For Honor Kensei Guide - How To Play Kensei Like a Pro

For honor, kensei, guide
A Kensei stands ready in front of a Samurai castle

The Kensei is the Vanguard-class hero for the Samurai in For Honor. They are easily identifiable on the battlefield thanks to their Nodachi and graceful moves. This article will be taking a look at this hero in an attempt to introduce new players to them and teach advanced players a few things they never knew. 


Kensei’s Moveset

    Kensei’s moveset has 8 combo chains:

  • Dawn of the Steel Sun - light,light, light
  • Spirit of Inevitability - light, light, heavy
  • Form of the Dragon - light, heavy, heavy
  • Doom of the Kensei - heavy, heavy, heavy
  • Rising Sun - heavy, heavy, light
  • River’s Flow - heavy, light, light
  • Crashing Plates - heavy, light, heavy
  • Shifting Ground - light, heavy, light

    As you can see, Kensei has a very versatile set of combo chains that allow his opponent to keep guessing as to what they’ll do next. However, this is only scratching the surface. Here are the extra moves Kensei has in his kit:

  • Rushing Sweep - A heavy attack initiated by sprinting and then using a heavy attack while not locked on
  • Helm Splitter - A quick light attack that can be performed by dodging forward and doing a light attack, this attack will lead right into a combo chain finisher
  • Nature’s Wrath - A flashy attack designed to catch enemies who dodge roll away from your combos. Performed by dodging forward and doing a heavy attack. Also leads right into a combo finisher
  • Pommel Strike - A quick, unblockable bash designed to open up the opponent. Performed by using a guard break during the startup of a top heavy.
  • Grasping Pounce - A move that allows you to quickly perform a guard break while doing a forward dodge. 

    Kensei definitely has a vast array of tools, no doubt. Now let’s look at the special features exclusive to his character:

  • Top heavy chain finishers are unblockable
  • A top heavy opener can be canceled into side light, a side heavy, a dodge in any direction, or the unblockable Pommel Strike
  • A mid-chain top heavy can be canceled into a guard break, side light, side heavy, or a dodge in any direction
  • Top heavy finishers can be canceled into a side light finisher, side heavy finisher, a guard break, or a dodge in any direction. Note that side heavy finishers and side light finishers are uninterruptible. 
  • Kensei’s forward dodge and side dodges have the superior block property. 
  • Kensei’s zone attack consists of two separate strikes, it can be canceled after the first strike.

If you’d like to see Kensei’s moveset in action, check out this guide by MightyMattman90.

Kensei Feats

Kensei’s Feats are as follows: 

Tier 1:

  • Fast Recovery - Stamina regenerates faster
  • Body Count - Killing soldiers grants you health and stamina
  • Iron Lungs - You can still spring when out of stamina

    Tier 2: 

  • Inspire - Allies deal more damage, soldiers fight faster
  • Smoke Bomb - Throw a smoke bomb on the ground. The smoke bomb stuns enemies, hides you from enemies, and you cannot be locked onto
  • Chilling Stare - Puts an aura around a target that lowers enemy attack and defense

    Tier 3: 

  • Second Wind - Recover some of your health
  • Longbow - Fire a longbow at your enemy for moderate damage
  • Steadfast - Gain immunity from throw attempts for a short duration

    Tier 4:

  • Arrow Storm - Aerial attack that deals medium damage over multiple areas
  • Stalwart Banner - Place a banner that emits an aura that regenerates health for allies and yourself
  • Unblockable - Your attacks cannot be blocked for a short duration

    As a Kensei main myself, I’ve found that the best Feats for a 4v4 game mode are Fast Recovery, Chilling Stare, Second Wind, and Unblockable. You can switch out Fast Recovery for Body Count and Chilling Stare for Inspire when playing Dominion. Of course, there are other viable builds, this is just what has worked for me in my many hours of gameplay. 

    For a look at another great build for Kensei, check out this video by Kreadiv.


Kensei Strategies

    Kensei’s large array of tools and combo chains may seem intimidating at first but his playstyle is actually quite straightforward. For beginners, I recommend getting used to all of Kensei’s top heavy mixups. Utilizing this will keep your opponent guessing and make you hard to predict in the heat of battle. Do not overuse your dodge attacks, many beginner Kensei players like to dodge attack at the first sight of danger making them very predictable and easy to punish. Also, do not spam thePommel Strike. Many players will just dodge around it and punish you once they see you spamming it.  If you’re in a group fight the pommel strike and top heavy cancel into a guard break are excellent tools to open up your opponent so you and your teammate can confirm big damage. 

    When it comes to advanced strategies, it really is about being creative with Kensei’s toolkit and creating your own strategy that works for every situation. Therefore, I cannot recommend one single strategy. However, here is an excellent advanced Kensei guide by Toeknee that covers just about everything and I highly recommend it.



Kensei’s Gear

    Kensei’s gear consists of three pieces of armor: helmet, arms, and a chest piece. Their weapon also consists of three pieces: blade, hilt, and guard. Kensei’s gear perks are as follows:

  • Shields Up - On respawn or revive
  • Aegis- All shields received are increased by 20%
  • Devourer - Executions heal an extra 15 health
  • Endurance - Gaining a Renown gives you 3% stamina cost reduction (up to a maximum of 4 renown level-ups)
  • Survival Instinct - When your health is low, you gain 15% stamina cost reduction
  • Head Hunter - For each player executed, maximum health is increased by 4 (maximum of 4 increases)
  • Fresh Focus - When you’re out of stamina, blocking and parrying attacks regenerates 20% of your stamina

    For a low reputation Kensei the best options will be Shields Up, Aegis, and devourer. These perks will help keep you alive and in the fight. Once your Kensei is high enough reputation to start receiving legendary gear, I recommend trying to get Fresh Focus as soon as possible. Combining this perk with Kensei’s tier 1 feat: Fast Recovery is an excellent combination that ensures you will always have enough stamina. 

    For a more in-depth look at an optimal Kensei build, I highly recommend looking at Sororus’ video.


Kensei’s Executions

    Kensei’s executions are excellent and demonstrate their grace and lethality. Many of them are also quite long. I personally recommend buying the execution aptly named “Quick Kill” first as it is Kensei’s shortest execution and will usually not be interrupted in 4v4 game modes. If you’d like a look at all of Kensei’s executions you can always preview them in-game or you can take a look at some of them in this video by Xinlyfenne.


Kensei’s Fashion

    Kensei’s fashion is excellent. It follows a stereotypical archetype of Samurai armor but the Kensei also has more unique armor sets featuring coats with unique embroidered designs that allow for a good deal of player expression. Also, at higher levels of Reputation, the Kensei unlocks excellent armor sets that are inspired by Kabuki costumes that are my personal favorite. Kensei’s swords are also excellent looking, many of the higher reputation swords sets have very excellent ornate designs. 

    Here is a video by Toeknee showing off some of the excellent armor and weapon sets that came out in Season 8.

Kensei Tips

  • You should always be looking for new ways to mix up your combos. 
  • It is super important to keep your opponents guessing and to not keep repeating the same set of moves. 
  • Practice Kensei’s superior guard dodges, as it is a useful defensive tool that can be forgotten about. A forward dodge superior guard block can guarantee a Grasping Pounce!
  • Learn Kensei’s out of stamina punishes
  • Do not spam Helm Splitter, though it is fast it is very predictable
  • Nature’s Wrath may look cool but you should only use it to chase escaping opponents, it is a slow move and will get parried often
  • Kensei’s zone attack is an excellent tool as it is a wide-sweeping, fast attack. However, spamming is not advised.
  • Remember to make use of Kensei’s uninterruptible finishers as they can allow him to trade hits. 
  • Kensei’s sword has a longer range than other Hero’s weapons, a proper use of distance can make the difference in some fights
  • Kensei is surprisingly good when outnumbered. His wide-swinging strikes and zone attack are good for keeping opponents at bay until help arrives. 
  • While Kensei’s Pommel Strike is a good way to open up defensive opponents, don’t rely on it as you can be punished easily by a dodge attack. 

    For extra tips and resources, check out these videos: 

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