Screenshot: Kotaku (For Honor)
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we're playing.  

For Honor got its first new fighter of 2019 yesterday: Black Prior. I could talk about how it’s cool that Black Prior is sort of emo and brooding and has a weird affection for skulls. Or how the character puts an interesting emphasis back on turtling, a strategy that almost strangled the fun out of For Honor early on. Really, though, I just like how he can flip people with his shield.

In the two years since Ubisoft’s medieval brawler released it’s basically become Mortal Kombat for ancient weapon nerds, especially the type who might find themselves watching someone on YouTube analyze who would win in a matchup between say, a European broadsword and a pair of Chinese dagger-axes. For Honor has depth for sure, but the thing that most keeps me coming back (and potentially others when the game becomes free with PlayStation Plus next month) is the excitement of seeing what will happen when two strangers try to cut each other’s throats with wildly different weapons.

Black Prior is currently live in the game for anyone who bought the the $30 year three season pass but will be available to everyone else for 15,000 steel (the in-game currency) on February 7. He’s by no means my favorite character, at least after spending a few hours with him. He’s a bit slow to react, and hiding behind a giant kite shield isn’t my preferred style of play. Still, I can’t get enough of his unique counter ability. Unlike other fighters, Black Prior can go into something called Bulwark stance and block everything from any direction save for a guard break. In addition, he can counter incoming attacks by going from Bulwark stance to an attack at just the right moment. When timed right, this happens:

GIF: That_Guy_Marius (Reddit)

I love doing this. Especially when going up against two or more opponents at once. I don’t ever see myself being good with Black Prior, the same way I’ve never been good with say, Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion. But few things are more satisfying than successfully spearing someone’s neck and whipping them across the screen. Black Prior’s shield flip is the same way. Win or lose, you know when you successfully shield flipped someone. They know too. And sometimes that’s enough.

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While a lot of the new fighter equipment added in the latest update feels a bit lackluster, the emotes and executions remain top notch. The only thing better than shield flipping a gigantic Shugoki as it comes hurtling toward you is shield flipping them and then going into a combo that lands you one of Black Prior’s execution moves, all of which are pretty amazing. I don’t usually worry about grinding steel in For Honor to buy new stuff, but I think I’m going to have to make an exception for this:

GIF: Greytechsy (Gfycat)

The game is still due to get three more fighters this year. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend getting season pass right now just for Black Prior, it’s definitely worth unlocking him as soon as he’s available next week. The game has also had a few issues since the new update yesterday, including missing items and frozen matchmaking, so it’s also probably a good idea to wait until most of those are sorted out.