They are “Heroes Of” no more – Now they are just Heroes.
The Might & Magic series has been around for ages. Even the turn-based strategy spin-off Heroes of Might & Magic series has been around for a fair time. So the big question is “why have Ubisoft chosen now as a good time to change the name?”
This sixth installment in the series has shunned the name Heroes of Might & Magic VI, in favour of the only ever so slightly shorter Might & Magic: Heroes VI. Why? Well, I could only guess. But perhaps it has something to do with the fact that this installment has been streamlined and made much simpler to attract new players to the PC franchise. Or maybe they just fancied a change?
Either way, the name change is the least important change of Heroes’ facelift. The resources that are collected around the map have been cut down to just four, micromanagement of troops has been toned down and control over mines and buildings comes down to whoever owns the main city. They may not be massive changes, but the result is a much easier game to play which will hopefully attract new players to the series and ensure further expansions and sequels.
Heroes VI is a game that enjoys three different areas of core gameplay – Exploration, Management and Combat.The resulting game is one that offers amazing depth with both RPG and Strategy playing an important role. It is a slow and lumbering affair, but one which offers plenty of excitement to the fans of the series and those who have found themselves in the Might & Magic world for the first time.
Of the three areas of the game, Combat is where they will likely spend the majority of their time. In combat, the players’ hero stands on the sidelines whilst their minions do all of the fighting. This takes place on a grid and each unit, both friend and foe, tales it in turns to move and fight. Different units will bring different skills and powers to the field and players will be able to indulge in some “heroic intervention” using the special attacks and spells of their hero which can be activated before using any of their units. Combat continues until one player has lost all of their minions.
Although the combat will likely take up the largest amount of time and require tactical thinking, the Exploration component is perhaps the most exciting. The player moves their hero around a map, following paths across the land. The fog of war will cover many areas and the player will only be able to see what they contain by moving into those areas. Once again, the player has a fixed number of moves and once they have been completed, and any opponents have had their turn, play moves on by one day. As they wander the map, players will come across wandering enemies that must be defeated in combat, buildings, towns, resources and treasure. Some buildings will give the player certain bonuses, whilst others which must be captured will result in a fixed income of a certain resource. Resources can also be found in piles around the map.The towns must be captured and will be used more in the management aspect of the game. Then there is the treasure, of which there is plenty, offering both financial gain and stat increases.
Towns can, once captured, be expanded with different buildings which, amongst other things, can provide a steady supply of troops to join the players army. The players hero can level up and become more powerful, giving access to new skills and spells. The Management aspect of the game is fairly deep and allows for the player to tweak their hero into whatever they want, as well as choosing the direction that their captured towns take.
Considering that the game has been streamlined to make it more accessible to new players, it is still quite a sizable undertaking. It is not that the game is overly complex, it is just so very huge. With some six campaigns, each containing a number of maps that will take a couple of hours each to fully explore, there is a whole lot of game here. That is not even including the impressive multiplayer options or the custom scenarios.
Much like games such as Civilization or Settlers, the Heroes of Might & Magic games are a mainstay on my PC. They offer a nice break that can be returned to whenever there is a spare half hour, without having to remember what was going on in the game or any complicated controls.
Visually, there is nothing here to complain about. The game may not be endowed with the latest 3D graphics, but everything looks very nice and the sheer amount of detail, both in the main map and the various minions whilst in combat, is very impressive. The soundtrack is fairly generic, and the voice acting can be a little cheesy at times, but not so much that it spoils the game in any way.
Turn-based strategy with a hint of RPG may not be the most fanciful of genres at the moment, but the Might & Magic series certainly has enough fans to ensure that Heroes VI is a success. If you have never played one of the Heroes games before and fancy dipping your toes into this well-realised fantasy world, Might & Magic Heroes VI is easily the most accessible and would be a great starting point. The sheer amount of content here will ensure that you are entertained for a long time to come.