I’m planning to record footage and supplement with visuals soon, but for now, here’s a text version of my Berserker guide!
The berserker is an interesting class to play in the current version of For Honor. Despite being labeled as an assassin, he’s dependent on violent aggression, extreme boldness, and a willingness to stay in the thick of it to succeed. With limited range and a low health pool, it can be scary to play as boldly as one must to thrive with this class, but with a bit of practice and knowledge of how the berserker’s kit works, you can horrify other players with your rage and overwhelm even the most proficient defenses.
DISCLAIMER: Currently, it is a known issue that the berserker’s light attacks are bugged. As of this writing, the effect of the bug is that when a berserker’s light attacks are blocked, the opponent gets a free guard break; this has been stated by Ubisoft to be unintentional. This guide is written with the intent of optimal berserker play once this bug is fixed, and some tactics, denoted by an asterisk (*), will be non-optimal until this bug is fixed. Please keep this in mind as you read further!
As I mentioned before, the berserker is an unusually aggressive character. In relation to the other assassins (peacekeeper, orochi, and the hybrids nobushi and valkyrie), berserker suffers much less reach, a weaker forward dodge, and somewhat slower heavy attack speed, but benefits from high per-strike damage, the ability to chain any two attacks together – except for two consecutive lights – and the best side dodge in the game in terms of both speed and distance.
In order to capitalize on what makes berserker great, you have to view his kit as highly modular; the ability to use his infinite chain (elaborated on later) is tempting, but it’s not all that he is. The fact that the berserker can throw out any attack almost immediately belies the usefulness of cancels, feints, and guard breaks. In this guide, I’ll be doing my best to articulate the best way to open up defensive players and counter attacks from other aggressive types. To do that, we need to intimately understand everything that the berserker’s capable of, so let’s get started. Below, I’ll go into a detailed assessment of the class’s passives and moveset.
Passives will apply partially to every game type, and some only to 4v4 modes like Skirmish, Dominion, and Elimination. I wanna cover them all and their usage for the sake of being complete; I don’t wanna assume any of you reading this only play duels, or only play brawl.
Renown – Earn more Renown in 1v1 fights, by killing enemy Heroes, and getting killing streaks to unlock your feats in a match.
Renown is pretty simple; in 4v4 matches, you gain more for your score by killing enemy heroes without assistant and you unlock your feats by going on streaks. What this exists to do is help solidify an assassin’s role in these games. It’s not really your job to clear minions off B, or roam with your whole team constantly between points. The assassins excel at, well, assassinating – picking off singular targets from lightly defended areas, and using their speed to intercept people between points.
Revenge Mode – Boosts Damage and Health. All Attacks are Uninterruptible. Parry and Throws knock enemies down. Attacks are Auto-Parried on activation.
Revenge is another universal passive trait, but I still want to discuss how it applies to the berserker. Among the assassins, the berserker has an unusual amount of sweeping attacks and sideways mobility. This makes him extremely well-suited to navigating multiple opponents and hitting two or more people with one attack. I’ll elaborate more on this point when talking about his moveset, but I wanted to emphasize here that revenge is very, very powerful for the berserker because he’s the only assassin who’s got super armor on multiple moves, allowing him a greater ability to trade while his revenge shield is supporting him.
Defense: Reflex – Your Guard Stance only remains active for a limited time.
A shared trait between assassins, this is a double-edged sword. It means that you don’t by default have a guard up in any direction, making you vulnerable to attacks from all of them equally, and your guard deteriorates back to neutral after a couple of seconds. While this means you have to refresh and orient your guard constantly, the flipside is that opponents get little warning which direction you’re going to attack from. Use this to your advantage; also be aware that if you swing without determining a direction, your attacks will default to the right.
Deflect – Dodge in the direction of an incoming Attack just before impact to Deflect it. A Deflect automatically Guardbreaks an attacking opponent.
All assassins have the ability to deflect, with unique benefits to each. The berserker’s reward for deflecting is guard breaking; invaluable, since this is a free side heavy attack, ledge throw, or chance to reposition an enemy as necessary. While difficult to time for some attacks, deflecting should be a priority in particular to manage opponent stamina, as the berserker’s forward punch can drain stamina from targets.
Infinite Uninterruptible Chain – When performing a Chain of 4 attacks or more, your Attacks become Uninterruptible. Additional Attacks also cost less Stamina.
This is considered the ‘signature’ ability of the berserker, but honestly, it’s a bit of a trap. Here’s the ugly truth: You won’t ever gain a four hit combo on a decent player. Anyone who eats four hits in a row, you can usually beat even without this. It’s a nice ability to have, but don’t expect to get a lot of use out of it – and as I’ll elaborate on later, do NOT let this bait you into playing recklessly! The berserker can’t afford it.
Infinite Chain Finisher – A Top Heavy Attack always ends an Infinite Chain. It also inflicts extra Damage.
This is situational but very useful. Most players will be keeping an eye out for your top heavy precisely because of this; that’s perfectly fine. What it means you can do is train them to not expect it, then throw it after one or two hits. I like to feint people with it, using a top heavy feinted into a side light, then once they’re trained to expect me to always feint it, throw it out sincerely.
Chain Starter – Dodge Attacks can initiate Chain Attacks.
This is REALLY useful. The berserker’s spinning chop dodge attack is one of their most powerful tools, and being able to chain out of it is a huge gamechanger. Anytime you land a spinning chop, it’s worth it to try and chain it into a combo; and important to remember you can feint the second or third hit to try and be less predictable.
Close Combat – Missing an Attack, a Chain or a Head Crusher can be cancelled by a Zone Attack or a Dodge.
One of the berserker’s biggest strengths is that he can cancel just about anything into and out of anything else. It’s worth keeping this in mind, as the reliance of the class on attack strings and aggression makes it parry bait against enemies who know what they are doing if you don’t mix up what you’re doing. Combined with feint, dodge cancels and zone attacks are incredibly useful, albeit stamina-draining in the latter’s case.
Now that we’ve discussed the traits of the berserker, let’s move into the actual moveset that they effect. I’ll be using Xbox One controller prompts, since that’s what I play with; if you’re on PS4 or Keyboard, you should be able to find the equivalents easily.
Danced of the Paired Blades (RB, RT or RT, RB ∞)
This is the berserker’s bread and butter; the character can chain any light into a heavy or vice versa. What this means is that by alternating attacks, the class can indefinitely combo, with confirmed hits resulting in the ‘infinite uninterruptible chain’. The value of this is middling; while it’s great to be able to start combos from anything, it’s very predictable to just follow the chain. It’s critical to mix in feints, dodge cancels, and guard breaks, which I’ll elaborate on in the ‘tactics’ section.
Bear Mauler (RT, RT, RT)
A three-hit heavy combination, Bear Mauler can be predictable, but you can use this to your advantage. Finishing out the combination with the overhead heavy results in ENORMOUS damage, but is difficult to land. Chaining this into Dance of the Paired Blades or Spinning Chop can be very useful, and keep opponents guessing.
Boar Rush (Not in Guard Mode) (LS↓ + RT)
Boar Rush is a powerful lunge, but it’s extremely telegraphed. Its speed and damage makes it worth using for trades against fleeing opponents, but otherwise I recommend Boar Rush only be deployed to initiate against a distracted player who is fighting someone else and doesn’t see you coming.
Head Slicer (LS↑ + A, RB)
A lunging attack, Head Slicer, like Boar Rush, has a stack of super armor. It comes out quickly, but is still very easy to block or parry if an opponent is on their toes. It’s great for trades against attacks that don’t do a lot of damage, such as Orochi’s Storm Rush, but otherwise, it’s best to only use it to initiate on distracted opponents. Very occasionally, it can be used mid-combo to catch an opponent off-guard; sometimes I like to feint into it, bait an opponent into going for a grab or heavy, then tag them with it.
Spin Chop (LS← or LS→ + A, RB)
One of the most useful moves in the game, for any class. I mentioned before berserker has the best side mobility of any character, and Spin Chop makes use of that in a big way. This move is so good, so quick and fluid, you’ll be tempted to throw it out to initiate; don’t. Whatever direction you dodge in, the attack comes from that way, and decent opponents will know this. Instead, use Spin Chop to punish moves. It’s incredibly versatile, capable of dodging and punishing Shugoki’s Demon Embrace, the Warden’s shoulder rush, the Conqueror’s shield bash, and more. Since you can chain out of Spin Chop, it’s even better to follow it up with a heavy attack, or a feinted heavy into a guard break.
Head Crusher (LS↑ + A, RT)
Essentially a heavier version of Head Slicer; all of the same rules apply, with one additional note. Head Crusher has MASSIVE tracking on fleeing opponents. If someone is turning and running from you, Head Crusher can help you keep up – and will often catch non-assassins in the back. Assassins are usually too nimble for it, in my experience.
Slashing Rush (RB+RT or LS↓ + RB + RT)
DO NOT SLEEP ON SLASHING RUSH’S REVERSE FORM. That’s what I tell you off the bat. A lot of berserkers use the default forward motion, a series of 4 strikes with massive priority that is almost as good as super armor, and while it can be useful when outnumbered or to cancel out of a whiffed strike, it drains 50% of stamina. The -reverse- version, meanwhile, has the same benefits and only uses about 10-15% of the berserker’s stamina. This is an incredible ability.
Now for the real kicker. The super armor on this makes you immune to command grabs and charging unblockables. By popping Slashing Rush at the right time, you can render yourself completely immune to Demon’s Embrace, shoulder charge, and other moves like them. Do not sleep on this move, I repeat. It’s incredibly useful.
TIPS AND TACTICS
So now that you know what the berserker is capable of, onto the real meat of the guide. How do you make use of these techniques and traits to beat down your opponents, overwhelm them, and make them fear the wrath of your axes? Well, the answer’s in measuring your aggression, making use of your unique abilities, and recognizing your limitations. Let’s get into the thick of it, and address what I think any berserker needs to know to survive.
YOU ARE PARRY BAIT
Get this in your head immediately. Anytime a player with even a bit of game experience goes up against you, they’re going to perceive you as a whirling dervish of easy-to-read attacks. It’s up to you to prove them wrong, through smart use of feints, dodge cancels, and mixups. Berserker doesn’t have any unblockables, doesn’t have any free hits on confirm, and has to individually link every attack to catch opponents off-guard. Be aware of this or you’ll be too reckless out of the gate.*
*As mentioned earlier, the current light attack bug means this is truer than ever. Berserker lights are super unsafe right now, restricting an already limited moveset.
KEEP CLOSE, KEEP FIRM
Berserker has the shortest reach in the game, especially on his light attacks. You have to be nearly hugging an enemy to hit them with lights, and the heavies don’t have a ton of reach either. This might sound like a weakness – and it is – but it’s also a benefit. By getting within hugging distance, a berserker becomes very hard to predict. Throwing out light attacks while hugging on someone is extremely effective, as is feinting a heavy into a light or a guard break*.
Also of note is the berserker’s deflect. A free guard break is really nice, but even better is the ‘zooming’ effect of the berserker’s deflect. If you deflect even a long-range attack, like a nobushi poke or a lawbringer overhead, you’ll slide your weapons and get up in hugging range. In addition to the guard break, this leaves you point blank, where the berserker shines most!
*Again, as mentioned earlier, the current light attack bug means berserker lights are super unsafe right now, restricting an already limited moveset. Be aware.
SUPER ARMOR AND YOU
The berserker has super armor on three attacks: Head Slicer, Head Crusher, and the backwards Slashing Rush (NOT the forward version, though it attacks with such speed it can often interrupt multiple targets and have a similar effect). They also gain super armor on all attacks after landing four consecutive blows thanks to the ‘Uninterruptible Infinite Chain’ trait. For those who are not familiar, super armor works like this: if you attack someone with super armor, they still take damage, but their attack isn’t interrupted. This allows for favorable trades, finishing off wounded opponents, and escape tactics.
While Head Crusher and Head Slicer excel in pursuing fleeing opponents, they’re also fantastic for dealing with other attacks, because here’s the secret: Super Armor renders one immune to command grabs and knockdowns such as Shugoki’s charge and Conqueror’s shield charge. This is INVALUABLE. You can meet these attacks head-on fearlessly and get free damage out of it while taking none yourself! Use this to take advantage of the aggression from more defensive characters. The Slashing Rush is also fantastic for this; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve saved myself from a Shugoki charge on a narrow bridge by just using backwards Slashing Rush. It makes you COMPLETELY IMMUNE to knockdowns!
OUTNUMBERED, BUT NEVER OUTGUNNED
Berserker, surprisingly for an assassin, is REALLY good at managing multiple opponents. He’s the only assassin with super armor, has a ton of sideways mobility, and a powerful backwards zoning attack that can damage everyone around him for almost no stamina. Like all characters, you need to play defensively until you have your Revenge stacks up; once you pop revenge, ideally timed to knock at least one foe down, you can drop a Slashing Rush and enjoy the infinite stamina. Backwards Slashing Rush is particularly good here, because other players will try hard to turtle up and parry you, and you can give yourself room to flee if needed or punish multiple attacks. I’ve actually killed two VERY good players like this simultaneously before – each was more than a match for me in a duel, but the combination of Revenge and Slashing Rush overwhelmed them with some good timing.
FEELING A LITTLE FEINT; CANCEL MY CALLS
As I’ve said a few times, feinting and cancelling is integral to succeeding as Berserker. Dodge-punishing attacks will get you a free hit, and some mediocre players will walk into infinite chains and let you enjoy hitting them five, six, or seven times in a row, but once your MMR rises, you won’t be able to swing a cat without it getting parried.
Just to reaffirm, feinting is performed by hitting B during a heavy attack during its startup phase. This stops the attack prematurely, preventing it from being blocked or parried and potentially confusing the opponent. By quickly transitioning from a heavy attack feint into a light attack (RT-B-RB) or from a heavy attack feint into a guard break (RT-B-X), the berserker can set up opponents with attacks they don’t see coming.
Unique to the berserker is the ability to dodge cancel out of even his light attacks. While multiple classes can cancel their heavies, berserker only ever has to commit to the following moves: Head Slicer, Head Crusher, Slashing Rush, Spin Chop. EVERYTHING else in his kit can be dodge-cancelled out of. You can cancel a Bear Mauler into a Spin Chop, (RT, RT, <- or -> A, RB) though cancelling into spin chops can sometimes be parry bait against experienced players. That said, a useful feature of the Spin Chop cancel is that it can let you dodge incoming attacks, so what I like to sometimes do is a feint -into- a cancel (In this case, RT, RT, RT, B, <- or -> A, RB). They expect the overhead heavy, get feinted into a Spin Chop.
Just as important are guard break cancels and dodge-breaking. A lot of the time when a berserker side-dodges, a Spin Chop is expected. I like to take advantage of this and dodge without attacking into a guard break; it works well even on high-level players.
Finally, you can cancel heavy attacks into other heavy attacks. I’ve had some success with feinting the overhead heavy into a side heavy. This is a little slower, but also carries less risk of a devastating parry or the currently bugged light block.
The berserker is not an easy class to play. In fact, I’m biased, but I feel it might be the hardest to learn in the game. With no 50/50s, no unblockables, short reach, a small health pool, and a passive that primarily only works on poor players, it might seem hard to figure out why you should bother. But by paying attention to what you’re doing and, ironically, keeping a cool head, you can make the berserker a force to be reckoned with even in high level play. For whatever berserker lacks, he has the best dodge punish in the game, a devastating overhead that can drop 40% health from even a Lawbringer or Shugoki, the most modular and versatile combos in the entire cast, a powerful deflect option, and generous super armor.
By measuring your aggression and using the right moves to let loose when you get an opening, you can bury opponents and make them panic with your momentum and superior aggression.
So get out there and show them some VIKING RAGE!