn if they get a long-enough killstreak in multiplayer, and a later patch adjusted this to being in all caps in reference to the meme. In Season Three, a new high-level Gladiator bot was added, whose name was simply "Legendary!"
    • Another example can be seen in the execution "end him rightly" where the warden unscrews his pommel and throws it at the downed opponent. This is a reference to a meme popularized by the YouTuber Skalligram. He takes this from a translation of a medieval fighting manual which depicts the same thing.
    • The "Vultcano" meme, where Knight players would put all their soldiers on the volcano on the map, became this with the Arcade Mode update. The Volcano territory is called Mount Ignis and one quest involves fighting a cult of fire-worshippers who revere the volcano.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Each faction speaks a foreign language unique to them, and each hero will say a line when doing certain moves. These can be translated. A full list can be found in this video and the Reddit thread linked in its description.
    Raider: (Icelandic) "Ég ríf ykkur í bita!" (I'll rip you apart)
    Warden: (Latin) "Te secabo!" (I will cut you!)
    Nobushi: (Japanese) "Oshite mairu!" (Literally, "impertinently advancing", but is old-fashioned and means something like "Have at you")
    • Uniquely, the Highlander has a few Scottish Gaelic lines alongside the usual Icelandic.
    Highlander: Dunmaghlas! ('The Fort of the Sons of Glas', the traditional seat of power of Glan MacGillivray).
    Highlander: Priachaill! (Clumsy oaf!)
  • Boss Rush: What the season 5 special event mode "Test Your Metal" amounts to; a 4v4 Elimination match against a team of bots consisting of characters from the game's Story Mode, most of whom are bosses with the odd Guest Star Partymember as well; the Viking team consists of Ragnar, the Raider boss of the first chapter, Siv the Berserker, Runa the Valkyrie PC, and Gudmundr, the unique Warlord Final Boss of the Knight chapter (sans his pet wolves). The Samurai team consists of Kizan the Shugoki and Ranja the Kensei, two of the rival Daimyo that Ayu faces in the Myre, Seijuro, the Orochi and pretender to the Imperial throne, and General Tozen, a second unique Orochi and the final boss of the Viking chapter (though he lacks the ability to duplicate himself in this mode). Finally, the Knight team consists of the Warden's best friend, Stone the Conqueror, Mercy the Peacekeeper PC, Holden Cross the Lawbringer, and Apollyon herself. The battles start out relatively easy, but there's a distinct Difficulty Spike as the matches progress, and they do not fight honourably.
  • Button Mashing: Thoroughly averted. The fighting system not only makes this impractical, but fatal. Random and thoughtless attacks are easily countered and dodged, leaving openings for other players to exploit, ending duels in an instant.
    • Furthermore, certain combos actually fail if you button mash them such as the Peacekeeper's Stab ability on guard break (where if you do not spread out your stabs to be in time with the attack, the combo ends early).
  • Character Customization: Every warrior's armor and weapon can be customized with gear won at the end of each round, including color and paint patterns. The physical features of the Heroes can also be customized to a lesser extent.
  • Character Level: As you play the game, you will accumulate experience points and gain levels. Gaining levels will unlock perks that will allow you to do things like heal mid-battle, give you an aura that will buff nearby allies, and even call in devastating catapult strikes. After reaching max level with a character they will begin to earn Reputation ranks, which unlock new and more powerful gear.
    • In battle characters accumulate Renown, which acts as experience, leveling up and allowing them to use said perks.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In team-based modes, Attacker and Defender teams are marked by particular color schemes. Attackers tend to wear warmer shades (reds, oranges, and yellows) while defenders wear cooler shades (blues, greens, and purples). Some color schemes may mix things up a little, such as an Attacker color palette being primarily orange and white with blue highlights, or a Defender palette with primary black and blue with dark red highlights. Higher Reputation levels give access to more color palettes with bolder or wider variations, but they still broadly fit this pattern.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Despite the name, this is very much encouraged. The characters will gladly use underhanded tactics to win, and none so other than the Raider who can tackle the enemy and stun them with a knee to the head. Also, kicking people off ledges is a viable and popular tactic.
  • Combat Resuscitation: In team-based modes, players who run out of health can be revived by their allies unless they were defeated via Finishing Move or Ring Out.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: While not as noticeable on slower characters, the higher-level AI on fast characters such as the Orochi, Valkyrie, and Aramusha have no compunctions about abusing their faster-than-humanly-possible reflexes to feint and attack from multiple directions, making blocking (to say nothing of parrying) all but impossible unless the start up is either blocked or dodged.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The game's entire premise is three of the most feared warrior cultures of the middle ages going to war with each other.
  • Close-Range Combatant:
    • The game is focused on this aspect. The only ranged attacks are perk specials, like an "orbital strike"-esque volley of arrows.
    • The Berserker takes this Up to Eleven as their axes have the shortest range but they are capable of chaining them and staying mobile.
  • Crosshair Aware: The artillery show great big red cirles where they about to strike.
  • Death from Above: There's a catapult strike perk that you can activate if you're doing particularly well. It functions similar to an air strike in a first person shooter; it rains fiery death on your opponents. The Samurai instead has fire arrows, which deal less damage. Another way to bring death from above is either by sliding down ladders and stepping in someone's face or hopping off a ledge and hit them with a plunging attack anywhere.
  • Elite Mooks: The Captains, who actually have their own health bars and can be engaged in the Art of Battle unlike the rest of the mooks, though they're not as durable as the actual heroes.
  • The Enemy Gate Is Down: In Breach, if the ram is destroyed before the second gate is destroyed, the defenders automatically win, no matter how many zones the attackers control or how many respawns they have left. The gate can be on its last legs but the defenders will win if the ram's health is depleted. On the other hand, if the Commander dies, the attackers win, no matter how many respawns they have remaining.
  • Fisher King: The maps visually change with the controlling faction. Viking held territory takes on a snowy and frigid appearance, while Samurai controlled land becomes foggy marshes, with Knight occupied land being a temperate and clear-skied middle ground.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: The Raider, the Warlord, and the Lawbringer are capable of doing this, with the former two stunning their enemy if you push them against a wall.
  • Genre-Busting: An online hero-based hack n' slash + 3D fighting game boasting competitive modes right out of modern first person shooters, seasoned with MOBA and strategy elements.
  • Gorn: The game is easily the goriest game Ubisoft had created, thanks largely to the executions. You have the decapitations, the neck crunches, the gut impalements, the occasional dismemberment, and lots of blood.
  • Kill It with Fire: A viable technique in combat is to knock someone into open flames or throw a fire flask at them, which causes major damage.
  • Mêlée à Trois: It's the Legions vs the Warborn vs the Chosen.
  • Microtransactions: Players can pay real money to gain Steel. While the cost of gear packs are low enough that they can be earned from multiplayer matches alone, emotes and cosmetics are far more exorbitantly expensive, making microtransactions the fastest and most practical method of getting them.
  • Mooks: In addition to the player-controlled characters, both teams also have AI-controlled foot soldiers who behave similar to creeps in MOBA games. These AI mooks are considerably less powerful than the player-controlled Heroes and can be killed in one hit.
  • Mook Chivalry: Actually somewhat encouraged by game mechanics - not only does an enemy who isn't locked onto you have an easier time blocking and parrying your attacks, being outnumbered rapidly builds your revenge meter - an unskilled player interrupting a duel can get both himself and his ally killed by the newly empowered opponent!
  • Mook Horror Show: The game can become one of these if your hero quickly and brutally kills a bunch of the opposing team's AI mooks. For heroes with the Body Count feat active, this also heals them.
  • Power Glows: Some special attacks and buffs make your weapon glow to indicate the effect - purple for bleeding, orange for unblockable, yellow for knockdown, white for superior block, blue for combo .
  • Rain of Arrows: Samurai heroes can call down a barrage of arrows on an area after earning enough Renown during the match. All classes can call down a full volley for their final feat, while some classes like the Nobushi have a smaller one as a second tier feat.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The Conqueror is the only hero who cannot feint, due to their chained flail being impossible to stop once it is in motion.
    • The Heroes various executions are not immune to this either. Such as the Lawbringer's opponent dying of their injuries before he can actually finish them off in one. Or the Warlord getting his sword stuck in his enemy's chest after stabbing them and having trouble getting it out.
    • It's possible to send a Shinobi flying off a cliff or ledge with their slide move if the controlling player is not careful.
  • Ring Out: Getting knocked off a cliff or overhang will instantly kill you. Several classes, such as Conqueror, Lawbringer, Raider, and Warlord, have special moves designed to knock or push you around and rack up kills in this way.
  • Scotireland: The Highlander has moves as well as armor and weapon sets named after elements of both Irish and Scottish mythology and geography, and one of his swords in particular is modelled after a medieval Irish design.
  • The Siege: Most multiplayer maps, including all Dominion Maps, take place during variants of these, and many of the campaign missions involve variations on sieges.
    • In the very first Knight mission, the Warden is fighting off a siege on the fortress of Harrowgate, and the next mission they're repelling a Viking siege of the Citadel (which also forms the basis of the iconic Citadel Gate multiplayer map). The fourth and final missions of the Knight campaign center around besieging Viking fortresses, with the last one involving escorting a massive ram up to the gates.
    • In the Viking campaign, the Raider leads a massive amphibious raid on one of the main samurai fortresses and rapidly overruns it. The final mission involves attacking the Imperial City of Koto across a long, well-defended bridge... ending with the Raider and his army being trapped by General Tozen's army attacking them from behind, at least before the Raider kills Tozen and scatters his men.
    • In the Samurai campaign, the Orochi has to end the siege of the Imperial Palace by sneaking in and unleashing an elephant to smash down the gates. The final battle of the campaign involves a massive siege on Apollyon's citadel the Shard by both the Samurai and Knights under the Warden.
    • Most multiplayer Dominion maps involve variations on sieges. The Shard and Overwatch maps involve massive siege towers sending huge numbers of infantry onto the walls of defended fortresses. River Fort has troops attacking massive artillery emplacements in a Viking fortress, while the High Fort map involves attacking a Viking fortress on top of a hill. Sanctuary Bridge is a redux of the final Viking campaign mission to attack the bridge leading into Koto, and Citadel Gate is a redux of the second Knight mission. The Temple Garden map is a raid on a Samurai temple, while the Forge map is a raid on a large foundry complex on a river dam via sappers sneaking in through tunnels beneath the forges.
    • Breach Mode is a full-on siege of an enemy fortress, requiring the attackers to escort a ram through multiple enemy walls and slay the fortress's commander at the end. The defenders can use archer positions, boiling oil, and ballista to damage the ram and clear away troops defending it to allow their own troops to attack the ram. The attackers have a limited number of respawns that will refresh when each wall is breached and can also take over defender positions to turn their weapons against them.
  • Shield-Bearing Mook: The NPC foot soldiers all have shields, not that it helps them against the PCs. Some campaign missions feature higher ranking soldiers whose shields can deflect a few hits, but they're nowhere near as dangerous as Warlords, Conquerors, or Vikings. Breach Mode features pikemen with tower shields, who can take several hits before dying.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • From the announcement of the game, the fulfillment of this trope has been part of the pitch to players. The announcement video had a prominent use of the sword techniques half-swording, and mordhau, both of which involve grasping the blade of a sword to swing or guide it, and both appear in game. The use of these techniques is well documented in the middle ages, but rarely depicted in modern fiction.
    • A universal Samurai feat has them using a Japanese longbow, or yumi. In real life, samurai fought primarily as mounted bowmen, preferring to use either the naginata or yari in melee combat because of their greater reach. As Japan unified, gunpowder weapons took prominence on the battlefield and swords and training in their use became status symbols as the samurai evolved into a peacetime upper class.
    • The Orochi using the katana makes sense as his role is as an assassin; while on the battlefield the katana was a backup weapon compared to a yari, naginata, or yumi, it is an ideal tool for close-quarters combat inside a house, castle, or on the street. In the campaign, the Orochi is actually employed mostly as a scout or battlefield assassin.
    • Though it's mostly seen in the multiplayer, all the characters speak in the language they would use at the time - While Knights (Latin) and Samurai (Japanese) are easy to figure out, most people wouldn't expect the Vikings to speak Icelandic. It is in fact the language closest to Old Norse.
    • The shields used by the Chosen Mooks are based on actual Japanese wooden shields used during the Kofun and early Asuka periods.
    • While some of the characters have visible hair, all of it that is visible is short or kept tightly braided to avoid it getting grabbed or tangled. When we see Ayu and Cross without their helmets, both are depicted with short hair. That said, Raiders and Valkyries tend have particularly long beards and braids sticking out, but Rule of Cool applies here.
    • The battles in the campaign show realistic tactics, such as extended sieges, dispatching scouts, and how bloody a rapid assault on a fortified position can be when you don't have surprise or advanced siege weapons available. At one point, Apollyon notes that they could have besieged a Viking fort for weeks or months with minimal losses, but that they have to commit to a massive assault with a titanic ram because if they waited for more than a day, the Vikings would summon reinforcements and an entire army would be in the nearby bay by the next day.
    • The Samurai live deep in trackless swamps and forests, which are metal-poor regions, which is reflected in their mostly-wooden armor.
    • People in medieval ages generally suffered from a lack of nutrition resulting in stunted growth and shorter stature, which is credited as the reason that foot soldiers are so much shorter than the warriors, who would have a serious advantage thanks to their height.
  • SNK Boss: Apollyon, the final boss, is a big cheater. For starters, she has more health than any opponent in the entire game. In phase one, she has back up (she has back up in phase 2 if you are co-oping as well), but she really doesn't need it. She is very strong, taking chunks out of your health with every blow, hard to block, and in phase 3, it becomes ridiculous as she gains a unique unblockable charging move that will impale you for heavy damage and knock you down that's very hard to avoid and she can activate revenge at basically any time, even moments after exiting it. Pretty much your only option when she does is to run as fast as you can away from her in the (rather cramped) arena. And to top it off, balls of fire are raining from the sky. And (on hard mode at least), if you die at any phase in the fight, you start the entire fight over again.
  • Spiritual Successor: Some people who have tried the game have compared the combat to Bushido Blade; you have to analyze your opponent's defensive stance, use misdirection, choose the direction of your swing, and a single misstep can get you killed instantly. Word of God has confirmed that Bushido Blade was, indeed, a major influence on the game's combat system.
  • Sticks to the Back: All of the warriors weapons for whenever they need their hands free.
  • Super Drowning Skills: All of the heroes will drown and die if pushed into any large body of water.
  • Sword and Fist: Pretty much everyone gets in on this with guard breaks which all consisting of grappling or looking like they struck the enemy with their weapon's haft or pommel (or both). The Warborn heroes' animations particularly tend have a lot more hitting their enemies with more than just the business end of their weapon of choice.
    • Up to Eleven with the DLC character, the Centurion. He only uses his gladius for about half of his moves. The rest involve various kicks, punches, and uppercuts to stun and disorient the opponent, or even knock them to the floor. Even his throws involve more or less punching them in the desired direction. Made even more ridiculous with the Haymaker feat, which makes all this even do damage, allowing you to just punch people to death.
  • Sword Sparks: Sparks fly each time a blow is blocked - even if it doesn't make sense like blocking a wooden axe handle with the wooden shaft of a spear.
  • Taking You with Me: Be careful about ganging up on an enemy with a fourth tier area of effect feat - they may decide to drop it in as one last hit back.
  • Unblockable Attack: Special attacks and certain combos can end in one, going through the target's guard, but it's donwplayed as they can be parried or deflected.
  • The Undead: For the Feast of the Otherworld Halloween event, soldiers are replaced by skeletons, and new spooky magical effects are available for executions, emotes, and idle animations, creating creepy blue and green death auras.
  • Unfriendly Fire: It is possible to unintentionally damage your allies via an errant swing of your weapon, meaning that you must be careful if you and your teammates are ganging up on a single foe.
    • This applies doubly so to area of effect feats like catapult strikes or ranged attacks like the Longbow feat - if an ally is either in the line-of-fire or is in the area when it detonates, they'll take damage as well.

     Story/Setting Tropes 
  • After the End: The game is set after an enormous cataclysm that devastated the lands of the Warborn, the Chosen, the Wu Lin, and the Legions. The Forever War that's going on during the game itself stems from the three groups fighting over (once) scarce resources, and Apollyon's plot is an extended gambit to reignite the war.
  • Alternate Timeline: Word of God states that the game takes place on Earth, but one that was struck by a global catastrophe some time around 1000-1100 AD, which rearranged the continents and destroyed civilization, keeping it in Medieval Stasis for a thousand years.
  • An Aesop: One that is actually in conflict with the very title of the game: There Is No Honor In War.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: In addition to the three main Player Characters, the player takes control of Holden Cross, Mercy, Stigandr, Runa, and Ayu for individual campaign chapters.
  • Apocalypse Wow: The war between the three factions started after a massive earthquake royally wrecked all three factions, forcing them into fighting one another over resources to survive, but they keep fighting, despite some peace efforts, even after the land recovers.
  • Call-Back: At the start of the Viking campaign, Ragnar screams "Valhalla!" in defiance of the Raider right before the Raider kills him. At the end of the Viking campaign, when they're faced with a trap and near-certain death at the hands of General Tozen's reinforcements, the Raider shouts "Valhalla!" while charging them.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: During the Warden's story, while the Blackstone Legion is executing vikings, a viking raider with a distinctive helmet is brought forward to be executed. Apollyon lets him go free after he keeps the soldier escorting him from making him kneel. Later, at the very beginning of the Raider's story, the Raider is hunting for Ragnar, a viking raider with the same helmet, outfit and character model as the one Apollyon spared.
  • Combat by Champion: In order to spare the lives of able warriors on both sides, Holden Cross demands this of Daubeny at the conclusion of the Blackstones' assault on his keep. Daubeny refuses, and the fight is actually carried out by Cross's second-in-command and The Warden.
  • Death World:
    • Ashfeld is filled with boiling geysers and poisonous rivers as a result of the active volcano in the region.
    • Valkenheim varies between being habitable and being a frozen wasteland with limited food depending on the local volcanic eruptions. When the story begins, recent eruptions have forced the Vikings to get more aggressive, which is why Apollyon is attacking while their food stores are vulnerable.
    • The lands of the Dawn Empire consist of places considered too inhospitable for the Legions and too isolated for the Vikings. To invade means somehow surviving the swamps of the Myre, and the capital city itself is on a plateau surrounded by an impenetrable forest. Decades before the Raider's attempt a group of Vikings attempted to raid the Dawn Empire by using their longboats to enter the Myre. Not a single one came out.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Shown in the cultures of the three factions, and in one observable Apollyon mentions it directly, saying that the Knights, Vikings, and Samurai treat prisoners differently: the Knights treat prisoners as guests and ransom them back if they can, the Vikings enslave prisoners, and the Samurai treat being captured as a dishonor and execute prisoners unless they want to deeply shame them. This difference has led to unpleasant disagreements in the past.
  • Doom Magnet: The keep from the first level of the Knight campaign changes hands nearly every year, Lord Daubeny being only its latest owner.
  • Downer Ending: Apollyon is defeated, however she ultimately succeeds in inciting war between the three factions and its years before their leaders realize what truly happened. While Cross, Stigandr, and Ayu agree to try and end the war, they admit that it will be extremely difficult and likely get them killed.
    • Word of God states that all their attempts failed resulting in the faction war seen in multiplayer.
  • Escort Mission
    • The Warden has to escort a Battering Ram as it slowly makes it way to the gate in the "Wolves Among Sheep" level.
    • The Orochi must escort Momiji after she is injured by an arrow in "Honor".
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The Vikings discover some dead Blackstone soldiers in the Myre, hinting that Apollyon is planning something.
    • Each player character narrates their particular chapters in the story. As seen in the ending, this isn't just a narrative device, but each individual telling their part of the tale leading up to the three-way war erupting, so that Cross, Ayu, and Stigandr can get the story straight.
  • Forever War: The war between the various factions has apparently been going on for a millennium. Only having stopped recently by the time of the main game. Invoked by Apollyon who seeks to reignite it to weed out the weak. This has also been happening in the Wu Lin's homeland, and is the reason their faction has entered the fray; their heroes are their leaders who have left their homeland to seek a new one elsewhere.
  • Framing Device: The final ending reveals that the campaigns were retellings that Cross, Stigandr and Ayu were telling each other.
  • Gender-Neutral Writing: The writing surrounding the three main Player Characters of the campaign is deliberately devoid of gender due to those characters having their gender chosen by the player.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Each of the DLC classes is some form of outsider who came to join the war effort.
    • Centurions hailed from a land far to the south, the predecessor and remnant of the pre-cataclysm empire that the Legions stemmed from, and have come north to aid their descendants.
    • The Shinobi were secretive agents working in the shadows of the Dawn Empire's lands, but with war enveloping their home, they've come out of hiding to fight in the open for their people.
    • The Highlanders aren't part of the war, but their oaths to the Vikings have kept their lands safe, and now those oaths have come due.
    • Gladiators are arena fighters from the Legions' lands who have decided that they cannot find a Worthy Opponent in the ring anymore and are seeking out challenges and glory on the battlefield.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: There don't appear to be any clear-cut "good guys" or "bad guys" in this game. The Chosen are seeking a homeland of their own after centuries of wandering, the Warborn are fighting to reclaim lands that were taken from them long ago, and the Legion are fighting off an invasion from both sides. The one unquestionably evil side is Apollyon, who appears to be deliberately causing the three sides to war with one another for little more than a hatred of peace.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Two in the cinematic trailer. The first is when three warriors from each side first meet over a solitary small source of water and consider a course besides violence for a moment, but desperation and mistrust win out. The second is years later when another set of warriors meet on the same spot and, seeing the devastation around them, they all lower their weapons... only for Apollyon to shoot an arrow into the Viking's shoulder, reigniting their hostilities.
    • As Apollyon lies dying it looks like the Knights and Samurai may be able to resolve things peacefully, only for the viking's arrival to cause a Mêlée à Trois killing any chance for peace.
  • Lost Technology: The Legion has lost much of their old engineering knowledge, instead relying on centuries old plans and designs that they no longer fully understand. Furthermore, the Lawbringer's armor is a closely-guaded secret of their order, which is why most Knights wear mis-matched plate and chainmail instead of massive suits of full-body plate armor.
  • The Lost Woods: The Myre's swamps are a constantly shifting and changing morass, to the point that the Chosen don't bother building permanent structures there because stone buildings disappear eventually. Entire armies have entered the swamps and vanished. The Warborn are forced to steal up-to-date maps from the Chosen in order to navigate the Myre.
  • Low Fantasy: Although the game takes place in a fictional world, magic doesn't exist... that we know of. If it exists, it's extremely low key.
    • The Cataclysm that merged together the lands of the Samurai, the Vikings and the Knights and created Ashfeld doesn't really seem like a normal geological event. What with the lightning and the pure distance that entire regions were moved.
    • The Myre is not a normal swamp or jungle and the skulls of the creatures there don't match up with anything from Earth. The fact that the geography apparently changes without warning and explosive mushrooms exist in it unlike anything on Earth further indicates it is a very alien place.
    • It's also not 100% clear what General Tozen does when he summons his "shadows," and whether or not they're just flunkies wearing replica armor, so something more mystical. In addition, Ranja, one of the Daimyo that Ayu hunts, is noted as being highly religious and that when she is confronted, she immediately enters Revenge mode and fights much harder than the other two Daimyo.
    • Some of the Viking classes claim to have some manner of supernatural powers, with Raiders being described as having the "spark of the gods," Berserkers channeling the spirits of the wild, and Valkyries making direct covenants with the gods. They could be just highly religious, or they might be drawing power from some supernatural force.
    • A couple of heroes, like the Shinobi and the Shaolin, outright teleport in the middle of their attack chains.
    • There are some questlines in Arcade Mode that hint at magic being used, including one quest to hunt down a group of pyromancers (who wield weapons that inflict fire damage) and several of the weekly quests involve hunting down legendary and supernaturally-powerful warriors.
    • The Sakura trailer shows the titular Hitokiri surrounded by an unnatural, ghostly wind and an inhuman, spectral distortion to her words.
  • Meaningful Name: The story goes that the Blackstone Legion was founded by seven members around a large piece of obsidian (literal black stone) carved into a round table.
  • Medieval Stasis: Justified in that the people of the Knights, Vikings and Samurai were hit by an apocalyptic earthquake a millennium ago which halted their technological process and left them scrambling to reclaim the resources and knowledge of ages past, keeping them stuck in a medieval era ever since. One observable lore entry indicates that the Legion doesn't actually know the mechanical principles behind how their siege engines and war machines work, and instead just build exact copies based on the schematics left by their ancestors.
  • Mordor: Downplayed, since the game is Low Fantasy, but the tectonically-active Ashfeld becomes this after Apollyon takes over and subjugates its people to her brutal rule.
  • Motive Decay: While the factions were originally fighting for resources after a devastating earthquake, they continued to fight long after settling down. By the start of the campaign all three have stopped fighting to give peace a chance.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Most of the Blackstone Knights subscribe to this theory; they're loyal to Apollyon, despite the fact that she's a psychotic dictator who wants to start a devastating war. The Warden, however, places their oaths to protect the weak above their loyalty, and leads a rebellion against her joined by a number of other Blackstone troops, including the other major Legion NPCs.
  • Order Reborn: In the Knights campaign, Apollyon has taken over the weakened remains of the Iron Legion after they've fallen apart due to endless battles with Viking raiders. Some of the Iron Legion desert but most join Apollyon. By the time the Samurai campaign reaches Ashfeld, however, the Warden has rebelled and rebuilt the Iron Legion from Apollyon's defectors, creating an army strong enough to open the borders into Ashfeld and allow both forces to besiege and overrun Apollyon's castle.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • The Iron Legion deserters recognize that the Warden doesn't know how bad Apollyon and the Blackstones are. Rather than explaining this, they try to kill them.
    • The primary Legions continue to send supplies and reinforcements to the Knights, either completely unaware that Apollyon has seized control, or that she's an insane warmonger.
    • The factions know virtually nothing about one another, with one of the Orochi's companions being surprised to see Blackstone knights defecting to the Warden's side, asking if they can do that. Then the Warden's forces attack the Orochi and Momiji assuming they are spies.
      • This is Played for Laughs during the Viking campaign, as Runa the Valkyrie is on a scouting mission and decides to interrogate one hapless Samurai mook.
        Stigandr: Well? What'd they say?
        Runa: (Shrugs) I don't speak Japanese.
    • The Vikings arrive to attack Apollyon's fortress, not realizing she's already been defeated, and proceed to attack the Knights and Samurai, breaking their ceasefire.
    • Even shown right during the final battle: when the Vikings attack, both the Warden commanding the Iron Legion and the Kensei leading the Dawn Empire troops try to rally their men and keep them from attacking each other when the Vikings arrive, but then both sides descend into chaos and fighting each other, forcing the Kensei and Warden to fight in an attempt to save their armies from each other.
  • Practical Currency: Steel, both in-game and in the storyline, due to it's rareness. When the Warborn capture Odingard from the Blackstone Legion, they find crates filled with steel plates looted from the Dawn Empire, and steel serves as the currency used to upgrade gear, buy loot crates, and purchase heroes, effects, emotes, outfits, and executions in the in-game store. Several quests in Arcade Mode explicitly describe steel as currency, i.e. "A group of warriors attack you, hoping to make good steel from the bounty on your head."
  • Precursors: The factions were thrown together by a cataclysm that tore the earth asunder and left the survivors in conflict over basic resources. Remnants of the civilizations they descended from are scattered across the landscape.
    • The Knights of Ashfield believe that many (if not all) of the ruins covering the landscape were built by the Great Empire, the precursors to the Iron Legion, who are analogous to the Roman Empire. Apollyon claims to have met some remnants. Indeed, the Centurion hero even hails from the remnants of this old empire, located in a distant land.
    • The Viking's ancestors lived in much of the lands that the Legions currently hold, with many of their ancient totems and monuments still standing. Naturally, their descendants want to take these lands back.
    • Apollyon theorizes that in fact both the Knights and the Vikings share a common origin.
  • Reality Ensues: A common theme in the campaign, especially in the Samurai chapter:
    • When the Vikings invade the Dawn Empire's lands, they rapidly discover why it's so hard to attack the Samurai's home: the swamps are a morass that is nearly-impossible to navigate, and the invasion is stuck in place until Runa can find the local's maps. To this end she captures and interrogates a Samurai soldier, forgetting she can't speak Japanese and doesn't understand him, deciding to steal some maps from a nearby temple instead.
    • The Orochi mentions how out of practice they are after having spent years in prison.
    • No matter how deadly and skilled a swordsman the Orochi is, they're pretty much stuck desperately defending themselves against a massive cavalry charge through the gates as the Blackstone Legion breaks down the door.
    • Both sides know exactly who is going to win when Ayu marches against Seijuro. While Seijuro holds the Imperial palace he is hopelessly outnumbered by Ayu's forces. Despite this the Orochi is still sent in to open the gates, since the defenders could still cause a fair bit of casualties in a prolonged siege.
    • While on that topic, Seijuro keeping an angry pet elephant around inside his fortress while it is being besieged ends about as well as you'd expect when the Orochi spots it.
    • In the end, even with the death of Apollyon, there's still a massive war going on between the three factions, and so much war and bloodshed is not going to be forgiven overnight just because The Chessmaster has been killed. Instead, the three faction leaders have to work together to forge a lasting peace after the fact, and know that they are likely to die in the attempt. Apollyon even gives it all a Lampshade Hanging.
    Apollyon: Peace? So... what happens now? You all just... go... home? You came into my home. And you brought your armies. What did you think would happen?
    • The Conqueror is the only class that cannot feint, since there is no way to stop the flail once it's in motion.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: There are a number of "breakables" in the single player levels that can be smashed for bonuses like extra steel or emblem pieces.
  • Schizo Tech: Armor, weapons, and engineering vary wildly depending on the faction.
    • Knightly armor ranges from early 13th century designs like that of the Conquerer's gear to advanced renaissance plate such as that used by the Lawbringer - with the latter being explicitly described as a secret of their order.
    • Samurai designs range from 10th to 17th century armor, but many of the designs incorporate wooden plates.
    • While the Vikings lack advanced weaponry or armor, they have startlingly-advanced engineering, including what looks like gunpowder-fired grappling hooks and a massive mountainside elevator to let them ascend and descend a difficult mountain path.
  • Shout-Out
    • After Momiji's leg is wounded by an arrow in "Honor", she references the famous "arrow to my knee" line from Skyrim.
    Momiji: My knee! I hope I can keep adventuring!
    • The Shugoki's season 4 execution "The Mountain" has him crush his opponent's head in his hands.
    • The Warden's season 5 execution "End Them Rightly" has him unscrew his pommel, throw it at his opponent's head, and then screw a fresh pommel on.
    • The Centurion's "Veni Vidi Vici" execution is an exact copy of Achilles' leaping neck stab from Troy.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the much earlier Pirates Vikings and Knights, albeit lacking on the Pirates and replacing them with Samurai.
  • Storming the Beaches: The Warborn do this to the Kaiyo Kabe fortress in "Up the Beach", a legendary Chosen stronghold that has never fallen before. They've got good reason to fear it; it's heavily defended with a lot of artillery and other traps (such as wooden stakes hidden under the water), commanded by a legendary general, and has a lot of troops in it.
  • Time Skip: Each story section takes place a few years after the last, with twelve years passing by the end of all three, and Holden, Ayu, and Stigandr's meeting taking place several years after that.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Combined with Trailers Always Lie. The trailers and commercials showed the Warden deserting the Blackstones and parts of Holden, Ayu, and Stigandr's meeting. Implying that they would realize Apollyon's manipulations and unite against her. This meeting and realization does not happen until the epilogue, where she has been dead for years and her plans have come to fruition.
  • Translation Convention: The Legion primarily speaks Latin, the Vikings Icelandic, and the Dawn Empire Japanese. Whichever faction you're playing which gets translated into English, while whoever you're opposing speaks in their native language.
  • Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Shard, a colossal fortress that serves at the headquarters of the Blackstone Legion.
  • World of Action Girls: There isn't a single female character in the story or the game as a whole that isn't a warrior.
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