Take a hero to the land of Ashan in Ubisoft’s ongoing fantasy turn-based strategy series.
The Might & Magic Heroes series has been around for a fair while now, and developers Limbic Entertainment take us to the land of Ashan for this seventh title in the series.
Might & Magic Heroes VII is, as were all of the games before it, a game with two distinct sides. On the one hand, you have the whole exploration and management side, and on the other hand are the strategic combat encounters.
The player takes their hero and is given a large map to roam around. Each turn, the player is able to move a certain distance along the various paths. These paths and the open areas are littered with little icons representing different things of interest, such as resources, treasures and enemies.
Collecting the resources will give the player the opportunity to improve their city. This all takes place within a city management set of screens, and the player is able to add all manner of new buildings to their city for various purposes, be they to recruit new or replacement troop types, increase their income or the city defence, or even to hire new heroes who come with their own small army.
In the early game, the player will be guiding their hero back to the city with alarming regularity, to replace fallen troops or add additional units for the most part. As play progresses, this back and forth becomes much less necessary. Still, the player will have to visit the city screens each turn to make sure they build the new buildings, upgrade existing buildings and recruit new troops to ensure they improve at the same rate as both the neutral enemies on the map, and any enemy heroes that may be getting close.
Various buildings can be found around the map that can be captured by the player to provide an ongoing source of resources. There are also buildings or statues that can be visited to give the hero a one-off bonus.
Then there are the neutral enemies. Unlike the enemy heroes that may be wandering the map, these neutral enemies remain in one place and usually guard some kind of treasure or the path to opening up the map. Little markers above these enemies will show the player just how powerful they are in comparison to the players hero and army, giving the player a good insight into whether they are better left to defeat after bolstering their own troops.
When the player does decide to go into battle, play changes to a grid to represent the battlefield. Friendly troop stacks are placed on one side, while the enemy are in place on the other. The hero will stand off the battlefield and will only be defeated if all of the friendly units are destroyed. If the enemy has a hero, they will also stand off the field. But this doesn’t mean that the heroes don’t participate in the battle, as each turn they are able to perform their own special attack or cast some magic, usually with devastating effect.
Each unit on the grid map will take a turn to move or perform their own action, be it a melee attack against an enemy in their vicinity, a ranged attack within their range, a magical attack or even a special action that applies only to that troop type. On the battlefield, units are represented by a single figure, but actually represent a stack of that unit and through combat the stack is dwindled down until it is finally defeated once it reaches zero.
Different factions within the game come with different troop types. The variety available is not bad, ranging from general grunts to impressive elite units, but does seem a little lacking, and the differences between the factions are minimal, making for much the same strategy whoever you decide to play as. Still, the choice to build up massive stacks of the less powerful units, or to invest in the necessary city upgrades and hire a few powerful units, is available to the player.
There are plenty of choices for multiplayer action, from full games to duels which drop the player straight into battle. However, the main content in Might & Magic Heroes VII is the extensive campaign. Set as a collection of stories of sorts, the player will have the chance to jump into the boots of a hero from six different factions, represented as a council sitting around a table. Each faction’s story will take a good few hours to complete, and the player can jump in and out of any story as they wish. Once they are all done, the story continues with the battles of Ivan Griffin. Presented in these substantial chunks, each part of the campaign taken together results in a massive undertaking, providing the player with many many hours of gameplay.
Unfortunately, little has changed from the previous Might & Magic Heroes outings, and things are starting to feel a little stale now. It is okay to say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but games still have to evolve, and Might & Magic Heroes VII hasn’t. The UI is nice and intuitive, but there seems to be a lack of polish and quite a few bugs that sour the experience. To top this off, there is very little guidance for newcomers to the game and Might & Magic Heroes is not the most straight forward game to grasp without prior knowledge.
For fans of the series, myself included, Might & Magic Heroes VII offers a substantial amount of content and will entertain for many hours, despite the lack of evolution or change. For those new to the series, this turn-based strategy title may well prove too much of an uphill battle.